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Hearings

Congressional Hearing on Employment Verification

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on employment verification. Several hearings have be held by the committee on the proposal to create a mandatory national government employment eligibility system. The current private sector system is voluntary.

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Privacy Rulemaking

Coalition Calls for Transparency in Public Consumer Database

In comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, over 40 public interest organizations urged the Bureau to publish consumer complaint narratives. The Bureau currently publishes limited complaint information on financial products and services, including debt collection and credit reports. The Bureau is now considering a plan to provide consumer perspectives on experiences with the financial industry. The consumer groups support this effort and also recommend obtaining consumer consent and removing personally identifiable information before posting the complaints.

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Privacy Legislation

President Pushes Consumer Privacy Forward

The President announced that he will move forward the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, a model framework for federal consumer privacy legislation.

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Campaigns

Coalition Members Promote Consumer Privacy Protection

Fifteen Privacy Coalition members representing millions of consumers and Internet users, sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee urging Congress to do more to protect consumer information. "Consumers today face an unfair choice: either stay offline and ignore the benefits of new technology, or plug in and run extraordinary risks to privacy and security," they wrote. "It shouldn't be this way. Consumers are more concerned about the privacy threat from big business than from big government," the letter continues. The coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, National Consumers League, Privacy Activism, Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, U.S. PIRG, and World Privacy Forum, argues that current privacy laws are inadequate, and that industry self-regulation has failed, as evidenced by millions of records compromised in data breaches.

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Coalition Meetings

March 2015 Monthly Meeting

R. David Edelman, the Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, and Privacy for the White House, joined the Privacy Coalition on March 27. Mr. Edelman discussed the recent privacy initiatives of the Obama Administration, including the recently released discussion draft of the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. Mr. Edelman is responsible for policy development on issues related to the digital economy, including online privacy and Internet governance.

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Rulemaking Archives

Coalition Urges President Obama to Advance Privacy Bill of Rights

A coalition of over 40 public interest organizations has urged the President to implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, a comprehensive framework for privacy protection. The letter comes on the two-year anniversary of the Administration's introduction of the Privacy Bill of Rights, which includes baseline privacy principles, such as individual control and transparency, respect for context and focused collectionm and better access, accuracy, and accountability. The President called the Privacy Bill of Rights a "blueprint for privacy in the information age" and said his Administration "will work to advance these principles and work with Congress to put them into the law."

NGO Coalition Tells President "Establish Privacy Protections for Big Data"

A coalition of more than 20 organizations sent comments to the White House on "Big Data and the Future of Privacy." The organization urged the President to establish new safeguards for organizations collecting "big data" including transparency, accountability, robust privacy techniques, and meaningful evaluation.

Coalition Urges UN Human Rights Council to Review U.S. Spy Programs

In a joint submission to the United Nations, the Brennan Center, EPIC, and other public interest organizations urged the Human Rights Council to review U.S. surveillance programs. The Council regularly performs a Universal Periodic Review of the human rights record of UN Member States. As a result of the Council's last review, the U.S. Government committed to protect individual privacy and stop spying on citizens without judicial authorization.

Coalition Calls for Transparency in Public Consumer Database

In comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, over 40 public interest organizations urged the Bureau to publish consumer complaint narratives. The Bureau currently publishes limited complaint information on financial products and services, including debt collection and credit reports. The Bureau is now considering a plan to provide consumer perspectives on experiences with the financial industry. The consumer groups support this effort and also recommend obtaining consumer consent and removing personally identifiable information before posting the complaints.

December 2011 Privacy Coalition Meeting


Guest speakers included Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director of Consumer Education and Engagement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau met with the Coalition. She was joined by Brett Kitt, Senior Counsel and Claire Stapleton, Chief Privacy Officer with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. the agency is providing financial education to consumers and opportunities to register mortgage and credit card company complaints. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency also allow consumers to tell their stories regarding experiences with financial products. Kathleen Styles, Chief Privacy Officer for the U.S. Department of Education, updated the Coalition on topics discussed in May including new FERPA regulations, increasing privacy assistance to the education community, and student data release policy. Julian Sanchez, Research Fellow, with CATO, briefed the Coalition on the House Judiciary Committee Mark-up of the Managers Amendment to the Stop Online Piracy Act. Gilad Rosner, PhD Candidate, School of Computer Science University of Nottingham, will be discussing the Public Policy of Unlinkability just at the beginning of his work on a comparative study of the US and Germany.

