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February 2015 Archives

February 3, 2015

Fibits, Drones & Automobiles - How the Internet of Things Changes Everything

Fibits, Drones & Automobiles - How the Internet of Things Changes Everything

Jeramie Scott,
EPIC National Security Counsel

LegalTech New York
New York, NY
February 3, 2015

February 9, 2015

"Student Privacy: The Next Frontier Emerging & Future Privacy Issues in K-12 Learning Environments"

"Student Privacy: The Next Frontier Emerging & Future Privacy Issues in K-12 Learning Environments"

Khaliah Barnes,
Director, EPIC Student Privacy Project

Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Cambridge, MA
February 9-10, 2015

February 3, 2015

Great Decisions Lecture Series

Great Decisions Lecture Series

Ginger McCall,
Director, EPIC Open Government Project

Foreign Policy Association
Chapel Hill, NC
Feb. 4, 2015

February 5, 2015

Protecting Employee and Customer Privacy in an Era of ‘Big Data’ Monitoring

Julia Horwitz,
Director, EPIC Consumer Privacy Project

LegalTech New York
New York, NY
February 5, 2015

February 3, 2015

Lawmakers Renew FOIA Reform Efforts

After narrowly failing to pass FOIA legislation last year, lawmakers in the House and the Senate have introduced the FOIA Improvement Act of 2015. The bill requires Federal agencies to operate under a "presumption of openness" and aims to reduce the overuse of exemptions to withhold information from the public. Senators called for swift passage of the bipartisan legislation which promotes transparency. Last October, EPIC and others urged the President to pursue many of the reforms contained in the proposed legislation.

President Discusses Surveillance Reform, Bulk Collection Continues

Today President Obama outlined new steps on surveillance reforms. The Director of National Intelligence also released a privacy framework for non-US persons and revised agency guidelines on data collection. Last year, the President committed to end the bulk collection of American's phone records and increase oversight of intelligence gathering. But the President has not ended the bulk collection program despite the absence of evidence that the program is effective. In 2013 EPIC, joined by dozens of legal experts, petitioned the Supreme Court to find the program unlawful.

February 4, 2015

Online Privacy Bills Introduced in Congress, EPIC Recommends Further Changes

Senators and House Members have introduced bills to update the federal communications privacy law. The proposals would require law enforcement agents to obtain a warrant before they could access e-mails or location data. EPIC has called for a comprehensive overhaul of the federal privacy law. EPIC has recommended protections for location data, data minimization requirements, and end-to-end encryption for commercial email services.

With New Policy Changes, Facebook Tracks Users Across the Web

Over the objections of consumer privacy organizations, Facebook has implemented policy changes that allow the company to track users across the web without consent. The Dutch data protection commissioner launched an investigation after the original announcement. This week the a German privacy agency announced a similar investigation. Last year, EPIC and a coalition of consumer privacy groups urged the FTC to halt Facebook's plan to collect web-browsing information from its users. Facebook is already under a 20 year consent decree for changing users' privacy settings. The consent decree resulted from complaints brought by EPIC and others in 2009 and 2010.

February 5, 2015

"Civil Liberties and National Security: Assessing the Balance"

"Civil Liberties and National Security: Assessing the Balance"

Marc Rotenberg,
EPIC President

Juan C. Zarate,
Chairman, Financial Integrity Network

Council on Foreign Relations

Washington, DC
February 5, 2015

White House Report on "Big Data" Explores Price Discrimination, Opaque Decisionmaking

A White House report on Big Data and Differential Pricing released today examines new forms of discrimination resulting from big data analytics. The White House explained the risks to consumers, acknowledged the failure of self-regulatory efforts, and called for greater transparency and consumer control over their personal information. Last year, EPIC and a coalition of NGOs urged the President to establish privacy protections - including "algorithmic transparency", consumer control, and robust privacy techniques - to address Big Data risks.

Congress to Hold Hearing on Student Privacy

Next week, a House committee will hold a hearing on "How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy." Last month, President Obama proposed legislation to safeguard student data. The legislation would "ensure that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes" And prohibit companies from selling data for non-educational purposes and targeting advertising. Last year, EPIC proposed the Student Privacy Bill of Rights following growing concerns about misuse of student data. EPIC has urged Congress, the Education Department, and the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen student privacy.

