Today, Public Knowledge joined 43 other public interest, civil rights, racial justice, and consumer groups in a letter urging Congress to prioritize civil rights concerns when developing consumer privacy legislation. In the letter, Public Knowledge and other organizations argue that anti-discrimination principles need to be extended to the online economy in order to protect marginalized communities, especially communities of color.
More details have emerged from the Motherboard investigation into carriers selling their customers’ real-time location data, including assisted GPS (“A-GPS”) data intended only for emergency services. The reports are shocking and illustrate both a brazen disregard for consumer privacy on the part of the companies involved and the disturbing, unregulated behavior of the data brokerage industry. The Federal Communications Commission, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, needs to act immediately to enforce what appears to be a clear violation of the FCC’s rules against the selling of A-GPS data with third parties. In addition, Congress must pass comprehensive privacy legislation that forces the data broker industry out of the shadows and stops the persistent misuse of data at the expense of consumer privacy.
Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “American Data Dissemination (ADD) Act,” which would require the Federal Trade Commission to recommend privacy regulations in line with the 1974 Privacy Act to Congress and also prevent states from passing their own privacy laws. Additionally, the bill would preempt those state protections already in place, effectively walking back the few privacy safeguards consumers have.
Yesterday, reports surfaced that Voipo, a California voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) provider, exposed millions of consumer call logs and text messages stored on an “improperly secured” ElasticSearch database for several months before security researcher Justin Paine located them.
Today, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) led a group of 15 senators in introducing the “Data Care Act of 2018,” which would require online service providers like Facebook and Google to responsibly protect individually identifying information about consumers. Public Knowledge welcomes the bill as a good starting point for a discussion about what responsibilities custodians of our personal information should have.