EFF criticizes newly introduced US Patents Act
Wed 4 Mar 2015, 21:00

The STRONG Patents Act, introduced yesterday by Sens. Coons, Durbin, and Hirono, claims to be a "reform" bill—in reality, it would achieve the exact opposite.

As we note in our recent whitepaper, Defend Innovation, we should primarily tackle the root problem of most patent issues: the abundance of poor quality patents. Important tools exist already to challenge bad patents, and these should be strengthened and made less expensive. The STRONG Patents Act's major "reform," however, cripples these means of limiting or scrapping patents that are poor quality.

Lawmakers target data brokers in privacy bill
Thu 5 Mar 2015, 23:00

Four U.S. senators have resurrected legislation that would allow consumers to see and correct personal information held by data brokers and tell those businesses to stop sharing or selling it for marketing purposes.

The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act, introduced by four Democratic senators Thursday, also would require the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to craft rules for a centralized website for consumers to view a list of data brokers covered by the bill.

Data brokers collect personal information about consumers, often without their knowledge, and resell it to other businesses.

 

Revelations on Safe Harbour violations go to hearing at EU Court
Wed 11 Mar 2015, 20:00

In late 2012, Max Schrems, a privacy advocate and member of the Europe v Facebook group requested that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner investigate the alleged sharing of European Facebook users’ information with the United States National Security Agency (NSA), in the light of the Snowden revelations.

These revelations suggest that Facebook and the US government had violated the Safe Harbour arrangement, which aimed at guaranteeing the privacy of EU citizens and regulates the transfer of personal data from the European Union to the United States. When the Irish Data Protection Commissioner refused to investigate the case, Schrems appealed to the Irish High Court. The Court’s decision centred around whether the European Commission’s decision on Safe Harbour in 2000 was binding and therefore not subject to investigation by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

The Schrems case, to which EDRi-member Digital Rights Ireland is attached as an amicus curiae, will have a hearing at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 24 March.

Coalition of companies and NGOs renew push for cloud and email privacy protections
Wed 11 Mar 2015, 21:00

This may finally be the year that the U.S. Congress gives email and other documents stored in the cloud for several months the same privacy protections from police searches as newer files or paper records stored in a file cabinet, say backers of electronic privacy reform.

A coalition of tech companies, digital rights advocates and other groups on Wednesday renewed their call for Congress to change a 29-year-old electronic privacy law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act [ECPA].

Members of the Digital Fourth coalition have been pushing since 2010 for Congress to change ECPA by requiring law enforcement agencies to get a judge-approved warrant before getting access to a suspect’s digital files stored with a third party for more than 180 days.

Massive AT&T consumer privacy violation results in $25 million FCC penalty
Wed 8 Apr 2015, 23:40

The Federal Communications Commission has settled an enforcement action against AT&T for the company's massive consumer privacy violations. According to the Commission, employees at AT&T call centers around the world accessed the "CPNI" (call record information) of nearly 280,000 U.S. customers without their permission. Then AT&T distributed that information to traffickers of stolen cell phones. As a condition of settlement, AT&T will pay a $25 million penalty, eclipsing the 2014 Verizon settlement as the FCC's largest ever data security action. EPIC has long supported the robust defense of CPNI privacy.

EU, US Issue Joint Statement On Information Society
Tue 14 Apr 2015, 22:40

The European Union and the United States today held the 13th bilateral Information Society Dialogue and issued a statement highlighting issues discussed and agreed. The two government entities covered topics such as the EU Digital Single Market, digital skills, open internet, the data-driven economy, internet governance, the United Nations review of the 2003-2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and cooperation on international telecommunications policy.