Anthem breach Shows Risks of "Big Data"

One of the largest health insurers in the country has lost millions of medical records of American consumers. The most recent breach of sensitive medical information shows the dangers of "Big Data" and the mistaken conclusion of the report of the Presidents Science Advisors, which simply assumed the benefits of data collection. EPIC has urged the FTC to establish data minimization procedures for companies limit the risks of data breaches.

February 9, 2015

Consumer Groups Urge FTC Review of Data Consolidation

A coalition of consumer groups has asked the Federal Trade Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the impact on the American public of the growing consolidation of consumer data in the digital marketing industry. The groups asked the FTC to launch an investigation and hold a public workshop on protecting privacy in online transactions. EPIC has repeatedly urged the FTC to undertake a similar review. In 2007, EPIC opposed Google's acquisition of Doubleclick, the Internet advertising firm, citing the risks of growing consolidation of user data. In 2000, EPIC also opposed Doubleclick's acquisition of Abacus, a large catalog database firm. Privacy officials outside the US have begun to scrutinize these deals more closely.

UK Privacy Groups Prevail in GCHQ Spying Case

A British court that oversees intelligence gathering has ruled that GCHQ, the British spy agency, violated international human rights law with the mass collection of cellphone and Internet data. Last year, the same court ruled that data could lawfully be transferred between US and UK intelligence agencies. That earlier decision is on appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In 2013, following the disclosure of the "Verizon order," which authorized the NSA's routine collection of US telephone records, EPIC brought a petition to the US Supreme Court, arguing that the agency practice exceeded the "Section 215" authority. Dozens of legal scholars and former members of the Church Committee supported the EPIC petition.

February 10, 2015

Senator Markey Report Warns of Risks with "Connected Cars"

A report from Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) finds lax privacy practices at leading auto manufacturers. The Senator said the safeguards in the auto industry for data collection are "inconsistent" and "haphazard." The investigation also revealed, "automobile manufacturers collect large amounts of data on driving history and vehicle performance." Senator Markey has called on the Department of Transportation and the Federal Trade Commission to issue rules to protect driver privacy and security. EPIC has urged the Department of Transportation to protect driver privacy. EPIC has written extensively on interconnected devices, including cars, known as the "Internet of Things" and said also that "cars should not spy on drivers."

In EPIC v. DHS, DC Circuit Backs Agency Secrecy on "Internet Kill Switch"

The federal court of appeals based in Washington, DC has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security may withhold from the public a secret procedure for shutting down cell phone service. EPIC pursued the DHS policy after government officials in San Francisco disabled cell phone service during a peaceful protest in 2011. EPIC sued DHS when the agency failed to release the criteria for network shutdowns. A federal judge ruled in EPIC's favor. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit held for the DHS but said that the agency might still be required to disclose some portions of the protocol.

February 11, 2015

EPIC Urges UN to Support Secure, Anonymous Communications

In a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur, David Kaye, EPIC urged the UN Human Rights Committee to support the use of encryption and anonymity in digital communications. The UN Special Rapporteur is studying encryption and anonymity for a report due to the UN Human Rights Council later this year. Citing extensive work over many years in support of the freedom the use encryption and the fundamental right of anonymity, EPIC stated, "In our modern age, encryption is the key technique and anonymity is the core legal right that protects the right to privacy." Last year, EPIC and others urged NIST to adopt "secure and resilient encryption standards, free from back doors or other known vulnerabilities."

EPIC Urges House to Safeguard Student Privacy

EPIC has sent a statement to a House Committee in advance of the Committee's hearing on "How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy." EPIC urged the Committee to "pursue effective measures that meaningfully safeguard student data," including adoption of the Student Privacy Bill of Rights, privacy enhancing techniques, and a private right of action against companies that unlawfully disclose student data. Last month, President Obama proposed legislation to "ensure that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes." EPIC has previously urged Congress, the Education Department, and the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen student privacy.

