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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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When IoT Kills: Preparing for Digital Products Liability

Today we released a paper that examines issues in product liability for Internet of Thing (IoT) devices to mark the start of a research agenda in this area. We expect that the digital technology industry is about to undergo a process of change akin to what the automobile industry experienced in the 1960s and 70s. Then, as now, insufficient security measures, dangerous design or adding-on of security features post-design were widely accepted industry practice. Those practices had to change as the perils of unsafe cars became obvious – as is increasingly the case today with IoT devices.

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DNS: Strengthening the Weakest Link in Internet Privacy

For many, the conversation about online privacy centers around a few high-profile companies, and rightly so. We consciously engage with their applications and services and want to know who else might access our information and how they might use it. But there are other, less obvious ways that accessing the World Wide Web exposes us. One such part of the web’s infrastructure, the Domain Name System (DNS), “leaks” your private information, but there are now ways to better protect your privacy and security.

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The Zuckerberg Hearings: Hits, Misses, and Unanswered Questions

The House and Senate grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a total of ten hours this week, covering privacy, content policy, and election interference. The hearings didn’t reveal new information about Facebook’s practices, but they suggested that many members of Congress are ready to move on from the status quo of weak privacy protections and unfettered data collection by companies in the U.S.

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The Big Questions About Privacy That Need Answers

I had a teacher who once said, “when the stuff is hitting the fan, there are three questions to ask: What’s important? What’s missing? And what’s next?” Members of Congress will have their day with Mark Zuckerberg this week, but I’m more interested in unpacking these three questions – and moving towards their answers.

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What Congress Should Ask Mark Zuckerberg

In the coming days, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before both houses of Congress about transparency and data use by his company. He will testify first at a hearing held jointly by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on April 10 and then before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11. CDT hopes that members of Congress will ask about Facebook’s approach and commitment to the privacy of its users, its advertising-driven business model and susceptibility to abuse, and whether the company now believes it is time to support a comprehensive privacy law in the United States.

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FTC Regains Some Oversight of ISPs, but Consumers Still Lack Strong Privacy Protections

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered some good news to the FTC: in an en banc decision, the court reversed a September 2016 panel opinion that gave common carriers – companies that provide telecommunications services such as mobile and landline phone service – a get out of jail free card from the FTC’s enforcement authority. The ruling this week returns the FTC’s ability to bring actions against businesses when they are not acting as common carriers.

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The FTC-Venmo Privacy Settlement is All About Design

Paypal has settled charges from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that stated its popular money transferring app, Venmo, misled customers with confusing privacy settings. The FTC complaint is a lesson in the importance of user-friendly design in app privacy settings, as well as the privacy risks of combining financial transactions with social networking.

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