“A Big Victory for Privacy Groups” – Facebook Settlement

14 09 2020
EPIC
January 30, 2020
This week Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to settle a lawsuit about the use of facial recognition technology. The New York Times called the settlement “A Big Victory for Privacy Groups.”

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Appeals Court Greenlights Privacy Suit Over Facebook’s Invasive Web Tracking

14 09 2020
EPIC
April 9, 2020
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that Facebook users whose privacy was violated by Facebook’s tracking of web browsing can bring suit against the social media platform. The court held that consumers had the legal right, or “standing,” to sue Facebook and that most legal claims could go forward.

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Half of Americans have decided not to use a product or service because of privacy concerns

12 09 2020

PEW Research Center
Andrew Perrin
April 14, 2020

About half (52%) of U.S. adults said they decided recently not to use a product or service because they were worried about how much personal information would be collected about them.

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Portland City Council Votes to Ban Facial Recognition

12 09 2020
EPIC
September 10, 2020
The Portland City Council has passed two ordinances banning the use of facial recognition. One ordinance prohibits the city from using facial recognition. A second ordinance prohibits private companies from using facial recognition in public spaces. The ordinances note the technologies demonstrated “biases against Black people, women, and older people.” Portland joins a growing list of cities that have banned the facial recognition technology, including Boston, Oakland, and San Francisco. EPIC has launched a campaign to Ban Face Surveillance and through the Public Voice coalition gathered the support of over 100 organizations and many leading experts across 30 plus countries. Earlier this year, an EPIC-led coalition called on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to recommend the suspension of face surveillance systems across the federal government.

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Facebook to be Ordered to Stop Sending EU Data to U.S.

12 09 2020
EPIC
September 10, 2020
The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has reportedly issued a preliminary order instructing Facebook to stop transferring the data of EU users to the United States. The order comes in the wake of a recent the European Court of Justice (CJEU) decision which found the Privacy Shield, which permitted companies to freely transfer users’ personal data, illegally infringed EU residents’ data protection and privacy rights. EPIC participated as an amicus curiae in the case, arguing that U.S. surveillance law does not provide adequate privacy protections or remedies for non-U.S. persons abroad.

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Amazon Claims ‘Halo’ Device Will Monitor User’s Voice for ‘Emotional Well-Being’

10 09 2020
EPIC
September 1, 2020
Despite the exceptional privacy risks of biometric data collection and opaque, unproven algorithms, Amazon last week unveiled Halo, a wearable device that purports to measure “tone” and “emotional well-being” based on a user’s voice. According to Amazon, the device “uses machine learning to analyze energy and positivity in a customer’s voice so they can better understand how they may sound to others[.]” The device also monitors physical activity, assigns a sleep score, and can scan a user’s body to estimate body fat percentage and weight. In recent years, Amazon has come under fire for its development of biased and inaccurate facial surveillance tools, its marketing of home surveillance camera Ring, and its controversial partnerships with law enforcement agencies. Last year, EPIC filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Hirevue, an AI hiring tool that claims to evaluate “cognitive ability,” “psychological traits,” and “emotional intelligence” based on videos of job candidates. EPIC has long advocated for algorithmic transparency and the adoption of the Universal Guidelines for AI.

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Appeals Court: NSA Call Metadata Program Was Illegal, Likely Unconstitutional

10 09 2020
EPIC
September 2, 2020

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled today that the NSA’s bulk collection of phone call metadata violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and was likely unconstitutional. EPIC and a coalition of groups filed an amicus brief in the case, United States v. Moalin, arguing that call metadata is protected under the Fourth Amendment. “We hold that the telephony metadata collection program exceeded the scope of Congress’s [FISA] authorization,” the Ninth Circuit wrote. The court rejected the argument that individuals lack a Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy in call metadata simply because the data is held by phone companies. The public is “likely to perceive as private several years’ worth of telephony metadata collected on an ongoing, daily basis—as demonstrated by the public outcry following the revelation of the metadata collection program,” the court explained. The court cited to the coalition amicus brief and to the work of EPIC advisory board member Laura K. Donohue. However, the court declined in this particular case to exclude the unlawfully collected metadata as evidence. In In re EPIC, EPIC petitioned the Supreme Court to end the NSA’s bulk phone record collection program, which occurred with the 2015 passage of the USA Freedom Act.

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GAO Report: CBP Needs to Address Privacy Issues with Facial Recognition Deployment

10 09 2020
EPIC
September 3, 2020
A report by the Government Accountability Office found that Customs and Border Protection needs to address privacy issues with the agency’s deployment of facial recognition technology at ports of entry. CBP currently deploys facial recognition at 27 airports as part of their Biometric Entry-Exit Program. The GAO found that CBP has not provided adequate privacy notices or information on opting out of facial recognition to the public. Additionally, the agency has failed to implement a plan to audit privacy compliance by airline partners involved in the program. EPIC has previously explained to Congress and the CBP that its Biometric Entry-Exit program unfairly burdens travelers exercising their rights to opt-out of facial recognition. EPIC has called on Congress to suspend facial recognition at airports and earlier this year urged the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to recommend the suspension of face surveillance systems across the federal government.


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Consumer Reports Study Shows Many ‘Smart’ Doorbells Are Dumb, Lack Basic Security

1 09 2020

Tech Dirt
Karl Bode
Mon, Aug 24th 2020

Like most internet of broken things products, we’ve noted how “smart” devices quite often aren’t all that smart. More than a few times we’ve written about smart lock consumers getting locked out of their own homes without much recourse. Other times we’ve noted how the devices simply aren’t that secure, with one study finding that 12 of 16 smart locks they tested could be relatively easily hacked thanks to flimsy security standards, something that’s the primary feature of many internet of broken things devices.

“Smart” doorbells aren’t much better. A new study by Consumer Reports studied 24 different popular smart doorbell brands, and found substantial security problems with at least five of the models. Many of these flaws exposed user account information, WiFi network information, or, even in some cases, user passwords. Consumer Reports avoids getting too specific as to avoid advertising the flaws while vendors try to fix them:

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How Americans see digital privacy issues amid the COVID-19 outbreak

1 09 2020

PEW Research Center
Brooke Auxier 
May 4, 2020

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has brought privacy and surveillance concerns to the forefront – from hacked video conferencing sessions to proposed government tracking of people’s cellphones as a measure to limit and prevent the spread of the virus. Over the past year, Pew Research Center has surveyed Americans on their views related to privacy, personal data and digital surveillance.

Here are 10 key findings that stand out.

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