A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senators Ron Wyden [D-Ore.] and BIll Cassidy [R-La.] today called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the online ad economy. Wyden, Cassidy and other members asked the FTC to investigate how personal data, including the tracking of individuals at places of worship and protests, collected from Americans’ phones to deliver advertisements is being obtained by data brokers and sold without the knowledge or consent of users. The lawmakers urged the FTC to open a 6(b) investigation into the matter. Earlier this year, consumer groups called on the FTC to use its 6(b) authority to conduct a study on companies collecting data on children. No action has been taken on that request. In addition to Sens. Wyden and Cassidy, the letter is signed by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Edward Markey, D-Mass. Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif, Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., signed as well. EPIC has filed many detailed complaints with the FTC regarding consumer privacy and has called for the creation of a U.S. Data Protection Agency due to the FTC's lack of action on privacy issues.
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.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology showed that face masks undermine the accuracy of facial recognition algorithms. The NIST study tested digitally applied masks of various shapes on 89 commercial algorithms. The result were error rates between 5% and 50%. The algorithms tested were all created pre-Covid-19. NIST plans to test facial algorithms developed with face masks in mind later this summer. A previous NIST study released at the end of last year found that false positives are up to 100 times more likely for Asian and African American faces when compared to White faces. EPIC has previously launched a Ban Face Surveillance campaign and called for a facial recognition moratorium across the globe, as well as suspension across the federal government and in U.S. schools.
In advance of a hearing on "Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google," where the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will testify, EPIC told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust that the U.S. needs a Data Protection Agency. EPIC told lawmakers that merger review must consider data protection. "The United States stands virtually alone in its unwillingness to address privacy as an increasingly important dimension of competition in the digital marketplace," EPIC said. EPIC pointed to the Facebook-WhatsApp deal and the failure of the FTC to protect the personal data of WhatsApp users after the merger. EPIC noted that if the FTC approves Google's acquisition of Fitbit, it will be the 230th firm that Google/Alphabet has acquired "with little action from U.S. antitrust regulators." EPIC also urged the Subcommittee to hold a hearing on H.R. 4978, the Online Privacy Act. EPIC's recent report, Grading on a Curve: Privacy Legislation in the 116th Congress, sets out the key elements of a modern privacy law, including federal baseline legislation and the creation of a Data Protection Agency.
Subscribe to the EPIC Alert
The EPIC Alert is a biweekly newsletter highlighting emerging privacy issues.
EPIC in the News
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