Techsplanations: Part 5, Virtual Private Networks

Welcome to “Techsplanations,” written for those who would like to have a better understanding of the technologies that shape our everyday lives. One increasingly popular and prominent privacy-enhancing tool is the virtual private network, or VPN, which we’re going to explain a bit on this page and talk about some of the challenges internet users have using VPNs.

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NTIA Asks Right Questions on Consumer Privacy Law, Misses Mark By Not Addressing a Nationwide Baseline Standard

Last week the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published a Request for Comment (RFC) to solicit ideas on a federal privacy framework. All the right issues are on the table, but one big piece is missing: endorsing a legislative floor that prohibits exploitive and intrusive data collection and use. CDT will file comments recommending strong federal privacy legislation that creates a clear, targeted, and enforceable baseline in the U.S.

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Court Blesses Bulk Surveillance But Tells UK You’re Doing It Wrong

The mixed judgment from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)’s 13 September ruling certainly contains process and substance victories. However the conclusion that bulk interception—aka “collect it all” surveillance—can be done in a manner compliant with human right requirements will hinder efforts to end mass surveillance.

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California Enters the Net Neutrality Fray to Fill a Gap in Consumer Protection

On Sunday evening, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 822 into law, enacting a strong set of protections for the state’s broadband subscribers and scoring a victory in the overall fight to protect net neutrality. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is once again attempting to block net neutrality protections, and the U.S. Department of Justice immediately filed suit to strike down the law.

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OMB Should Deny State Department’s Proposal to Collect Social Media Identifiers from 14.7 Million Visa Applicants

In August the State Department (DOS) submitted its proposal to collect social media identifiers used in the last five years from 14.7 million immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval. CDT has consistently worked with coalition partners to challenge these programs by filing and joining comments in opposition highlighting its detrimental impact on free speech, association, as well as other issues detailed below.

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Face Recognition Principles are a Step Forward But Congress Needs to Act

Companies are eager to deploy face tracking for their own ends, but FRTs have the potential to significantly alter our day-to-day existence in the public square. Companies and retailers should provide much more detail about their biometric data practices, and as Congress and the White House begin to discuss the contours of a federal baseline privacy law, facial recognition technologies deserve special attention.

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