Category Archives: Accountability and Representation

When the media does us wrong and community accountability

16 Civil Rights Group Press For Stronger Data Protections

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A new data privacy agency should be created to confront 21st century threats and address emerging concerns for digital customers, consumer and privacy organizations said today as they released a framework for comprehensive privacy protection and digital rights for members of Congress.

The United States is woefully behind other nations worldwide in providing modern data protections for its consumers, instead relying solely on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to safeguard consumers and promote competition. But corporations understand that the FTC lacks rule making authority and that the agency often fails to enforce rules it has established.

“The FTC has failed to act,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, policy director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The U.S. needs a dedicated data protection agency.” Alternately, many democratic nations like Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Ireland and Japan already have dedicated data protection agencies with independent authority and enforcement capabilities.

Groups that have signed on to the framework include Berkeley Media Studies Group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Defending Rights & Dissent, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Media Alliance, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, Public Citizen, Stop Online Violence Against Women and U.S. PIRG.

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Industry Threatens To Neuter CCPA

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A California state senator representing the Hayward-Fremont-Milpitas area is saying he will sink a bill (Senate Bill 561) that gives Californians the right to sue if companies break the law.

Senate Bill 561, authored by Hannah Beth Jackson and sponsored by CA’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, lets state residents take independent legal action if any of the rights granted to them by the new law are violated, including the right to know where their personal information is being sold and to withhold consent for data sales. Without the bill, consumers will have little recourse if some companies don’t voluntarily comply.

Senator Wieckowski’s office refused to meet with a group of constituents in his district, a meeting Media Alliance and Oakland Privacy offered to convene, saying the entire legislative staff was “too busy” to meet every single day from May 6 to May 15.

When asked what a constituent should do if a company ignores their request to opt out under CCPA, the senator’s legislative director Heather Resetarits replied: ” I understand your frustration and the Senator understands the arguments for the merits of the policy contained in the bill.”

Wieckowski, one of four Democrats on the Senate Appropriations committee whose vote will be required to advance SB 561, says he is loyal to “a deal” struck with real estate developer Alastair MacTaggart in 2018 to remove McTaggart’s initiative from the 2018 ballot. The ballot initiative, which was supported by 600,000 Californians, had a right to sue or a private right of action. It was taken out in the “deal”, which happened in a back room without the permission of those 600,000 Californians or the other 39 million Californians who were having their privacy rights trimmed.

The right to privacy is enshrined in the California state constitution. The preamble to the California Privacy Act states:

It is the intent of the Legislature to further Californians’ right to privacy by giving consumers an effective way to control their personal information, by ensuring the following rights:(1) The right of Californians to know what personal information is being collected about them.(2) The right of Californians to know whether their personal information is sold or disclosed and to whom.(3) The right of Californians to say no to the sale of personal information.(4) The right of Californians to access their personal information.(5) The right of Californians to equal service and price, even if they exercise their privacy rights.

Rights you can only exercise if a company voluntarily agrees aren’t rights, they are requests. Unenforceable requests. Attorney General Becerra, in sponsoring Senate Bill 561 said: “I urge you to provide consumers with a private right of action under CCPA”. A March 2019 poll said 94% of California voters want to be able to take a company to court if the company violates their privacy rights.

Senator Bob Wieckowski is telling you he is going to ignore 94% of the voters, make your constitutional rights unenforceable, and won’t meet with his own angry constituents because of a backroom deal with the the one percent to protect companies that won’t comply with the law. Who is he representing?

Here is how to reach him: Sacramento: (916) 651-4010 Fremont:
(510) 794-3900

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No PVE In California

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A 70-strong coalition of social justice and civil rights groups led by M-Power Change, Asian-Americans Advancing Justice and CAIR California (including Media Alliance) sent a letter to CA Governor Gavin Newson asking him to end the reinstatement of a washed-over version of the DHS Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, now repackaged as a California state program called Preventing Violent Extremism. (PVE).

The letter states “PVE programs are deceptively framed as public health and youth programs that offer social services to marginalized communities. Such a framing masks the true objectives; to surveil, profile and collect intelligence on Muslim, immigrant and Black and Brown communities…. These programs stigmatize the very communities they purport to help, making them less likely to seek legitimate social services for fear it will lead to unwarranted law enforcement scrutiny.

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The Downfall of Roundup

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By Darian Carrow

The world’s most popular yet most controversial weed killer, Roundup, has been under severe scrutiny as consumers allege that the product has caused their various health issues and cancers. The active ingredient that reportedly causes these complications, glyphosate, has been deemed “probably carcinogenic for humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Since this classification, thousands of consumers have sought legal assistance to go against manufacturer Monsanto, newly acquired by pharmaceutical giant Bayer, for selling a product they knew could be dangerous to their customers.

It was recently revealed that more than 13,400 consumers have filed lawsuits against Bayer and its subsidiary Monsanto for its Roundup product. So far, three heavily covered lawsuits have gone through American courts, all resulting in huge losses for the manufacturing company. These notable cases have paved the way for the rest of the pending suits and for consumers who have suffered because of Roundup.

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Privacy Groups Preserve CA Consumer Privacy Act

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The CA Legislature passed the California Consumer Privacy Act in a heated rush a year ago and just beat the clock for a planned statewide ballot initiative by a matter of hours. Consumer privacy advocates grumbled that the bill could be a bit better, industry groups promised to challenge it in 2019, and the one thing everyone agreed on was that some changes would happen. But on July 9th, the best efforts of the business lobby …. failed.

SF Chronicle: Fight To Change CA’s Landmark Privacy Law Fizzles

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80 Groups Demand Passage of the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act

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80 consumer groups across the country (including Media Alliance) have called for the passage of the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375).

In a July 23rd letter, the consumer protection groups state “Robocalls are en ever-increasing plague. They harass us, disrupt our peace of mind, interrupt important time with family, and interfere with important communications. They enable scams to enter our homes. True Caller found that consumers had lost an estimated $10.5 billion dollars to phone scams in a single 12-month period”.

Read the full letter below.

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Politico Pro: Privacy Bills Go Straight to Senate Floor

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This report first appeared on POLITICO California Pro on Aug. 15, 2019.

SACRAMENTO — Soon after lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week, a slate of Privacy Act bills originally set to be heard by the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee instead went straight to the Senate floor, closing off a well-worn backchannel for end-of-session deal-making.

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National Park Service Proposed Limits on White House Protests

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New proposed rules from the National Park Service would make it substantially harder to hold rallies, demonstrations or protests in Washington and specifically on the streets and sidewalks surrounding the White House.

Among the changes suggested are a prohibition on 80% of the public area outside the White House, including Lafayette Park, a traditional site for protests for more than a hundred and fifty years. The NPS also proposes charging event organizers for the costs of monitoring and interfering with their protests, including charging  enhanced fees for barricades and surveillance and changing the permitting process to not require an answer until as little as 40 days beforehand, making it very difficult to organize large nationwide protests.

The comment period closes on Monday October 15th at 11:59PM EST, so there is still time to make your voice heard here.

The First Amendment requires the government to permit us to petition to redress our grievances and for no undue burdens be placed on us to prevent that. These proposed regulations fail the test.

Here are our comments (jointly signed with Oakland Privacy).

Media Alliance and Oakland Privacy Comments on Proposed National Park Service Rules

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