Coalition Reject Calls to Further Weaken FCC’s Modest Privacy Proposal

A coalition of consumer privacy advocates have sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission in response to industry demands to further weaken the FCC’s proposed broadband privacy rules. The groups rejects efforts  by Internet Service Providers to exempt anonymized consumer data from the privacy rules and to require opt-in consent only for sensitive information. The consumer groups also oppose mandatory arbitration and “pay-for-privacy” plans that would require consumers to pay fees for basic privacy safeguards.

Coalition Recommends Improvements to Health Agency’s Open Government Rules

In comments to the Department of Health and Human Services, a coalition of open government advocates urged the agency to update its FOIA rules to keep in line with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016. The coalition pressed the agency to “go further to ensure greater access to public interest information.” Signed into law by President Obama on the FOIA’s 50th anniversary, the FOIA Improvement Act creates a new portal for requesters, requires the proactive disclosure of frequently requested records, strengthens the FOIA ombudsman, and codifies the presumption of openness.

Consumer Coalition Opposes Robocalls by Government Contractors

A coalition of consumer groups have petitioned the FCC to reverse its recent decision to exempt federal contractors from restrictions on telemarketing and robocalls. The FCC incorrectly determined that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) “does not apply to calls made by or on behalf of the federal government in the conduct of official government business.” The petition, led by the National Consumer Law Center, warns of significant increases in unwanted robocalls from government contractors that consumers would be powerless to stop.

Coalition Urges President to Nominate New Member for Oversight Board

Privacy and civil liberties organizations have urged President Obama to promptly nominate a new member to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board with a strong civil liberties background. The coalition argued that the Oversight Board’s “role is too important to allow it to slip back into dormancy, even for a few months.” The previous Chair David Medine recently stepped down, leaving a vacancy on the five-member panel responsible for overseeing privacy protection.

Coalition Demands Congressional Oversight of FBI’s Vast Biometric Database

A coalition of 45 organizations urged Congress to hold a hearing on the FBI’s massive biometric database and the risks of facial recognition technology. The letter follows the FBI’s recent proposal to exempt the “Next Generation Identification” database from Privacy Act safeguards—including requirements for accuracy, relevancy, and transparency. The civil liberties organizations said that “the FBI is retaining vast amounts of personal information and exposing millions of people to a potential data breach.”