Online privacy

Senate examines data, privacy in coronavirus ‘paper hearing’

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold one of the first known congressional “paper hearings” to discuss the use of personal data during the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced Capitol Hill to move much of its business online. The session, as the name indicates, will be carried out entirely through written statements, questions and responses set to be posted online, with witnesses having four days to respond to queries from lawmakers after the end of business April 9. 


Public Knowledge

Thu, 04/09/2020 - 13:00 to 14:00

In the scramble to combat COVID-19, a number of worrying initiatives have been proposed, both here and abroad, to fight this virus. This has included geotracking individuals to see if they are complying with social distancing, directing individuals to screening tools that don't have to comply with health privacy laws, and publishing the identities of those who have been infected. While personal data collection and analysis may be necessary to fight the virus, it's important to be conscious of the potential harms that could arise from those uses.

Senator Markey Queries White House on Plans to Use Americans’ Location Data for Coronavirus Response

Sen Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) regarding recent reports that it is considering future partnerships with companies including Google, Facebook, IBM and others, some of which would involve analyzing information about the location of those companies’ users, to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Sen Menendez, Colleagues Warn Trump Administration, Google of Privacy Concerns in COVID-19 Screening Website

Sen Bob Menendez (D-NJ) led a group of colleagues in sending separate letters to the Trump Administration and the tech company Google raising concerns over privacy and cybersecurity vulnerabilities involving a third-party coronavirus (COVID-19) testing website announced recently by President Donald Trump and coronavirus response coordinator Dr.

Big Tech faces a ‘Big Brother’ trap on coronavirus

As the federal government shifts into an all-hands-on-deck fight to battle coronavirus, President Donald Trump and his White House have increasingly called on tech companies to lend a hand.

It's Not Just the Content, It's the Business Model: Democracy’s Online Speech Challenge

This report, the first in a two-part series, articulates the connection between surveillance-based business models and the health of democracy. Drawing from Ranking Digital Rights’s extensive research on corporate policies and digital rights, we examine two overarching types of algorithms, give examples of how these technologies are used both to propagate and prohibit different forms of online speech (including targeted ads), and show how they can cause or catalyze social harm, particularly in the context of the 2020 U.S. election.

Science and Tech Spotlight: 5G Wireless

Although 5G is mainly being deployed by industry, governments and other organizations will decide how to use public resources, such as spectrum, and what obligations network operators will have to their users. Among the questions they will face are the following:

Sen Moran Introduces Consumer Data Privacy and Security Act

Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced the Consumer Data Privacy and Security Act to strengthen the laws that govern consumers’ personal data and create clear standards and regulations for American businesses that collect, process and use consumers’ personally identifiable data. The Consumer Data Privacy and Security Act would:

Techlash? America's Growing Concern With Major Tech Companies

A new Knight Foundation and Gallup study confirms that, for Americans, the techlash is real, widespread, and bipartisan. From concerns about the spread of misinformation to election interference and data privacy, we’ve documented the deep pessimism of folks across the political spectrum who believe tech companies have too much power — and that they do more harm than good. Some findings:

Data Protection is About Power, Not Just Privacy

Historically, privacy was about protecting aspects of your life from being shared with people in your life you didn’t want to know that information. The use of data to manipulate me into purchasing something I don’t need is a very different kind of harm than the old privacy concerns about unwanted disclosure. In the context of corporate data collection, a continued focus on unwanted disclosure is only a small piece of the puzzle.