EPIC Challenges Facebook Privacy Settlement

3 02 2018

EPIC has filed an amicus brief with a federal appeals court urging the court to reject a proposed class action settlement over Facebook’s practice of scanning private messages. EPIC challenged the settlement because it did not require Facebook to stop scanning private messages. In fact, the company can continue scanning messages by simply burying a notice on its website. Also, there was no compensation to Internet users for the prior violation of federal and state laws. EPIC is dedicated to class action fairness in privacy cases and has objected to many similar settlements that failed to provide actual benefits to Internet users. EPIC recently opposed a settlement with Google that allows the company to continue tracking web users. EPIC also opposed a settlement with Facebook in 2014 that allowed the company to continue an unlawful practice.

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US Courts Release Revised Report on FISA

1 02 2018

New Report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Issued

Report of the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on Activities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has issued the 2016 report on activities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The 2016 FISA report reveals that there were 1,752 FISA applications in 2016, of which 1,378 were granted, 339 were modified, 26 were denied in part, and 9 were denied in full. Scrutiny of FISA applications increased substantially in 2016. The FISA court denied more applications in 2016 than it had during the previous 36 years. In testimony before Congress in 2012, EPIC urged increased public reporting of the use of FISA authority to prevent abuse. Several of EPIC’s recommendations are reflected in the revised reporting requirements, following passage of the USA FREEDOM Act in June 2015.

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In EPIC Lawsuit, FAA Concedes Drone Privacy Risks

1 02 2018

The Federal Aviation Administration has filed a brief in response to EPIC’s lawsuit, EPIC v. FAA, concerning the FAA’s failure to establish privacy rules for commercial drones. EPIC sued the FAA after Congress required a “comprehensive plan” for drone deployment in the United States and the FAA denied EPIC’s petition calling for privacy safeguards. In the opposition brief, the FAA acknowledged “that cameras and other sensors attached to [drones] may pose a risk to privacy interests.” The FAA claims that the agency is not ignoring drone privacy risks, but documents from a previous Freedom of Information Act request by EPIC showed the agency also failed to complete a drone privacy report required by Congress.

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Travelers just won back a bit of their privacy at the border

27 01 2018

U.S. customs officials are a bit more limited in their searches than you might think.

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D.C. Circuit to Hear Arguments in EPIC Drone Privacy Case

25 01 2018

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear arguments this week in EPIC v. FAA, a lawsuit concerning the FAA’s failure to establish privacy rules for commercial drones. EPIC’s case is based on an Act of Congress requiring a “comprehensive plan” for drone deployment in the United States and a petition, backed by more than one hundred organizations and privacy experts, calling for privacy safeguards. As EPIC argued in a brief to the Court, “It is not possible to address the hazards associated with drone operations without addressing privacy in the final rule for small commercial drones.” Arguments will be held Thursday morning at the American University Washington College of Law. EPIC Senior Counsel Alan Butler will argue the case. EPIC’s case is EPIC v. FAA, No. 16-1297 (D.C. Cir.).

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Justice Department Exempts “Insider Threat” Database from Privacy Act Safeguards

22 01 2018

The Department of Justice has issued a final rule on the “Insider Threat” database, a program that allows federal agencies to gather virtually unlimited amounts of personal data on individuals based on broad and ambiguous standards. The Department of Justice exempted itself from Privacy Act safeguards that would limit the collection of personal data, and allow individuals access to their information maintained by the federal agency. In detailed comments, EPIC opposed the exemptions sought by the Justice Department. EPIC also questioned whether that information would be adequately protected. The Justice Department responded to EPIC and acknowledged increases in data breaches in both the public and private sectors but stated that the agency had proper safeguards in place to guard against “anticipated threats.”

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DC Court: Warrantless Tracking with “Stingray” Violates of Fourth Amendment

22 01 2018

The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that warrantless use of a cell-site simulator or “stingray” violates the Fourth Amendment. The court found that Stingray devices enable “officers who possess a person’s telephone number to discover that person’s precise location remotely and at will.” The court held that the use of a Stingray invaded a reasonable expectation of privacy and thus, was a Fourth Amendment search. EPIC recently filed a brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case arguing that warrantless location tracking violates the Fourth Amendment. EPIC has also promoted oversight of Stingrays by law enforcement agencies. An EPIC FOIA lawsuit in 2012 revealed that the FBI was using stingrays without a warrant, and that the FBI provided Stingrays to other law enforcement agencies. EPIC has also filed amicus briefs in federal and states courts arguing that cell phone location data is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

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House Bill Expands Drone, Biometric, Communications Tracking at Border

21 01 2018

The House Homeland Security Committee passed H.R. 4548, the “Border Security for America Act,” which would dramatically expand surveillance capabilities along the northern and southern borders of the U.S. The bill seeks “to achieve situational awareness and operational control of the border,” with unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), radar surveillance systems, license plate readers, and biometric databases. The Border Security Act would establish a biometric exit data system at US airports, seaports, and land ports. Biometric data would be combined with other Federal databases. The Privacy Act normally limits the government’s ability to collect personal data, but this bill would exempt the Department of Homeland Security from compliance with the Privacy Act. Previous EPIC FOIA lawsuits have revealed that border surveillance by drones would capture imagery, data, and wifi data of US citizens,

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FTC Report on Connected Cars Lacks Privacy Recommendations

16 01 2018

The Federal Trade Commission released a brief report summarizing a June 2017 workshop, co-hosted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on connected vehicles. While the report acknowledges consumer privacy interests, the report offers no concrete proposals for how the FTC will address the privacy and safety risks of connected cars. EPIC submitted comments to the FTC and NHTSA and gave a presentation at the FTC workshop, calling for national safety standards for connected cars. In a recent amicus brief to the Supreme Court, EPIC also underscored the privacy risks of rental cars, which collect vast troves of personal data. The Senate is currently considering a bill on connected cars and the NHTSA recently released revised guidance for connected cars, but both lack mandatory safety standards and encourage industry self-regulation.

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Porn websites beef up privacy protections days after Congress voted to let ISPs share your Web history

16 01 2018

Pornhub now supports HTTPS, a key security standard.

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