U.S. Supreme Court wrestles with Microsoft data privacy fight

Supreme Court justices wrestled with Microsoft’s dispute with the US Justice Department over whether prosecutors can force technology companies to hand over data stored overseas, with some signaling support for the government and others urging Congress to pass a law to resolve the issue. Microsoft argues that laws have not caught up to modern computing infrastructure and it should not hand over data stored internationally. The Justice Department argues that refusing to turn over easily accessible data impedes criminal investigations.

Another campaign, another outrage over ‘free phones’

Former President Donald Trump questioned who was paying for the phones of illegal aliens, suggesting that the federal government is handing out high-quality cellphones to migrants as part of its purported efforts to flood the country with immigrants. This is the latest iteration of the political right’s frustration with the idea that the government (and, particularly, an incumbent Democratic president) is spending money on frivolous giveaways (in their estimation) to poor people of color. The government does have a program in which people seeking asylum are given mobile devices.

Google has a new tool to outsmart authoritarian internet censorship

Google is launching new anti-censorship technology, Outline VPN, to increase access for internet users living under authoritarian regimes.

Republican presidential contenders are taking aim at Silicon Valley

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed into law a so-called “digital bill of rights” aimed at giving residents more control of their data, boosting children’s protections online, and barring social networks from coordinating with government officials to “censor” speech. It marked the latest broadside from a Republican presidential contender against Silicon Valley, which is poised to be a significant target as the 2024 campaign heats up.

Hearing from the American People: How Are Automated Tools Being Used to Surveil, Monitor, and Manage Workers?

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is releasing a public request for information (RFI) to learn more about the automated tools used by employers to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage workers. The RFI seeks to advance our understanding of the design, deployment, prevalence, and impacts of these automated technologies. Employers are increasingly investing in technologies that monitor and track workers, and making workplace decisions based on that information. Through this RFI, we hope to gather:

China has equipment that can spy on us in our telecommunications networks. We must remove it now

Due to a shortfall in federal funding for a critical national security program under the Secure and Trusted Communications Act — commonly known as “rip and replace” — US telecommunications networks remain riddled with insecure equipment manufactured by companies beholden to the government of China that can do everything from capture Americans’ data to disrupt critical communications at US Strategic Command. The potential consequences of the widespread infiltration of U.S. networks by Chinese state-connected companies Huawei Technologies Ltd.

Iran’s Online Crackdown Prompts Smuggling of Starlink Kits

Iran’s government has throttled down bandwidths, stepped up filtering of social-media sites and taken down virtual private networks, according to analysts and reports by nongovernment organizations. It has also sought to intercept Starlink and other satellite internet devices, which are illegal in Iran. The number of Iranians with access to Starlink is a tiny fraction of the millions who use virtual private networks and other platforms to evade government restrictions, users say.

Elon Musk Doubles Down on Military with Starlink Spinoff 'Starshield' for National Security

Elon Musk and SpaceX are launching a military-branded version of Starlink called Starshield. According to its newly launched website, Starshield will be the military and government version of Starlink, a satellite based internet service. It will first focus on three areas: Earth observation, communications, and hosted payloads. So it will be a spy satellite, a communication platform, and will be customizable for the individual customer. The satellite bus is part of its main body and can be outfitted with different sensors depending on the user’s needs.

Public Knowledge Files Comments Urging FTC To Create Comprehensive Rules for Data Privacy

Public Knowledge joined the Yale Law School Technology Accountability and Competition Project, a division of the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, in filing comments in the Federal Trade Commission’s proceeding on the prevalence of commercial surveillance and data security practices that harm consumers. Public Knowledge urges the agency to go beyond codifying the current failed notice and choice framework and build a data protection regime predicated on data minimization, data access rights for consumers, and protection of civil rights.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Bipartisan Coalition Calling for Stronger Online Data Protections

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon led a bipartisan group of 33 attorneys general calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to consider stronger surveillance and data security protections to prevent misconduct and promote transparency and accountability around online data collection.