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May 2010 Archives

May 3, 2010

"Towards Principles and Best Practices for Operating in the Cloud"

Lillie Coney,
EPIC Associate Director

Harvard Law School
Cambridge, MA
May 6-7, 2010

"Data Privacy, Internet Regulation, and Antitrust"

"Data Privacy, Internet Regulation, and Antitrust"

Marc Rotenberg,
EPIC Executive Director

Attorneys General Education Program
Northwestern University School of Law
Chicago, IL
May 6-7, 2010

Applications for Court Approved Wiretaps Reach All-Time High in 2009

According to the newly released 2009 Wiretap report, federal and state courts issued 2,376 orders for the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications in 2009, up from 1,891 in 2008, an increase of more than 25%. U.S. Courts Press release.) As in the previous four years, no applications for wiretap authorizations were denied by either state or federal courts. With the exception of 2008, the total number of authorized wiretaps has grown in each of the past seven calendar years, beginning in 2003. The 2009 Wiretap Report does not include interceptions regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or interceptions approved by the President outside the exclusive authority of the federal wiretap law and the FISA. See EPIC Wiretapping and EPIC Title III Order Statistics.

May 4, 2010

Busted Biometric Traveler ID May Return to US Airports

"Clear," the flawed airport security program that gathered biometric data on hundreds of thousands of travelers before the company went bankrupt, may return with a new operator. The assets of Verified Identity Pass -- including the fingerprints and iris patterns of previous customers -- have been sold at auction to AlClear, which intends to restart the program.  In Congressional testimony in 2005, EPIC warned that the Registered Traveler program should be subject to the federal Privacy Act. For more information, see EPIC Spotlight On Surveillance: Registered Traveler Card, EPIC "Clear"

Draft Privacy Profiling Bill Released

Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) have released a draft Internet privacy bill to regulate online advertising. The bill seeks to provide "meaningful privacy protections for Internet users" by mandating disclosure of privacy practices, regulating the collection and use of personally identifiable information, and requiring affirmative, opt-in consent for disclosure of sensitive information. The bill also establishes opt-in for locational information and creates incentives to limit the collection of personally identifiable information. The bill establishes new requirements for security and accuracy. But privacy groups have expressed concern about provisions of the bill that prevent private enforcement and that preempt state privacy laws, as well as a lengthy data retention period. For more information, see EPIC: Profiling.

May 5, 2010

New Facebook Privacy Complaint Filed with Trade Commission

Today, EPIC and 14 privacy and consumer protection organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, charging that Facebook has engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of consumer protection law. The complaint states that changes to user profile information and the disclosure of user data to third parties without consent "violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook’s own representations." The complaint also cites widespread opposition from Facebook users, Senators, bloggers, and news organizations. In a letter to Congress, EPIC urged the Senate and House Committees with jurisdiction over the FTC to monitor closely the Commission's investigation. The letter noted the FTC's failure to act on several pending consumer privacy complaints. For more information, see EPIC: Facebook Privacy.

May 7, 2010

Senate Unanimously Passes Faster FOIA Act

The Senate unanimously passed the Faster FOIA Act of 2010, introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX), that will establish a 16-member commission to determine methods for reducing delays in processing FOIA requests. Government reports reveal substantial delays in disclosing records subject to the open government law. The legislation seeks to improve the processing of FOIA requests. EPIC frequently uses the FOIA to obtain information about government programs that impact privacy rights. For more information, see EPIC: FOIA Litigation Docket, EPIC: FOIA Litigation Manual.

May 11, 2010

President Obama Nominates Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

President Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the seat on the United States Supreme Court that will be vacated by Associate Justice John Paul Stevens when the term ends this June. Justice Stevens served as a justice for 35 years, and participated in many important privacy cases. Kagan, the former dean of Harvard Law School, wrote about the Supreme Court confirmation process in 1995 that Senators should insist on "evoking a nominee's comments on particular issues—involving privacy rights, free speech, race and gender discrimination, and so forth—that the Court regularly faces."  EPIC has submitted amicus briefs in two cases currently before the Court. For more information, see EPIC - Doe v. Reed and EPIC - City of Ontario v. Quon.

May 12, 2010

EPIC Urges New Jersey Supreme Court to Safeguard Privacy

EPIC has filed a "friend of the court" brief", urging the New Jersey Supreme Court preserve the value of expungement and allow a privacy case to go forward. In G.D. v. Kenny, a New Jersey court dismissed a privacy claim involving publication of information about a prior criminal act, even though the state had issued an expungement order. In the brief, EPIC argued that, "data mining companies ignore judicial determinations and attempt to make conviction records live forever," however, "after someone has been rehabilitated, having paid the prescribed debt to society, he or she should not be penalized in perpetuity." For more information, see EPIC: Expungement and EPIC G.D. v. Kenny.   

EPIC Opposes Efforts of National Intelligence Director to Limit Privacy Act

EPIC has filed comments with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in response to a Federal Register notice and aproposed rulemaking to establish fourteen new databases. The DNI is seeking to exempt portions of these systems from key protections in the Privacy Act of 1974.  EPIC said that this proposal undermines the Privacy Act, and urged the agency not to implement the exemptions. For more information, see EPIC: The Privacy Act of 1974.

