Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 4, 2015

Posts in "Privacy"

February 20, 2015

February 17, 2015

Roundup: Minnesota Data Privacy Constitutional Amendment Bid

Various local news outlets in Minnesota had stories Monday on a bid to add a data privacy amendment to the state’s constitution.

WCCO-TV reports that the amendment would “expand the current law to protect electronic communications and data, giving it the same protection in the state constitution as papers and other personal property.”

An Associated Press story in the St. Cloud Times says that if the bill passed, “voters would be asked to approve that change in the 2016 ballot,” and says that an “unusual array of groups gathered in St. Paul on Monday to voice support for the bill.”

From the Star Tribune:

A move to change the Minnesota Constitution to protect text messages, e-mails and other electronic data from warrantless searches is getting enthusiastic support from a broad coalition of lawmakers and privacy advocates, but could face roadblocks from key DFL Senate leaders. (The DFL is Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.)

A St. Paul Pioneer Press story reports that while they would disagree on other issues, various groups shared a stage on Monday:

But on Monday, the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance shared a stage with Occupy Minnesota, with the American Civil Liberties Union and an anti-Affordable Care Act advocacy group, with liberal DFLers and conservative Republicans. These unnatural allies agreed on one thing: limiting the ability of government to access electronic data.

The story points out, though, that “getting groups on the left and right to agree on an issue doesn’t guarantee passage” and notes that leaders in the state Senate have been “noticeably cool” to the proposal.

February 13, 2015

February 11, 2015

Markey Plans Legislation on Vehicle Security and Privacy Standards

Earlier this week, Sen. Edward J. Markey released a report that called for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue new privacy and security standards for vehicles to protect “drivers in the modern age of increasingly connected vehicles.” On Thursday, Markey said he plans to introduce legislation.

“We need the electronic equivalent of seat belts and air bags to keep drivers and their information safe,” the Massachusetts Democrat said at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing Wednesday.

The security and privacy standards he outlined are largely what the report calls for.

Among the requirements he said should be included in security standards: protecting a vehicle’s wireless access points against hacking, ensuring information collected is secured and encrypted, and the ability for manufacturers to detect and respond to “real-time hacking events.”

Among the requirements he said should be included in privacy standards: drivers being informed about data collection and use and requiring drivers to give consent in order for personal driving information to be used for advertising or marketing.

He also wants a rating system for “how the vehicle protects drivers beyond those minimum standards,” to be displayed in new cars.

February 9, 2015

The Week Ahead: Lincoln Labs Event and Internet of Things Hearing

Among this week’s events, Lincoln Labs hosts its Reboot Congress event, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing on the Internet of Things and the Technology Policy Institute holds an event on patent legislation.


The Cato Institute hosts an event on ridesharing and regulations.

Project GOAL hosts an event on Internet safety and older adults.


Lincoln Labs begins its Reboot Congress event, which continues through Thursday.

Public Knowledge and the R Street Institute host a Capitol Hill briefing on copyright law.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing on the Internet of Things.

The Technology Policy Institute hosts an event titled “Patents in Theory and Practice: Implications for Reform.”


A subcommittee of the House Education and the Workforce Committee holds a hearing on emerging technology and student privacy.

A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on recent Supreme Court patent cases.

Some subcommittees of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee hold joint hearings titled “Bridging the Gap: America’s Weather Satellites and Weather Forecasting” and “Can Americans Trust the Privacy and Security of their Information on

New America hosts a congressional briefing on mobile broadband and net neutrality.

February 5, 2015

What Was The Deal With That DeLorean You Might Have Spotted Today?

DeLoreon 1

The DeLorean parked outside the Capitol Hill Club (Anne L. Kim/CQ Roll Call)

You might have spotted a DeLorean around the Hill on Thursday and if you’re wondering why, it’s part of a campaign by Americans for Tax Reform to bring attention to their call for an update to tech laws they say are outdated.

Technocrat caught up with Katie McAuliffe, executive director of the group’s Digital Liberty project, earlier Thursday when a replica of the DeLorean used in the 1989 film “Back to the Future Part II” was parked outside the Capitol Hill Club.

“I mean it’s really hard to get people to pay attention to, like, communications law,” McAuliffe said, “but it’s not hard to get people to pay attention to a DeLorean with a flux capacitor.”

While technologies predicted in the movie are “basically here,” she said — except of course for time travel — the “regulations are way behind.”

“Not saying that Americans for Tax Reform loves new regulations or anything like that, but some updates would be very well-received,” she said. “Particularly when you’re looking at the whole net neutrality debate and… reigning in the FCC power on that.”

