Sept. 17, 2022

Feds have massive trove of Americans' data; CA legislature passes nation's first children's privacy law -- Tech Law & Policy This Week -- 09.16.2022

Hey everybody, I’m Joe Miller and here’s what’s going on in the world of online safety and free speech this week.     Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus on Thursday revealing...

Hey everybody, I’m Joe Miller and here’s what’s going on in the world of online safety and free speech this week.


Sen. Wyden: CBP has massive trove of American’s cellphone data


Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus on Thursday revealing that CBP has a massive amount of Americans’    data from millions of drivers’ license photos, license plate readers, mobile devices, and who knows what else. Some 3,000 CBP operations employees apparently have access to the data, and CBP doesn’t need probable cause to obtain warrants to search the data – they only need reasonable suspicion. Brennan Center scholar Faiza Patel told the Washington Post that the database goes far beyond reasonableness. Patel joined me on this podcast back in 2017 to discuss how the government’s surveillance of Muslims negatively impacts innocent civilians.


New York City’s Metro Transit Authority’s switch to tap-to-enter system raises surveillance alarms


The City of New York will be moving away from Metro Cards and towards a new tap-to-enter system called OMNY. Surveillance and privacy experts are concerned that the new system will be able to track anyone wherever they go within the nation’s largest public transportation system. The system will also be a public-private partnership between the City and a company called Cubic Corp. even though the State of New York has not yet updated its 1984 privacy law. No one knows what the government will do with that data, much less what Cubic Corp will do with it, since nondisclosure agreements often govern these types of partnerships.

California becomes first state to pass Children’s Online Privacy law


The California legislature has passed a landmark Children’s Online Privacy law that directs tech companies to follow age-appropriate design principles to protect children online. The bill, modeled after a bill in the UK, passed the California Senate unanimously and is the first in the US to address children’s online safety directly, beyond the weaker standards imposed by the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, which Congress passed back in 1998 before it had any idea what the internet would become.  California Governor Gavin Newsom hasn’t yet indicated whether he plans to sign the new legislation.


California enacts new social media moderation disclosure law


The state of California is also leading the way when it comes to state-based efforts to establish content moderation standards. California governor Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday a new bill requiring social media companies to file semiannual reports on how they moderate hate speech, disinformation, and extremism. The California law differs from Republican-led efforts, particularly in Texas and Florida, to tamp down on social media companies’ content moderation in general, and instead requires social media companies to report on what they’re actually doing. The new law is expected to face resistance from the tech industry.


Separately, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board seems to believe that the federal government and Facebook collude on content moderation.


Color of Change launches ‘Black Tech Agenda’


Color of Change has launched a Black Tech Agenda that centers racial justice in technology policymaking. The agenda includes a vision for robust antitrust policy, better privacy protections and an end to surveillance, preventing algorithmic discrimination, expanding broadband access, protecting net neutrality, and addressing misinformation and disinformation. The agenda is supported by Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Representatives Robin Kelly and Pramila Jayapal.

Facebook reverses ban on Holocaust film


Facebook reversed a ban on an holocaust film starring Roy Schneider, who played the police chief in Jaws. The filmmaker, Joshua Newton, based the movie on his father’s life after he survived the holocaust. Facebook pulled the movie because its name is Beautiful Blue Eyes, which Facebook’s moderators found contained a racist connotation that violated its community standards.


The movie Newton wants to advertise on Facebook is actually a re-release of a 2009 version of the film which now includes previously lost footage. It was Schneider’s final film.

White House issues new digital assets development framework


Following President Biden’s March Executive Order to streamline regulation of digital assets, the White House on Friday released a fact sheet laying out a framework for interagency coordination to protect consumers and larger stakeholders, make financial services safe and affordable, encourage responsible innovation, ensure financial stability and protect America’s financial competitiveness globally, fight illicit financial activities, and develop a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Part of the list of to-dos is a call for federal agencies to consider the environmental implications of digital finances.

To go deeper, you can find links to all of these stories in the show notes. Stay safe, stay informed, have a great week. Ciao.