Privacy & Civil Rights Expert Alvaro Bedoya Nominated to Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission

Privacy & Civil Rights Expert Alvaro Bedoya Nominated to Federal Trade Commission

President Biden has nominated Alvaro Bedoya, founding director of the Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology, to serve as member of the Federal Trade Commission. Bedoya will succeed Commissioner Rohit Chopra when confirmed by the Senate. As a legal scholar and advocate, Bedoya has exposed the harms and biases of facial recognition technology and argued for legislation that would prevent predatory and discriminatory targeting of online ads. Bedoya is the author of Privacy as a Civil Right, in which he details how “the burdens of government surveillance have fallen overwhelmingly on the shoulders of immigrants, heretics, people of color, the poor, and anyone else considered ‘other'” and argues that privacy must be understood as a “shield that allows the unpopular and persecuted to survive and thrive.” Bedoya previously served as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. “Alvaro brings more than a decade of experience in privacy and surveillance issues, including a special focus on the impact that invasive technologies have on communities of color, to an FTC that needs to quickly and dramatically ramp up its responses to these emerging threats,” said Alan Butler, EPIC’s Executive Director. “There is no doubt that his expertise on these issues will put the Commission in a much better position to investigate data abuses and to craft new rules to bring these invasive business practices under control.”

Continue reading

EPIC Urges UK Surveillance Commissioner to Foreground Privacy, Ban Facial Recognition in Updates to Surveillance Camera Code

EPIC Urges UK Surveillance Commissioner to Foreground Privacy, Ban Facial Recognition in Updates to Surveillance Camera Code

EPIC has submitted comments to the Biometrics and Surveillance Commissioner of the United Kingdom on proposed updates to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. The currents updates proposed focus on aligning the Code with developments in surveillance law and recent court decisions. EPIC’s comment contains several recommends to more directly address surveillance risks to privacy and international human rights, including banning facial recognition technology, emotion recognition, and biometric categorization systems, setting clear assessment and consultation requirements criteria for databases used for matching technology and consultations, and strengthening protections against improper use of facial and biometric recognition systems. EPIC contributes substantially to ongoing efforts in protections against surveillance, including a campaign to ban facial recognition technology and filing suit against agencies misusing surveillance technology, as in a recent suit against the Postal Service .

Continue reading

Sixth Circuit Says Callers Liable for Illegal Robocalls Made in 2015-2020

EPIC Amicus Filing Lindenbaum

Sixth Circuit Says Callers Liable for Illegal Robocalls Made in 2015-2020

The Sixth Circuit has rejected a robocall defendant’s bid to use the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants to create immunity for illegal robocalls made between 2015 and 2020. In Barr, the Supreme Court found that an exception added in 2015 to the decades-old robocall restriction was unconstitutional and must be severed from the law. The defendant in the case before the Sixth Circuit, Lindenbaum v. Realgy, LLC, argued that the decision in Barr made the broad robocall ban unenforceable for the period between the unconstitutional exception’s enactment and the Supreme Court’s decision to sever, from 2015-2020. The district court agreed and threw the lawsuit out. The Sixth Circuit’s decision reverses the district court and allows the robocall suit to continue. EPIC and the National Consumer Law Center filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that granting robocallers immunity “would reward those who made tens of billions of unwanted robocalls and deprive consumers of any remedy for the incessant invasion of their privacy.” EPIC regularly files amicus briefs supporting consumers in illegal robocall cases.

Continue reading

The Absolute State of Money in 2021

Jeff Deist: You recently completed a series of articles for the Mises Institute, which we will publish in book form, on how money works today. Why is it important for average people to understand the mechanics of the plumbing of central and commercial banks?

Bob Murphy: There’s two main reasons. First, it’s intrinsically interesting. That’s why I went into economics. Just like the average person should know the basics about physics and chemistry and Darwin’s theory of evolution, likewise, the average person needs to know: How does money work, how do banks work? Just the raw basics of it because it’s an important part of modern society, even premodern society, in terms of money. But beyond that, because central banks certainly since 2008 and even more so in the wake of the pandemic in 2020 have done lots of things that I believe are setting the world up for a series of major financial crises, and the average person needs to know about this.

JD: Considering the monetary and fiscal machinations engaged in by governments since the pandemic, it’s as though we lost any sense of what money is. It seems unlimited. People on Twitter tell us money is just information, or energy in a system.

BM: I do know what you’re saying. On the one hand, I can’t bristle too much when outsiders, people like Eric Weinstein, come forward and they say the economists have just botched it. I get why they’re saying it, because the economists have done such a poor job. It’s hard for me to say hey, stay in your lane, leave money to the economists. But, on the other hand, you’re right. We shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the older-school economists and the ones in the Austrian tradition don’t know anything and that there’s no point in reading them. There are lots of fallacies that intelligent people who are not conversant with the economics literature might fall prey to, just like if you go into philosophy, there are lots of detours, and you would do well to take a basic course in philosophy to avoid fallacies that plagued people centuries ago. Likewise with money, there are lots of ways you can go down the wrong path, and some of these bright people who are spouting off on Twitter are just going over stuff that was demolished by Mises in 1912. They’re just repeating those fallacies and it’s because they never heard of it before.