Coalition Letter Results in Meeting with White House Cybersecurity Coordinator

EPIC, joined by over 30 organizations, launched a campaign to obtain a meeting with Howard Schmidt, the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. Groups joining the letter included the ACLU, American Library Association, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Liberty Coalition, NAACP, OpenTheGovernment.org, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The White House has agreed to the meeting, which follows Senate confirmation of Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, to lead the U.S Cyber Command. Civil society organizations have expressed concern about the growing role of the NSA in cyber security. EPIC is currently in litigation with the NSA to obtain the secret policy for NSA surveillance authority. For more information, see EPIC Sues NSA to Force Disclosure of Cybersecurity Authority, and EPIC - Cybersecurity Privacy: Practical Implications.

May 14, 2010

Report Says School Officials At Fault in High School Spycam Episode

An independent report finds the Lower Merion School District at fault for the remote monitoring of laptop computers that the District issued to high school students. The report followed a complaint filed by Blake J. Robbins, a student at Harriton High School, alleging that school officials used the laptops to spy on students. The report concluded that 30,564 webcam photographs and 27,428 screen shot images were captured because of "the District's failure to implement policies, procedures, and record-keeping requirements and the overzealous and questionable use of technology" by personnel "without any apparent regard for privacy considerations or sufficient consultation with administrators." EPIC has extensively documented students' privacy rights, see EPIC: Student Privacy.

May 18, 2010

"The Cyber War Threat Has Been Grossly Exaggerated"

Intelligence^2 Debates

"The Cyber War Threat Has Been Grossly Exaggerated"

For the Motion:
Marc Rotenberg
Bruce Schneier

Against the Motion:
 Jonathan Zittrain
 Mike McConnell

The Newseum
Washington, DC
June 8, 2010
(Purchase Tickets)

May 19, 2010

Congress Urges FTC to Investigate Google Following Revelation that "Street View" Scarfed Wi-Fi Data

Congressmen Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edward Markey (D-MA) wrote to FTC Chairman Liebowitz about Google's collection of consumer's private Wi-Fi transmissions. The House members asked the FTC Chairman to investigate whether Google's actions violate federal privacy laws or consumer protection laws. Google has admitted to collecting email and internet surfing data, but has not clarified the extent or nature of the data collection. The letter from Congress follows an investigation in Europe which revealed that Google's "Street View" vehicles in 30 countries collected not only digital images, but also data transmitted on private wireless networks. EPIC has several privacy complaints pending at the FTC, including one on Cloud Computing.

May 21, 2010

EPIC Urges Federal Communications Commission to Open Investigation Into Google Street View

EPIC wrote today to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to recommend that the Commission open an investigation into the consumer data collected from wi-fi hotspots by Google Street View.  In its letter, EPIC stated that Google routinely and secretly intercepted and stored user communications data and routinely and secretly intercepted and stored private communications hotspots. EPIC said that this conduct appears to violate federal wiretap laws as well as the Communications Act and asked the Commission to begin an investigation. EPIC noted that "The Commission plays a critical role in safeguarding the integrity of communications networks and the privacy of American consumers." For more information, see Congress Urges FTC to Investigate Google.

May 25, 2010

Facebook Expected to Announce Privacy Changes

Following a recent column in the Washington Post by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the company is expected to announce new, simplified privacy settings this week.  EPIC objected to the last several rounds of changes that Facebook made, filing a complaint with the FTC in December when the company reclassified much of users' data as "publicly available information," a supplement to that complaint in January, and another complaint this month when Facebook forced users' profile information to become publicly available links instead of private data.  For more information, see EPIC: Facebook, EPIC: In re Facebook, and EPIC: In re Facebook II.

May 26, 2010

Congressional Leaders Write to Google's Schmidt About "Spy-Fi"

Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA), Joe Barton (R-TX), and Ed Markey (D-MA) have sent a detailed letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt about the reports that Google Street View vehicles scarfed up Wi-Fi data in thirty countries, including the United States. The letter follows a complaint that EPIC has sent to the Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, suggesting that Google may have violated federal wiretap laws. For more information, see Congress Urges FTC to Investigate Google.

May 27, 2010

New Study Shows Young Americans Value Privacy

A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that "[r]eputation management has now become a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young." The Pew study Reputation Management and Social Media found that young adults are far more likely than their older counterparts to take steps to maintain control over their digital identities, including changing their privacy settings, restricting access to their data, and removing their names from tagged photographs. The report also found that these privacy-protecting activities have become considerably more common across all age groups than they were when a similar study was conducted in 2006. For more information, see EPIC Public Opinion on Privacy.

May 28, 2010

Ralph Nader, Privacy Groups Urge Congress to Suspend Airport Body Scanner Program

In two letters today, Ralph Nader and ten privacy organizations urged leaders in the House and Senate to cease deployment of full-body scanning devices in US airports until an independent review of the devices' health effects, effectiveness and privacy safeguards is completed. In letters addressed to Congressman Bennie Thompson and Senator Joe Lieberman, the organizations cited the increasing presence of the full-body scanner machines and the health risks posed by the machines. This message echoes previous requests made by EPIC in a letter to President Obama and in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. For more information, see EPIC: Whole Body Imaging Technology and EPIC v. Department of Homeland Security.

About May 2010

This page contains all entries posted to epic.org in May 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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