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The Vulnerabilities Equities Process: Is Congress Getting Ready to Provide Transparency and Regulation?

The Vulnerabilities Equities Process has been subject to policy debates over the last few years, but this fall Congress may act on the topic for the first time. Despite making incredibly important decisions, the VEP has generally been ignored by Congress, but two new legislative proposals would provide oversight, and in one case, light reforms.

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Hotspot Shield VPN's Privacy and Security Promises Contradict Practices

As detailed in the complaint CDT filed today with the FTC, we believe Hotspot Shield Free VPN has employed unfair and deceptive trade practices. Among other concerns, the complaint details the ways in which Hotspot Shield’s marketing claims around privacy and security directly contradict its actual practices and policies. VPNs should be in the business of giving individuals a real option for confidential internet activity, and should not use deceptive claims to expose internet users to security risks or prey upon their limited ability to compare services.

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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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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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House Judiciary Committee Demonstrates Strong Interest in Privacy

Last week, CDT’s Vice President for Policy, Chris Calabrese, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the Department of Justice’s proposal to amend U.S. privacy laws to permit foreign governments to request data directly from U.S. companies without going through American courts. The current proposal does not sufficiently cover four key points. Importantly, multiple representatives shared our concerns over the current government proposal.

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“Hacking Back” a Recipe for Digital Arms Race

“Malicious hacking”—using technological means to penetrate or manipulate the networks, data, or devices of others without permission is a threat to the Internet and to the health of the Internet infrastructure companies that serve as its backbone. “Hacking back” would make us all more vulnerable to more sophisticated and frequent attacks. Our focus should be on protecting networks from intrusion, rather than making them more vulnerable by turning the Internet ecosystem into a digital war zone.

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Why the FTC Shouldn't Be the Only "Cop On the Beat"

As the internet has become more ubiquitous and users generate more valuable data, we have been forced consider how much privacy we are entitled to from private parties like internet service providers. Under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC answered this question through the Broadband Privacy Order in October 2016. But the order was recently repealed, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has suggested completely ceding oversight of consumer privacy to the FTC in his Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). CDT has stated its opposition to previous efforts to roll back consumer privacy protections, and in this post, we will outline the basis for some of our concerns.

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