February 13, 2015

Executive Order Calls for More Cybersecurity Info "Sharing"

President Obama announced today an Executive Order to promote collaboration between the private sector and the government to counter cyber threats. The Order encourages the companies to disclose user data to the federal government outside any judicial process. The Order also promotes compliance with Fair Information Practices and adoption of such Privacy Enhancing Techniques as data minimization. The Executive Order is one of several cybersecurity initiatives announced by the President. In EPIC v. NSA, after a five-year court battle, EPIC obtained National Security Presidential Directive 54 which revealed the NSA's role in domestic cyber security.

February 15, 2015

President Orders Federal Agencies to Adopt Privacy Rules for Drone Use, FAA Proposes Weak Rules for Commercial Users

The President has issued a new Executive Order requiring all federal agencies to adopt privacy rules for drone use. The Order is intended to limit the collection and use of personally identifiable information. The rules will also require agencies to adopt transparency and accountability procedures for drone use. The Order incorporates recommendations made by EPIC in testimony to Congress and comments to several federal agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration has also proposed new regulations for commercial drone use in the United States. These rules will establish safety procedures for drone use, including maximum height, weight and line-of-sight operation, but the rules do not address the privacy impact of commercial drone use. EPIC petitioned the FAA to establish clear privacy rules for commercial drone operators.

February 17, 2015

Privacy Revisted: Security, Surveillance, and Searches in the Digital Age

"Privacy Revisted: Security, Surveillance, and Searches in the Digital Age"

Marc Rotenberg,
EPIC President

Federal Bar Council
(Second Circuit)
Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
February 17, 2015

February 20, 2015

Searching for Data: New Rules and New Tools

"Searching for Data: New Rules and New Tools"

Alan Butler,
EPIC Senior Counsel

Federal Courts Law Review Symposium
Charleston School of Law
Charleston, SC
February 20, 2015

February 19, 2015

FAA Ignores Privacy Concerns in Public Rulemaking on Commercial Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration announced a public rulemaking for the integration of small commercial drones into the National airspace. The rules will establish safety procedures but will not address privacy concerns. The agency stated that privacy "issues are beyond the scope of this rule making." EPIC and 100+ organizations, experts, and members of the public petitioned the FAA to conduct a public rulemaking on the privacy impact of domestic drone use. Several members of Congress, including Senator Markey and Senator Paul have urged the establishment of privacy laws before surveillance drones are deployed in the United States.

February 20, 2015

EPIC Prevails in "Stingray" Case Against FBI

EPIC has obtained nearly $30,000 in litigation fees as a result of a Freedom of Information Act case against the FBI concerning a new surveillance technology. EPIC's lawsuit produced the release of more than 4,000 pages of documents about a phony cell tower technique called "Stingray." The documents obtained by EPIC revealed that the FBI used the devices to monitor cell phones without a warrant, and provided Stingrays to other law enforcement agencies. Following objections by Senator Grassley, the FBI restricted Stingray use. In EPIC v. FBI, No. 12-667, the Federal District Court awarded EPIC nearly all of the attorneys' fees requested.

February 24, 2015

EPIC Challenges Samsung's Surveillance of the Home, Files FTC Complaint

EPIC has filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission about Samsung's SmartTvs. "Samsung routinely intercepts and records the private communications of consumers in their homes," EPIC wrote. EPIC detailed widespread consumer objections and charged that "privacy notices" do not diminish the harm to American consumers. In setting out the privacy violations, EPIC cited the FTC Act, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, The Cable Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. EPIC also noted a recent speech of FTC Chair Edith Ramirez about privacy and consumer products. EPIC asked the FTC to enjoin Samsung and other companies that engage in similar practices.

February 26, 2015

EPIC Files Lawsuit for Details About Government "Pre-crime" Program

EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit about "Future Attribute Screening Technology", a "Minority Report" program that purports to identify individuals who will commit crimes in the future. EPIC filed the complaint after the DHS failed to respond to EPIC's FOIA request for information. EPIC charged that the agency uses secret algorithms to identify behavioral "abnormalities" that the agency claims indicate "mal intent." "Minority Report" is a 2002 movie with Tom Cruise about "a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crime."

About February 2015

This page contains all entries posted to epic.org in February 2015. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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