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European Policy, Free Expression, Privacy & Data

Overview: Working Groups

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is a leading nonprofit advocacy organization that works to promote democratic values within the technology policy space. This document (and the text below) provides a short overview of the working groups that CDT convenes.

One of CDT’s core strengths is our working groups, which bring together companies, trade associations, public interest groups, technologists, academics, and other stakeholders to exchange views and seek solutions to the most pressing internet policy challenges. Our working groups are respectful and pragmatic, often finding common ground where others cannot.

CDT’s working groups discuss policy approaches and identify collaboration opportunities, but do not take positions or issue public documents.  Instead, any consensus is expressed in briefs, statements, best practice guides, or other documents that can be signed by individual members.  This leaves members free to participate in the dialogue, learn, and contribute ideas without publicly endorsing or being associated with a particular viewpoint.  Dialogue in the working groups informs CDT’s positions, but CDT does not speak for the working groups or their members.

Digital Privacy and Security (DPSWG)

In the post-Snowden era, government surveillance and privacy issues have never been more important. DPSWG focuses on privacy issues associated with government access to communications for law enforcement, intelligence, and cybersecurity. It has worked to coordinate responses to FBI proposals to control the design of communication services and products, and it has examined the need to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, leading to the spin-off of the Digital Due Process coalition, and the introduction of landmark legislation. Currently, much of its efforts are on NSA surveillance reform, standards for trans-border governmental demands for user data, and cybersecurity legislative efforts.

European Policy

CDT contributes to European policymaking on issues such as data protection, government surveillance, net neutrality, and copyright enforcement (notice-and-action) by promoting our core values and principles in the context of the European political, economic, and cultural environment. Through our presence in Brussels, CDT’s European representatives engage with Members of the European Parliament, European Commission and Member State officials, and work on an ad hoc basis with European academic communities, civil society groups, and industry on developing effective solutions to current and future European policy challenges.

Free Speech and Intermediaries (FSWG)

FSWG provides a forum for publishers, ISPs, social networking sites, internet platforms, and civil liberties groups to share information on pending litigation, legislative proposals, and other policy initiatives related to free expression, censorship, filtering, and the role of intermediaries. Through FSWG, CDT has been a key convener around online child safety and copyright enforcement issues. Most recently, FSWG has concentrated on the role of Internet intermediaries and the increasing demands they face from governments and private actors to monitor, filter, and otherwise control online content.

Health Privacy (HPWG)

HPWG works on critical issues such as how law and policy should address health information outside of HIPAA, how using customer data for corporate research can be privacy-protective, ethical, and beneficial to the social good, and the balance between open data and individual privacy rights. In addition, HPWG tackles emerging topics in health privacy, such as the deployment of biometric measuring and body monitoring technologies, as well as consent models and mechanisms, medical identity theft remedies for consumers, and the impact of employee wellness programs.

Internet Privacy (IPWG)

IPWG focuses on consumer privacy issues, including education and workplace privacy. It has convened companies and privacy advocates to address the FTC’s child online privacy rules, to discuss how to reconcile privacy values with free expression rights, and to formulate suggested revisions to proposed privacy regulation in Europe. Recently, IPWG brought stakeholders together to discuss proposed state legislation addressing how digital accounts can be accessed after death.  The working group is currently discussing data breach notification legislation, as well as looking at how to embed principles of fairness and non-discrimination into automated algorithmic decision-making and machine learning processes.