Recent Updates

  • European Parliament Committee Approves Final Digital Markets Act Text With New Rules for Online Platforms
    The Internal Market Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament has voted to approve a final compromise text of the Digital Markets Act, clearing the way for a plenary vote on the Act in December. The updated text includes tougher restrictions on use of individual data (particularly sensitive data) for ad targeting purposes, stronger consent requirements, … Continued
  • EPIC to Massachusetts Legislature: Ban Face Surveillance
    EPIC Deputy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald is testifying today before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of “An Act to Regulate Face Surveillance.” The bill prohibits government agencies, with the exception of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, from acquiring or deploying their own face surveillance systems. “There is growing recognition that facial … Continued
  • Representatives Eshoo and Lofgren Reintroduce Online Privacy Act
    Representatives Eshoo and Lofgren have reintroduced the Online Privacy Act, a comprehensive framework for privacy and data protection in the United States. The bill would establish a digital privacy agency, create meaningful privacy rights for consumers, and hold companies accountable for the collection and use of personal data. “The Online Privacy Act of 2021 takes the steps needed to … Continued
  • PC Mag: Who Owns Your Data? Calif. Congresswomen Try Again With Online Privacy Act
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center, meanwhile, posted a warmer endorsement, with its Deputy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald saying the bill “takes the steps needed to change the business practices that drive corporate surveillance in the United States.” Last year, EPIC scored Eshoo and Lofgren’s bill gave it an A grade, the highest of 11 bills considered at the … Continued
  • Statement: EPIC Supports the Online Privacy Act
    EPIC Deputy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald issued the following statement in support of the Online Privacy Act filed by Representatives Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren today: “The Online Privacy Act of 2021 takes the steps needed to change the business practices that drive corporate surveillance in the United States. Representatives Eshoo and Lofgren’s bill sets forth strong rights … Continued
  • EPIC & Coalition Tell Supreme Court to Hear Warrantless Pole Camera Surveillance Case
    EPIC, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Democracy & Technology, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed an amicus brief last week supporting Supreme Court review in a case concerning long-term continuous pole camera surveillance of a person’s home. In Tuggle v. United States, the Seventh Circuit held … Continued
  • EPIC, Coalition Urge Swift Confirmation of Alvaro Bedoya to FTC
    EPIC and coalition of organizations urged the Senate Commerce Committee today to ensure a quick confirmation of Professor Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission. President Biden nominated Bedoya, the founding director of the Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology, to serve as member of the FTC in September. “Professor Bedoya has been at the forefront of … Continued
  • EPIC and NCLC Urge FCC to Hold Carriers Accountable for SIM Swapping and Port-Out Fraud
    On Monday, EPIC and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) submitted comments in support of the FCC’s proposals to protect American consumers against fraudsters who wrongly seize their mobile accounts. EPIC and NCLC also urged the Commission to hold carriers responsible for consumers’ fraud-based losses. SIM swapping occurs when a fraudster convinces a mobile carrier to … Continued
  • R3D: Meta limita el reconocimiento facial en Facebook, pero seguirá usándolo en sus futuros productos
    John Davisson, abogado del Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), comentó que un ambiente de realidad virtual como el que propone el metaverso puede recabar una gran cantidad de información biométrica. “Dependiendo de cómo se construya el sistema, estos datos pueden incluir movimiento oculares, rastreo corporal, escaneo de rostros, huellas de voz, presión arterial, ritmo cardiaco, … Continued
  • S&P Global: FCC considers French satellite constellation for IoT
    The event, titled “The Evolving Privacy Landscape in the Absence of Federal Legislation,”will feature speakers including Alan Butler, executive director and president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center; Jessica Lee, partner at Loeb & Loeb LLP; Rachel Nemeth, senior director of regulatory affairs at the Consumer Technology Association; and David Vladeck, professor of law at … Continued
  • EPIC Amicus Brief Urges Court to Recognize First Amendment Right to Livestream the Police
    EPIC has filed an amicus brief in Sharpe v. Winterville Police Department supporting people’s right to livestream their public interactions with police. The plaintiff in the case, Sharpe, sued the Winterville Police Department after an officer forcibly grabbed his phone and threatened him with jailtime for livestreaming his encounter with police as a passenger in a pulled-over car … Continued
  • Center for American Progress: How To Regulate Tech: A Technology Policy Framework for Online Services
    However, as outlined in a recent report by the Electronic Privacy Information Center,193 the FTC does have unused authorities it could exercise around online privacy. Commissioners have shown recent interest in reviving the FTC’s latent authorities to tackle data privacy, including the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act rule-making authority.194 Under new leadership, there are indications that the FTC may … Continued
  • MediaPost: 60% Give High Enjoyment Rating To Streamed Shows With Customized Ads
    Hub Entertainment Research has released another survey finding indicating that many streaming viewers aren’t opposed to advertising, given acceptable content and delivery modes. Read more here.
