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Revised SOPA Bill Still Cause for Concern

OECD Internet Policy Plan Needs Careful Interpretation

Health Privacy Still a Work in Progress

Featured on Policy Beta

January 12, East Palo Alto, CA - Jim Dempsey will participate in a breakfast panel briefing entitled "Privacy and information management: What should businesses expect in 2012?


Despite growing opposition, the House Judiciary Committee plans to resume its mark-up of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) tomorrow, unless the House first adjourns for the holidays. Those concerned about the future of the Internet should continue to weigh in with Committee members. Follow the CDT blog and Twitter feed for breaking news.

[TPD will be on hiatus for the next two weeks. Happy holidays.]

Revised SOPA Bill Still Cause for Concern

Last week, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) released a substitute amendment for SOPA, the sweepingly broad copyright enforcement bill. The Chairman's substitute addressed some of the bill's most egregious faults; however, many problematic elements remain. The Committee's mark-up, starting on December 15, was a highly contentious affair that lasted a full two days and still did not get through the dozens of proposed amendments. The Chairman has said that he plans to resume consideration of the bill this week.

The amended bill still fails to fully embrace a narrowly targeted, follow-the-money approach. To block overseas websites, it still relies on domain-name filtering -- an ineffective tactic posing risks to Internet security and threatening a number of other harms, as we explained in our March hearing testimony.

Instead of dealing with the cybersecurity problems, the new language seeks to deny that there is a problem, by stating that nothing in the bill creates obligations that would impair the security or integrity of the domain name system. The amendment calls for a study of the effects of the provision requiring ISPs to "prevent access" to infringing content. In CDT's view, this "legislate first, assess the damage later" approach is especially unsuited to a medium as important to innovation and economic growth as the Internet.

OECD Internet Policy Plan Needs Careful Interpretation

On December 13, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) formally adopted as Recommendations its June Communique on Principles for Internet Policy Making. The Communique had set out a series of overarching commitments and principles intended to guide the development of Internet policy in OECD member states and other countries. Since the principles were first issued in June, there has been considerable controversy about how they could or should be applied to the specific policy challenges that Internet policymakers face, including cybersecurity, online child safety, intellectual property protection, and privacy. CDT has argued that the specific principles articulated by the OECD must be interpreted in light of the document's preamble, which stresses the values of openness and human rights.

Last week, the OECD pointedly adopted as Recommendations the entire June Communique, including both the preamble and the policy principles. Thus, the OECD sent a clear signal that Internet policy must be grounded in human rights and the rule of law, must preserve the openness of the Internet, and should be developed through the multi-stakeholder approach.

Health Privacy Still a Work in Progress

Effective implementation of health information technology - which could improve health care and reduce costs - requires a comprehensive framework of privacy and security protections, based on Fair Information Practices (FIPs), to build and maintain consumer trust. CDT's Health Privacy Project has been deeply engaged this year analyzing a series of proceedings to update and expand federal health privacy rules. In recent comments, we expressed concern that the recently proposed rule on the responsibilities of "business associates," which provide services to health care providers, is not sufficiently clear with respect to access, use and disclosure of health information.

House Tweaks Video Privacy Law for Frictionless Sharing

The House passed a revision to the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), the law that prohibits companies from disclosing information about a consumer's movie-viewing habits without affirmative consent. From CDT's persepctive, the revision - intended to allow people to share their Netflix activity with their social network - is reasonable. However, in addition to tweaking the isolated privacy laws that do exist, Congress should be addressing the lack of basic protections around most other consumer data.

Facial Recognition and Privacy

CDT released a major report, "Seeing is ID'ing," on facial recognition and privacy. The report describes the state of facial recognition technology and its rapidly growing commercial adoption, the lack of laws that address facial recognition, and policy approaches to preserving consumer privacy.

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