Tech and privacy: Judicial Redress Act, Internet providers and user data, ACLU guide

Once again, we’re at the corner of tech and privacy.

• The Judicial Redress Act, which would give European citizens the right to go to U.S. court to challenge the use of their personal data, is awaiting President Obama’s signature after the House passed it Wednesday. The bill is considered vital to the tentative EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement, which is meant to replace the Safe Harbor agreement. (Safe Harbor, a mechanism for trans-Atlantic data flows that had been used by thousands of U.S. companies for years, was invalidated in October as a result of a privacy lawsuit against Facebook, and because of European concern over U.S. government spying.) After the Privacy Shield deal reached earlier this month, privacy advocates had withheld judgment and called for legislation to protect people’s privacy.

The Judicial Redress Act is also key to an information-sharing agreement between Europe and the United States law enforcement for criminal and terrorism investigations, according to the Hill. That deal was reached in the fall.

Tech industry groups applauded the passage of the Judicial Redress Act.

“By allowing citizens of European nations and other designated U.S. allies procedural privacy protections similar to those offered to U.S. citizens in Europe, the United States can provide equal privacy rights to our allied trading partners and foster global economic progress,” Mark MacCarthy, SIIA’s senior vice president of Public Policy, said in a statement.

• In other privacy news, tech and telecom industry groups have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler as he considers privacy requirements for Internet providers under the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules. The groups say they want Wheeler to work along the same lines as the FTC because they don’t want to have to deal with complex rules from two different regulators.

The Hill points out that the groups — CTIA, USTelecom, the Consumer Technology Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the American Cable Association, the Competitive Carrier Association and the Internet Commerce Coalition — also want to head off possibly stricter privacy rules from the FTC.

What’s at stake is how broadband providers handle their customers’ data: how they collect, store and share that information.

• Speaking of all these privacy issues, the ACLU has released a new privacy guide for tech companies. The advocacy group urges tech companies to build privacy protections into their products and services, and offers case studies and suggestions on how to do that. The guide tells companies that privacy and free speech are “good for business.”


Illustration from Bay Area News Group archives


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