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In this issue




Take Back Your Privacy with CDT



CDT in Action


June 9, San Jose, CA - Join CDT, the Churchill Club and TechNet for a breakfast event with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps.


June 23, San Francisco, CA - Heath IT Policy Breakfast: Privacy and Security in the Post-HITECH Era. Moderated by CEO Leslie Harris, with panelists including Deven McGraw, Director of CDT's Health Privacy Project; Jonah Frolich, Deputy Secretary for Health Information Technology in California; David Lansky, Pacific Buisness Group on Health; and Julie Murchinson, Manatt Health Solutions. Contact Catherine Brack for details - cbrack@cdt.org.


June 23, San Francisco, CA - San Francisco reception to celebrate CDT's 15th anniversary. Contact Catherine Brack for details - cbrack@cdt.org.

                                                                  


For more information about CDT, or to receive CDT's Tech Policy Download, click here.

 

Irony, kismet... happenstance? Call it what you will, but the juxtaposition of a federal consumer privacy bill being floated on Capitol Hill while social media networking users are publicly venting frustration over yet-more-changes to privacy policies, can't be ignored. Meanwhile, yet another blue-ribbon panel comes to the conclusion that education and parent controls trump censorship every time.

Boucher Privacy Legislation

In recent weeks, Congressmen Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) have been circulating a draft consumer privacy bill. This draft bill deserves serious attention, because the lawmakers are chairman and ranking member of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over communications, technology and the Internet.

Their challenge is to define standards that will protect consumers from inappropriate collection and misuse of their data without interfering with innovation. CDT's analysis of the bill concludes it would take an important step by providing a uniform set of rules for both online and offline data, but it omits some key privacy principles and could be rapidly outdated.

In particular, the bill relies too heavily on notice and choice mechanisms, which CDT and other privacy advocates believe are inadequate in today's complex data environment. Instead, we recommend that the draft be expanded to include all elements of the comprehensive framework known as Fair Information Practices (FIPs). We also noted that some highly prescriptive mandates in the draft bill could inadvertently "freeze" today's practices into law and discourage innovation. We recommended providing regulatory flexibility to accommodate different business models and technologies.

Facebook, Google Respond to Privacy Pressure

Even as the Boucher bill was being circulated, leading Internet companies faced growing public unrest about privacy. After weeks of criticism about new privacy defaults and "instant personalization" features, Facebook retooled its privacy procedures, making them more user-friendly. To help users take advantage of the new controls, CDT released a video illustrating how they work.

Meanwhile, Google released a new browser plug-in for users wishing to opt-out of cookie tracking by Google's advertising networks. CDT is urging other ad networks to follow Google's lead.

Education, Not Fear, Keeps Kids Safe Online

CDT has long argued that the best way to protect children online is not by censorship but by education and parental controls. The latest study to confirm the effectiveness of education over governmental restrictions was released last week by the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, a Congressionally chartered, multi-stakeholder body. CDT's John Morris served on the panel. The report recommends that, rather than attempting to ban social networking sites or taking more radical steps such as banning the Internet from the classroom, schools should incorporate digital media literacy into children's lessons from pre-kindergarten onwards. The report is a gratifying shift away from the "fear-based approach" to Internet safety - which only scared parents and gave children no resources to respond to unsafe situations - toward an emphasis on the positive role that the Internet can play in children's lives.

More from CDT's PolicyBeta Blog

David Sohn writes about rumblings on Capitol Hill about updating the Communications Act. It's "a timely step" says, Sohn, as many facets of today's digital communications landscape are in play.




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