Policy Observatory

EPIC joins call for increased oversight of intelligence agencies

Mon, 2018-02-12 10:15

EPIC and other leading open government organizations urged Congress to promote transparency and accountability of the Intelligence agencies. The groups called for the release of annual public reports, all significant opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and an accounting on the number of Americans subject to foreign intelligence surveillance. EPIC previously called on lawmakers to require federal agencies to obtain a warrant before searching information about Americans in foreign intelligence databases. Through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, EPIC obtained a report detailing the FBI's failure to follow procedures regarding the use of foreign intelligence data for a domestic criminal investigation. EPIC has also testified in Congress on reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

UK mass digital surveillance regime ruled unlawful

Mon, 2018-02-12 10:11

The court of appeal ruling on Tuesday said the powers in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, did not restrict the accessing of confidential personal phone and web browsing records to investigations of serious crime, and allowed police and other public bodies to authorise their own access without adequate oversight.

German opposition calls for abolition of online hate speech law

Fri, 2018-02-09 19:13

Germany’s opposition parties on Sunday called for the abolition of a new law that aims to rid social media of hate speech, saying it was wrong for private companies to be making decisions about whether posts are unlawful. The legislation, which came into force on Jan. 1, can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60.1 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly, raising fears that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms could block more content than necessary.

Austria refers Facebook ‘Hate-Speech’ case to the CJEU

Fri, 2018-02-09 19:10
The supreme court of Austria (‘Oberste Gerichtshof’ - OGH, case number 6Ob116/17b) has asked the Court of Justice of the European Union for clarification on the scope of Art. 15 (I) of the E-Commerce Directive and the host provider privilege.

France tables new 'fake news' law

Fri, 2018-02-09 19:07

France has tabled new legislation to quickly take down fake news at election time, its culture minister, Francoise Nyssen, has said. The new "judicial procedure" would "permit us to act very quickly when a fake news story goes viral, particularly during an election period," she told the Journal de Dimanche newspaper. The bill comes after Russian hackers and trolls tried to stop president Emmanuel Macron from getting elected last year.

No, the EU did not abolish geoblocking today

Fri, 2018-02-09 19:04

The EU did not agree to end geoblocking last November, or axe geoblocking last May or put an end to geographic discrimination today.

The extra copyright for news in Germany was a failure – yet the Bulgarian EU presidency now presents it as a good compromise for all of Europe

Fri, 2018-02-09 18:51

Should the EU introduce an extra copyright for news sites, restricting how we can share news online? The controversy around this plan continues to brew – this time in the Council, where the member state governments are trying to find a consensus.

România to define its national position on the EU copyright proposal

Fri, 2018-02-09 18:48

On 17 January 2018, the Romanian Ministry of Culture organised a debate on the EU copyright reform proposal. With the room full with about fifty participants, three quarters were representing press publishers, record labels and collective management associations. It seemed almost like a full-fledged campaign meeting organised for and by traditional newspapers and rightsholders organisations to rally support for Articles 11 and 13 of the Copyright Directive proposal – a support meeting coincidentally (or not) organised just prior to national officials presenting their country’s position on the copyright reform in Brussels.

More information is available in English here.

US Senate passes bill renewing internet surveillance program

Fri, 2018-02-09 18:42

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, overcoming objections from civil liberties advocates that it undermined the privacy of Americans.

EU court rules against Facebook class action

Wed, 2018-02-07 19:30

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Thursday ruled that Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems cannot lodge a class action suit against Facebook Ireland. Schrems was seeking to stake the collective claim on the behalf of 25,000 people. The judges instead said he can file an individual case. Schrems maintains that Facebook violates the privacy of European-based users.

CJEU hate speech case: Should Facebook process more personal data?

Wed, 2018-02-07 19:25

Austria’s Supreme Court of Justice has referred a case to the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding hate speech on social media platforms. The referral could have a global impact on Facebook – and ultimately on our privacy and freedom of speech.

Europe's GDPR meets WHOIS privacy: which way forward?

Wed, 2018-02-07 19:21

Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in May 2018, and with it, a new set of tough penalties for companies that fail to adequately protect the personal data of European users. Amongst those affected are domain name registries and registrars, who are required by ICANN, the global domain name authority, to list the personal information of domain name registrants in publicly-accessible WHOIS directories. ICANN and European registrars have clashed over this long-standing contractual requirement, which does not comply with European data protection law.

This was one of the highest profile topics at ICANN's 60th meeting in Abu Dhabi which EFF attended last year, with registries and registrars laying the blame on ICANN, either for their liability under the GDPR if they complied with their WHOIS obligations, or for their contractual liability to ICANN if they didn't. ICANN has recognized this and has progressively, if belatedly, being taking steps to remediate the clash between its own rules, and the data protection principles that European law upholds.

New U.S. CLOUD Act is a threat to global privacy

Wed, 2018-02-07 19:10

This bill, however, would give law enforcement around the globe — though particularly in the U.S. — more access to users’ private data without sufficient privacy protections.

Austria privacy chief to head EU data protection group

Wed, 2018-02-07 19:03

The head of Austria's data protection authority Andrea Jelinek is replacing Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin as the chair of the body representing national data protection supervisors known as the Article 29 Working Party. Jelinek was elected for the post on Wednesday and is likely to also become the head of the upcoming European Data Protection Board, tasked to enforce the general data protection regulation.

Privacy chiefs wary of lagging EU states on new data rules

Wed, 2018-02-07 19:01

EU data protection chiefs are worried member states won't be ready when a new wide-sweeping general data protection regulation goes live on 25 May. National laws still need to be passed to ensure data authorities can enforce the regulation EU-wide.

The Bulgarian EU Council presidency and the latest assault on ePrivacy

Wed, 2018-02-07 19:00

In January 2018, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union picked up where the Estonian Presidency left off on the ePrivacy Regulation. It issued two examinations of the last Estonian “compromise” proposal and asked national delegations for guidance on some issues. Together, the documents cover most of the key points of the text. While the Bulgarian Presidency brings clarity on some points, its questions pave the way to undermine the text – and therefore threatens the protection of citizens’ privacy, confidentiality of communications of both citizens and businesses, as well as the positions of innovative EU companies and trust in the online economy.

European Parliament – fighting terrorism with closed-door secrecy

Wed, 2018-02-07 18:55

The European Parliament’s Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR) was established on 6 July 2017, for a renewable twelve-month mandate. The Committee was created with the ambitious aim of addressing ostensible practical and legislative deficiencies in the fight against terrorism across the European Union and with international actors.

Germany: Constitutional complaint against intelligence agency BND

Wed, 2018-02-07 18:53

EDRi observer Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF) has filed a constitutional complaint against surveillance by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). A new law that the German Parliament passed in October 2016 allows the BND to spy on foreign journalists.

GDPR and Google Analytics

Tue, 2018-01-30 12:16

Enforcement of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation is coming very soon. This regulation is not limited to companies based in the EU—it applies to any service anywhere in the world that can be used by citizens of the EU.

Under the old “cookie law”, using a third-party cookie-setting service like required informing users who were citizens of the EU. Under GDPR, explicit consent is required and implied consent isn’t enough.

Artificial intelligence is going to supercharge surveillance

Tue, 2018-01-30 12:12

Artificial intelligence is giving surveillance cameras digital brains to match their eyes, letting them analyze live video with no humans necessary. This could be good news for public safety, helping police and first responders more easily spot crimes and accidents and have a range of scientific and industrial applications. But it also raises serious questions about the future of privacy and poses novel risks to social justice.