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In this issue

Take Back Your Privacy with CDT


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Draft privacy legislation is circulating on Capitol Hill, the FCC is moving to regulate broadband Internet access with a "light touch," and Facebook is struggling to get privacy right. Here are a few highlights and links to fuller CDT analysis.

A Plan for Light-handed Regulation of Internet Access Services

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced on May 6 that the Commission will use its existing authority over telecommunications services to begin developing rules for broadband Internet access. CDT welcomed the proposed approach, which appears to recognize the importance of protecting and preserving Internet openness while at the same time carefully limiting the FCC’s authority, thus foreclosing broader regulation. These are themes CDT had emphasized in our comments to the agency. We will be working to preserve this balance as the FCC effort progresses.

Intermediary Liability

One of the most important issues facing the Internet is whether technical intermediaries such as ISPs and platforms for user-generated content should be liable for the content created or transmitted by their users. Around the globe, information and communications technology companies are facing government demands to address unlawful or offensive content — or be held liable for the conduct of their users. The risk of liability often requires service providers to compromise the privacy of their users or to police their networks in ways that confuse the appropriate roles of government and business.

CDT published a paper recently drawing attention to the threat of imposing liability on intermediaries. ISPs, web hosting services and other online service providers have always been essential to the functioning of the Internet, but they cannot innovate and operate effectively if they must pre-screen all content. The paper summarizes policies in the U.S. and Europe that had protected intermediaries as the Internet was being developed and discusses the increased pressure on ISPs and content hosts to assume greater gatekeeping functions. The paper warns of the dangers to Internet freedom and commerce if laws are adopted making technological intermediaries legally responsible for content created by the users of those services.

CDT emphasized these same themes in its comments earlier this spring to the new U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.


The privacy backlash against Facebook’s latest implementation of a new “Like” function and the “Instant Personalization” feature has swept across the globe in recent weeks. CDT has been urging Facebook to improve its privacy controls. We’ll be watching Facebook’s promised privacy updates closely – so stay tuned for our thoughts and analysis.

Veiled No More

Since late 2007, the United States and a number of other countries, have been negotiating an "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" (ACTA). A variety of speculation, rumors, and leaks regarding what ACTA might contain have prompted concern in the blogosphere and the tech industry. Until recently, however, the only official documents that had been publicly released were high-level outlines and statements offering little guidance on ACTA's specific provisions and language. With the full text in hand, CDT was finally able to climb under the hood of this much anticipated document and do some serious analysis of its provisions

More from CDT's PolicyBeta Blog

Leslie Harris applauds Scott Charney’s cybersecurity straight talk, a welcome antidote to the recent fevered rhetoric.

Erica Newland reviews Google’s new encrypted search features.

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