U.S. Courts Release 2017 FISA Report

8 01 2020

April 25, 2018
Epic.org
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has issued the 2017 report on activities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Scrutiny of FISA applications increased substantially in 2017. The 2017 FISA report reveals that there were 1,614 FISA applications in 2017, of which 1,147 were granted, 391 were modified, 50 were denied in part, and 26 were denied in full. As compared to 2016, the FISA court denied nearly two times as many applications in part, and denied nearly three times as many applications in full. EPIC testified before Congress in 2012 on the need to improve review of FISA applications. In recent comments on US surveillance authority, EPIC noted the reauthorization of 702 spying authorities without sufficient safeguards.
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Blockchain, Personal Data and the GDPR Right to be Forgotten

8 01 2020

Proskauer-Block Chain and the Law
Nicole Kramer
April 17, 2018

The effective date of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is fast approaching (May 25, 2018), and its impacts are already being felt across various industries. Specifically, the conflicts between the GDPR and the technical realities of blockchains raise important legal considerations for companies seeking to implement blockchain solutions that involve the personal data of EU data subjects.

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https://www.blockchainandthelaw.com/2018/04/blockchain-personal-data-and-the-gdpr-right-to-be-forgotten/

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How Americans have viewed government surveillance and privacy since Snowden leaks

8 01 2020

June 4, 2018

PEW research
By A.W. Geiger
Here are some key findings about Americans’ views of government information-gathering and surveillance, drawn from Pew Research Center surveys since the NSA revelations:
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Victory for Privacy: Supreme Court Says Cell Phone Location Records Protected Under Fourth Amendment

8 01 2020

June 22, 2018
In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment protects location records generated by mobile phones. The government in Carpenter v. United States had obtained more than 6 months of location records without a warrant. EPIC filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in Carpenter, signed by thirty-six technical experts and legal scholars, urging the Court to recognize that the “world has changed since Smith v. Maryland” was decided. EPIC argued that “Cell phones are now as necessary to the life of Americans as they are ubiquitous” and that users expect their location data will remain private. The Court agreed, in a decision by the Chief Justice, emphasizing the importance of protecting privacy as technology advances: “As technology has enhanced the Government’s capacity to encroach upon areas normally guarded from inquisitive eyes, this Court has sought to ‘assure[ ] preservation of that degree of privacy against government that existed when the Fourth Amendment was adopted.'” The Court held that “an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements as captured through” a cell phone. Dissenting opinions were filed by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch.

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Appeals Court Finds Smart Meters Trigger Constitutional Scrutiny, But Data Logging is Reasonable

8 01 2020

August 23, 2018
A federal appeals court has ruled that smart meters perform a “search” under the Fourth Amendment but found that their collection of household energy data is “reasonable.”
Smart meters periodically transmit information to public utilities about home energy consumption, which can reveal personal behavior patterns and enable real-time surveillance. “The ever-accelerating pace of technological development carries serious privacy implications,” the Seventh Circuit wrote. “Smart meters are no exception.” The Court held that the searches performed by smart meters are justified by cost reductions and service improvements, but the Court warned that “our conclusion could change” if the meters sent data more frequently or if law enforcement were given easier access to the data. EPIC has long warned about the privacy implications of the smart grid and filed an amicus brief in United States v. Carpenter, a recent Supreme Court case that recognized Fourth Amendment protections for cell phone location data.

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U.S. Defends Privacy Shield, But Fails to Comply with Privacy Commitments

8 01 2020

September 5, 2018
The Department of Commerce has told the President of the European Parliament that the US is in compliance with the Privacy Shield, a pact that permits US companies to obtain the personal data of Europeans. The statement follows a resolution of Parliament to suspend the international arrangement if the U.S. did not comply in full by September 1. The Parliament cited the Cambridge Analytica data breach, the reauthorization of FISA Section 702 without reform, the failure to stand up the PCLOB, the passage of the CLOUD Act, and the absence of a Privacy Shield ombudsman. The Commerce Department disputed the Parliament’s findings but failed to show progress on the issues identified. EPIC highlighted similar problems with data protection in the United States in recent comments to the European Commission. Almost six months have passed since the FTC reopened the investigation of Facebook’s compliance with the 2011 consent order, which followed a complaint from EPIC and other consumer privacy organizations.

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New Federal Law Makes Credit Freezes Free for All Consumers

8 01 2020


September 14, 2018
Starting next week, consumers will be able to “freeze” their credit reports at no cost. A credit freeze restricts public access to a consumer’s credit report, making it much more difficult for identity thieves to open fraudulent accounts. Previously state laws allowed credit bureaus to charge consumers $2 to $10 place or lift credit phrases. Amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act also extend the time period for a fraud alert in a consumer’s file and creates new safeguards for the protection of credit records of minors. Following the Equifax data breach in 2017, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg testified before the Senate Banking Committee and recommended free credit freezes and other consumer safeguards to mitigate the risk of identity theft.


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International Privacy Experts Adopt Recommendations for Connected Vehicles

8 01 2020

The International Working Group on Data Protection adopted new recommendations to protect privacy as vehicles become increasingly connected. The Berlin-based Working
October 4, 2018Group includes data protection authorities who assess emerging privacy challenges. As cars today connect both to the Internet and other vehicles “more and more personal data will be collected and processed by the vehicles and will become accessible to third parties,” the Working Group paper explains. The Working Group recommended that vehicle sensors not store personal data of persons outside the vehicle, allow drivers to opt out of non-essential data collection, and minimize personal data collection. In comments to NHTSA, EPIC called for national safety standards for connected cars. EPIC also underscored the privacy risks of modern vehicles in a recent amicus brief to the Supreme Court. In 2017, EPIC hosted a meeting of the IWG in Washington, D.C. at the Goethe-Institut.

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Inspector General Report: Airport Facial Recognition Faces Technical Problems

8 01 2020

October 4, 2018
A Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report highlighted many challenges to facial recognition at airports. The problems of accurate biometric matches apply to all travelers, and particularly U.S. citizens. According to the Inspector General’s report, “U.S. citizens accounted for the lowest biometric confirmation rate.” A report obtained by EPIC last year through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealed that iris imaging and facial recognition for border control did not perform operate at a “satisfactory” level. In a statement to Congress earlier this year, EPIC warned that biometric identification techniques are unreliable and lack proper privacy safeguards.

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Consumer and Privacy Organizations Propose Framework for U.S. Data Protection

4 01 2020

October 9, 2018
EPIC.org
EPIC joined a group of twelve consumer and privacy organizations that submitted a statement to the Senate Commerce Committee in advance of a consumer privacy hearing. The groups outlined a draft framework for data protection in the U.S., advocating that Congress (1) enact baseline federal data protection legislation; (2) limit government access to personal data; (3) establish algorithmic transparency and end discriminatory profiling; (4) prohibit “take it or leave it” and other unfair terms; (5) ensure robust enforcement; (6) promote privacy innovation; and (7) establish a data protection agency. EPIC also submitted a statement to the Committee that highlighted recent breaches at Google and Facebook and the FTC’s failure to enforce its own consent orders.
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