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Latest News - June 19, 2013
Over thirty privacy officials, including the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Chairman of the Article 29 Working Party, have written to Google demanding information on Google Glass. "[W]e would strongly urge Google to engage in a real dialogue with data protection authorities about Glass," they wrote, and listed eight specific questions, including how Glass complies with privacy laws and how Google intends to use the information collected by Glass. Recently, members of the Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus wrote to Google with similar questions about Glass. Following the letter, Google announced that it would not approve any facial recognition apps for Glass. For more information, see EPIC: Google Glass.
Today, EPIC joined a coalition of over 100 civil liberties organizations and Internet companies to demand that Congress initiate a full-scale investigation into the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. In the letter sent to Congress this morning, the coalition emphasized the need for public transparency and an end to dragnet surveillance: "This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy." EPIC is also leading a petition to the NSA to suspend its program of collecting information on all individuals in the United States. EPIC intends to renew its request to the Agency every week until the NSA responds. For more information see EPIC: NSA Petition.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, EPIC obtained a number of agreements between the FBI and state DMVs. The agreements allow the FBI to use facial recognition to compare subjects of FBI investigations with the millions of license and identification photos retained by participating state DMVs. EPIC also obtained the Standard Operating Procedure for the program and a Privacy Threshold Analysis that indicated that a Privacy Impact Assessment must be performed, but it is not clear whether one has been completed. EPIC is currently suing the FBI to learn more about its development of a vast biometric identification database. For more information, see EPIC: Face Recognition and EPIC: Biometric Identifiers.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that attorneys cannot use DMV records to solicit clients. In Maracich v. Spears, the Court ruled that solicitation is not a permissible use of state motor vehicle records under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act. State DMV records contain a huge amount of sensitive personal information, including Social Security Numbers and medical information. EPIC filed a "friend of the court" brief discussing the wide range of personal information contained in DMV records and the risks of identity theft. For more information, see EPIC: Maracich v. Spears and EPIC: Driver's Privacy Protection Act.
EPIC, joined by leading privacy experts including James Bamford, Whitfield Diffie, and Bruce Schneier, has petitioned the National Security Agency to suspend its domestic surveillance program pending public comment. EPIC's petition states "NSA's collection of domestic communications contravenes the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and violates several federal privacy laws, including the Privacy Act of 1974, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 as amended." EPIC's petition further states that NSA’s domestic surveillance "substantively affects the public to a degree sufficient to implicate the policy interests" that require public comment, and that "NSA's collection of domestic communications absent the opportunity for public comment is unlawful." EPIC intends to renew its request each week until the NSA responds. For more information and to join EPIC’s petition, see: EPIC: NSA Petition.
European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has demanded that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder explain the scope of US data collection about EU citizens. "Direct access of US law enforcement to the data of EU citizens on servers of US companies should be excluded unless in clearly defined, exceptional and judicially reviewable situations," the Commissioner wrote. The Commissioner's request is similar to that made by other European officials, such as German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who also stated that "all facts must be put on the table." Recent reports indicate that United States lobbied the European Commission to weaken a comprehensive data protection law now pending in the European Parliament. Earlier this year, EPIC joined a coalition of leading US consumer and civil liberties organizations that expressed concern about the role of US officials in the development of European privacy law. The letter stated that "without exception," members of the European Parliament reported that the US government was "mounting an unprecedented lobbying campaign to limit the protections that European law would provide." For more information, see EPIC: EU Data Protection Regulation.
In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, EPIC urged the FCC to determine whether Verizon violated the Communications Act when it released consumer call detail information to the National Security Agency. In response to an unprecedented Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order which focused on solely domestic communications, Verizon released telephone customer information to the NSA, including telephone numbers and time and call duration. Congress explicitly charged the Commission with investigating unauthorized disclosures of consumer call detail information. EPIC's letter stated that Verizon violated legal protections for consumer phone records when it disclosed consumer information in response to a facially invalid order. For more information, see EPIC: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, EPIC: Clapper v. Amnesty Int'l, and EPIC: USA Patriot Act.
