Reproductive Privacy in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism

By Sara Geoghegan, Law Fellow, and Dana Khabbaz, Law Fellow

The recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization poses an unquestionable threat to the safety and privacy of abortion providers and patients alike. The right to make health related decisions free from commercial or government interference is inherent to one’s dignity and autonomy. The implications are all the more harrowing in light of the technological realities of today: a huge data broker industry that sells our location data and most sensitive information to private and government purchasers alike. The data broker industry also uses secret algorithms to profile nearly every person in ways that undermines their decisional and reproductive privacy. EPIC has worked for decades to defend privacy rights online, and will continue its advocacy in the face of the coming challenges. See EPIC’s statement about the decision here.

The recent Dobbs decision overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two cases which enshrined abortion rights constitutionally. We are only beginning to witness the impact of the Dobbs decision on individual privacy. The decision poses a critical threat to privacy rights when combined with today’s vast personal data collection systems, a growing and underregulated data broker industry, government consumption of people’s data for surveillance purposes, private use of data for targeted advertisements, and increased use of unreliable AI and algorithms.

Commercial and government entities collect vast amounts of personal information about individuals, including location data. Location data can reveal the most sensitive characteristics about a person, including: religion, sexual orientation, sexual activities, gender identity, health conditions, union membership, and political affiliation. Phones and devices generate location data which is collected by various entities and may be sold to data brokers, advertisers, or the government. Data brokers use secret algorithms to build profiles on every consumer based on their online activities, often without the consumer’s knowledge. Using profiles to target advertisements to pregnant people is not new. For example, Target reportedly sent maternity and pregnancy related advertisements to a teenager before she told her family she was pregnant. As the article, Target Knows You’re Pregnant, explained “all Target customers are assigned a Guest ID. Associated with this ID is information on ‘your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit.’” Analyzing this data, combined with a customer’s purchase history, could produce a “pregnancy prediction” score, which includes an estimate of the customer’s due date. Post Roe, these types of profiles could be weaponized against individuals who seek abortions in states where abortion is illegal.

Data brokers play a pervasive role in the location data market. Data brokers buy, aggregate, disclose, and sell billions of data points on Americans, including their location data. Data brokers build profiles on every American from…

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Freeze Drying Machine at Home: How It Works and Is It Worth the Cost?

Whether you are stockpiling food for emergencies or want backpacking meals, freeze dried food is almost always the best way to go. Freeze-dried foods are lightweight, can last decades, are easy to rehydrate, and taste good.

However, there is one little problem: buying freeze dried foods can cost a fortune.

But did you know that you can freeze dry food at home?

There are now some models of home freeze dryer machines available. If you want to try this at home, here’s what you need to know (including whether it’s worth the cost!).

What Is Freeze Drying?

We know that ice (a solid) can turn into water (a liquid) and then into vapor (a gas). However, in certain circumstances, ice can completely skip the liquid form and turn directly into a gas.

This process of a solid turning directly into a gas is called sublimation.

Freeze drying uses sublimation to remove water from food. The scientific name for this food preservation method is lyophilization.

History of Freeze Drying

Some cultures have utilized sublimation as a natural food preservation method. For example, the people of the Andes Mountains used sublimation to preserve meat and crops as far back as 1200AD. The conditions in the high-altitude Andes Mountains meant that the food froze, then the frozen water in the food slowly sublimated.

During WWII, freeze drying was used to transport blood and organs. Later on, freeze drying was industrialized and used for food. (Sources: 1234)

ChunoChunoChuño: Andean freeze dried potato.

instant coffeeinstant coffeeInstant coffee is one of the most common freeze dried foods.

freeze dried ice creamfreeze dried ice creamGrowing up, I ate “astronaut ice cream” made by freeze drying

Freeze Drying At Home

how to freeze dry food at home

how to freeze dry food at home

You can preserve food at home in as little as 20 hours with a freeze dryer machine.