  • Who What Why: ICE Doubles Down On Controversial Facial Recognition Technology
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Wiener praised developments at the state and local level toward reining in facial recognition technology. In the US, Clearview’s technology isn’t  controversial enough to prevent governments and law enforcement from using it — yet.  We’re “still far from that moment, but we’re moving towards it,” he said. Read more here.
  • EPIC and NCLC Urge FCC to Consider Voice Provider’s Track Record in Modifying Caller ID Compliance Deadline
    On Friday, EPIC and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) urged the FCC to protect the American phone network from dangerous scam calls. Illegal robocallers and other scam callers often use fake Caller ID information to make their call look like it’s coming from another source, like a local business or the IRS. Recent legislation requires all … Continued
  • MediaPost: Don’t Use Artificial Intelligence To Target Ads To Teens, Watchdogs Urge Facebook
    Dozens of advocacy groups are calling on Facebook to avoid using artificial intelligence in order to decide which ads to serve to users under 18. “We are writing to urge you to immediately end all surveillance advertising to children and adolescents, including the use of artificial intelligence to optimise the delivery of specific ads to … Continued
  • The National Interest: Joe Biden’s Big Mistake: Building a Gun Ownership Database?
    This isn’t just a Second Amendment issue, as noted by Electronic Privacy Information Center(EPIC), which was established in 1994 as a public interest research center focused on privacy and civil liberties. It considered both sides of the debate for a national gun database: “Some gun-control lobbyists argue that if records of gun owners were made available, … Continued
  • EFF: EFF to Supreme Court: Warrantless 24-Hour Video Surveillance Outside Homes Violates Fourth Amendment
    EFF, along with the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is urging the Supreme Court to take up Tuggle’s case. It would be the first time the court has considered the rules around warrantless pole camera surveillance. Read more … Continued
  • Facebook to Limit Ad Targeting for ‘Sensitive’ Characteristics, But Targeted Ads to Remain
    Facebook announced this week that it will limit advertisers’ ability to target ads based on users’ history of interacting with political, religious, health-related, and certain other content on the platform. By January 2022, the company plans to restrict “detailed targeting” options “that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive, such as options referencing causes, … Continued
  • Dallas Observer: Leaked Dallas Police Helicopter Surveillance Footage Raise Privacy Concerns
    “The unspoken assumption has been that everywhere in public is fair game for police,” said Alan Butler, executive director of the D.C.-based privacy research group Electronic Privacy Information Center. But the number of surveillance technologies available to police has far outpaced the laws regulating them, Butler said.  Read more here.
  • EPIC, Peer Organizations Urge California Privacy Agency to Establish Strong Data Protection Regulations
    EPIC and three peer organizations urged the California Privacy Protection Agency on Monday to implement strong, privacy-protective regulations under the state’s new data protection law. Approved by California voters in 2020, the California Privacy Rights Act established the state’s data protection agency, requires risk assessments for certain types of data processing, permits residents to opt … Continued
  • EPIC, Coalition Urge Congress to Strengthen FTC’s Power to Halt Data Abuse
    EPIC and thirty-four civil rights, civil liberties, and consumer protection organizations joined a letter today urging Congress to pass key provisions of the Build Back Better Act that will strengthen the Federal Trade Commission’s power to halt discriminatory and abusive data practices. The bill provides $1 billion in funding for the Commission’s privacy and antitrust … Continued
  • Bellingham, WA Bans Government Use of Facial Recognition, Predictive Policing Tech
    A ballot initiative passed in Bellingham, Washington bans city officials, including police officers, from obtaining or using facial recognition technology, or any information derived from facial recognition. The bill also bans contracting for third party facial recognition services and the use of predictive policing technologies. The ballot initiative passed by a 10-point margin despite opposition from … Continued
  • USA Today: Facebook to shutter its facial recognition features: Talking Tech podcast
    There were some interesting responses to Meta’s pronouncement. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, one of several consumer privacy groups that had criticized Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology and had actually called for Facebook to quit using the technology 10 years ago, called the move welcome news, and said, “For far too long, internet users … Continued
  • PRESS RELEASE: EPIC Honors Privacy Advocates at 2021 Champions of Freedom Awards Ceremony
    WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) honored Joy Buolamwini of the Algorithmic Justice League, Joseph Cox of MotherBoard, The Markup, and Shoshana Zuboff at its annual Champions of Freedom Awards Ceremony. Policymakers, academics, journalists, advocates, and other guests joined EPIC for an evening of celebration at the National Press Club. … Continued
  • The North State Journal: Facebook to shut down face-recognition system, delete data
    It is a big deal, it’s a big shift but it’s also far, far too late,” said John Davisson, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. EPIC filed its first complaint with the FTC against Facebook’s facial recognition service in 2011, the year after it was rolled out. Read more here.
