In a statement to the Senate Commerce Committee before a hearing on the need for federal privacy legislation, EPIC urged lawmakers to establish an independent U.S. Data Protection Agency. EPIC laid out the FTC's typical privacy playbook: consent decrees, infrequent penalties, and no meaningful changes in business practices. "The FTC does not have the motivation or the tools necessary to enforce meaningful privacy and data protection rights in 2020," EPIC said, pointing to settlements the FTC had reached with Facebook, Google, YouTube, Uber, and Equifax. EPIC also noted the FTC's failure to use its existing authority to regulate privacy, including its rulemaking authority under Section 5 to establish stronger data security standards. "If the FTC fails to use these authorities, then the Commission is not capable of protecting Americans’ privacy, and the Commission should no longer be trusted to do so," EPIC stated. EPIC urged the Committee to hold a hearing on and give a favorable report to S. 3300, the Data Protection Act filed by Senator Gillibrand, which creates an independent U.S. Data Protection Agency.
2020 Election Security
Since launching its Democracy and Cybersecurity Project, EPIC has worked to ensure that elections in the United States are secure and fair for all citizens, even during a pandemic. Through advocacy, litigation, and policy efforts, EPIC is fighting to protect democratic institutions and highlighting privacy and cybersecurity concerns related to election systems.
Liberty at Risk: Pre-trial Risk Assessment Tools in the U.S.
Federal, state, and local governments use Risk Assessment Tools to make key decisions about defendants in criminal cases, depriving accused individuals of their liberty based on subjective assessments of the likelihood that they will flee or commit crimes in the future. Many of these tools are opaque and not subject to independent review. "Liberty at Risk: Pre-trial Risk Assessment Tools in the U.S." provides an overview of Risk Assessment Tools that practitioners and scholars can use to understand the nature of these systems, understand the broader context in which they are used, and help focus their evaluations of the fairness of these systems.
Privacy and the Pandemic
EPIC is working to ensure that private and public sector responses to COVID-19 safeguard the privacy and civil liberties of all people. Through advocacy, oversight, and litigation, EPIC is ensuring that the coronavirus pandemic does not lead to erosion of individual rights. Visit epic.org/covid to see EPIC's resources on these issues.
Kasparov, Experts, NGOs Urge OECD to Back Democratic Values
More than 70 NGOs and Experts, including former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, have asked the OECD Secretary General to reaffirm support for democratic values as the international organization develops policies for national governments that are battling the pandemic.
Court Rules for EPIC in Mueller Case.
A federal judge has agreed to conduct an independent assessment in EPIC's case for the release of the complete Mueller Report. Judge Walton called the Attorney General's conduct in the case EPIC v. DOJ "distorted" and "misleading." EPIC has published a book about the case EPIC v. Department of Justice: The Mueller Report", available for sale at the EPIC Bookstore.
Defend Privacy. Support EPIC.
EPIC is on the front lines of the major privacy and civil liberties debates. In 2019, EPIC has worked to protect democratic institutions, promote algorithmic transparency, and defend the right to privacy. We need your support. And EPIC is a top-rated non-profit - Charity Navigator (Four Star) and Guidestar (Gold). Please donate to EPIC today.
EPIC is on the front lines of the major privacy and civil liberties debates. In 2020, EPIC has important work to do on artificial intelligence, face surveillance, data protection, and election security, among many other issues. Please donate to EPIC today to help us continue this important work.
EPIC Launches Campaign For a Data Protection Agency
EPIC Advisory Board Member Professor Ari Waldman and EPIC Policy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for introduction of Data Protection Act to establish a data protection agency in the United States.
EPIC Files Complaint with FTC about Employment Screening Firm HireVue
EPIC's Jeramie Scott: Ban Face Surveillance
EPIC Senior Counsel Jeramie Scott on CBS News discussing the dangers of face surveillance.
EPIC Launches Campaign to Ban Face Surveillance
EPIC has launched a campaign to ban face surveillance. EPIC will publish information on face surveillance laws, reports, and protests worldwide.
EPIC has sent demand letters to Oracle and TikTok warning both of their legal obligation to protect the privacy of TikTok users if the companies enter a partnership. Last week, following President Trump's threat to effectively ban TikTok from the United States, Oracle reached a tentative agreement to serve as TikTok's U.S. partner and to "independently process TikTok's U.S. data." But the deal, which would pair one of the largest brokers of personal data with a social network of 800 million users, presents grave privacy and legal risks. "Absent strict privacy safeguards, which to our knowledge Oracle has not established, [the] collection, processing, use, and dissemination of TikTok user data would constitute an unlawful trade practice," EPIC wrote. EPIC warned Oracle and TikTok that unless they "adequately protect the privacy of TikTok users"—for example, by committing not to sell TikTok user data or merge it with Oracle products—EPIC intends to bring a lawsuit against both companies under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act. EPIC previously used the same law to force AccuWeather to stop deceptively gathering users' location data. EPIC and a coalition of consumer groups recently filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against TikTok for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
The Justice Department, as part of an open government lawsuit brought by EPIC, has released another round of previously unpublished material from the Mueller Report. The newly disclosed passages are listed in the "Redaction" column of a DOJ spreadsheet—though outside of their original context from the Mueller Report. The spreadsheet was originally drafted to answer questions from Judge Reggie B. Walton, who is conducting an "in camera" review of the complete Mueller Report after determining that Attorney General Bill Barr's redactions may have been "self-serving." Among the newly disclosed material is an excerpt from an Internet Research Agency document that describes the Russian government's goal of "spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general" and states that "All the primaries are purchasable." The DOJ previously released new passages from the Mueller Report in June, and the court is expected to decide soon whether additional material must be published. EPIC's Freedom of Information Act case—the first in the nation for the disclosure of the Mueller Report—is EPIC v. DOJ, No. 19-810.
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EPIC in the News
Public Interest in Tech Scrutiny From Presidential Candidates Has Grown Since Last Year
September 23, 2020
EPIC v. DOJ: Seeking the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Department of Commerce v. New York: Whether the Department of Commerce and Census Bureau violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
EPIC provides expertise to shape strong privacy and open government laws at both the state and federal level.
EPIC recently launched a campaign to promote the creation of a Data Protection Agency in the U.S.
EPIC's Alan Butler on Location Privacy
Privacy Law Sourcebook 2020