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Hearings

Congressional Hearing on Employment Verification

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on employment verification. Several hearings have be held by the committee on the proposal to create a mandatory national government employment eligibility system. The current private sector system is voluntary.

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Privacy Rulemaking

December 2011 Privacy Coalition Meeting


Guest speakers included Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director of Consumer Education and Engagement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau met with the Coalition. She was joined by Brett Kitt, Senior Counsel and Claire Stapleton, Chief Privacy Officer with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. the agency is providing financial education to consumers and opportunities to register mortgage and credit card company complaints. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency also allow consumers to tell their stories regarding experiences with financial products. Kathleen Styles, Chief Privacy Officer for the U.S. Department of Education, updated the Coalition on topics discussed in May including new FERPA regulations, increasing privacy assistance to the education community, and student data release policy. Julian Sanchez, Research Fellow, with CATO, briefed the Coalition on the House Judiciary Committee Mark-up of the Managers Amendment to the Stop Online Piracy Act. Gilad Rosner, PhD Candidate, School of Computer Science University of Nottingham, will be discussing the Public Policy of Unlinkability just at the beginning of his work on a comparative study of the US and Germany.

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Privacy Legislation

FISA Reform Bill Introduced in the House

Representatives Conyers, Nadler, and Scott introduced two bills today that would amend the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Patriot Amendments Act of 2009 will enhance reporting and judicial oversight of law enforcement powers, including the National Security Letter process. The FISA Amendments Act of 2009 will place new limits on the government's ability to collect and store Americans' communications without a warrant and repeals retroactive immunity.

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DC Privacy Events

Monthly Privacy Coalition Meeting Hosts Julie Brill New FTC Commissioner

Julie Brill one of the two new members of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) meet with the Privacy Coalition. She wanted to hear from members about their concerns regarding the work of the FTC and their expectations for the agency moving forward. The meeting also featured discussions regarding Congressman Markey's new bill the e-KNOW Act to allow electricity customers to have access to Smart Meter data.

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Campaigns

Coalition Members Promote Consumer Privacy Protection

Fifteen Privacy Coalition members representing millions of consumers and Internet users, sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee urging Congress to do more to protect consumer information. "Consumers today face an unfair choice: either stay offline and ignore the benefits of new technology, or plug in and run extraordinary risks to privacy and security," they wrote. "It shouldn't be this way. Consumers are more concerned about the privacy threat from big business than from big government," the letter continues. The coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, National Consumers League, Privacy Activism, Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, U.S. PIRG, and World Privacy Forum, argues that current privacy laws are inadequate, and that industry self-regulation has failed, as evidenced by millions of records compromised in data breaches.

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Coalition Meetings

November 2013 Monthly Meeting

Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen of the Federal Trade Commission joined the Privacy Coalition to discuss the consumer privacy related work of the FTC including the FTC's recent workshop on the Internet of Things and her remarks at the workshop. Rachel Levinson-Waldman, Counsel to the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security Program discussed her recent report, What the Government Does with American's Data. Pam Dixon, Executive Director of World Privacy Forum, provided an update on the comments her organization submitted to National Institutes of Health regarding the agency's draft genomic data sharing policy. David Jacobs, EPIC Consumer Protection Counsel, updated the group on Facebook's change to its Data Use Policy.

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Campaigns Archives

Coalition Members Promote Consumer Privacy Protection

Fifteen Privacy Coalition members representing millions of consumers and Internet users, sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee urging Congress to do more to protect consumer information. "Consumers today face an unfair choice: either stay offline and ignore the benefits of new technology, or plug in and run extraordinary risks to privacy and security," they wrote. "It shouldn't be this way. Consumers are more concerned about the privacy threat from big business than from big government," the letter continues. The coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, National Consumers League, Privacy Activism, Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, U.S. PIRG, and World Privacy Forum, argues that current privacy laws are inadequate, and that industry self-regulation has failed, as evidenced by millions of records compromised in data breaches.

Coalition Members Object to E-Verify

Members of the Privacy Coalition filed a statement to the Department of Homeland Security in opposition to the proposed expansion of the employment verification system, "E-Verify." The agency announced plans to incorporate state driver license records that could significantly expand the use of the Homeland Security database. The groups, which included the ACLU, ALA Legislative Office, American Policy Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Liberty Coalition, Privacy Activism, and UNITED SIKHS said that the DHS proposal is unlawful and looks very similar to the REAL ID scheme that was previously defeated.

