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FTC Counsels Privacy-By-Design But Enforces by “Gotcha”

For years the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banged the “privacy-by-design” drum – telling developers to build privacy into their apps and services – and avoided “gotcha” cases. But its latest action against Nomi Technologies (Nomi) suggests a change of heart.

Nomi embraced privacy-by-design. It built an in-store tracking technology with a universal opt-out for customers – an online opt-out used by hundreds of consumers. And Nomi avoided collecting any personal information about customers, recording only the MAC address of a device and immediately hashing the address so devices couldn’t be identified outside of Nomi’s system. This is the kind of “privacy-by-design” the FTC has been counseling companies to adopt since 2012.

But rather than crediting Nomi for its privacy-by-design technology, the FTC chose to prosecute Nomi for a non-material error in their privacy policy. Read more

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Latest Internet sales tax proposal: From bad to worse (The Hill OpEd)

When congressional allies of major retailers began advocating that a complicated nationwide Internet sales tax be imposed, it was a bad idea that Congress rightly rejected. Now they’ve come back with a modified version of their Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) – but doubling down on a bad idea doesn’t make it better; it’s still bad policy.

The argument against the Internet sales tax is simple: we shouldn’t empower tax collectors to try to force small businesses to collect sales tax for what could be 10,000 local jurisdictions, and file returns with 46 states. It would drown small businesses in red tape and leave them open to tax auditors from nearly every state.

Now, in an effort to reignite the debate, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is floating an amended MFA that would only complicate matters further.

READ MORE at The Hill

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iAWFUL Legislation 2015: Death, Taxes and Trade Secrets

iAWFUL Legislation 2015: Death, Taxes and Trade Secrets

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2015 — They say nothing is life is guaranteed except death and taxes. But now state legislators around the country are trying to open your private communications after you die, turn Internet retailers into tax tattle tales, and force trade secrets to be revealed to unauthorized repair shops.

Many pieces of legislation across the country were worthy of review, but only seven were deemed iAWFUL enough by NetChoice to make the latest version of the association’s ranking of state and federal bills that limit competition, innovation and customer choice. (iAWFUL.com) Read more

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The Hill – Online educational legislation could strand students

The Hill – Online educational legislation could strand students

As a parent I want to protect my son.  I could try and protect him from the world by hiding him on a proverbial “island” devoid of online connectivity.  I would unplug the Internet and take away all the mobile devices.  This would isolate him from potential harms.  At the same time it would deprive him of all the benefits of a connected education and tools that help him grow.  In the end, it’s all about striking the right balance.

Laws protecting students must also seek to strike the same balance between safety and growth – between isolation and discovery.  Unfortunately, the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act (SDPPRA) of 2015 misses this balance.  Through overly proscriptive language, SDPPRA retreads existing law while shackling educational innovation.

READ MORE

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Privacy fears slaying serious conversation

We’ve seen TV shows about ghost hunters and Bigfoot hunters, where they eschew science and fact in favor of fears and fantasy.   That’s understandable, since it’s impossible to have real conversations when some talk about what might exist and others are talking about what does exist.  The same is true for sweeping privacy legislation coming out of the Obama White House. 

This week the White House released its Privacy Bill of Rights — sweeping privacy legislation based mostly on anecdotes and fears instead of evidence and cost-benefit analysis.  By arming the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with incredible new punitive powers, this bill strings CAUTION tape in front of American businesses developing new technologies and business models.

READ more at The Hill

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State Legislatures Tone Deaf to Americans’ Desire To Control Personal Privacy After Death

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Eighteen state legislatures are drafting or debating bills that would curtail the ability for Americans to control the privacy of their personal communications when they die – despite the fact that Americans believe their right to privacy does not end when they take their last breath.

According to a new poll* conducted by Zogby Analytics for NetChoice, the vast majority of Americans believe that maintaining the privacy of their electronic communications trumps giving access to family and heirs. Read more

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Time for the ECPA to Get an ’80s-Style Remake

The 1980s were a decade to remember. Advancements in the ’80s became the foundation for many of the technologies that have become a part of our daily lives — wireless phones, video game consoles and, of course, the foundations of the Internet. And just like our favorite ’80s TV shows are remade into new movies (such as “Transformers” and “The A-Team”) let’s add a 28-year-old online privacy law deserving of a remake too: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The ECPA, which was passed in 1986, set standards to restrict government access to private communications. But in the nearly 30 years since, this law has shown it has loopholes that expose some private data of American citizens.

READ MORE AT ROLL CALL

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NetChoice Statement on White House Privacy Announcement

“We are encouraged by President Obama’s focus to create a national data breach standard that preempts the morass of 46 different state laws. However, such legislation should not include an artificial shot-clock for notification but instead should follow the reasonable time frame in the California law.”

“We are perplexed as to why the President would abandon the NTIA multi-stakeholder privacy process — created and convened by the White House – by introducing new overriding legislation,” said Carl Szabo, privacy counsel for NetChoice. The NTIA process brings together key data security and data privacy stakeholders to create a consensus driven solution. “To create a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that is operationally feasible and has the support of industry and public sector the White House should continue its multi-stakeholder process and avoid undermining it through legislative actions.

“Increased consumer protections and privacy are of the utmost importance to all of us. But we want to make sure that a workable and reasonable solution is put into place to secure the President’s vision of privacy, security, and innovation.”