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Greetings from Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

The weather here in New England is cold, dreary and, as I write this, the first snowflakes of the season are falling. If I didn’t know better, I would think we’re deep in the throes of February and not the beginning of November. As a non-native New Englander, I’m not OK with the early snowfall, although I will admit it has been perfect soup and sweater weather the last couple of weeks. While I might complain about the cold and shorter daylight hours, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday of the year.

A number of U.K. privacy watchdogs reached out to the Federal Trade Commission and asked them to not relax the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule regulations, citing concerns that doing so will make it easier for tech companies to gather data from material geared toward children. The request comes as the FTC is in the midst of reviewing COPPA regulations for next year. Just one day later, YouTube content producers asked the FTC to consider its stance regarding regulations to prohibit targeted advertising on videos geared toward children, claiming the new rules will negatively affect producers financially, as well as limit quality content.

Unless planning your Thanksgiving festivities has taken up all of your time, you know there has been a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill recently. Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing to determine if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year, should be re-authorized. FISA was added to the Freedom Act in 2015, and as IAPP Editor Angelique Carson explains below, “The roving wiretap allows the government to keep surveilling a national security target when they take steps to avoid surveillance.” Not surprisingly, there was disagreement on whether the program should be reauthorized indefinitely even though several acknowledged it might not be the most effective tool to use, with one official saying, “the right approach to this problem is to at least make it available for use.”

Also set to expire in December is Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Former Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability General Counsel Gene Schaerr write in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that Section 215 needs “major reform to safeguard core American liberties from government overreach.” They wrote that when they initially supported Section 215, they believed the Federal Bureau of Investigation would act responsibly when accessing data of U.S. businesses to prevent national security threats. “But the security agencies appear to have abused Section 215 nearly as often as their foreign surveillance authority,” they write. “Their broad interpretation of that statute has gone well beyond Congress’s original understanding — and common sense.”

I expect all the activity will continue over the next few weeks, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the outcome of the Freedom Act and will keep you posted as soon as news occurs. This weekend, we’re turning to the last of fall soccer (brr!) and figuring out the Thanksgiving menu, which is one of my top-three favorite things about the holiday.

Have a good weekend, and stay warm!


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