Fix Google Privacy Campaign - Submit Comments to the FTC

The FTC is seeking public comment on its proposed Agreement with Google regarding Google Buzz, and EPIC wants your voice to be heard! Use the form below to help build your comments. EPIC will send your comments and information to the FTC and use them to help us write our own comprehensive recommendations to the FTC.

Privacy Coalition Members Join Letter that Results in Howard Schmidt Meeting

Over 30 organizations including many Privacy Coalition participants, launched a campaign to obtain a meeting with Howard Schmidt, the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. Groups joining the letter included the ACLU, American Library Association, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Liberty Coalition, NAACP, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Center for Media and Democracy, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The White House has agreed to the meeting, which follows Senate confirmation of Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, to lead the U.S Cyber Command. Civil society organizations have expressed concern about the growing role of the NSA in cyber security. EPIC is currently in litigation with the NSA to obtain the secret policy for NSA surveillance authority.

Privacy Coalition Members Defend Privacy of Facebook Users

Ten Privacy and consumer organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, urging the FTC to open an investigation into Facebook's revised privacy settings. The complaint, led by EPIC is signed by nine other privacy and consumer organizations, states that the "changes violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook's own representations." There has been widespread opposition from Facebook users, security experts, bloggers, and news organizations.

Coalition Members Send Letter in Support of Fordham Children's Privacy Report

Privacy Coalition members joined letters sent to the Chair and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Education Committees, as well as the Secretary of Education regarding the Fordham Law School study, which found that state educational databases across the country ignore key privacy protections for the nation's school children. The study reports that at least 32% of states warehouse children's social security numbers; at least 22% of states record student pregnancies; and at least 46% of the states track mental health, illness, and jail sentences as part of the children's educational records. Some states outsource the data processing without any restrictions on use or confidentiality for children's information. Access to this information and the disclosure of personal data may occur for decades and follow children well into their adult lives.

Congressional Committee Reviewing Issues Raised in Privacy Coalition Letter

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has responded to the Privacy Coalition Letter regarding the Chief Privacy Officer of the Department of Homeland Security. Chairman Thompson said that "the Committee is in the process of reviewing the programs outlined" in the letter, and thanked the Coalition for bringing the issues to the attention of the committee. He further stated that the Committee "will continue to examine the Department's programs and policies and vigorously address privacy concerns and issues." For more information, see

Privacy Coalition Asks Questions About DHS Chief Privacy Office

Privacy Coalition members were joined by other organizations on a letter sent to the House Committee on Homeland Security urging them to investigate the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Chief Privacy Office. DHS is unrivaled in its authority to develop and deploy new systems of surveillance. The letter cited DHS ongoing use of Fusion Center, Whole Body Imaging, funding of CCTV Surveillance, and Suspicionless Electronic Border Searches as examples of where the agency is eroding privacy protections.

Privacy Campaign on Google Book Settlement

August 21, 2009 is the deadline for organizations, authors, and individuals to express their views on the erosion of the freedom to read anonymously. Civil liberties and privacy organizations are urging Internet users to tell Google to adopt privacy protections for the Google Book Search. A judge in New York will determine later this year whether to approve the proposed settlement that would establish the service and give Google access to detailed personal information without any privacy safeguards. The settlement would also allow the collection of revenue by parties that are not the writers or owners of "orphaned" works. For more information, see EPIC Google Books Settlement and Privacy.

TSA Responds to Whole Body Imaging Objections

The Transportation Security Administration has replied to the Privacy Coalition statement on whole body imaging systems. The agency claims that the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) provides adequate protection. The Privacy Coalition letter pointed out that "the devices are designed to capture, record, and store detailed images of individuals undressed" and said that "If the public understood this, they would be outraged by the use of these devices by the US government on US citizens." The Privacy Coalition said that the use of the devices should be suspended pending an investigation. The letter was prompted by the TSA's announcement that Whole Body Imaging would replace metal detectors as the primary screening technique at US airports. The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would establish clear privacy safeguards for the devices.

House Votes to Halt Digital Strip Searches

The House of Representatives approved by a vote of 310 to 118 a bill that will limit the use of Whole-Body Imaging machines, installed by the Transportation
Security Administration
, in US airports. The devices photograph American air travelers stripped naked and could easily be programmed to record images. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sponsored the bill that will prohibit the use of the devices as the sole or primary method of screening aircraft passengers; require that passengers be provided information on the operation of such technology and offered a pat-down search in lieu of such screening; and prohibit the storage of an image of a passenger after a boarding determination is made. Privacy Coalition members supported a campaign to raise public awareness about Whole Body Imaging.

