Key Democratic and Republican senators have offered dueling versions of legislation to create more privacy for Americans online in recent days. The competing bills highlighted how months of bipartisan negotiations have yet to yield a proposal both parties can back but have also raised hopes of boosting those efforts.
The bill introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, publicizes the Democrats' wish list for any federal privacy bill. The long-awaited Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) would enshrine online users' right to privacy and bar companies from obfuscating what they are doing with users' personal information.
Robocalls are at an all-time high. On average, Americans received more than 2,000 robocalls every second in October, up 25% from the previous month. With 49 billion robocalls so far this year, all four major U.S. phone carriers now offer some form of blocking or screening service, such as T-Mobile's well known "Scam Likely" label. Congress and state officials passed new robocall regulations in recent months and have seen an uptick in successful cases against the scammers. Meanwhile, hundreds of tech start-ups are developing new ways to tackle the problem.
“Ring devices routinely upload data, including video recordings, to Amazon’s servers,” the senators wrote. “Amazon therefore holds a vast amount of deeply sensitive data and video footage detailing the lives of millions of Americans in and near their homes.” The senators noted that “if hackers or foreign actors were to gain access to this data, it would not only threaten the privacy and safety of the impacted Americans; it could also threaten U.S. national security.”
A group of top Democratic senators from four key committees on Monday unveiled their priorities for the nation's first comprehensive privacy bill, reinvigorating a debate that had stalled for months on Capitol Hill. Some of the proposals set out by the Democrats could be non-starters for Republicans, including the clause that would allow users to sue companies over privacy violations and the fact that it does not override state privacy legislation.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records to ensure that HIPAA protections were fully implemented,” Roger Severino, the office’s director, said in a statement, referring to the federal law restricting the release of medical information.
Google LLC has been busily collecting health data on millions of Americans across 21 states, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The initiative, which Google seemed to have kept secret from the public, is codenamed “Project Nightingale.” Documents obtained by the Journal reveal that the heath data has been shared in partnership with St. Louis-based chain of hospitals called Ascension, a Catholic hospital that calls itself “a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care.”
President Trump's newly appointed Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios on Thursday criticized Chinese surveillance and censorship in his first major international remarks, ramping up the Trump administration's intensifying battle to beat out China's fast-growing tech industry. Kratsios, who was confirmed as the White House's top tech adviser in August, spent the bulk of a keynote speech in Portugal urging Europe and the U.S. to "embrace innovation and defend our free system against our adversaries."
A pair of California Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a tough privacy bill that would significantly curtail Silicon Valley's control over all Americans' personal information. The bill, introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), would create a new federal agency to oversee how the country's largest and most powerful tech companies amass and use data about their millions of users across the U.S. It would also grant all users expansive rights over their data.
There’s nothing “free” about what companies like Facebook and Google are offering, Warner said. Established companies don’t want more transparency about how data is monetized and whether it differentiates among individuals. Whether or not data is considered property, said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., companies are making money off its value. Out of the 95 billion dollars Facebook made last year, he said, most of the revenue came from targeted advertisements.