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United States Privacy Digest | Notes from the IAPP Publications Editor, June 22, 2018 Related reading: Notes from the IAPP Publications Editor, Dec. 14, 2018

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Greetings from Portsmouth, NH!

Sometimes the days leading up to a vacation are the most stressful. Coordinating coverage for day-to-day operations and ensuring loose ends are snugly tied up so things run smoothly in your absence: These can create a gnarly path to navigate. As I write today, set to enjoy a week of unplugging, kayaking and golfing, two major privacy news stories hit the headlines.

Just when I think I’m getting out, the privacy gods pull me back in!

Okay, so first off, the long-awaited Supreme Court decision on Carpenter v. United States finally came out today. In a dramatic 5-4 decision, SCOTUS sided with privacy, ruling that the government generally needs a warrant to collect massive amounts of location data from cellphone companies. Chief Justice John Roberts, perhaps surprisingly, sided with the more liberal contingent of the court, stating, “We hold only that a warrant is required in the rare case where the suspect has a legitimate privacy interest in records held by a third party.”

The Center for Democracy & Technology praised today’s decision, saying its implications are very broad. CDT’s Greg Nojeim said the decision “has enormous implications for privacy in the digital age … and will be applied to other collections of data, making the Fourth Amendment much more relevant to our digital lives. Prior to this decision concerning metadata, content was the only communications information that required a warrant under the Fourth Amendment when held by a third party.”

Not to be left out, news broke late Thursday night that Alastair Mactaggart, one of the main creators of the California ballot initiative, has reached a tentative agreement with the California Legislature that would take the initiative off the ballot as long as lawmakers swiftly pass a compromise bill. I have yet to see the proposed text, but according to Mactaggart, the bill is “substantially similar” to the ballot initiative, but with some breaks for companies around data sharing. This will continue to be an interesting story to watch. And even if the ballot initiative does get removed, the fact that a ballot initiative prompted California to draft and potentially pass a massive privacy law is a noteworthy grassroots approach. I wonder if we’ll see more bottom-up approaches to regulatory changes elsewhere.

Finally, before I do unplug, this was a big week here at IAPP headquarters. We hosted our board of directors, and yesterday held a small event that also included many of our advisory board members and KnowledgeNet chairs to discuss digital supply chain management, content moderation, designing for privacy and so much more. It was great discussion, one that I’ll continue to think about (when I get back from vacation, of course).

Until then, I hope you manage to take some time off this summer, too!  

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