Tech Talk: EdTech Privacy Practices and Policy Challenges for Driverless Cars

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 to researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who looked at the privacy policies and practices of EdTech startups. We also talk about the future of autonomous vehicles, looking in-depth at a package of bills coming out of Congress aimed at creating nationwide standards to expedite deployment.

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Fast-moving House Bills on Autonomous Vehicles May Undercut Privacy and Security Regulation

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is poised to introduce a package of fourteen bills that aim to spur deployment of autonomous vehicles on U.S. roadways. Legislative action is warranted, but several of the legislative proposals may have unintended consequences as policymakers grapple with the privacy and security issues posed by data-fueled autonomy.

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Help Us Protect an Open Internet

On July 12, a diverse coalition of civil society organizations, businesses, and internet users will unite in a day of action to preserve the open internet. While the FCC approved the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to repeal net neutrality protections for internet users in May, this was only the first step in the repeal process. The proposal still must go through another vote before the FCC, and then survive a potential court challenge. If you support a free and open internet, you still have until July 17 to make your voice heard through the FCC comment process.

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German Social Media Law Creates Strong Incentives for Censorship

Social media companies and other hosts of third-party content will soon face potential fines of €50 million in Germany if they fail to promptly censor speech that may violate German law. Last week, the German parliament approved the NetzDG legislation, which goes into effect 1 October and will require social media sites and other hosts of user-generated content to remove “obviously illegal” speech within 24 hours of being notified of it. This is one of the most extreme online censorship bills that we have seen from a liberal democracy to date. CDT was critical of this bill when it was first introduced, and we’re deeply concerned that the German parliament has now adopted it.

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Finding a Path Forward When Law Enforcement Needs Digital Evidence Held in Other Nations

Last week in United States vs. Microsoft, the Department of Justice (DOJ) petitioned the Supreme Court to decide the reach of the U.S. government when compelling U.S. companies to turn over data stored outside the U.S. Courts are divided on the issue. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) cannot reach extraterritorially. Magistrates in other circuits have disagreed, interpreting the search as occurring where a company discloses data, not where the data is seized. However, what no one disputes is that as the number of requests skyrockets, the system for accessing data across borders is deeply in need of reform, and that courts are ill-suited to tackle the complicated equities at stake. CDT argues that progress can be made through reforms in following four areas: bilateral agreements, the MLAT system, domestic U.S. law, and the adoption of certain legal changes.

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Campaign Data Breaches: Political Toxic Waste

Calling last week’s news that security researchers found an abandoned political campaign database on the internet with detailed information on over 200 million voters from 2008, 2012, and 2016 troubling is a massive understatement akin to calling the Titanic a boating accident. It’s closer to a catastrophe. Moreover, it may represent only the tip of the iceberg; Gizmodo points out that, “Five voter-file leaks over the past 18 months exposed between 350,000 and 191 million files.” As data collection and usage play an ever-growing role in political campaigns, the iceberg below is starting to look ominous. In partnership with political campaigns, Political Action Committees, consulting firms, and other NGOs that work in and around elections, CDT will lead efforts to draft a “campaign data stewardship pledge,” including templates for privacy policies, data security playbooks, and other materials that will move the principles reflected in a stewardship pledge into action.

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Celebrating Twenty Years of Free Speech Online

Twenty years ago today, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Reno v ACLU, the first case in which the Court considered the relationship between the First Amendment and the untested medium of the Internet. This was a pivotal case that required the Court to grapple with the technical characteristics of this new communications medium and to consider how decades of First Amendment doctrine should apply to a technology beyond the Founders’ wildest dreams.

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