Privacy


Driverless Vehicle Regs Must Protect Users' Privacy

By John Simpson

I was up in Sacramento recently to call on the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure that the regulations that they are developing to govern the use of autonomous vehicles – popularly known as driverless cars –will protect the operators’ privacy.

The company that will be most directly affected by the new autonomous vehicle regulations is Google, which is pioneering development of the robot-driven cars. The Internet giant was the driving force behind SB 1298, which charged the DMV with the task of developing the regulations and also rebuffed attempts to require privacy protections in the law.

California AG Takes Lead In Cybersecurity

By John M. Simpson

Consumer Watchdog

Data breaches at major retailers Target and Neiman Marcus during last year's holiday shopping season affected more than 100 million people and focused new attention on the need to protect person information stored online.

While it's clear that tough data breach legislation must be enacted, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is taking action to improve cybersecurity in the state before new laws are passed. She recently released recommendations to California businesses to help protect against- and respond to- the increasing threats of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks.

CPUC Ignores Cell Phone Privacy

By Richard Holober

Consumer Federation of California

On January 16, 2014, the California Public Utilities Commission majority voted to bury their heads in the sand regarding cell phone privacy.

Commission President Mike Peevey and Commissioner Carla Peterman joined Commissioner Mark Ferron in voting 3-2 to approve Commissioner Ferron’s proposed decision denying the existence of any cell phone privacy concerns. Commissioners Catherine Sandoval and Mike Florio voted no, expressing their preference to approve an alternate proposed decision inked by Commissioner Sandoval. The Sandoval proposal would have acknowledged that privacy-invading smart phone technologies in use today are vastly different than those that existed in the copper wired world of 28 years ago, when the PUC last addressed telecom privacy.

Google: Doing Evil with ALEC

By Norman Solomon

Google Inc. is now aligned with the notorious ALEC.

Quietly, Google has joined ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- the shadowy corporate alliance that pushes odious laws through state legislatures.

In the process, Google has signed onto an organization that promotes such regressive measures as tax cuts for tobacco companies, school privatization to help for-profit education firms, repeal of state taxes for the wealthy and opposition to renewable energy disliked by oil companies.

ALEC’s reactionary efforts -- thoroughly documented by the Center for Media and Democracy -- are shameful assaults on democratic principles. And Google is now among the hundreds of companies in ALEC. Many people who’ve admired Google are now wondering: how could this be?

Denouncing NSA Surveillance Isn't Enough - We Need the Power to Stop It

By Norman Solomon

For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.

Now what?

Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers - past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient.

Uncle Sam and Corporate Tech: Domestic Partners Raising Digital Big Brother

Norman SolomanBy Norman Soloman

A terrible formula has taken hold:
warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.

"National security" agencies and major tech sectors have teamed up to make Big Brother a reality. "Of the estimated $80 billion the government will spend on intelligence this year, most is spent on private contractors," the New York Times noted. The synergy is great for war-crazed snoops in Washington and profit-crazed moguls in Silicon Valley, but poisonous for civil liberties and democracy.

Digital Grab: Corporate Power Has Seized the Internet

By Norman Solomon

If your daily routine took you from one homegrown organic garden to another, bypassing vast fields choked with pesticides, you might feel pretty good about the current state of agriculture.

If your daily routine takes you from one noncommercial progressive website to another, you might feel pretty good about the current state of the Internet.

But while mass media have supplied endless raptures about a digital revolution, corporate power has seized the Internet - and the anti-democratic grip is tightening every day.

Google Gets Antitrust Ultimatum from FTC

By John M. Simpson

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has given Google what Bloomberg News Service describes as an ultimatum to settle the agency's antitrust investigation in the next few days or face a lawsuit.

Citing unidentified sources, Bloomberg reporter Sara Forden on Monday wrote:

"Google has been in discussions with the agency for about two weeks and hasn’t put any remedy proposals on the table, said the people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private."

FTC Estimates Google's Privacy Hack Earned Up To $4 Million

By John M. Simpson

One of the things you hear when companies try to minimize the impact of privacy violations is an attempt to claim there was no financial harm to consumers. However, in an interesting development the Federal Trade Commission is now publicly estimating that Google's hack around Apple's Safari browser privacy settings earned the Internet giant up to $4 million.

Governor Brown Should Veto Google's Driverless Car Bill

By John M. Simpson

California Governor Jerry Brown should veto a bill that allows Google's driverless cars on the highway, because it does not provide adequate privacy protections for users of the new technology. SB 1298, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, was passed unanimously by the Senate. However, as explained in Consumer Watchdog's letter to the Governor, SB 1298 is completely insufficient. It gives the user no control over what data will be gathered and how the information will be used.