EPIC has joined other members of the Global Encryption Coalition in a letter urging Brazil to address proposed updates to the Brazilian Code of Criminal Procedure that would threaten encryption and data security in Brazil. The text as it stands could force companies using strong security protections – such as end-to-end encryption – to introduce security flaws into their systems to be used as backdoors for law enforcement. Such measures endanger users and encourage exploitation of these weaknesses. EPIC led the effort in the United States in the 1990s to support strong encryption tools and played a key role in the development of the international framework for cryptography policy that favored the deployment of strong security measures to safeguard personal information. EPIC also filed an amicus brief in Apple v. FBI in support of encryption.
A federal court in Washington, D.C. has dismissed a pair of antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general—but left open the possibility that the FTC could revive its case. The lawsuits allege that Facebook has illegally stifled competition to maintain its social networking monopoly, driving down “the quality and variety of privacy options” available to users (among other harms). But Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the FTC and attorneys general had waited too long to challenge aspects of Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, and that the FTC had failed to adequately define the social networking “market” in which Facebook exercises monopoly power. Judge Boasberg noted that the FTC may be able to correct the latter issue in an amended complaint and move forward with its case. EPIC has long urged the Federal Trade Commission to block or unwind Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. In 2014, EPIC and the Center for Digital Democracy warned the FTC that Facebook incorporates user data from companies it acquires, and that WhatsApp users objected to the acquisition. Despite these problems, the FTC allowed the merger to go forward.
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How much personal information are you innocently giving out about yourself to complete strangers?
Editors Note: This is a topic I’ve written about before here and here. And it’s more important than ever with the toxic cancel culture that exists in America today, in which many people can justify nearly any action – looting, rioting, assault, and worse – no matter how heinous, against someone who simply holds different opinions.
Some of you may want to be out there, loud and proud, about your lives and beliefs – and that’s absolutely your choice. (Prepare for this debate in 3…2…1…) Many of us, however, want to avoid altercations. We want to keep our families safe, we want to prevent potential predators from finding out our home addresses or where our kids go to school. We want to stay under the radar and be difficult to locate by those who might intend to do us harm. (After all, gray is the new black.)
That’s why this brief article that follows is especially important. You need to understand exactly how much personal information you’re giving away about yourself with your vehicle, your social media apps, and other small clues that someone with a few skills and an hour on his hands can use to build a profile about you.
by D.P. Friesen
The following article was previously published by D.P. Friesen on his website blog.
Sleuthing the Life of a Random Person is Amazingly Simplistic
So, here’s a social experiment I tried this morning. I decided to see just how much personal information I could find out on a random person. As the car in front of me had some interesting bumper stickers, I picked it. I did not see the driver whatsoever and only recouped the license plate. That was all the info I had to go on other than what was visual about the car and inside within eyesight.
Here’s what I found.
Through the National Registry, I found out the owner of the car, the make, model, year purchased, how paid. I found out his personal identification number, his mother’s maiden name, his married status (divorced), ex-wife’s name, and nationality. I already know that, since his license plate number ends in 3, that he’s not allowed driving within city limits on Tuesdays due to the weekly vehicle-usage restrictions so I’ll know when his car’s at home unattended and…
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision today in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, an important case about the ability of individuals to bring privacy cases in federal court. The Court, in a controversial 5-4 decision authored by Justice Kavanaugh, held that proof of “concrete harm” is required to establish standing to sue under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. The jury in this case found that TransUnion had willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it falsely flagged the credit reports of thousands of individuals for being “Specially Designated Nationals” under the Office of Foreign Asset Controls list that includes terrorists, drug trafficers, and other sanctioned individuals. The Supreme Court held that the group of individuals who could prove that these false credit reports had been disclosed to third parties had standing to sue, but the group who did not provide evidence that their reports had been disclosed did not meet the burden under Article III.
