EPIC Alert 29.07 – July 29, 2022
- Top Updates
- Analysis From EPIC
- EPIC in the News
1. American Data Privacy and Protection Act Advances in Congress
The American Data Privacy and Protection Act was recently favorably reported by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a 53-2 vote and now advances in Congress. EPIC commends the Committee for its work and has sent a letter urging the Senate Commerce Committee to schedule the bill for a markup.
2. EPIC’s Jeramie Scott Testifies to Congress on CBP’s Use of Facial Recognition Technology
EPIC Senior Counsel and Project on Surveillance Oversight Director Jeramie Scott testified on U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s use of facial recognition technology at a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.
3. Leading Privacy Scholars and Advocates Join EPIC’s Advisory Board
This month, EPIC announced the addition of fifteen leading privacy scholars and advocates to its Advisory Board. These new members will help inform EPIC’s research, advocacy, and litigation work at a time when efforts to rein in large technology platforms are front and center in global policy debates.
Analysis From EPIC
The Rise of Chinese Surveillance Technology in Africa: China’s Intelligence Law and Zhong Lun Declaration
In the third of his six-part blog post series, EPIC Scholar-in-Residence Bulelani Jili breaks down China’s layered policy regime, where research & development in surveillance technologies support the state’s ambitions to be a global leader in tech innovation while also enhancing its capacity for domestic social control.
The Shakedown State: Fraud Detection and Predicting the Past
In this blog post, EPIC Scholar-In-Residence Virginia Eubanks analyzes the development of government “zombie debt” collection and explains how predictive fraud technology has been used in public benefit administration and enforcement.
Reproductive Privacy in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism
The recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization poses an unquestionable threat to the safety and privacy of abortion providers and patients alike. In this blog post, EPIC Law Fellows Sara Geoghegan and Dana Khabbaz examine the potential implications of the decision in the age of data brokers and surveillance capitalism.
AI & Human Rights
In a letter following up on a recent Executive Order, EPIC urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to scrutinize federal funding of predictive algorithms and biometric systems in law enforcement. EPIC called on the DOJ to establish meaningful oversight of the grants the DOJ has awarded to state and local law enforcement for predictive and biometric technologies and to temporarily suspend such grants until the DOJ’s study is complete.
Pondera Solutions is one of many companies contracting with agencies across the country and claiming to “predict” and “prevent” fraud in public benefits programs by drawing from data collected by social media scrapers, data brokers, location servicers, credit reporting agencies, and government databases. EPIC is taking an in-depth look into Pondera and has published analysis of the use of Pondera in several states.
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel sent Letters of Inquiry to the top fifteen mobile providers, requesting information about their data retention and data sharing practices related specifically to geolocation data. EPIC routinely calls for greater protections against location tracking and recently urged the FCC to require privacy disclosures of providers in the Commission’s Broadband Nutrition Labels.
EPIC and nine other U.S. consumer protection and privacy groups have submitted a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, urging it to open an investigation into Google’s account sign-up process. The letter states that the structure of the sign-up process hides tracking information from consumers, engages in dark patterns to manipulate consumers into accepting default invasive tracking practices, and makes opting out more difficult and time-intensive than accepting tracking.
In comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, EPIC urged federal agencies to increase funding for privacy-enhancing technologies and to prioritize the adoption of differential privacy. Differential privacy is a method of data analysis that is achieved through the controlled injection of statistical noise into a published study or analysis of a dataset, providing a mathematical guarantee of privacy while preserving the research value of the information.
In comments to the Administrative Conference of the United States, EPIC urged the agency to recommend numerous fixes to the Freedom of Information Act, E-Government Act of 2002, and Federal Advisory Committee Act that would require federal agencies to disclose more records and make those records easier to access.
This month, the Senate Commerce Committee held a markup of two bills related to the privacy of children and teens. EPIC joined over 100 advocacy organizations in supporting the legislation, but also sent a letter to Chair Maria Cantwell and Ranking Member Roger Wicker urging the Committee to schedule the American Data Privacy and Protection Act for a markup. “All Americans, young and old, deserve privacy. Privacy is a fundamental right, and it is long past time for Congress to act to protect the privacy rights of all Americans,” EPIC told the Committee.
The American Data Privacy and Protection Act was favorably reported by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a 53-2 vote and now advances in Congress. The bill would set data minimization obligations for companies that collect and use personal data, impose special protections for particularly sensitive data and the data of minors, establish digital civil rights safeguards, require transparency of algorithmic decision-making, prohibit cross-context behavioral advertising, and provide for enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, and individuals.
This month, the European Parliament voted by a large majority to adopt both the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. These laws will address competition, transparency, and consumer protection in digital markets and are likely to significantly impact tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and more.
Jeramie Scott, EPIC Senior Counsel and Project on Surveillance Oversight Director, testified on U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s use of facial recognition technology at a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. Scott recommended that CBP end its use of facial recognition technology and urged Congress, at a minimum, to implement restrictions on CBP’s use of the technology to mitigate risks to privacy and civil liberties.
EPIC and a coalition of privacy and civil liberties groups urged the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee to push back against “the overbroad authority and insufficient protections in the administration’s proposed legislation expanding government power to counter malicious drones.”
In comments to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, EPIC urged the Board to investigate fusion centers and federal agencies’ use of aerial surveillance, providing specific instances of protest policing and surveillance abuses that the Board should use its authority to investigate.
EPIC in the News
- Forbes: Cops Turn To Google Location Data To Pursue A Death Penalty For 2015 Murder
- Law360: House Panel Looks At Privacy Risks In CBP’s Facial Data Use
- The Washington Post: Your boss might be reading your work messages. Here’s how to prevent that.
- Fox 5 DC: Supreme Court could decide whether police need warrant to search abandoned cell phones
- WIRED: Don’t Look Now, but Congress Might Pass an Actually Good Privacy Bill
- NPR: How to protect your privacy when using mental health care apps
- Protocol: Plan C is a top abortion pill resource. It’s also sharing data with Facebook and Google.
- Bloomberg Law: Biden Summons FTC Aid in Bid to Guard Abortion Data Privacy
- The Drum: Meta may be forced to suspend services in Europe over data transfer concerns — but it’s only the first domino to fall
- Politico: Biden could make prosecuting abortion providers more difficult, activists say
- Time: Lawmakers Scramble to Reform Digital Privacy After Roe Reversal
- Brookings: Why the FTC should proceed with a privacy rulemaking