Nov 222022
 November 22, 2022  Posted by  Business, Govt, Laws, Surveillance, U.S.

  November 21 — Today, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) submitted comments in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding a Trade Regulation Rule on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security. As EPIC explains:

The unchecked spread of commercial surveillance over the last two decades has led to a data privacy crisis for consumers in the United States. The ability to monitor, profile, and target consumers at a mass scale has created a persistent power imbalance that robs individuals of their autonomy and privacy, stifles competition, and undermines democratic systems. It is far past time to disrupt this data abuse and set rules of the road for our online ecosystem to ensure that companies cannot extract private value from personal data in ways that undermine the public good.

“For twenty years, lawmakers and regulators have failed to protect us as whole industries have risen to power on the exploitation of our personal data, “ said EPIC Senior Counsel John Davisson. “Who we are, what we like, where we go, what we believe—the intimate details of lives have become commodified and used to extract profit. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The FTC has the power to set rules that will limit what companies know about us, rein in harmful algorithms, crack down on digital discrimination and harms to children, secure our data, and reverse the asymmetry of power between consumers and big tech. EPIC’s comments set out a comprehensive blueprint for the FTC to do that.”

EPIC told the Commission that it should address the widespread data abuses by data brokers, targeted advertising firms, and other entities facilitating commercial surveillance by issuing comprehensive privacy rules that address the unfair trade practices that are causing substantial privacy injuries to consumers every day. Specifically, EPIC said the Commission should issue a data minimization rule to ensure that companies only collect personal data that they need to provide consumers with the goods and services that they request; collection and uses of personal data that go beyond what consumers reasonably expect should be prohibited.

EPIC also detailed harm that consumers are suffering as the result of untested, unsubstantiated, opaque, and dangerous automated decision-making systems in commerce. The Commission should issue an algorithmic fairness and accountability rule to require companies to establish that their decisionmaking systems are effective, accurate, and free from impermissible bias before they are deployed, and ensure that companies give meaningful notice to consumers about the use of these systems. EPIC also called for a ban on algorithmic systems that have been shown to cause serious and systemic harms, such as one-to-many facial recognition and emotion recognition systems.

Commercial surveillance and algorithmic decision-making systems disproportionately harm marginalized communities, and EPIC calls on the Commission to prohibit discrimination as an unfair trade practice.

EPIC also highlighted that minors are uniquely vulnerable to profiling and the outputs of commercial surveillance systems, which are necessarily designed to suggest and shape preferences and beliefs. The Commission should issue a rule limiting the collection and processing of minors’ data unless strictly necessary to provide a product, service, or essential function. EPIC also echoed support for the comments of Fairplay and the Center for Digital Democracy calling for a ban on targeted advertising to minors.

EPIC’s comments also called for specific rules on dark patterns and manipulative design, data security, and notice and transparency.

This is the first round of comments in the Commission’s rulemaking process. The FTC released the ANPR for its commercial surveillance rulemaking on August 11, 2022, and formally published it in the Federal Register on August 22nd. After an extension, the deadline for public comments in response to the FTC’s ANPR was November 21st. The Commission will now review the comments received and determine whether to move ahead with a rulemaking, at which time it will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which must include the proposed rule text, any alternatives, and the reasons for the rule. The public will have another opportunity to comment at that stage.


Source: EPIC

Nov 212022
 November 21, 2022  Posted by  Business, Featured News, Govt, Laws, Surveillance

Submission to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission

Written by Dr Johnny Ryan of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) on behalf of ICCL, Open Markets Institute, and the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue

21 November 2022 — ICCL, the Open Markets Institute, and the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, a forum of 75 NGOs, have sent the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a joint submission (Link) on the privacy, market, and security hazards of surveillance advertising, urging the agency to act against commercial surveillance and to define “Real-Time Bidding” (RTB) as an unfair and deceptive practice.

The FTC is considering new privacy rules to protect Internet users against tracking. The ICCL/Open Markets/TACD submission lays out the harms of tracking-based online advertising and urges the FTC to develop rules that protect Internet users.

Surveillance advertising destroys individual privacy. Advertising’s “Real-Time Bidding” (RTB) system broadcasts Americans GPS coordinates and what they are doing online 107 trillion times a year. RTB is the dominant technology of online advertising, and triggers almost every time you load a page on a website, or use an app.

  • This exposes people to significant risk with examples like predatory profiling of a suicidal gambling addict, county sheriffs buying live feeds of people’s locations, and data on victims of sexual abuse being made available to buy.
  • Every year criminals exploit tracking-based advertising systems to steal billions of dollars from businesses who unknowingly pay to show ads to bots.
  • Surveillance advertising also poses significant national security risks: Google and other RTB companies broadcast the locations of Americans – including sensitive personnel – to companies around the world including those in China and Russia.

The tracking industry tries to claim commercial surveillance has benefits beyond their own bottom lines; that it supports publishers or sustains the open Internet for regular people. Instead, tech companies have siphoned an estimated $35-$69 billion away from newspapers and other publishers and businesses.

ICCL Senior Fellow Dr Johnny Ryan wrote the submission. He said: “Surveillance based advertising hurts the internet and exposes us all to discrimination, manipulation, and to private and government surveillance. We urge the FTC to act to protect people”.

Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad of the Norwegian Consumer Council, a TACD member organisation, said “This is also of key interest to European consumers, and this is why US and European groups are a issuing a joint call to action on a business model that we believe are at fundamental odds with fundamental rights“.

See the full report for more.

Nov 212022
 November 21, 2022  Posted by  Business, Govt

Over on his excellent newsletter, Risky Biz News, Catalin Cimpanu reports:

A coalition of 33 state attorneys general have urged the US Federal Trade Commission to pass regulation around online data collection practices. AGs said they are “concerned about the alarming amount of sensitive consumer data that is amassed, manipulated, and monetized,” and that they regularly receive inquiries from consumers about how their data is being hoarded and abused. [Read the full letter here/PDF]

Nov 212022
 November 21, 2022  Posted by  Court, Govt, Healthcare, Surveillance, U.S.

From the New Civil Liberties Alliance, information on a case that was filed on November 14:

Case Summary:

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) worked with Google to auto-install spyware on the smartphones of more than one million Commonwealth residents, without their knowledge or consent, in a misguided effort to combat Covid-19. Such brazen disregard for civil liberties violates the United States and Massachusetts Constitutions and cannot stand. NCLA filed a class-action lawsuit, Wright v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, et al., challenging DPH’s covert installation of a Covid tracing app that tracks and records the movement and personal contacts of Android mobile device users without owners’ permission or awareness.

Plaintiffs Robert Wright and Johnny Kula own and use Android mobile devices and live or work in Massachusetts. Since June 15, 2021, DPH has worked with Google to secretly install the app onto over one million Android mobile devices located in Massachusetts without obtaining any search warrants, in violation of the device owners’ constitutional and common-law rights to privacy and property. Plaintiffs have constitutionally protected liberty interests in not having their whereabouts and contacts surveilled, recorded, and broadcasted, and in preventing unauthorized and unconsented access to their personal smartphones by government agencies.

Case information:
Robert Wright and Johnny Kula v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, a Massachusetts agency, and Margaret R. Cooke, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in her official capacity.
Complaint (pdf)

h/t, Joe Cadillic