Though these cover a wide variety of privacy subjects, I'm posting them all together to stay compliant with the posting rules. I also have to give some Kudos to the Republicans, especially the representitives from Texas and Kentucky, that are taking on the hard privacy issues and creating standards that favor the citizen's rights....
Sen. Paul Introduces Bill on Fourth Amendment, '3rd Party Doctrine'
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced the "Fourth Amendment
Preservation and Protection Act of 2013," which would prohibit the
warrantless collection of third-party information about individuals.
The bill overturns the "third party doctrine," which eliminates any
Fourth Amendment protections to information given over to third
parties, and which has been widely criticized by courts and legal
"In today's high-tech world, we must ensure that all forms of
communication are protected. Yet government has eroded protecting
the Fourth Amendment over the past few decades, especially when
applied to electronic communications and third party providers," Sen.
Paul said. "Congress has passed a variety of laws that decimate our
Fourth Amendment protections. In effect, it means that Americans can
only count on Fourth Amendment protections if they don't use e-mail,
cell phones, the Internet, credit cards, libraries, banks, or other
forms of modern finance and communications."
Senator Paul's bill is another example of his recent focus on
supporting greater privacy protections in the US. Sen. Paul
recently introduced legislation to protect Americans against
unwarranted domestic drone surveillance. Because of his promotion of
greater privacy protections, Paul will receive a 2013 EPIC Champion of
Freedom Award on June 3.
EPIC supports greater privacy protections for information held by
third parties, including location information. The New Jersey Supreme
Court recently considered whether law enforcement may request cell-site
location information without a warrant under the Stored Communications
Act. EPIC filed a "Friend of the Court" brief in the case, State v.
Earls, arguing that users have a reasonable expectation of privacy with
respect to their location data, and that probable cause is necessary to
obtain cell-site location information.
The US Supreme Court also considered the status of location information
in US v. Jones, specifically whether the warrantless attachment and use
of a GPS tracking device on the petitioner's vehicle was a violation of
the Fourth Amendment. EPIC's "Friend of the Court" brief argued that
the police must obtain a warrant prior to attaching and monitoring a
GPS tracking unit. Writing in concurrence with the Court's decision,
Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated that the third party doctrine was "ill
suited for the digital age."
Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act of 2013 (May 23, 2013) http://beta.congress...ess/senate-bill/1037
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): Press Release on Bill (May 23, 2013) http://www.paul.sena...s_release&id=821
Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2013 (Mar. 2013) http://beta.congress...gress/house-bill/972
EPIC: Champion of Freedom Awards Dinner (June 3) http://epic.org/june3/
EPIC: In re Historic Cell-Site Location Information http://epic.org/amic...cell-phone-tracking/
EPIC: Locational Privacy http://epic.org/privacy/location
EPIC: UAVs and Drones http://epic.org/privacy/drones
EPIC: State of New Jersey v Earls http://epic.org/amicus/location/earls/
EPIC: US v. Jones http://epic.org/amicus/jones/
EPIC: Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) http://epic.org/privacy/ecpa/
TSA 'Unplugs, Boxes Up, and Ships Back' X-Ray Body Scanners
The Transportation Security Administration has completed removal of all
backscatter x-ray body scanners from US airports. Backscatter machines
reveal detailed images of a passengers's naked body as they go through
airport security, and have been described as "digital strip searches."
They have also received criticism because of their radiation output,
and many experts have questioned whether they are even effective in
detecting threats. The backscatter machines are being replaced with
millimeter-wave scanners, a less intrusive but still controversial
The TSA's removal of the x-ray body scanners began in the fall of 2012
as a result of a Congressional edict and several lawsuits by EPIC. The
FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 mandated that all body
scanners be equipped with privacy-enhancing software by June 1, 2012.
After granting itself a one-year extension, the TSA terminated a
contract with backscatter x-ray manufacturer Rapiscan once the agency
determined that privacy-enhancing software could not be added to meet
the Congressional deadline.
In the case EPIC v. TSA, EPIC brought a Freedom of Information Act
lawsuit against the agency and requested that a Washington, DC federal
court order the TSA to make a decision on the FOIA requests and produce
all the documents that fell within the scope of those requests. EPIC's
FOIA requests revealed that the body scanner devices could store and
record images of naked air travelers. EPIC and a coalition of privacy
organizations subsequently petitioned Secretary Napolitano to
suspend further deployment of the devices and provide the public
with an opportunity to comment. When the Secretary failed to begin
a public comment process, EPIC sued the DHS.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July 2011 in EPIC v. DHS
that air travelers have a right to opt-out of the body-scanner
screening and that the TSA must undertake a public notice and comment
rulemaking on the agency's airport screening procedures. Public comment
forms are available online at http://www.regulatio...tail;D=TSA-2013-0004
CNN: Article on Body Scanner Removal (May 30, 2013) http://www.cnn.com/2...ckscatter/index.html
US Congress: FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Feb. 1, 2012) http://www.gpo.gov/f.../CRPT-112hrpt381.pdf
Public Rulemaking: Passenger Screening Using AIT http://www.regulatio...tail;D=TSA-2013-0004
EPIC: Comment on the TSA Nude Body Scanner Proposal http://epic.org/TSAcomment/
EPIC: Whole Body Imaging Technology and Body Scanners http://epic.org/priv...rtravel/backscatter/
EPIC: EPIC v. DHS (Suspension of Body Scanner Program) http://epic.org/redi...scan-suspension.html
EPIC: EPIC v. TSA – Body Scanner Modifications (ATR) http://epic.org/priv...ners/epic_v_tsa.html
EPIC Asks FTC to Investigate Snapchat
EPIC has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against
the makers of Snapchat, a mobile app that claims to allow users to take
photos and videos that will self-destruct permanently after the
recipient views them.