Letter Sent to Secretary of Homeland Security to Halt Digital Strip Searches

The Privacy Coalition sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, urging the agency to halt use of Whole Body Imaging. The program captures detailed naked images of all passengers at airports. The Transportation Security Administration had earlier stated that Whole Body Imaging would only be used as a voluntary alternative. Tomorrow, June 4, 2009, Congress will vote on a bill to halt the use of Whole Body Imaging. The measure is sponsored by Representative Jason Chaffetz.

Join the Letter to Stop Whole Body Imaging at US Airports

The Coalition is urging that the Secretary of Homeland Security stop using technology that takes nude photographs of American air travelers. The campaign is in response to a policy reversal by the TSA, which would now make the "virtual strip search" mandatory, instead of voluntary as originally announced. EPIC and others joining the letter say that there are inadequate safeguards to prevent the misuse of the images.

Privacy Groups Successfully Challenge Facebook

Hours before about a dozen members of the Privacy Coalition led by EPIC planned to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding changes to Facebook’s Terms of Service, the social network service announced that it will restore the original policy. The new Terms of Service were announced on Feb. 4, were widely criticized, and were to be the subject of the EPIC complaint. Facebook users observed that, under the revised policies, Facebook asserted broad, permanent, and retroactive rights to users' personal information - even after they deleted their accounts.

Privacy Campaign - Real Problems Real Solutions Jan. 28, 2009

The Public Voice is marking the January 28 anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Data Protection (No. 108), the most important international law for privacy. More than 40 countries have ratified the Convention. Many more countries around the world should support the Convention (including the United States). A Privacy advocacy call to Action.

International Human Rights Day 2008

International Human Rights Day - Privacy is a Fundamental Right. December 10, International Human Rights Day, commemorates the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human Rights Day 2008 marks the start of a year-long commemoration of the 61st anniversary of the Declaration. The document is the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights, and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. Article 12 of the Declaration includes privacy as a fundamental human right.

UPDATE: More Than 50 Groups Join Anti-National ID Campaign

A number of groups, including the Coalition Against Prosecutorial Abuse and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, have joined a campaign against REAL ID. Fifty-four groups are urging the public to submit comments against the illegal national identification system created by the Department of Homeland Security under the REAL ID program. DHS seeks to create a massive system filled with sensitive personal data on 240 million license and ID cardholders nationwide, yet has failed to include adequate privacy and security safeguards.

Over Forty Groups Announce National REAL ID Public Campaign

Stop Real IDToday, 45 organizations representing transpartisan, nonpartisan, privacy, consumer, civil liberty, civil rights, and immigrant organizations have joined to launch a national campaign to solicit public comments to stop the nation's first national ID system: REAL ID. The groups joining in the anti-REAL ID campaign are concerned about the increased threat of counterfeiting and identity theft, lack of security to protect against unauthorized access to the document's machine readable content, increased cost to taxpayers, diverting of state funds intended for homeland security, increased costs for obtaining a license or state issued ID card, and because the REAL ID would create a false belief that it is secure and unforgeable.

The draft regulations to implement the REAL ID Act are open for comment until 5 p.m. EST on May 8, 2007. For more information on how to take action, visit the Privacy Coalition's Stop REAL ID! Campaign page.

Coalition Joins to Demand Hearings on NSA Surveillance

A coalition of organizations representing consumer rights, privacy, peace, enviornmental, civil liberties, and civil rights joined a letter requesting that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce investigate the actions of telecommunication companies in the NSA domestic spying scandal.

National Call-in to Congress on NSA Warrantless Surveillance

On May 17, 2006, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee is leading a coalition effort to organize a "call your member of Congress campaign". The organizations participating in the effort include the ACLU, First Amendment Foundation, National Lawyers Guild, and People for the American Way.

Continue reading "National Call-in to Congress on NSA Warrantless Surveillance" »

Coalition Launches Medical Records Privacy Protection Campaign

The Privacy Coalition has joined Patient Privacy Rights in launching launched a joint campaign to strengthen protections for patients' medical information. Congress is rushing to pass legislation to establish a national Health Information Network without patient privacy safeguards. Yet a recent poll found that 69 percent of adults do not believe strong enough data security will be installed. Sign an online petition in opposition of this legislation.