California Senate Passes Internet Privacy Bill
The California state Senate unanimously passed an Internet privacy bill that would require operators of commercial websites or online services that collect personal information to disclose on their sites whether they honor users’ "do not track" requests.
AB370 also states operators would have to disclose whether they allow third parties to collect personal information from site users.
The bill was proposed by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and has the support of Attorney General Kamala Harris and, according to The Republic, Microsoft is its only industry supporter. It will now go back to the Assembly for a final vote on amendments.
State Law Would Implement Jones v. United States and Then Some
Michigan Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) has proposed HB 4811, which, if passed, would implement the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Jones v. United States and make warrantless GPS tracking of suspects illegal. But that’s not all. Livingston Daily reports the bill also aims to penalize law enforcement officers for the practice—with up to a year in prison or a fine of $1000.
Wisconsin Looking at Employee Web Privacy Bill
Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-District 20) and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) have proposed a bill that would make it illegal for employers to ask workers or job applicants for passwords to social media accounts, reports postcrescent.com. The bill has bipartisan support and is expected to move through the legislature quickly. If AB 218 goes through, Wisconsin would be the ninth state to employee social media laws this year, with six being passed in 2012.
The Class-Certification Battleground
Privacy and data breach class actions are on the rise. Plaintiffs typically claim that the defendant—whether a retailer, hospital, health insurer, payment card processor or other company handling their personal information—failed to adequately protect their information, used that information for unauthorized purposes or otherwise violated their privacy rights. But, as David M. Governo and Corey M. Dennis, CIPP/US, highlight in this exclusive for The Privacy Advisor, such plaintiffs are often unable to overcome the class-certification hurdle, which generally results in the failure of the case. Why do some succeed where others fail?
Should Smith v. Maryland Be Revisited?
With more focus on the recent dragnet collection of phone metadata by the National Security Agency, NPR explores whether the legal precedent—the 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland—needs to be revisited. Smith v. Maryland is at least one case that supports the third-party doctrine—when information is shared with a third party, a person’s expectation of privacy is diminished. Stanford University Prof. Jennifer Granick said, “Nothing in Smith v. Maryland authorized mass surveillance, and the information that was collected (in that case) is a much narrower category than the information that the government’s currently getting.” Since so much data is now shared with third parties—including location information from smartphones—individuals are constantly revealing their location, which “is not information that you voluntarily disclose to anybody,” Granick added.
Telecoms Want FTC as Regulator
Financial Times reports the biggest U.S. cable and telecommunications companies are lobbying for a relaxation of privacy rules to allow them to sell data on customers’ telephone use. The companies want to be regulated more like private companies such as Google and Facebook rather than public utilities, arguing the regulatory landscape hasn’t kept pace with technological advances. The change, which would require new legislation, would transfer oversight of the companies from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FTC Privacy and Identity Protection Associate Director Maneesha Mithal supports the shift, saying current law seems “gerrymandered to have a carve-out on mobile.” Not everyone agrees. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
Gov't Wants Court To OK Warrantless Cellphone Searches
The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to rule that police are free to search the contents of an arrested individual’s cellphone without a warrant, SCOTUSblog reports. A First Circuit Court kept intact a ruling that searches are unconstitutional, but the administration wants the decision overturned, arguing that “police have long had the authority, without a warrant, to search items that are found on a person whom they arrest” and that creating exceptions on an “item-by-item” basis would complicate police enforcement.
Google Says UK Privacy Law Doesn't Apply
Google has told British consumers in a privacy claim that it doesn’t have to answer to UK courts and the country’s privacy laws don’t apply to the company, IDG News Service reports. Google will fight UK Safari users’ right to bring a case in the country and will force the plaintiffs to instead file the suit in California. The plaintiffs are seeking damages, disclosure and an apology from Google for allegedly circumventing users’ security settings and tracking them on Apple’s Safari browser, the report states.
Tech Giants Concerned About Brazil’s Proposed Law
Brazil is currently crafting its first nationwide set of data protection and Internet governance laws. Recent amendments to the country’s Internet Constitution, or the Marco Civil da Internet, have raised concerns among some U.S.-based tech companies. A new amendment would require data to be stored locally, ZDNet reports, causing representatives from Google and Facebook to raise red flags. Facebook’s Bruno Magrani has said the company is concerned because it would be “an enormous technical challenge” for the company and could jeopardize its service in Brazil. Part of the thinking behind storing data locally, according to Foreign Policy, is to protect Brazilians from U.S. government surveillance.
In New Zealand, GCSB Passes, Key Rebuffs Spying Fears
Parliament narrowly passed the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) bill on Wednesday, which some say expands the agency’s ability to spy on New Zealanders, reports The New Zealand Herald. Prime Minister John Key assured, however, that claims the bill allows “for wholesale collection of metadata without a warrant,” are not true, adding that, under GCSB, metadata will be treated the same as content. Labour leader David Shearer was less optimistic, saying New Zealand has lost an opportunity to be a world leader in “charting a path through these dilemmas…” Key maintains the law "isn't a revolution in the way New Zealand conducts its intelligence operations…It simply makes clear what the GCSB may and may not do."
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