JD: To be fair, the average Joe or Jane might well say money is just this made-up thing government tells us to use.

BM: Exactly, and it’s interesting because there is this sense in which money is a social convention, but it’s not merely a social convention. Just like spoken language is a social convention in a sense but that doesn’t mean words can just mean whatever you want. Money is a complex topic and it is easy to think of money incorrectly and certainly to then endorse government policies…

Continue reading

What Exactly Is This “Great Reset” People Keep Talking About?

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

by Jeff Thompson

For those who may not know, (and those who do) here is a primer on The Great Reset.

Buckle your seat belts for this one because it’s more chilling than any horror movie you’ve ever seen. You’ve heard your “crazy” friend at work bring it up in conversation. Perhaps you heard it briefly mentioned on TV the other day. And now you’re left wondering, “Just what on earth is The Great Reset?”

Meet the World Economic Forum (WEF)

You’ve heard of the WEF before. They’ve been in the news quite a bit for the past year or so. The reason? The Great Reset initiative. It is there that a man by the name of Klaus Schwabb runs the show. Schwabb founded the WEF and is one of the most powerful men in the world.

Each year the World Economic Forum hosts an event at a ski resort in the mountains of Switzerland where “the self-proclaimed global elite” meet to discuss global problems they can all work together to “fix.”

Generally, WEF invites 1500 people from roughly 70 countries to attend. All the attendees play major roles in various sectors of society, with a large portion of those invited being major players in the worlds of politics and business. 

In 2020, Schwabb released a book titled COVID-19: The Great Reset, in which he lays out his plans for what he believes needs to happen next.  

Now, let’s talk about Agendas

First, you need to understand one thing: the World Economic Forum and the United Nations march together hand in hand. In short, they’re two sides of the same coin.

The United Nations previously announced two separate agendas eerily similar to The Great Reset that contain many of the same components. These two UN agendas, Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030, include plans for what needs to happen on earth by 2021 and 2030 (there’s also an Agenda 2050, by the way).

Agenda 2030 has publicly stated goals of promoting racial and gender equality, eradicating global poverty, and abolishing violence, hate, and war from the globe. It also states it will reduce natural resource use in every country and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in every industrialized country. 

And how do you suppose Agenda 2030 would accomplish those goals?

Suppose you’re a lumberjack. A global organization has just stated you’re no longer permitted to cut down trees to “reduce natural resource use.” You’re now out of a job and can’t afford to feed your newborn daughter.

Or, let’s say you’re a farmer. A global organization…

Continue reading

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission Fines WhatsApp €225 million

consumer Facebook WhatsApp

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission Fines WhatsApp €225 million

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) fined Facebook’s WhatsApp €225 million ($266 million) for privacy violations following a GDPR investigation that began in 2018. In the decision, the data privacy regulator explained that WhatsApp breached the GDPR’s rules about data transparency, including when it processed user information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies. While the €225 million fine is a record for the DPC and the second largest fine ever issued under the GDPR, privacy advocate and EPIC Advisor Max Schrems noted “[t]he DPC also proposed an initial € 50 million fine and was forced by the other European data protection authorities to move towards € 225 million, which is still only 0.08% of the turnover of the Facebook Group. The GDPR foresees fines of up to 4% of the turnover.” 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.

Continue reading

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission Fines WhatsApp €225 million

Data Protection Agency Facebook GDPR WhatsApp data protection

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission Fines WhatsApp €225 million

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) fined Facebook’s WhatsApp €225 million ($266 million) for privacy violations following a GDPR investigation that began in 2018. In the decision, the data privacy regulator explained that WhatsApp breached the GDPR’s rules about data transparency, including when it processed user information between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies. While the €225 million fine is a record for the DPC and the second largest fine ever issued under the GDPR, privacy advocate and EPIC Advisor Max Schrems noted “[t]he DPC also proposed an initial € 50 million fine and was forced by the other European data protection authorities to move towards € 225 million, which is still only 0.08% of the turnover of the Facebook Group. The GDPR foresees fines of up to 4% of the turnover.” 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.

Continue reading

Aussie Authorities Can LEGALLY CHANGE Citizens’ Social Media Posts

If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

by Jeff Thompson

If you currently live in Australia, you’re probably already aware that some pretty draconian measures have taken place in the name of public health.

But this next step has crossed the Rubicon into entirely new territory – one in which authorities can legally go into a citizen’s social media account and change what they posted and can make changes to their browsing histories.

The bills passing through the Australian Parliament of late have been mind-boggling but this one goes so far beyond the pale that it’s practically unbelievable.