The process works like this:

  1. You put food into the freeze dryer chamber.
  2. The machine flash freezes the food, so the water inside it turns to ice. Harvest Right units go to -30°F or colder.
  3. A pump removes air from the chamber, creating a vacuum.
  4. Because pressure is low inside the vacuum, the ice turns into vapor.
  5. A low-temperature condenser pulls the vapor out of the chamber.

When the process is over, you will have food that is free of water and chemically stable. So long as you keep the food in ideal conditions, it can last up to 25 years.

A good home freeze dryer machine will self-monitor the process. Once the water vapor has been removed, the humidity sensors automatically turn off, so the method is…

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WTAJ News: The next frontier for drones: Letting them fly out of sight

“There is a greater chance that you’ll have drones flying over your house or your backyard as these beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone operations increase,” said Jeramie Scott, a senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center who sat on the FAA’s advisory group working to craft new drone rules. “It’ll be much harder to know who to complain to.”

EPIC and other groups dissented from the advisory group’s early recommendations and are calling for stronger privacy and transparency requirements — such as an app that could help people identify the drones above them and what data they are collecting.

Read the full article here.

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European Parliament Adopts DSA, DMA

On July 5, 2022, European Parliament voted by large majority to adopt both the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. These laws will address competition, transparency, and consumer protection in digital markets and are likely to significantly impact tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and more.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) has a wide consumer protection scope, including specific requirements on mandatory risk assessments and audits, content moderation, and bans on targeted advertising for children, targeted advertising based on sensitive data, and dark patterns. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) looks to competition and interoperability by mandating user access to their data, barring platforms from favoring their own services over others, and allowing users to remove pre-installed software or apps. Both carry significant fines for violations – up to 10% of annual global turnover for DMA violations and 6% for DSA violations.

EPIC has been active on calling out the privacy impacts of lack of competition in big tech, pushing for bans on surveillance advertising, and issuing complaints, testimony, and calls for action on dark patterns.

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Arizona Preppers – What You Need to Know

arizona preppers featurearizona preppers feature

Arizona preppers face a myriad of challenges living in their state. There are ways to mitigate the challenges if you plan ahead, however. This article should help preppers living in the state to think about their personal preparedness strategy and create a SHTF plan that can meet their needs.

NOTE: Do you live in Arizona? You know your state, so let us know in the comments section how this article can be improved. What did we miss? What did we get right?

Arizona Overview – Prepper’s Perspective

Arizona is also known as the “Grand Canyon State” or the “Copper State.” Names owing to the world-famous geological feature which attracted 6 million visitors in 2019, and to the state’s abundance of copper as a natural resource, which accounts for 66% of the nation’s copper production. With many recreational and vocational opportunities, Arizona is an attractive option for those that want to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. 

With 3928 mountain peaks, Arizona offers varied and spectacular terrain for sports and outdoors enthusiasts. Arizona is also home to several of the world’s “sky islands”, which are mountains surrounded by valleys that feature wide-ranging eco-systems and diverse animal and plant life. 85% of the state’s land comprises national forests, national parks, and wilderness areas. This allows for many bug out locations to be scouted while recreating in the Grand Canyon State.

The Aravaipa Canyon, Sonoran Desert, and Vermillion Cliffs are just a few places that have limitless opportunities for someone looking to escape a societal crisis. However, large swaths of unpopulated land also bring about higher probabilities of fires developing before they can be detected and controlled. 

It’s the 6th largest state in the US and the 14th most populous. Which, bodes well for the prepper. Just barely in the top third in terms of population, but is one of the largest states that presents a degree of safety from the ills brought about by a high population density. It does demand certain attention to be paid to personal protection given the proximity to large population centers that may take a fancy to Arizona’s vacant land during the next disruption in society. 


Arizona has temperate winters, with temperatures ranging from 40 to 75 °F. It would be the ideal state to raise crops, but the thing is, it hardly ever rains. Which explains perfectly why most of Arizona is desert or semi-desert. Arizona has brutally hot summers, with temperatures regularly exceeding 100 °F. The record average high of the state, 116 °F was set in 1950 with some places in the state getting as high as 124 °F.  

