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EPIC to Senate: Weaknesses in Cybersecurity Threaten Both Consumers and Democratic Institutions

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EPIC submitted a statement to the Senate Homeland Security Committee in advance of a hearing on "Cyber Threats Facing America." Last year, the White House National Security Strategy report set out the administration's goals for global policy. EPIC supports several of the goals in the National Strategy report, including enhanced cybersecurity, support for democratic institutions, and protection of human rights. EPIC wrote to the Senate Committee to seek assurances that those goals will remain priorities for this administration. Quoting former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, EPIC also said "perhaps it is a firewall and not a border wall that the United States needs to safeguard our national interests at this moment in time."

Categories: Privacy

EPIC Sues FTC for Release of Facebook's Audits

Fri, 2018-04-20 17:45

EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the release of the unredacted Facebook Assessments from the FTC. The FTC Consent Order. required Facebook to provide to the FTC biennial assessments conducted by an independent auditor. In March, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 2013, 2015, 2017 Facebook Assessments and related records. EPIC's FOIA request drew attention to a version of the 2017 report available at the FTC website. But that version is heavily redacted. EPIC is suing now for the release of unredacted report. EPIC has an extensive open government practice and has previously obtained records from many federal agencies. The case is EPIC v. FTC, No. 18-942 (D.D.C. filed April 20, 2018).

Categories: Privacy

EPIC Obtains Partial Release of 2017 Facebook Audit

Fri, 2018-04-20 17:10

EPIC has obtained a redacted version of the 2017 Facebook Assessment required by the 2012 Federal Trade Commission Consent Order. The Order required Facebook to conduct biennial assessments from a third-party auditor of Facebook's privacy and security practices. In March, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 Facebook Assessments as well as related records. The 2017 Facebook Assessment, prepared by PwC, stated that "Facebook's privacy controls were operating with sufficient effectiveness" to protect the privacy of users. This assessment was prepared after Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal data of 87 million Facebook users. In a statement to Congress for the Facebook hearings last week, EPIC noted that FTC Commissioners represented that the Consent Order protected the privacy of hundreds of millions of Facebook users in the United States and Europe.

Categories: Privacy

Senator Blumenthal Calls On FTC To Enforce Consent Order Against Facebook

Fri, 2018-04-20 10:25

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has called for "monetary penalties that provide redress for consumers and stricter oversight" in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. Senator Blumenthal focused on the FTC's 2011 Consent Order that EPIC, and a coalition of consumer groups obtained, after preparing a detailed complaint in 2009. Referring to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Senator Blumenthal wrote that "three of the FTC's claims concerned the misrepresentation of verification and privacy preferences of third-party apps." Senator Blumenthal also raised questions about the FTC's monitoring of the consent order, noting that "even the most rudimentary oversight would have uncovered these problematic terms of service." And the Senator stated, "The Cambridge Analytica matter also calls into question Facebook's compliance with the consent decree's requirements to respect privacy settings and protect private information." EPIC and other consumer groups recently urged the FTC to reopen the investigation. The FTC has confirmed that an investigation of Facebook is now underway.

Categories: Privacy

Latin American Consumer Groups Urge Facebook to Comply with GDPR in All Countries

Thu, 2018-04-19 12:00

A coalition of 14 consumer groups in Latin America has sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at a global level. The groups wrote, "The GDPR provides a solid foundation for the protection of personal data: it establishes clear responsibilities for companies that collect and process personal data and provides data subjects, Facebook users whose data your company collects and processes, with clear rights. These are protections that all users should be entitled to, regardless of where they are located." Earlier this month, the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), a coalition of consumer groups in North America and Europe, also sent a letter to Facebook advocating for the GDPR to be implemented as a baseline standard of data protection for all users.