Why? And why is this an issue?

Because just the other day, the Surveillance Legislation Amendment Bill of 2021 – otherwise known as the Identify and Disrupt Bill – was passed by both houses after having originated within the House of Representatives.

Even more alarming for Americans is the question that must be running through your head. “Is Australia the testing ground for a Brave New World coming to the USA soon?”

Consider this. You live in Australia and regularly read the fantastic website, The Daily Express. Occasionally, you’ll post a link to one of these articles on your social media along with a quick blurb such as “great read,” “something to consider,” or the like. 

That’s all you’ve done. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Surely this won’t be a problem, will it?

Thanks to the new law, it sure could be. 

The Identify and Disrupt Bill gives both the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission the authority to “disrupt data by modifying, adding, copying, or deleting data to frustrate the commission of serious offences online.” It also allows the police to “take over a person’s online account for the purposes of gathering evidence to further a criminal investigation.” [source]

Here is the summary of the bill directly from the Parliament of Australia government website.

Australian Spokesperson for Justice heavily criticized the bill

Senator Lidia Thorpe released a statement on August 27, stating, “…this bill enables the AFP and ACIC to be ‘judge, jury and executioner.’ That’s not how we deliver justice in this country.” Senator Thorpe goes on to say amendments put forward to protect innocent people from abuse of power were outvoted by the major parties. She also brings up concerns that the bill does not identify why these powers are needed. [source]

The bill, framed as being targeted only towards serious criminal activity, does not define that serious criminal activity. This is where it becomes ambiguous and could lead to abuse of…

Continue reading

Paul Samuelson on Freedom | David Gordon

Some economists are good at political philosophy as well. Mises and Rothbard of course come to mind, but the good philosophers aren’t confined to Austrian school economists. Amartya Sen and Kenneth Arrow know what they are talking about when it comes to philosophy, agree with them or not. But some eminent economists don’t, and, judging by Nicholas Wapshott’s new book, Samuelson Friedman (Norton, 2021), the most famous American economist of the twentieth century, Paul Samuelson, was not a philosophical giant. The book is a study of the Newsweek columns of Samuelson and Milton Friedman, and Samuelson doesn’t appear to have thought through philosophical issues very deeply. Friedman does much better, but I’m going to be talking only about Samuelson.

One of the clichés of anti–free market thought is the claim that human rights are more important than property rights. This is nonsense; property rights are rights of human beings to property. Samuelson accepts an extreme version of this cliché:

“The rights of property shrink as the rights of man expand,” he wrote. While some suffered because the government intervened in the market, an unfettered market had winners and losers, too, he argued. While the free market suggested that everyone was free to buy what they wanted, there was such a thing as rationing by price, which put many items well beyond the reach of those without the means. The children of those who could not afford good education, for instance, were deprived by the market setting too high a price. The “freedom” of individuals provided by the market was therefore only notional. (p. 80)

Samuelson has confused two different things. Suppose I would like to visit Paris but can’t afford an airplane ticket. I’m unable to do what I want, but no one is using force against me, or threatening to use force, to prevent me from going to Paris. I can’t go because I am unable to meet the price that the owner of the airplane has set for the use of its services. The situation would be quite different if I bought a ticket and government agents forcibly removed me from the plane. Samuelson could counter in this way: the distinction between being unable to do something because doing it requires the consent of someone else, which he declines to give, and to be forcibly prevented from doing something isn’t important. Nevertheless, there is a distinction, and Samuelson for the most part ignores it.

Indeed he soon makes even clearer that he doesn’t understand the distinction. “Samuelson saw prices merely as a means of rationing scarce goods…. Indeed, the deliberate raising and lowering of prices was often a means of guiding human behavior rather than following it. Throwing Friedman’s words back at him, Samuelson wrote, ‘libertarians fail to realize that the price system is, and ought to be, a method of coercion’” (p. 80).

There are, though, some indications that he acknowledges the distinction, but just doesn’t see why coercion, as libertarians understand it, is bad. “And even…

Continue reading

EPIC Joins Call for Privacy Reform from Indian Government

EPIC Joins Call for Privacy Reform from Indian Government

EPIC has joined with several international privacy and human rights advocacy groups in a statement calling for privacy reform in the wake of allegations that the Indian government used Pegasus to surveil activists, journalists, and opponents. The statement highlights the fundamental right to privacy established under both the Indian Constitution and international human rights law, condemns the illegal use of spyware, and calls for (i) an independent investigation into allegations of Pegasus use; (ii) surveillance reform ensuring independent judicial oversight and providing for judicial remedy; and (iii) establishing a data protection framework that will respect privacy rights. EPIC has previously filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to obtain records of a system designed to surveil journalists⁠—the surveillance effort was subsequently suspended. In addition, EPIC has previously joined coalition letters calling for surveillance reform within the U.S. and has testified before Congress regarding the risks of commercial spyware.

Continue reading