However, be warned, that some areas in Arizona, around Flagstaff and Prescott, can get cold with temperatures falling below freezing in the winter months. The state’s lowest average temp was 66 °F.  Combined with the high winds and lack of heating material, this can be a serious challenge if not planned…

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10 Ways to Sow Revolution in Your Back Yard

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Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

Perhaps the next Revolutionary War will take place in a vegetable garden.

Instead of bullets, there will be seeds.  Instead of chemical warfare, there will be rainwater, carefully collected from the gutters of the house. Instead of soldiers in body armor and helmets, there will be back yard rebels, with bare feet, cut-off jean shorts, and wide-brimmed hats.  Instead of death, there will be life, sustained by a harvest of home-grown produce.  Children will be witness to these battles, but instead of being traumatized, they will be happy, grimy, and healthy, as they learn about the miracles that take place in a little plot of land or pot of dirt.

Every day, the big industries that run our nation take steps towards food totalitarianism.  They do so flying a standard of “sustainability” but what they are actually trying to sustain is NOT our natural resources, but their control.

One of the most inspiring, beautifully written articles that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time is by Julian Rose, a farmer, actor, activist, and writer. He wrote an article called Civil Disobedience or Death by Design and it is a “must-read” for anyone who believes in the importance of natural food sources:

“From now on, unless we cut free of obeisance to the centralised, totalitarian regimes whose takeover of our planet is almost complete, we will have only ourselves to blame. For we are complicit in allowing ourselves to become slaves of the Corporate State and its cyborg enforcement army. That is, if we continue to remain hypnotized by their antics instead of taking our destinies into our own hands and blocking or refusing to comply with their death warrants. This ‘refusal’ is possible. But it will only have the desired effect when, and if, it is contemporaneous with the birthing of the Divine warrior who sleeps in us all. The warrior who sleeps-on, like the besotted Rip Van Winkle in the Catskill mountains.” (source)

And it isn’t just industrialism that’s causing our issues. A supply chain disruption has been apparent in the US since people first cleared the shelves a year ago and while some things came back in stock, supplies are limited to this day.

Sustained into starvation

Does it sound dramatic to state that if things continue on their current path of “sustainability” that we are all going to die?  If you think I’m overstating this, read on.  It isn’t…

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PRESS RELEASE: Leading Privacy Scholars and Advocates Join EPIC’s Advisory Board

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) announced the addition of fifteen members to its Advisory Board. Since its founding, EPIC has drawn on the expertise of leading scholars, experts, and advocates in the privacy, civil liberties, and cybersecurity space to inform its work. And today we are thrilled to see this group grow.

“At EPIC we build on the great work that is being done by leading scholars and thinkers in our field, and the addition of fifteen new members is an exciting step that will bolster our advocacy and education efforts. We are especially happy to see this group bring a wide range of expertise and backgrounds on cutting edge issues of digital civil rights, algorithmic accountability, and privacy,” says EPIC Executive Director Alan Butler.

These new members will help inform EPIC’s research, advocacy, and litigation work at a time when efforts to rein in large technology platforms are front and center in global policy debate. Recently Congress has begun to consider a bipartisan, bicameral privacy bill and some states are conducting rulemaking processes for their own privacy regulations at the same time that the Supreme Court is pushing to undermine the constitutional right to privacy. EPIC’s new members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in educating the public and working to protect privacy and civil liberties against the various threats that exist today.