Categories: Privacy

EPIC Tells House Committee: Require Transparency for Government Use of AI

Thu, 2018-04-19 11:50

In advance of a hearing on "Game Changers: Artificial Intelligence Part III, Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy," EPIC told the House Oversight Committee that Congress must implement oversight mechanisms for the use of AI by federal agencies. EPIC said that Congress should require algorithmic transparency, particularly for government systems that involve the processing of personal data. EPIC also said that Congress should amend the E-Government Act to require disclosure of the logic of algorithms that profile individuals. EPIC made similar comments to the UK Privacy Commissioner on issues facing the EU under the GDPR. A recent GAO report explored challenges with AI, including the risk that machine-learning algorithms may not comply with legal requirements or ethical norms. EPIC has pursued several criminal justice FOIA cases, and FTC consumer complaints to promote transparency and accountability. In 2015, EPIC launched an international campaign for Algorithmic Transparency.

Categories: Privacy

EPIC Supports Additional Regulation of Robocalls

Tue, 2018-04-17 19:40

In advance of a hearing on "Abusive Robocalls and How We Can Stop Them" EPIC recommended reforms that would combat fraud while protecting privacy. EPIC supports regulations that would (1) allow phone providers to proactively block numbers that are unassigned, unallocated, or invalid; (2) block invalid numbers without requiring consumer consent; (3) provide strong security measures for any database of blocked numbers; and (4) prohibit spoofing with the intent to defraud or cause harm. EPIC played a leading role in the creation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and continues to defend the Act.

Categories: Privacy

EPIC Tells Congress to Consider Census Privacy Risks

Tue, 2018-04-17 19:05

In advance of a hearing on the Census Bureau, EPIC told Congress to consider the privacy issues arising from potential misuse of Census data. After the Department of Commerce announced that the 2020 Census will include a question on citizenship status, many have expressed concerns about the confidentiality of the data collected. EPIC told Representatives: "your committee should ensure that the data collected by the federal government is not misused." The census raises significant privacy risks and has been used to discriminate. EPIC previously obtained documents which revealed that the Census Bureau transferred the personal data of Muslim Americans to the Department of Homeland Security after 9-11. As a consequence, the Census Bureau revised its policy on sharing statistical information about "sensitive populations" with law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Customs and Border Protection also changed its policy on requesting "information of a sensitive nature from the Census Bureau."

Categories: Privacy

Tax Day: EPIC Files Second Lawsuit to Obtain Trump Tax Records

Tue, 2018-04-17 16:40

EPIC has filed a second Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain President Trump's tax records. EPIC is seeking information about IRS settlements involving the President and his businesses—information which the agency is required to disclose to the public upon request. The IRS agreed to process EPIC's request in February but has failed to release any records to date. EPIC previously sued the IRS for the release of the President's personal tax returns to correct misstatements of fact about his financial ties to Russia. President Trump tweeted "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim contradicted by the President's own lawyers. That case, EPIC v. IRS, is now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. EPIC is litigating several other FOIA cases about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack) and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).

Categories: Privacy

Supreme Court Vacates Microsoft Email Privacy Case

Tue, 2018-04-17 15:30

The Supreme Court has vacated United States v. Microsoft, a case concerning whether a U.S. communications law can be used by a U.S. law enforcement agency to obtain personal data stored outside of the U.S. While the case was pending, the Congress quickly passed the CLOUD Act, which requires internet companies to hand over personal data to U.S. law enforcement agencies, no matter where that data is stored. The Court then determined that there was no longer a matter to adjudicate and ended the proceeding. EPIC's amicus brief to the Supreme Court argued that human rights law and privacy standard should govern law enforcement access to personal data stored abroad. In recent comments to the UN, EPIC explained that the CLOUD Act "undermines communications privacy protections."

Categories: Privacy

EPIC to House Oversight Committee: Support Release of Trump Tax Records

Tue, 2018-04-17 10:35

In advance of a hearing regarding IRS oversight, EPIC sent a statement to a House committee urging the release of President Trump's tax returns. As EPIC explained, "candidates for the Presidency have routinely released tax record information to the American public. Mr. Trump broke with that tradition even though he pledged to make this information publicly available." As a consequence, EPIC brought a FOIA suit for the release of the President's tax returns. EPIC recently filed the opening brief in EPIC v. IRS, now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. EPIC told the court that the IRS has the authority to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"--a claim "plainly contradicted by his own attorneys, family members, and business partners." As EPIC explained to the Court and to Congress, "there has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS."

Categories: Privacy