  • Associated Press: Facebook to shut down face-recognition system, delete data
    “It is a big deal, it’s a big shift but it’s also far, far too late,” said John Davisson, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. EPIC filed its first complaint with the FTC against Facebook’s facial recognition service in 2011, the year after it was rolled out. Read the full article here.
  • Vox/Recode: Facebook is backing away from facial recognition. Meta isn’t.
    “Every time a person interacts with a VR environment like Facebook’s metaverse, they’re exposed to collection of their biometric data,” John Davisson, an attorney at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Recode. “Depending on how the system is built, that data could include eye movements, body tracking, facial scans, voiceprints, blood pressure, heart rate, details … Continued
  • Brennan Center for Justice: A Crucial Supreme Court Case on Accountability for Discriminatory Surveillance
    The Brennan Center filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Fazaga alongside the Due Process Institute, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, FreedomWorks, and TechFreedom. We argue that allowing the state secrets privilege to block judicial review would make civil litigation challenging abuses of power under FISA virtually impossible. That would clearly violate Congress’s intent in passing FISA, … Continued
  • Lexology: Through Rain, Sleet, Snow, Hail and Social Media?
    “An Internet privacy watchdog organization filed a lawsuit recently in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the United States Postal Service. In Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) v. United States Postal Service, et al., EPIC alleges that the USPS’s law enforcement unit (yes, that exists), has been tracking and collecting … Continued
  • New York Times: Facebook, Citing Societal Concerns, Plans to Shut Down Facial Recognition System
    “Over the last decade, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based privacy advocacy group, filed two complaints about Facebook’s use of facial recognition with the F.T.C. When the F.T.C. fined Facebook in 2019, it named the site’s confusing privacy settings around facial recognition as one of the reasons for the penalty. “This was a known problem that we … Continued
  • Facebook Abandons Facial Recognition System Long Targeted by EPIC
    Facebook announced Tuesday that it will end its use of facial recognition over “growing societal concerns,” bringing an end to a deeply controversial practice that EPIC twice targeted in complaints to the Federal Trade Commission. Since 2010, Facebook has used facial recognition to identify people who appear in users’ photos and videos and to suggest … Continued
  • FTC Issues New Policy Statement on Dark Patterns
    The Federal Trade Commission has published a new policy statement warning companies “against deploying illegal dark patterns that trick or trap consumers into subscription services” and free-to-pay trials. The policy statement sets out guidance on what constitutes disclosure of “material terms” in a clear and conspicuous manner, how “negative option” sellers can attain express informed … Continued
  • EEOC Announces Initiative on AI and Algorithmic Fairness
    The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is launching an initiative to ensure that Artificial Intelligence used in employment decisions complies with federal civil rights laws. In a statement, EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows explained that algorithmic decision-making tools “may mask and perpetuate bias or create new discriminatory barriers to jobs” and that the EEOC “must work to ensure that these new technologies do not … Continued
  • Wired: This Group Pushed More AI in US Security—and Boosted Big Tech
    Ben Winters, a lawyer who works on AI issues at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, supports some of those suggestions, but he says that overall the commission’s recommendations lean heavily toward deploying, rather than constraining, AI. The result resembles some AI ethics suggestions from the tech industry, he says, which lack sufficient bite to meet … Continued
  • FTC Unveils Updates to Safeguards Rule
    The Federal Trade Commission this week announced a series of updates to the Safeguards Rule intended to strengthen the security of customer information used by non-bank financial institutions. The revised rule specifies measures that institutions must use to protect personal data, including encryption, access controls, and multifactor authentication. The new rule also mandates that each … Continued
  • JD Supra: Through Rain, Sleet, Hail and Social Media
    An Internet privacy watchdog organization filed a lawsuit recently in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the United States Postal Service. In Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) v. United States Postal Service, et al., EPIC alleges that the USPS’s law enforcement unit (yes, that exists), has been tracking and collecting … Continued
  • Statement: Coalition Letter Urging FTC to Issue Rules Protecting Consumers Against Data Abuse and Discrimination
    EPIC Senior Counsel John Davisson issued the following statement regarding the coalition letter from 44 consumer advocacy, civil rights, and media democracy groups urging the Federal Trade Commission to initiate a rulemaking to promote civil rights and protect against abusive data practices: “This country faces a deepening crisis of data abuse and discrimination. But the FTC has … Continued
  • EPIC, Coalition Urge FTC to Issue Rules Protecting Consumers Against Data Abuse and Discrimination
    Today, EPIC and a coalition of 44 consumer advocacy, civil rights, and media democracy groups urged the Federal Trade Commission to initiate a rulemaking to promote civil rights and protect against abusive data practices. “Companies use personal data to enable and even perpetuate discriminatory practices against people of color, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, religious … Continued
  • Law360: US Postal Service Moves To Escape Facial Recognition Suit
    The U.S. Postal Service is asking a D.C. federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging its use of facial recognition and other technologies to collect personal information, saying a privacy watchdog lacks standing because it hasn’t shown how the organization was harmed. Read the full story here.
