Tech Talk: Call Congress About Net Neutrality and Section 702

CDT’s Tech Talk is a podcast where we dish on tech and Internet policy, while also explaining what these policies mean to our daily lives. In this episode, we talk about two core CDT policy issues – preserving net neutrality and limiting government surveillance. Both are facing major challenges in the United States and we hear from CDT’s leads on each about the path ahead.

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Location Data: The More They Know

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States on November 29th. Carpenter centers on whether law enforcement needs a warrant to access 127 days of historic cell-site location information (CSLI). The case is important because of the great quantity of demands for location information now being made by law enforcement, because the location information that is sought is very revealing, and because law enforcement often obtains such data without obtaining a warrant, which increases the likelihood that sensitive location information about innocent people is collected. CDT argued strenuously that the Supreme Court should require law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing CSLI in its amicus brief in Carpenter v. United States. We hope the Supreme Court will agree.

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Civil Liberties Parliamentary Committee Opposes Mandatory Censorship Filter

On 20 November, the Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament adopted its Opinion on the DSM, focusing specifically on the upload filtering provision in Article 13, and recommending that the provision be narrowed to remove content monitoring obligations. As drafted, Article 13 would force internet intermediaries to use content identification technology to prevent users from uploading unlicensed copyrighted content.

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Automated “Extreme Vetting” Won’t Work and Will Be Discriminatory

Today, CDT joined 55 civil society groups, as well as leading computer and data science experts, to oppose the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) automated extreme vetting initiative. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to use automated technology and social media data to decide who gets deported or denied entry to the United States. This initiative is not only discriminatory but also technically infeasible.

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Security Research and the DMCA: The Copyright Office streamlines the exemption process

In late October, the Copyright Office announced that it plans to make it easier for people to fully use their lawfully purchased items, choose which mechanics work on their cars, and improve the security of software-enabled devices. Under current law, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it’s illegal to circumvent the technological protection measures (TPMs) that limit the use, modification, and repair of software. TPMs are ubiquitous; they’re in everything from smartphones to cars and coffee makers, acting as digital locks on the computer code within. And bypassing these locks can trigger criminal penalties, even with a good, non-infringing reason. However, the law also includes a process by which the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office can issue exemptions to this flat ban on circumvention. The triennial exemptions allow the bypassing of TPMs for certain non-infringing purposes, but these exemptions are only valid for three years.

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Anonymous Speech Online Dealt a Blow in US v. Glassdoor Opinion

First Amendment protections for anonymous speech online were dealt a serious blow earlier today when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in United States v. Glassdoor. In its opinion, the Court ruled in favor of the US government’s efforts to compel Glassdoor to unmask anonymous reviews of employers by employees posted on the site.

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What’s the Harm? CDT Comments to FTC Highlight Informational Injury Considerations

On Friday, CDT submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission in advance of its December 2017 workshop exploring the contours of informational injury. Privacy violations are often highly contextual, making injury resulting from them difficult for individuals to evaluate and regulators like the FTC to quantify. Despite this practical challenge, the Commission can harness its existing tools to protect individuals from privacy harm; in our comments, we argue that the FTC should aggressively use its Section 5 unfairness powers to police business practices that create informational injury.

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