Coalition Wants an End to Secret Watch List

Privacy Coalition members joined by other privacy, consumer rights, and civil rights organizations filed a statement to the Department of Homeland Security. The group opposed proposed changes to the Watchlist Service, a secretive government database filled with sensitive information. The agency has solicited comments on the program, which entails developing a real-time duplicate copy of the database and expanding the groups and personnel with immediate access to the records. The groups, which included: The ALA Washington Office, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, The Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, The Center for Media and Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federal of America, The Cyber Privacy Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Liberty Coalition, OMB Watch, OpentheGovernment.org, Patient Privacy Rights, Privacy Activism, Privacy Journal, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Rights Now Coalition, and World Privacy Forum. The reply to comments they submitted focused on the security and privacy risks posed by the new system, as well as The Privacy Act. Passed by Congress in 1974, the Act requires DHS to notify subjects of government surveillance in addition to providing a meaningful opportunity to correct information that could negatively affect them.

Coalition Members Object to E-Verify

Members of the Privacy Coalition filed a statement to the Department of Homeland Security in opposition to the proposed expansion of the employment verification system, "E-Verify." The agency announced plans to incorporate state driver license records that could significantly expand the use of the Homeland Security database. The groups, which included the ACLU, ALA Legislative Office, American Policy Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Liberty Coalition, Privacy Activism, and UNITED SIKHS said that the DHS proposal is unlawful and looks very similar to the REAL ID scheme that was previously defeated.

Privacy Coalition Members Send Comments to NIST on Smart Grid Systems

Members of the Privacy Coalition urged a federal agency to establish safeguards for Smart Grid systems that protect consumer electricity usage information from unauthorized collection, use, disclosure, or sale. Smart Grid networks, which uniquely identify individual devices and appliances, create new privacy risks and could reveal intimate details of home life. EPIC recommended that policies be established to safeguard consumer privacy, including limitations on data collection, enforceable privacy practices, new security standards, and independent oversight.

Homeland Security Releases Final REAL ID Rules

The Department of Homeland Security released the long awaited final rule on state issued drivers licenses and identification documents. The rule indicated that the new federal REAL ID will be used for a variety of purposes unrelated to the law that resulted in the federalization of state issued drivers licenses. If states do not comply with the agency rule the drivers’ licenses held by state residents will not be accepted for air travel or to access federal government buildings. As a cost saving measure the Department of Homeland Security decided not to require encryption of the digital data stored on the REAL ID. The Privacy Coalition led a major anti-REAL ID public education campaign. EPIC's page on REAL ID and the ACLU's analysis of the new agency rule..

FTC Town Hall on Behavioral Advertising: Tracking, Targeting, and Technology

On November 1 and 2, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission will host a Town Hall entitled “Ehavioral Advertising: Tracking, Targeting, and Technology.” The event will bring together consumer advocates, industry representatives, technology experts, and academics to address consumer protection issues raised by the practice of tracking consumers’ activities online to target advertising - or “behavioral advertising.” The Town Hall is a follow-on to a dialogue on behavioral advertising that emerged at a November 2006 FTC forum, “Tech-Ade,” which examined the key technological and business developments that will shape consumers’ core experiences in the coming ten years. In addition, several consumer privacy advocates, as well as the State of New York, recently sent letters to the FTC asking it to examine the effects of behavioral advertising on consumer privacy.

DHS Announces Changes in SSA Employment Verification

The Department of Homeland Security announced changes in the process that employers must follow should the Social Security Administration report a no match with agency records. Each person seeking employment in the US is requested to fill out an I-9 form which asked for certain documents related to identification. Many employees provide a social security card, drivers license, or other government issued document both as proof of identity and a right to work. The new rule will bypass protections for workers and force employers to collect much more personal information on the behalf of the government under the "safe harbor" provisions.

