Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) led a group of fellow Congressional Hispanic Caucus members in writing a letter calling on Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reverse the company’s decision to require WhatsApp users to accept expanded data collection or leave the platform entirely. “We write to respectfully ask Facebook to consider reversing WhatsApp’s decision to update their new terms of service. We believe Facebook is potentially offering a false choice to users across the globe: accept the sharing of metadata with Facebook by May 15th or leave the platform altogether,” the lawmakers wrote. In 2014, EPIC and the Center for Digital Democracy warned the FTC that Facebook incorporates user data from companies it acquires, and that WhatsApp users objected to the acquisition. The FTC responded to EPIC and CDD and told Facebook and WhatsApp that "if the acquisition is completed and WhatsApp fails to honor these promises, both companies could be in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act and potentially the FTC's order against Facebook." The FTC letter noted that "hundreds of millions of users have entrusted their personal information to WhatsApp. The FTC staff continue to monitor the companies' practices to ensure that Facebook and WhatsApp honor the promises they have made to those users." In their letter, the members highlight that pledge and the FTC's statement.
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.
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 2020, 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 2021, EPIC has important work to do on artificial intelligence, face surveillance, data protection, and algorithmic fairness, 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.
More than 40 state attorneys general have sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg pressuring Facebook to drop its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children younger than 13. The Attorneys General, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, expressed bipartisan support to protect children’s privacy and their physical and mental health. The AGs raised concerns about Facebook’s history of privacy incidents, stating “Facebook has a record of failing to protect the safety and privacy of children on its platform, despite claims that its products have strict privacy controls[.]” The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood commented “If Facebook insists on plowing ahead, it’s the clearest sign yet that the company views itself as accountable to no one, even when it comes to the well-being of children, and must be regulated much more rigorously,” and lawmakers have similarly expressed concerns about children’s privacy issues with social media. EPIC signed on to a coalition letter by the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood that urged Zuckerberg to cancel plans to launch a version of Instagram for Children under 13.
According to a news report, the Biden Administration plans to rescind a proposed rule to massively expand the collection of biometric information from immigrants. The rule, proposed towards the end of the Trump Administration, would have granted the Department of Homeland Security broad authority to collect biometric data from immigrants and their families and associates. The rule would have enabled the collecting of palm prints, iris images, voiceprints, DNA, and images for facial recognition regardless of age. In comments to the Department of Homeland Security, EPIC opposed the rule and urged the agency to rescind the proposed rule. EPIC argued that DHS']s broad authorization to collect biometrics was incompatible with the Department's Fair Information Practice Principle. EPIC also specifically called on the agency to suspend the use of facial recognition technology. Last year, EPIC, joined by over 40 organizations called for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to recommend the suspension of face surveillance systems across the federal government.
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The EPIC Alert is a biweekly newsletter highlighting emerging privacy issues.
EPIC in the News
Emotion recognition: can AI detect human feelings from a face?
May 11, 2021
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