Postings

Comprehensive privacy protections needed at home before transatlantic deal is passed
Consumer Action joined over 20 organizations in urging the Biden administration to pause negotiations on a new transatlantic data transfer agreement until Congress passes comprehensive privacy legislation and reforms surveillance laws. Until the United States addresses privacy protections for personal data, concerns about data transfers to the United States will remain, and data flow agreements are likely to be invalidated.

The new California privacy agency should prioritize consumers’ privacy
The recently-passed California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) augments and supplements California’s existing privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It also creates a new supervisory authority for data protection and privacy in California — the California Privacy Protection Agency. Privacy advocates wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to select members to the new agency who have demonstrated experience working on behalf of consumers and a commitment to civil rights and ending discriminatory business practices.

Advocates urge the Biden administration to reject Big Tech appointments to his cabinet
In a letter to President-elect Biden, consumer and privacy advocates urged the President-elect to avoid appointing representatives from tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to his cabinet. These companies represent serious threats to privacy, democracy, innovation and to Americans’ economic well-being. Advocates warned that representatives from these companies should not hold positions of power within our government. Instead, advocates urged Biden to assemble a team of advocates that will represent working Americans and not the Big Tech companies that work to exploit them.

Privacy advocates urge U.S. FCC to protect privacy during pandemic
Consumer Action joined in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to uphold privacy protections during the pandemic. The agency is attempting to remove the Customer Proprietary Network Information certification requirement, which is the easiest and most straightforward way to hold wireless and telephone companies accountable for violating their customers’ privacy. The COVID-19 crisis has made telecom privacy protections even more essential as people are more reliant than ever on their phones. It would be highly inappropriate for the FCC to eliminate or weaken these valuable protections during the pandemic.

You private genetic testing information can be sold without warning—that needs to change
Help could be on the way for California consumers thanks to SB 980, a bill that was recently approved by the California legislature with strong bipartisan support. If signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the bill would provide strong privacy and security requirements over deeply personal data that Californians currently lack by way of consumer genetic testing services provided by companies like Ancestry and 23andMe.

Protection of democracy and privacy are critical as tech responds to pandemic
Over 80 civil rights, civil liberties, labor, and consumer protection organizations released principles to guide employers, policymakers, businesses, and public health authorities as they consider strategies to reopen American society and deploy information technologies designed specifically to monitor, track, or trace individuals in order to mitigate or respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The groups note the need to protect the civil rights and privacy of all persons, especially communities of color and other populations who are at high risk for the virus, when considering the deployment of technological measures.

White House must prioritize privacy and equity in COVID-19 response
In a letter to Vice President Michael R. Pence, who leads the Coronavirus Task Force, coalition advocates called on the government to set guidelines to protect individuals’ privacy, ensure equity in the treatment of individuals and communities and communicate clearly about public health objectives in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress: Pass a clean budget for FY2021
Advocates called on Congress to pass an upcoming federal budget that funds the things that Americans care about, not undo essential consumer and environmental safeguards through policy riders. Policy riders are attached to legislation and rarely have anything to do with the bill. In fact, most riders are handouts to big corporations and special favors for interest groups that could not become law on their own merits. As Congress prepares the federal budget for fiscal year 2021, no appropriations titles, package of bills, or continuing resolutions should pass if they contain poison pill policy riders that go against the public interest, including policies that ensure safe and healthy food, restrain Wall Street abuses, provide access to justice and fair housing, and guarantee access to safe healthcare.

Backlash grows over use of facial recognition
In a letter to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency in the executive branch, consumer, privacy and civil liberties groups urged President Trump and his administration to prohibit the federal government from using facial surveillance on the American public. Advocates are ringing the alarm after a recent federal study by The National Institute of Standards and Technology found pervasive racial bias in facial surveillance technology, and a New York Times investigation found a startup, Clearview AI, was stockpiling more than 3 billion photos from online sites and offering them up to help law enforcement match photos of suspects to pictures online. Considering the startup’s obvious violations of existing privacy laws, and the prevalent bias and discrimination in the facial recognition systems that are currently in use, advocates recommend a blanket moratorium on the technology.

Congress tackles Americans’ desire for more online privacy
In a joint letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, coalition members called on the committee to enact stronger privacy protections online. The letter explains that out of the three recent privacy bills introduced in committee, the “Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act” (COPRA) is one of the strongest pieces of privacy legislation in the Senate and that it largely satisfies the four principles of the Public Interest Privacy Legislation Principles, which Consumer Action signed onto last November.

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