Snapchat's website states that users can make photos and videos
"disappear forever." In fact, Snapchat recipients can retrieve photos
and videos after they should have vanished. The app does not wipe
messages from users' phones; rather, forensic software can be used to
extract the supposedly deleted messages from deep within the phone's
memory. According to EPIC's complaint, files are not deleted; rather,
their extensions are changed to .NOMEDIA, and "y removing the
.NOMEDIA extension, the pictures become viewable again."
EPIC calls on the FTC to investigate Snapchat for "unfair and
deceptive" trade practices. The FTC encourages companies to incorporate
"privacy by design" into their software, including the use of Privacy
Enhancing Techniques, i.e., "methods that minimize or eliminate the
collection of personally identifiable information." The FTC similarly
described Privacy Enhancing Techniques in a 2012 privacy report.
In 2008, EPIC filed a complaint at the FTC against ask.com's AskEraser,
a search engine add-on that claimed to delete search history. AskEraser
did not meet the privacy protection claims it offered to users, falsely
representing that search queries would be deleted, when in fact they
were retained by the company and made available to law enforcement
EPIC: Complaint to FTC re: Snapchat (May 16, 2013)
FTC: Report on Consumer Privacy (Mar. 26, 2013)
EPIC: Does AskEraser Really Erase?
EPIC: Complaint to FTC re: AskEraser (Jan. 18, 2008)
EPIC: Federal Trade Commission
FTC Opens Investigation into Google Advertising Dominance
The Federal Trade Commission reportedly has opened a new antitrust
investigation into Google's display advertising business. The
Commission is investigating whether Google's dominant position in the
display advertising market following the company's 2008 acquisition of
DoubleClick deliberately harms competition. DoubleClick was a major
Internet advertising service that helped large companies match banner
ads to targeted audiences.
EPIC opposed Google's 2007 acquisition of DoubleClick, which the FTC
approved over the objections of former Commissioner Pamela Jones
Harbour. In testimony before the US Senate Antitrust Committee, EPIC
stated, "[T]he merger of the Internet's largest search company and the
Internet's largest advertising [company poses] a unique and substantial
threat to the privacy interests of Internet users around the globe."
Numerous EPIC complaints to the FTC have pushed the agency to sanction
Google on several occasions for violating user privacy, deceiving users
about Google's practices, and misusing private data. In 2012, the FTC
fined Google $22.5 million, and Attorneys General for 38 states and the
District of Columbia settled with Google for $7 million over privacy
violations in Google's Street View program. The Federal Communications
Commission fined Google for obstructing the agency's own investigation
of Street View.
The European Union is currently investigating both Google's search
business and the company's Motorola Mobility subsidiary for potentially
illegal monopolistic practices.
LA Times: Article on FTC Antitrust Probe of Google (May 24, 2013)
EPIC: Google/DoubleClick Merger
EPIC: US Senate Testimony on Google/DoubleClick Merger (Sep. 27, 2007)
FTC: Dissent of Harbour on Google/Doubleclick Merger (Dec. 20, 2007)
EPIC: EPIC v. FTC (Enforcement of Google Consent Order)
EPIC: In re Google Buzz
AG of CT et al.: Settlement with Google re: Street View (Mar. 12, 2013)
EPIC: FCC Investigation of Google Street View
CNIL: Press Release on EU-Google Investigation (Apr. 2, 2013)
EPIC: Federal Trade Commission
News in Brief
Texas Governor to Sign Bill Requiring Warrants for Email Searches
The Texas legislature has passed H.B. No. 2268, a bill that creates a
warrant requirement for law-enforcement access to stored electronic
communications and customer data. The law, which was presented to Gov.
Rick Perry May 28, is the first successful state effort to establish
an across-the-board warrant requirement for stored communications. The
US Congress is considering similar changes to the federal Electronic
Communications Privacy Act. Other members of Congress have proposed
more sweeping privacy reforms, and bills in both the House and Senate
would establish locational privacy protections. Earlier in 2013, EPIC
testified before the Texas Legislature on H.B. 1608, a locational
privacy companion bill to H.B. 2268.
TX State Legislature: Text of H.B. No. 2268 (May 28, 2013)
US Congress: ECPA Amendments Act of 2013 (Mar. 19, 2013)
US Congress: SB 1037 (Fourth Amendment Rights) (May 23, 2013)
US House: "Online Comm. and Geolocation Prot. Act" (Mar. 6, 2013)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): Text of "GPS Act of 2013" (2013)
EPIC: Locational Privacy
EPIC: Testimony Before TX Legislature re: HB 1608 (Mar. 26, 2013)
EPIC: Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)