The new members are: 

  • Chaz Arnett – Associate Professor of Law at the University of Maryland and a faculty fellow at Data & Society. His research explores the interplay between race, digital technologies, and criminal legal processes.
  • Hannah Bloch-Wehba – Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Her scholarship explores the intersection of tech and civil liberties, primarily focusing on free expression, privacy, and government accountability.
  • David Brody – Managing Attorney of the Digital Justice Initiative at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. He focuses on issues related to the intersection of technology and racial justice, such as consumer privacy, algorithmic bias, discriminatory advertising, election disinformation, free speech, and government surveillance.
  • Elizabeth Denham – International consultant for Data and Tech at BakerCanada and former UK Information Commissioner (2016 – 2021). As Information Commissioner for the UK, she built and led the largest data protection regulator in the world and Chaired the Global Privacy Assembly from 2018 to 2021.
  • Ben Green – Postdoctoral scholar in the Michigan Society of Fellows and an assistant professor in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He studies the ethics of government algorithms, with a focus on algorithmic fairness, human-algorithm interactions, and AI regulation.   
  • Gianclaudio Malgieri – Associate Professor of Law and Technology at the EDHEC Business School in Lille (France) and the Co-Director of the Brussels Privacy Hub. He conducts research on and teaches data protection law, privacy, AI regulation, digital law, consumer protection in the digital market, data sustainability, and intellectual property law. 
  • Safiya Noble – Internet studies scholar and Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of…

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EPIC, U.S. Consumer Groups Urge FTC to Investigate Google Account Sign-Up Practices

EPIC, along with nine other U.S. consumer protection and privacy groups, has submitted a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, urging it to open an investigation into Google’s account sign-up process. The letter states that the structure of the sign-up process hides tracking information from consumers, engages in dark patterns to manipulate consumers into accepting default invasive tracking practices, and makes opting out more difficult and time-intensive than accepting tracking. This investigation would be in line with the FTC’s efforts to address dark patterns and manipulation.

EPIC has repeatedly pushed back on the use of dark patterns, including calling for regulatory controls in congressional testimony and in a complaint filed against Amazon.

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How to Get Teens Interested in Prepping and Self Sustainability

Teens these days live in a different world than many of us did growing up. They are surrounded by technology, constantly in contact with friends, and exposed to ideas from all over the world at the click of a button. Though there are many positives associated with the technological advances taking place in the world today, there are also some real negatives. 

Perhaps one of the most troubling of these negatives is that many teenagers these days are completely disconnected from foundational skills that are necessary for survival. Many don’t have a strong grasp on where their food comes from, how to use tools to fix things, or what to do in an emergency. For thoughtful preppers, this lack of skills poses a significant safety risk to the entire group. 

Building interest in prepping skills and self-sustainability is the first step to rectifying the situation. Finding ways to connect with teenagers may take some creativity. They may look at you like you’re crazy if you try to teach them things for “survival purposes.” Instead, try to subtly tie lessons in prepping to things they are interested in and care about. 

Gardening and a More Sustainable Planet

A core component of prepping is related to producing and storing your own food. Gardening and canning are profoundly practical ways to reduce your impact on the planet. Producing your own food has the compounding benefits of

  • Shortening the number of miles food has to travel (by boat, airplane, or truck) from the field it was produced in to reach your plate.
  • Reducing the need to use energy for heavy equipment to harvest and process food produced on large farms.
  • Limiting or eliminating the chemicals used to produce and store food on a mass scale.
  • Building back high-quality soils through composting waste products.
  • Working with nature to capitalize on environmentally friendly strategies to increase yields and reduce pests. 
  • Reducing waste from single-use plastics and tin cans (assuming you preserve food using glass jars).
  • Saving money on high-quality, local, healthy foods.

Gardening and food preservation are also two of the easiest prepping skills to get your children involved in from a young age. Young children can help with harvesting and pulling weeds, while teenagers can take on managing certain aspects of the garden, determining which foods to grow, solving problems with pests or watering, and helping with food preservation. You may even encourage your teen to take this form of environmental activism a step further by introducing it at their school. More people are capable of surviving a disaster because they can grow their own food never hurts. 

Driving and Emergency Response

Another avenue to try is something that most teenagers are deeply invested in: being able to drive. Driving means freedom and less reliance on parents. But it also means taking on greater responsibility and risk. Driving privileges can be a great means of introducing different prepping skills such as emergency response. 

A condition of…

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