Nine Democratic Senators led by Senator Richard Blumenthal have called on the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a rulemaking process to "protect consumer privacy, promote civil rights, and set clear safeguards on the collection and use of personal data in the digital economy." "Americans’ identities have become the currency in an unregulated, hidden economy of data brokers that buy and sell sensitive information about their families, religious beliefs, healthcare needs, and every movement to shadowy interests, often without their awareness and consent," the Senators said. Senators Schatz, Wyden, Warren, Coons, Luján, Klobuchar, Booker, and Markey joined Senator Blumenthal on the letter. EPIC has long urged the FTC to impose clear privacy obligations on companies that collect and use personal data, including by exercising the Commission's underused rulemaking power. In 2020, EPIC filed a petition with the FTC calling on the Commission to conduct a rulemaking on the use of artificial intelligence in commercial settings. "By defining unfair and deceptive practices ex ante, and with specificity, a trade regulation rule would make it easier for the FTC to take action against parties that harm consumers," EPIC explained.
2021 EPIC Champion of Freedom Awards
Join EPIC on November 3, 2021 as we celebrate this year's Champions of Freedom!
Sen. Gillibrand Reintroduces Data Protection Act
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has reintroduced the Data Protection Act which would create an independent Data Protection Agency in the U.S. to safeguard the personal data of Americans. EPIC, many leading consumer and civil rights organizations, privacy experts, and scholars support Senator Gillibrand's non-partisan bill. Last year, EPIC Advisory Board Member Professor Ari Waldman and EPIC Deputy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald stood with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for introduction of the bill.
EPIC Report: What the FTC Could Be Doing (But Isn't) To Protect Privacy
EPIC has released a report highlighting numerous statutory authorities that the Federal Trade Commission has failed to use to safeguard privacy. The report, What the FTC Could Be Doing (But Isn't) to Protect Privacy, identifies untapped or underused powers in the FTC's toolbox and explains how the FTC should deploy them to protect the public from abusive data practices.
Save the Date: EPIC Champions of Freedom Awards, Nov. 3
Save the date for EPIC's Champions of Freedom Awards, taking place on November 3rd! This will be a hybrid event, pursuant to local health guidelines, with both in-person and virtual attendance options. EPIC will honor privacy advocates who work tirelessly to ensure that personal data is protected and to tackle the most important emerging privacy issues. Please save the date and join EPIC's celebration of those who protect privacy, freedom of expression, and democratic values in the information age!
Liberty at Risk: Pre-trial Risk Assessment Tools in the U.S.
Federal, state, and local governments use Risk Assessment Tools to make key decisions about defendants in criminal cases, depriving accused individuals of their liberty based on subjective assessments of the likelihood that they will flee or commit crimes in the future. Many of these tools are opaque and not subject to independent review. "Liberty at Risk: Pre-trial Risk Assessment Tools in the U.S." provides an overview of Risk Assessment Tools that practitioners and scholars can use to understand the nature of these systems, understand the broader context in which they are used, and help focus their evaluations of the fairness of these systems.
Defend Privacy. Support EPIC.
EPIC is on the front lines of the major privacy and civil liberties debates. In 2020, EPIC has worked to protect democratic institutions, promote algorithmic transparency, and defend the right to privacy. We need your support. And EPIC is a top-rated non-profit - Charity Navigator (Four Star) and Guidestar (Gold). Please donate to EPIC today.
EPIC is on the front lines of the major privacy and civil liberties debates. In 2021, EPIC has important work to do on artificial intelligence, face surveillance, data protection, and algorithmic fairness, among many other issues. Please donate to EPIC today to help us continue this important work.
EPIC Files Complaint with FTC about Employment Screening Firm HireVue
EPIC's Jeramie Scott: Ban Face Surveillance
EPIC Senior Counsel Jeramie Scott on CBS News discussing the dangers of face surveillance.
EPIC Launches Campaign to Ban Face Surveillance
EPIC has launched a campaign to ban face surveillance. EPIC will publish information on face surveillance laws, reports, and protests worldwide.
The New Jersey Supreme Court today decided that dog owners in the state do not have a colorable claim to privacy in their names and addresses—but there may be a privacy interest in the names and breeds of their dogs. The case, Bozzi v. City of Jersey City, asked whether the privacy exemption to the state’s freedom of information law required government agencies to withhold the names and addresses of dog license holders when the only justification for disclosure was commercial interest in selling dog paraphernalia. EPIC filed an amicus brief and presented oral argument in the case, arguing that the privacy interests in names and addresses in government documents is well established under federal law and the state should follow the federal example. The court’s majority found no colorable claim to privacy for dog owners because “owning a dog is, inherently, a public endeavor”—owners take their dogs on “daily walks, grooming sessions, veterinarian visits,” “celebrate their animals on social media or bumper stickers” and “enter their dogs into public shows.” But, as the two dissenting justices retorted, “dog owners appearing in public with their dogs do not do so while simultaneously advertising their full names and addresses.” Further undermining the majority’s reasoning was the court’s recognition that other information in the dog license record—such as the name and breed of the dog, which is exposed to the public to the same degree as dog ownership, and moreso than the names and addresses of owners—may need to be redacted because of the privacy interests at stake. EPIC routinely participates as amicus in cases involving involuntary disclosure of personal information to third parties.
In a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, EPIC and a Coalition of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties organizations demanded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) end some of the agency’s more pervasive surveillance programs. The coalition called for DHS to end its practice of purchasing sensitive data (e.g. cellphone location and utility information) from third-party vendors and cease the collection of social media identifiers. The coalition also urged DHS to implement a moratorium on the use of face recognition for immigration enforcement. In previous comments to DHS, EPIC opposed DHS collecting social media identifiers and called for DHS to suspend the use of facial recognition.
UN Calls for Moratorium on Harmful AI, Establishment of Data Protection Legislation and AI Regulation »
EPIC, Coalition to Senators: Reject Plan Requiring SSN Collection by Peer-to-Peer Payment Services »
Senators Announce Probe into Facebook's Alleged Coverup of its Negative Influence on Children and Teens »
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EPIC in the News
Why Democrats are rallying around creating new FTC privacy bureau police big tech
September 15, 2021
EPIC v. DOJ: Seeking the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Department of Commerce v. New York: Whether the Department of Commerce and Census Bureau violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
EPIC provides expertise to shape strong privacy and open government laws at both the state and federal level.
EPIC recently launched a campaign to promote the creation of a Data Protection Agency in the U.S.
EPIC's Alan Butler on Location Privacy
Privacy Law Sourcebook 2020