This decision will have significant implications for individuals seeking redress in federal court for privacy violations that do not involve the improper disclosure of personal information. EPIC filed an amicus brief in TransUnion, urging the Court to hold that people can sue when their privacy rights are violated, regardless of whether they allege that the violation led to other harms. Justice Thomas, joined by three other members of the Court, agreed and would have ruled that standing exists in any case brought by an individual to vindicate a violation of their private rights. EPIC’s Executive Director, Alan Butler, said that “the Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion does not close the door on all privacy claims, but it certainly makes it more difficult for individuals to seek redress in privacy cases that don’t involve improper disclosure of information.” EPIC previously filed an amicus briefs on this issue with the Supreme Court in Spokeo v. Robbins and frequently files amicus briefs in cases interpreting standing under a variety of privacy laws.
Compost tea is made and sprayed out generally every 2 weeks in-between the Biodynamic preparations. I can say the Biodynamic Preps are done every month according to the BD Calendar. Compost tea has times when we might be making dandelion, or comfrey, or stinging nettle, or yarrow drenches or teas. It is all dependant on weather and seasonal plantings.
Keith’s worm farm is a hands-down favourite, we get approximately 8-10 litres per month on average of leachate (worm wee) this is mixed at various rates of 50% – 10% ratio to water dependant on the plant and delivered either as a spray or drench. There is nothing else that compares to this for plant food especially veggies. The castings supply depends on the season, summer is about 60 litres and in winter it’s about 25% of that amount. The castings are mixed in the compost and spread as needed and available.
Amazing Bees, we have one very active hive with approximately 40,000 bees in spring/summer less in winter although some natives flower in winter so the numbers are subject to the seasonal food supply.
The bees pollinate our garden (and our neighbours) and they add something to the property like our Penda Tree Xanthostemon Chrysanthus that has grown but never flowered for 7 years. The Beehive is located near the tree and this year it was ablaze with the most magnificent display of yellow balls. We believe the bees have made a massive change in the energy of the garden. We have more birds, native bees, insects, and flowers than ever before. Plus we have beautiful fresh honey yum!
Our next-door neighbour sells firewood at this time of year and we get the bark and small chips – his rubbish by the wheelbarrow full and it’s great as it’s come from properties that are cleaning up usually from cyclones or summer storms and is full of mycelium spores. We use it everywhere even as edges which make whipper snipping easy.
Belonging to garden clubs or any club associated with gardening is an excellent source of cuttings and plants they always have exchange tables or rolling raffles where you can get some excellent plants for a 5 cent ticket. The best way of receiving free plants are the birds, although they often bring in unwanted fast-growing undetected vines.
All this sounds like a lot of trouble and some days it is but we wouldn’t have it any other way, to personally know the food you eat and the trees and plants living on your property that shade you in summer and willingly supply you with fresh juicy orange, or strawberry when you take a break, how can that be called too hard?
(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the article.)
Your crops should be started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before you’re ready to put them out. Since your space is small to start, you will only need one or two 72 cell starter trays; you can also use egg trays or make pots from rolled up paper. When you are selecting your seeds look for heirloom or “open-pollinated” seeds; they will be labeled on the seed packet. Since you will be harvesting next year’s seeds from your little garden, you do not want hybrid seeds. Heirloom and open-pollinated seeds will reproduce true every generation. Hybrid seeds will grow, but you cannot be certain what characteristics will pass on. Put two seeds in each pot or cell. You can prune one out if they both sprout, but you double your chances of success that way. Sometimes you only get a 75% sprouting rate, so doubling up is the best way to compensate. You can use a shop light for germination and early growth, but if you can afford it get a small led grow light system. These have better light spectrum properties and are cheaper to operate. Light intensity decreases exponentially, meaning you want the light as close to the top of the plants as you can without letting them touch the bulbs. You can even sprout them in a window if you need to – it will take a bit longer, but it will work.
A week or two before you want to transplant them, they need to be hardened off. This can be done by making a small tent from PVC piping and shade cloth, or just putting them in a shady location. You can also watch the weather and look for a cloudy day – but you risk a sudden break in the clouds which can make things dicey. Keep them watered, remember those trays are small and do not hold much moisture. You should water daily unless it has rained. If the temperature is going to drop into the 30’s, bring them in at night. Remember that bunnies, groundhogs and other critters love tasty little sprouts, so protect them.