  • Postal Times: US Postal Service Moves To Escape Facial Recognition Suit
    The Postal Service argued in its Oct. 19 dismissal motion that the Electronic Privacy Information Center cannot seek a cease-and-desist order to suspend the Internet Covert Operations Program, or iCOP, which provides open-source intelligence on individuals and organizations to support the service’s law-enforcement unit’s investigations. Read the full story here.
  • Bloomberg: U.S. Postal Service Calls for Facial Recognition Suit Dismissal
    A facial recognition and social media monitoring lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service should be dismissed because the plaintiff lacks standing, the agency is arguing in D.C. federal court. Plaintiff Electronic Privacy Information Center lacks standing because it didn’t adequately allege injury to itself and because its alleged injuries aren’t redressable, the USPS argued in … Continued
  • Senate Dials Back Plan to Force SSN Collection by Payment Services, As EPIC Urged
    The Senate Finance Committee has significantly scaled back a proposal in the pending budget reconciliation bill to expand the mandatory reporting regime for private financial information in the United States, a move that EPIC and peer organizations called for last month. The original proposal would have required peer-to-peer apps and services to provide the IRS with Tax Identification Numbers … Continued
  • TechTarget: FTC pursues AI regulation, bans biased algorithms
    The agency tries to regulate how businesses use AI algorithms by enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Equal Opportunity Credit Act and FTC Act. Critics want more regulation. Read full story here.
  • ABC 7: Local banker discusses proposed changes to federal banking rules
    Executive Director Alan Butler for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on research and advocacy, said the threshold should be raised because it will not help close the tax gap that could potentially pay for the proposed infrastructure bill. Read full story here.
  • EPIC and NCLC Encourage FCC to Impose Specific Requirements on VoIP Providers to Reduce Illegal Robocalls
    Last night, EPIC and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) urged the FCC to demand more robust and explicit commitments from voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service providers to protect American consumers from unwanted robocalls. Callers launching robocall campaigns often rely upon VoIP networks to do so. The advocacy groups’ comment to the FCC outlines a series … Continued
  • Law360: DC Circ. Balks At DOJ In Fight To ID Mueller Probe Witnesses
    Read full story here.
  • MarketWatch: Biden wants IRS to monitor people’s bank accounts more closely — will it catch tax cheats, or invade privacy?
    Another concern on the $600 inflow/outflow reporting requirement also centers on privacy, and which money sources come under the microscope. For example, it’s not clear if fintechs like Cash App would be covered by the rules, according to Alan Butler, executive director and president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Read the full story here. … Continued
  • EPIC Applauds FTC SpyFone Ban, Urges Similar Remedies in Future Privacy Cases
    EPIC has filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to finalize a proposed Consent Order that would permanently ban SpyFone from the surveillance business and require the stalkerware company to delete the personal data that it stole. According to an FTC complaint, SpyFone sold surveillance tools that would allow purchasers to install software on another person’s device … Continued
  • California Enacts Genetic Information Privacy Act
    This week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Genetic Information Privacy Act, which had been passed unanimously by the California Senate and Assembly in September. The Act requires direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies to provide consumers with certain information regarding the company’s policies and procedures for the collection, use, maintenance, and disclosure of genetic data, and to … Continued