DHS Retools Secure Flight Program

More than a year after Secure Flight was suspended for a comprehensive review, the Department of Homeland Security has announced major revisions to the program. Previously, DHS sought to use Secure Flight to assess possibilities for criminal behavior from travelers. The new program will "determine if passenger data matches the information on government watch lists, and transmit matching results to aircraft operators," according to DHS. The agency's match lists have a history of errors and accuracy problems.

New DHS Privacy Impact Assessments

The Department of Homeland Security published in the federal register five Privacy Impact Accessments on the following: the proposed rule for REAL ID, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Biometric Storage System, Chemical Security Assessment Tool, the Transportation Security Administration's Tactical Information Sharing System, and the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US-VISIT).

DHS Announces May 1, 2020 Townhall on REAL ID

The Department of Homeland Security announced plans to hold a townhall meeting in Davis California. The REAL ID Town Hall is being held at the University of California, Davis Freeborn Hall, One Shields Avenue, Davis California and is hosted by the State of California (DMV) and sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security.

Privacy Groups File Complaint With FTC Regarding Google/DoubleClick Merger

EPIC, CDD and US PIRG today filed a complaint (pdf) with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), urging the Commission to open an investigation into the proposed acquisition. The groups urged the FTC to assess the ability of Google to record, analyze, track, and profile the activities of Internet users with data that is both personally identifiable and data that is not personally identifiable. The groups further urged the FTC to require Google to publicly present a plan to comply with well-established government and industry privacy standards such as the OECD Privacy Guidelines. Pending the resolution of these and other issues, EPIC encouraged the FTC to halt the acquisition.

DHS Federal Register Notice on Employment Verification System

The Department of Homeland Security announced in a Federal Register Notice published on April 9, 2020 that it would be changing several systems for records for the Verification and Information System (VIS) Justice/INS-035 published October 17, 2020 (67 FR 64134) and Alien Status Verification Index (ASVI) Justice/INS-009 published September 7, 2020 (66 FR 46815). The established systems of records will be effective on May 9, 2020 and would also be used for purposes related to REAL ID. You may submit comments, identified by Docket Number DHS-2007-0010 by one of the following methods: Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. You may also submit comments by fax by following the instructions for submitting comments. Fax: 1-866-466-5370, or mail comments to: Hugo Teufel III, Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528.

DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee Meeting

The morning session of the meeting will consider REAL ID rulemaking. The proposed regulations for the REAL ID where recently made public by the Department of Homeland Security. The meeting agenda has the REAL ID discussion from 9:20 a.m. until Noon. The meeting will take place from 9:00 AM until 4:30 PM at the Crowne Plaza Washington National Airport, located at 1480 Crystal Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22202. Attendees should RSVP to PrivacyCommittee@dhs.gov or 571-227-3813. The meeting will be closed to the public from 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. for administrative purposes. Attendees should arrive by 8:45 a.m. or 1:15 p.m. for the public sessions.

DHS Publishes REAL ID Regulations in the Federal Register

The official public comment for REAL ID regulation begins with today's publiation in the federal register. The Department of Homeland Security will accept public comments on its proposed rules for the new ID until May 8, 2020. Comments from the public can be submitted through the following methods: online by visiting the Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov Under agency select "DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY*" for Document Type select "PROPOSED RULES" and for keyword input "DHS-2006-0030. Comments can also be faxed to 866-466-5370 or mailed to the Department of Homeland Security, Attn: NAC 1-12037, Washington, DC , 20528.

DHS's New Privacy Impact Assessment

The Department of Homeland Security published Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) in the December 20, 2020 Federal Register [one] [two]. The E-Government Act of 2002 requires government agencies to produce a PIA whenever that create or purchase technology. The implementation of new technologies that may increase the ease of tracking and surveillance by government agencies makes the PIA a valuable transparency tool for privacy and civil liberty advocates.