When it is time to transplant, you need to imagine each plant as a full-grown specimen and ensure there is adequate space. You can put things closer, but it will not allow each plant to reach its full potential. The seed packets you purchased will have spacing information you can reference. Add a handful of compost into each hole as you dig. When you have them planted, it is best to put some form of mulch over them. This can be purchased, hay or straw, or just weeds you have pulled from the ground. Pile this between the plants. This accomplishes three things, it reduces moisture evaporation, helps deter weeds and keeps the plants from splash-back during heavy rains. This is often the source of many diseases that plague your crops. Bacteria and viruses in the soil get…
The House Judiciary Committee is today holding a markup session on six bills aimed at disrupting the monopoly power of Big Tech. EPIC has long argued that market consolidation in online platform threatens privacy. More than a decade ago, EPIC urged the FTC to block Google’s proposed acquisition of DoubleClick. EPIC said that the acquisition would enable Google to collect the personal information of billions of users and track their browsing activities across the web. EPIC correctly warned that this acquisition would accelerate Google’s dominance of the online advertising industry and diminish competition. The FTC ultimately allowed the merger to go forward. EPIC has since repeatedly warned FTC that other mergers posed similar risks to consumer privacy and competition, including Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp.
EPIC has released a report highlighting numerous statutory authorities that the Federal Trade Commission has failed to use to safeguard privacy. The report, What the FTC Could Be Doing (But Isn’t) to Protect Privacy, identifies untapped or underused powers in the FTC’s toolbox and explains how the FTC should deploy them to protect the public from abusive data practices. EPIC’s report also criticizes the FTC’s lack of effective privacy enforcement over the past two decades. “A common refrain from the Commission during this period is that it lacks the authority to address these mounting threats to individual privacy,” the report explains. “But the FTC has not made full use of the authorities that it already has.” The report comes a day after Lina Khan was confirmed to the FTC and named chairwoman of the Commission. EPIC has frequently challenged the FTC over its failure to address consumer privacy harms and has long advocated for the creation of a U.S. Data Protection Agency. EPIC also supports legislation that would restore the FTC’s 13(b) authority to obtain restitution for individuals harmed by companies’ unlawful trade practices, which the Supreme Court recently curtailed in AMG Capital Management v. Federal Trade Commission.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced the Data Protection Act of 2021 which would create an independent Data Protection Agency in the United States to safeguard the personal data of Americans. EPIC, many leading consumer and civil rights organizations, privacy experts, and scholars support Senator Gillibrand’s non-partisan bill. “It’s time for America to catch up with the rest of the world and create a Data Protection Agency,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, EPIC Deputy Director. “Congress’ ongoing failure to modernize our privacy laws imposes enormous costs on individuals, communities, and American businesses alike. We need a new approach. Senator Gillibrand’s Data Protection Act creates an agency dedicated to safeguarding the personal data of individuals and ensuring that data practices are fair and non-discriminatory. The Data Protection Act is the game-changing proposal we need in order to ensure adequate oversight over what has become a massive sector of our economy and affects the daily lives of all Americans. EPIC urges Congress to enact the Data Protection Act.” EPIC has long advocated for the creation of a U.S. Data Protection Agency, arguing that the Federal Trade Commission is an ineffective agency, lacking basic competence for privacy protection. [Bill text] [Sen. Gillibrand Press Release]
The agreement on transatlantic cooperation reached by U.S. and EU leaders this week did not include the political agreement the White House was hoping for on transatlantic data deals. Last week, EPIC and 23 other leading civil society groups sent a letter to President Biden today urging his Administration to ensure that any new transatlantic data transfer deal is coupled with the enactment of U.S. laws that reform government surveillance practices and provide comprehensive privacy protections. “The United States’ failure to ensure meaningful privacy protections for personal data is the reason that a growing number of countries are concerned about trans-border data flows,” the groups wrote. “Until the United States addresses this problem, concerns about data transfers to the United States will remain, and data flow agreements are likely to be invalidated.” In 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor agreement. And in July 2020, the successor agreement, Privacy Shield, was also invalidated by the same court.