All posts by Midnightschildren

Access Now Recommendations on Privacy In The Age of COVID-19

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We’re highlighting this report from Access Now (lead author Estelle Masse) because it is one of the best summaries we have seen for how society can use data to fight COVID-19 without dumping privacy protections overboard.

Chock full of case studies (the good and the bad) and sensible recommendations.

Please read, share and pass it on.

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Privacy Advocates Stay on CA AG to Tighten CCPA Rules

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Privacy advocates, including Media Alliance, commented on the second iteration of operational rules for the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which the AG hopes to begin enforcing on July 1, 2020.

The statewide coalition of privacy groups asked the AG not to back down on the start of the enforcement period, as some industry groups have asked, to require more transparency from data brokers, to enforce do not track software as equivalent to a filed opt-in request and to prevent service providers from forming comprehensive customer profiles.

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955 Nonprofit Leaders Ask Governor To Support CA Nonprofits During Coronavirus Crisis

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955 California not for profit organizations wrote to Governor Newsom and the California Legislature asking the state to support California’s nonprofits through the emergency public health situation brought about by COVID-19.

The letter asks for public contracts with nonprofits to be honored even if non-performance is inevitable due to the disruptions caused by the virus, to make emergency funds available for nonprofits to maintain their operations and to extend protections from utility shutoffs and evictions to nonprofit organizations.

You can read the letter here.

CalNonprofits-sign-on-letter-to-CA-leaders-3-24-20

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252 Groups Ask FCC To Expand Lifeline

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A massive coalition of justice and equity groups has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand the Lifeline program to meet the challenges of the COVOD-19 epidemic.

The group made three demands.

  1. To immediately prohibit the disconnection of Lifeline (subsidized) connections
  2. To require Lifeline providers to unlimited voice and texting services within one week.
  3. To create an emergency Lifeline Broadband program within 21 days.

You can read the letter below.

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25 Groups Object to Graham-Blumenthal Anti-Encryption EARNIT Act

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25 civil society groups, led by the Open Technology Institute at New America and including Media Alliance, sent a letter objecting to the EARNIT Act, which seeks to weaken encryption standards.

The letter states: “By setting the stage for adoption of best practices that, whether directly or indirectly, require companies to avoid offering strong device encryption or end-to-end encrypted messaging services, the bill could create encryption backdoors. Backdoors to encryption make everyone in society more vulnerable to privacy, cybersecurity, and other risks.”

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California Flags Alienated, Idealistic Kids of Color as Potential Violent Extremists

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By Ann Garrison for Black Agenda Report

The program deputizes teachers to spy on students and recruits social service agencies to assemble dossiers on them while providing mental health services.

“The state is is lipsticking the pig for federal agencies that rely on racist stereotyping.”

California’s “Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE)” program flags teenage kids “feeling alienated from their peers,” “having a strong sense of being troubled by injustice,” and suffering from “depression” as also having “tendencies to extremism” that should be closely monitored. And surprise surprise, these kids are disproportionately Black and Brown. The program deputizes teachers to spy on them and recruits social service agencies to assemble dossiers on them while providing mental health services.

I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director of Media Alliance, about the program’s history and the coalition fighting it.

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Letter From New Hampshire: The Dangers of Disinformation

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by Alexander Zaitchik for Coinbase and Yahoo Finance

A few days before the New Hampshire primary vote, midway through a speech at a packed town hall in Nashua, Andrew Yang began to talk about data.

Specifically, the industrial-scale harvesting of private data that is at the heart of today’s biggest and most profitable tech companies. “We produce an enormous outflow of information that is taken from us, often without our consent, and monetized,” said Yang. 

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What Cities Can Learn from the Nation’s Only Privacy Commission

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By Alan Greenblatt. Originally published in Governing

Perhaps no city cares about the privacy of its residents as much as Oakland.

Last year, the California city became one of just a handful around the country that have banned municipal use of facial recognition technology. That came on top of an earlier ordinance that put limits on surveillance technology.

Those laws were largely the handiwork of Oakland’s Privacy Advisory Commission, a citizen-led board that can review any and all city policies and regulations through a privacy lens. Other cities have privacy policies or staff in place, while a few have ad hoc groups to address particular issues, such as smart city policies. No other city has a standing group with such a broad charter.

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