A bipartisan group of senators, led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), has proposed a bill that would declassify the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In 2012 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, EPIC recommended the publication of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Opinions prior to the renewal of the FISA Amendments Act. Last week, EPIC charged the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court with acting outside of its authority. In a letter to Congress, EPIC stated, "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered an American telephone company to disclose to the NSA records of wholly domestic communications. The FISC lacks the legal authority to grant this order." EPIC asked Congress to conduct hearings and determine whether the specialized court, charged with overseeing the collection of foreign intelligence, may also authorize surveillance of solely domestic communications. EPIC has also filed Freedom of Information Act request a with the Department of Justice, seeking the agency's justification for the NSA domestic surveillance program. For more information, see EPIC: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, EPIC: Clapper v. Amnesty, and EPIC: USA Patriot Act.
In comments to the Department of Health and Human Services, EPIC underscored the importance of medical privacy, particularly concerning mental illness. In response to President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence, the federal agency is considering allowing states to report certain mental illness information to the FBI for inclusion in National Instant Criminal Background Check System. EPIC warned that the proposal could result in incorrect determinations and may also discourage people from receiving medical care. EPIC recommended that the federal agency: (1) require that states be held accountable for disclosing excess medical information; (2) requires that states notify the FBI of incorrect or outdated mental illness record; and (3) encourage states to maintain mental health record accuracy. For more information, see EPIC: Medical Privacy and EPIC: Gun Owners' Privacy .
Presidential Policy Directive 20 orders the creation of potential targets for Offensive Cyber Effects Operations by the NSA. According to the classified document, the "Government shall identify potential targets of national importance where [cyberattacks] can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk . . ." The Directive was signed last October and EPIC immediately filed a Freedom of Information request seeking public release of the policy as it implicates the privacy of domestic communications. The NSA refused to release the Directive. The White House released a summary of the Directive, but failed to disclose information about the NSA's proposed cyberattacks. PPD-20 was made available to the public in a post to the Guardian by Glenn Greenwald. For more information, see EPIC: Presidential Directives and Cybersecurity, EPIC: EPIC v. NSA - Cybersecurity Authority and EPIC: Cybersecurity Privacy Practical Implications.
EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice, seeking the agency's justification for the NSA domestic surveillance program. The Department of Justice authorized a request for "all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications . . . (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls." By statute, the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is limited to investigations concerning the collection of foreign intelligence. The Department of Justice and the President have been acknowledged that the Department conveyed information about the program to Congress. EPIC has asked Congress to determine whether the special court exceeded its authority when it compelled Verizon to turn over the records of millions of telephone customers. For more information, see EPIC: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, EPIC: Clapper v. Amnesty Int'l, and EPIC: USA Patriot Act.
Following the revelation of that the National Security Agency is monitoring domestic communications, members of Congress are initiating new oversight proceedings. The Senate Intelligence Committee will review the program's legal authority. Members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to President Obama, saying, "We believe this type of program is far too broad and inconsistent with our nation's founding principles." During a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)asked Attorney General Eric Holder whether the NSA has spied on members of Congress. EPIC has sent a letter to leaders in Congresscalling for an investigation into the NSA's activities, and alleging that the FISC's authorization of the Verizon search was unlawful. For more information, see EPIC: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, EPIC: Clapper v. Amnesty Int'l, and EPIC: USA Patriot Act.
