Ethically Scraping and Accessing Data: Governments Desperately Seeking Data

As cities get smarter, their appetite and access to information is also increasing. The rise of data-generating technologies has given government agencies unprecedented opportunities to harness useful, real-time information about citizens. But governments often lack dedicated expertise and resources to collect, analyze, and ultimately turn such data into actionable information, and so have turned to private-sector companies and academic researchers to get at this information. As the maze of partnerships among public officials, private companies, academics, and independent researchers becomes more tangled, a clear path out of the status quo may be challenging. On-demand platforms, as they continue to disrupt local economies, continue to be a significant flashpoint.

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When Your Internet Won’t Go the Speed Limit: CDT Seeks to File An Amicus Brief in People v. Charter

CDT filed a brief supporting the New York AG’s position in the pending appeal of People v. Charter Communications and Spectrum Management Holding Company, in which we focused on two issues: that the Federal Communications Commission’s Transparency Rule (the only rule slated to survive the net neutrality repeal) should not preempt New York’s consumer protection laws and that consumers are right to expect their broadband speeds to match advertised claims.

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EC Initiative on Disinformation Must Not Curb Free Expression

The European Commission has, as expected, published a Communication on “Tackling Online Disinformation: A European Approach”. The Communication comes on the back of a public consultation and a report from a “High-Level Group on Fake News”. But we worry that the speed with which the Commission wants to proceed, and the lack of clarity regarding the scope of the problem it wants to address, will push online service providers, aided by technology tools and fact checkers, to curtail free expression, political debate and access to information.

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The EC Wants Europe to Lead on AI – But Its Restrictive Copyright Draft Rules for TDM Will Not Help

On 25 April 2018, the European Commission published its Communication on “Artificial Intelligence for Europe”. The Communication lays out a broad set of policies and initiatives for the European Union to undertake the deployment and development of artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe. The Commission’s focus on ensuring that the benefits of AI can be enjoyed by all of society is appropriate. CDT’s thinking in this area has focused on tools that can help technology developers build safeguards against unintended bias and other ethical pitfalls as they design automated decision-making processes. We look forward to engaging with the proposed AI Alliance on these and other issues.

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Congress Should Take "Filtering Practices of Social Media" Seriously

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will host what’s likely to be a wide-ranging discussion of how social media companies moderate content, in its hearing on Filtering Practices of Social Media Platforms. While the hearing is sure to include some spectacle and grandstanding, make no mistake: This is a deeply serious issue that deserves thoughtful consideration by policymakers, companies, and users alike. Here are a few key themes we hope members of the committee will consider.

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Mobile Carrier Proposal to Limit eSIMs Would Subvert User Choice and Control

The Department of Justice has opened an antitrust investigation into potential coordination between major telecom carriers and the GSMA, stemming from a proposal that would restrict consumers from switching carriers with their current devices by imposing new limitations on embedded SIMs. If GSMA adopts the proposal, mobile carriers would be able to restrict users from unlocking their phones and switching carriers. CDT, Consumers Union, and Public Knowledge urge GSMA to reject any measure that would place new constraints on consumer rights.

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Can Cybersecurity Tech Accord Really Curb State Actions?

Guest Post: Thirty-four leading global technology firms announced a new private-sector agreement intended to curb the worst excesses of state behavior in the cyber domain, and to improve the general state of global computer network security. The agreement is a worthwhile effort. It indicates that the private-sector is prepared to take some responsibility for actual and potential harms enabled by their business operations. However, it places firms in clear opposition to states, and commits these companies to taking steps that governments may interpret as inhibiting their legitimate prerogatives in the conduct of foreign policy.

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CDT Urges Court to Uphold Fourth Amendment Protections for Email Content

Recently, CDT joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Brennan Center for Justice in a brief to argue that a user’s Fourth Amendment rights in email content do not expire when an email service provider terminates a user’s account pursuant to its terms of service. The government must still obtain a warrant prior to searching that user’s email account. The case is United States v. Ackerman, in which a district court determined – based on those facts – that a warrant was unnecessary to access email content because termination of the account vitiated the account holder’s reasonable expectation of privacy in his email. The case was appealed and we filed an amicus brief opposing this holding.

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