Court rules against Montana's ban on political robocalls

(Sep 12, 2019) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Montana has struck down a provision of state legislation prohibiting robocalls. The court decided robocalls for political campaigns, which was previously one of five categories of prohibited calls, can't be banned based on First Amendment infringement. "In particular, prohibiting political robocalls strikes at the heart of the First Amendment (and) disproportionately disadvantages political candidates with fewer resources," the court wrote in its ... Read More

Why it is time to formally define robocalls

(Sep 6, 2019) The term robocall has yet to be formally defined in any statute, and yet, everybody is setting out to get rid of them. Without a stable definition, it is impossible to tell whether the solutions to solve this problem are working. In this post for Privacy Perspectives, Quicken Loans Government Affairs Senior Counsel Gary Weingarden, CIPP/A, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/US, CIPM, CIPT, FIP, PLS, seeks to remedy this issue by offering definitions for robocalls, spoofs and spam calls. Weingarden als... Read More

What is a robocall, anyway?

(Sep 6, 2019) "I don't know what you mean by 'glory,'" Alice said.     Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"    "But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."   ... Read More

419M records exposed on open Facebook databases

(Sep 5, 2019) A security researcher has discovered an unsecured server that contained 419 million Facebook records, TechCrunch reports. The exposed records included unique Facebook IDs and users' phone numbers from three databases for accounts in the U.S., the U.K. and Vietnam. “This data set is old and appears to have information obtained before we made changes last year to remove people’s ability to find others using their phone numbers,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “The data set has been taken down and w... Read More

Facebook rolling out new Face Recognition privacy setting

(Sep 4, 2019) The Verge reports Facebook is ending its default scan of user faces and has released its new Face Recognition privacy setting. The setting discloses the social network's facial-recognition use more clearly while giving users more control of uploaded images. Facebook plans to notify users of the setting and turn it on for those who choose not to respond to the notification. Meanwhile, Business Insider reports U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., believes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should "be held perso... Read More

FTC updates list of providers it seeks for broadband privacy practice study

(Sep 3, 2019) The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced it has updated the list of companies it has asked to participate in its study of broadband companies’ privacy practices. The agency withdrew orders to AT&T and Verizon Communications, and has instead sent those requests to their respective subsidiaries. The FTC also sent a new request to Charter Communications. Initially announced in March, the FTC’s examination looks to discover which categories of personal information are collected by the provide... Read More

Bail bondsman obtains location data with fake calls to carriers

(Aug 20, 2019) A Colorado bail bondsman coaxed Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon into providing him with the location data of bail jumpers through illegal phony calls, The Daily Beast reports. Matthew Marre posed as law enforcement when he contacted the phone carriers, which were told Marre was a member of the Colorado Public Safety Task Force dealing with an emergency that required location data on certain individuals. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a privacy critic of phone carriers, took issue with the carriers' p... Read More

Google shutters mobile insights service over privacy concerns

(Aug 19, 2019) Google has shut down its Mobile Network Insights service over privacy concerns, Reuters reports. The service was used to show wireless carriers the strength of their signals around the world through the use of data collected via Android devices. Google only used data from users who opted into sharing location data and did not contain any identifying information; however, the tech company still decided to shutter the service over concerns of regulatory scrutiny, according to sources close to the ... Read More

Robocall surge traced back to small telecoms

(Aug 19, 2019) The Wall Street Journal reports telecommunication industry officials have discovered that small carriers are largely behind the mass amount of robocalls circulating around the U.S. Large telecoms have traced the robocalls back to their source, revealing the role of small carriers. Regulators are having difficulty penalizing the large telecoms for not limiting the small carriers' work for various reasons, including no required checks on whether a robocall is legal or illegal. "There are definitel... Read More

Big Tech’s Shift to Privacy

(Aug 13, 2019) An overview of the technology sector’s public expressions of privacy initiatives and values. Privacy is top-of-mind for technology companies and their consumers. Since Facebook’s data-sharing practices came under scrutiny following reporting on Cambridge Analytica, consumers and legislators have sharpened their interest in big tech’s use of data. In response, many companies continue to review, refine, and clarify their data practices for the benefit of consumers. Some of that clarification come... Read More