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EPIC Docket Highlights
EPIC Amicus Briefs:
- Upcoming Cases of Interest to EPIC
- Pending Cases with EPIC briefs
- Decided cases with EPIC briefs
- Maryland v. King (U.S. 2013) (Warrantless Collection of DNA From Arrestees)
- Jennings v. Broome (U.S. 2013) (Whether ECPA Prohibits Unauthorized Access to Cloud E-mail)
- McBurney v. Young (U.S. 2013) (State FOI Restrictions)
- CREW v. FEC (D.C. Cir. 2013) (Adequate Response to FOIA Request)
- Florida v. Harris (U.S. 2013) (Reliability of Investigative Techniques)
- Clapper v. Amnesty Int'l USA (U.S. 2013) (Standing to Challenge Broad Surveillance Programs)
- United States v. Hamilton (4th Cir. 2012) (Workplace Privacy)
- First American v. Edwards (U.S. 2012) (Standing)
- United States v. Jones (U.S. 2012) (GPS Tracking)
- FAA v. Cooper (U.S. 2011) (Privacy Act Damages)
- FCC v. AT&T (U.S. 2011) (FOIA)
- IMS Health v. Sorrell (U.S. 2011) (Medical Privacy)
- NASA v. Nelson (U.S. 2011) (Employee Privacy)
- Tolentino v. New York (U.S. 2011) (Police Searches)
- Chicago Tribune v. Univ. of Illinois (7th Cir. 2011) (FERPA)
- Doe v. Luzerne County (3rd Cir., 2011) (Informational Privacy)
- United States v. Pool (9th Cir., 2011) (DNA)
- G.D. v. Kenny (N.J. S.Ct., 2011) (Expungement)
- In re Google Street View (N.D. Cal. 2011) (Wiretap Act)
- Doe v. Reed (U.S. 2010) (Petition Signatures)
- City of Ontario v. Quon (U.S. 2010) (Workplace Privacy)
- Bunnell v. MPAA (9th Cir., 2010) (Wiretap)
- Harris v. Blockbuster (5th Cir., 2010) (Facebook Privacy)
- IMS Health v. Ayotte (1st Cir., 2010) (Medical privacy)
- Ostergren v. McDonnell (4th Cir., 2010) (Identity Theft)
- SEC v. Galleon (2nd Cir., 2010) (Wiretapping)
- Flores-Figueroa v. United States (U.S. 2009) (ID Theft)
- Herring v. United States (U.S. 2009) (Errors in databases)
- NCTA v. FCC (D.C. Cir., 2009) (Phone records privacy)
- Commonwealth v. Connolly (Mass. Sup. J. Ct., 2009) (GPS Tracking)
- ABA v. Brown (9th Cir., 2009) (Financial Privacy)
- Crawford v. Marion County (U.S. 2008) (Voter ID)
- Hepting v. AT&T (9th Cir., 2007) (Wiretap)
- Peterson v. NTIA (4th Cir., 2007) (WHOIS data)
- New Jersey v. Reid (N.J. S.Ct., 2007) (ISP subscriber privacy)
- In re Marriage of [Redacted] (D. Co., 2009) (Telephone Record Privacy)
- Gilmore v. Gonzales (9th Cir., 2006) (Secrecy)
- Kohler v. Englade (5th Cir., 2006) (DNA)
- Johnson v. Quander (U.S. Cert., 2006) (DNA)
- ACLU v. DOD (2nd Cir., 2005) (Secrecy)
- Gonzales v. Doe (2nd Cir., 2005) (Wiretap)
- United States v. Councilman (5th Cir., 2005) (Wiretap)
- Google Books Settlement (S.D.N.Y., 2005) (Copyright and Google Privacy)
- Forensic Advisors, Inc. v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. (Maryland Ct. App., 2005) (Subscriber List Privacy)
- Doe v. Chao (U.S. 2004) (Privacy Act)
- Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Ct. of Nev., Humbolt County (U.S. 2004) (Anonymity)
- Kehoe v. Fidelity Bank (11th Cir., 2004) (Driver Privacy Protection Act)
- United States v. Kincade (9th Cir., 2004) (DNA)
- BATF v. Chicago (U.S. 2003) (FOIA)
- Smith v. Doe (U.S. 2003) (Megan's Law)
- RIAA v. Verizon (D.C. Cir., 2003) (Copyright Subpoena Privacy)
- Watchtower Bible v. Stratton (U.S. 2002) (Anonymity, First Amendment)
- Remsburg v. Docusearch (N.H. S.Ct., 2002) (Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act)
- In re Sealed Case (FISCR 2002) (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance – Criminal Investigations)
- United States v. Bach (8th Cir., 2002) (Warrant-by-Fax)
- Paramount Pictures v. ReplayTV (C.D. Cal., 2002) (TV-DVR User Privacy)
- US West v. FCC (U.S. Cert. 2000) (Telephone Subscriber Privacy)
- Junger v. Daley (N.D. Ohio, 1998) (Crypto – Export Controls)
- Reno v. Condon (U.S. 2000) (Driver Privacy Protection Act)
- Bernstein v. U.S. Dep’t of Commerce (9th Cir., 1999) (Crypto – Export Controls)
EPIC's 2010 E-Deceptive Campaign Practices Report
Internet Privacy Infographic