Surveillance

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.

U.S. Used Patriot Act to Gather Logs of Website Visitors

The government has interpreted a high-profile provision of the Patriot Act as empowering FBI national security investigators to collect logs showing who has visited particular web pages, documents show.

Biden Wins. Trumpism Endures. What Free Press Is Doing Next.

While we’ll remain vigilant for whatever a lame-duck President Donald Trump — or let’s face it, the year 2020 — might bring, we will be putting our collective energy toward repairing the damage done over the past four years, while diligently working to expand what’s possible in a Joe Biden administration and new Congress. Our immediate priorities include:

Ireland to Order Facebook to Stop Sending User Data to U.S.

Apparently, a European Union privacy regulator has sent Facebook a preliminary order to suspend data transfers to the US about its EU users, an operational and legal challenge for the company that could set a precedent for other tech giants. The preliminary order was sent by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission to Facebook late in Aug, asking for the company’s response. It is the first significant step EU regulators have taken to enforce a July ruling about data transfers from the bloc’s top court.

NSA surveillance exposed by Snowden was illegal, court rules seven years on

Seven years after the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records, an appeals court has found the program was unlawful – and that the US intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth. In a ruling handed down Sept 3, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional.

Tech's deepening split over ads and privacy

A new fight between Facebook and Apple over the mechanics of ad tech is surfacing an industry divide over user privacy and spotlighting longstanding dilemmas about the tracking and use of personal information online. Facebook warned advertisers jAug 27 that a coming change to Apple's iOS could devastate revenue for ads that sends users straight to the App Store to install an app — an approach that's used widely by developers including mobile game makers.

FCC Commissioner Starks Seeks Details On Bidstream Consumer Data And Procedures To Ensure Data Privacy

On Aug 4, Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks sent letters to AT&T and Verizon inquiring about the aggregation and monetization of sensitive consumer data that is generated for advertising placement purposes. Recent reports indicate that this data is being used to track Americans’ locations to protests and places of worship.

OTI Issues 2020 Party Platform Recommendations

In comments submitted to the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee as they develop their party platforms for 2020, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) made recommendations on the following:

G&T Podcast: Tip of the Iceberg: How Law Enforcement Surveils Protestors & Communities of Color

On Episode 5 of G&T: Tech on the Rocks, Gigi Sohn talks to Color of Change Campaign Advisor Brandi Collins-Dexter about the history of surveillance of civil rights protestors and communities of color, how sophisticated technologies have made spying ubiquitous and what protestors can do to protect themselves. They also discuss Color of Change's efforts to get Facebook to moderate hate speech and how to ensure that tech companies incorporate civil rights principles in every aspect of their businesses.

The dangers of tech-driven solutions to COVID-19

Contact tracing done wrong threatens privacy and invites mission creep into adjacent fields, including policing. Government actors might (and do) distort and corrupt public-health messaging to serve their own interests. Automated policing and content control raise the prospect of a slide into authoritarianism. But most critics have focused narrowly on classic privacy concerns about data leakage and mission creep—especially the risk of improper government access to and use of sensitive data.