October 26, Washington, DC - Greg Nojeim will be a panelist on "Privacy and Security in the Cloud Computing Age" at the Brookings Institution.
The "Smart Grid" isn't fiction and neither are concerns that the data collection technologies used in the grid raise serious questions about how to best protect consumer privacy.. CDT last week proposed a set of privacy rules for the Smart Grid. The FBI ramps up its campaign for control over communications services. And bogus DMCA notices threaten political speech. These are a few of the Internet policy issues CDT had its hands on since we last wrote.
CDT Offers Detailed Privacy Rules for Smart Grid
Last week, CDT submitted comments to the California Public Utilities Commission detailing how privacy can be protected as Smart Grid technologies are deployed. The comments propose a comprehensive set of privacy policies and practices for data about home energy usage -- data that is likely to become increasingly granular and revealing of personal life patterns. While the CDT proposal is based on the widely-accepted framework of Fair Information Practices, our comments are the first time, as far as we know, that anyone in the U.S. has translated those principles into practical rules that can be implemented in the Smart Grid. The Electronic Frontier Foundation joined CDT in its filing.
The California PUC is conducting a major proceeding intended to promote development of the Smart Grid in the state. In March, CDT and EFF submitted comments to the PUC, arguing that the Smart Grid needed a comprehensive set of privacy rules based on the Fair Information Practices. In response, the Commission solicited specific input on privacy, setting the stage for our recommendations.
DMCA Abuse and Political Campaigns
Political speech is at the very core of what the First Amendment is intended to protect. And one might assume that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act could not be used to quash the comments of political candidates. But that is precisely what has been happening. Starting as early as the 2008 Presidential campaign, media companies have been sending "notice-and-takedown" demands to YouTube and other online video platforms, insisting that they delete campaign ads that contain snippets of video drawn from TV news programs. The snippets are almost certainly legal as "fair use," but the way the DMCA works, the recipients of demand letters often have no incentive to resist and every incentive to just take down the material.
CDT released a report detailing the extent to which overly aggressive DMCA takedowns stifle legitimate political speech. The report pulls together in one place information on a dozen incidents that have occurred in recent years and calls upon news broadcasters - in the name of the First Amendment - to be more tolerant of the reuse of their footage for political advertising and commentary.
FBI Ramps Up Push for Control Over Communications Networks
The FBI is expanding its call for deeper control over the design of communications services. After arguing a month ago that Internet applications should be redesigned to make them easier to wiretap, the FBI is now, the New York Times reports, seeking more aggressive authority to force traditional carriers to design their networks to the FBI's liking. As CDT's Leslie Harris pointed out in ABC News column, government-mandated backdoors to communications systems are likely to create additional vulnerabilities at precisely the time that citizens, corporations and governments are seeking to improve the security of their communications.
CDT filed its latest round of comments in the FCC's "open Internet" proceeding, focusing on two issues: "specialized" services and the application of open Internet polices to mobile wireless services.
Alissa Cooper reports on the Real Time Communications Web Workshop and examines the need for strong security standards as innovation accelerates in browser-to-browser communications and other Web applications.
Justin Brookman explores the broader implications of a Wall Street Journal report on the leakage of identifying data through Facebook apps.
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