She said an update of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Law is needed, as is an examination of the Communications Act, last updated in 1996.

Leaflets that were distributed nearby for calling an update of the 1996 Telecommunications Act referenced the film: “Unlike Doc Brown and Marty McFly, American innovators need roads (by way of regulatory clarity) to guide them into the future. Congress can pave the road to a better, more innovative digital future by modernizing our obsolete communications laws.”

It’s apparently their third year of a Twitter campaign calling for an update to the Telecommunications Act.

Other locations the DeLorean visited Thursday were The Monocle restaurant and Americans for Tax Reform,  McAuliffe said.

The interior of the DeLoreon. (Anne L. Kim/CQ Roll Call)

The interior of the DeLorean. (Anne L. Kim/CQ Roll Call)


February 4, 2015

Polis and Yoder to Re-Introduce Email Privacy Bill

CQ Roll Call’s Matt Fuller reports that Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., are re-introducing email privacy legislation today and are seeking additional co-sponsors beyond the at least 223 they have.

From Fuller’s post on 218:

Polis and Yoder previously sponsored legislation in the 113th Congress to end the 180-day rule, and while that bill never made it to the floor, they think the 114th Congress could be different from the previous one.

“We really hope that this Congress is the one to do it,” Polis said Tuesday. For starters, they’re introducing the bill Wednesday with at least 223 co-sponsors — already more than enough to pass the bill in the House. “I mean, introducing it with 223 is an amazing number,” Polis said. “That’s huge.”

They’ll also be pushing for even more co-sponsors, hoping to get the bill past a two-thirds threshold so that they can show leadership the legislation would pass under suspension of the rules. That’s an important number because one of the members not co-sponsoring the legislation is Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va. It’s Goodlatte’s Judiciary Committee that has jurisdiction over the bill, and he never brought it before the panel in the 113th.

Read the rest of the post here.




February 2, 2015

The Week Ahead: Cybersecurity and Data Security & Privacy

Hearings on the Hill on cybersecurity and data breach notification, a data security and privacy event and more are on tap for the week ahead


Two House Science, Space and Technology subcommittees hold a joint hearing on National Science Foundation oversight of the National Ecological Observatory Network and other major research facilities developed under cooperative agreements.


The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing on cybersecurity and the National Institute of Standards and Technology framework.


Microsoft’s senior director of search, Stefan Weitztalks about what’s next for search engines and his recent book at 1776.

The Online Trust Alliance hosts a data security and privacy event.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee holds a hearing on data breach notification.

January 28, 2015

Data Privacy Day: Op-Eds Call for ECPA Update

A couple op-eds timed for Data Privacy Day today reiterate calls for lawmakers to pass an update of the 1986 Electronic Communications Act.

In a piece in Real Clear Policy, Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, say they’ll reintroduce their legislation to update the 1986 law, which the Senate Judiciary Committee has previously approved, in the “coming weeks”:

They write:

The proposal we will soon introduce requires the government to obtain a search warrant, based on probable cause, before searching through the content of Americans’ e-mail or other electronic communications stored with a service provider such as Google, Facebook, or Yahoo!. The government is already prohibited from tapping our phones or forcibly entering our homes to obtain private information without warrants. The same privacy protections should apply to our online communications.

“Congress should pass ECPA reform this year, and President Barack Obama should sign these important privacy reforms into law,” they write.

For some background: under the current 180-day rule, law enforcement can obtain content of emails 180-days or less with a subpoena, not a search warrant.

Gate Rottman, legislative counsel and policy adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union and Katie McAuliffe, federal affairs managers and executive director of Digital Liberty at Americans for Tax Reform, also call for lawmakers to pass legislation to update the 1986 law in an op-ed in Roll Call.

They write:

The purpose of ECPA was to protect our privacy. Technological innovations have now turned that protection on its head, making it a threat to our privacy instead. Its original intent must be restored. Government must live within the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment. Our privacy, our economic future, our way of life depend on it.

January 27, 2015

FTC Releases Staff Recommendations on the Internet of Things

A Federal Trade Commission staff report released Tuesday on connected devices known as the Internet of Things says legislation specific to this area of technology is “premature,” but reiterates recommendations for broader legislation on data security and privacy.

From the report:

Commission staff agrees with those commenters who stated that there is great potential for innovation in this area and that IoT-specific legislation at this stage would be premature. Staff also agrees that development of self-regulatory programs designed for particular industries would be helpful as a means to encourage the adoption of privacy-and security-sensitive practices.

However, in light of the ongoing threats to data security and the risk that emerging IoT technologies might amplify these threats, staff reiterates the Commission’s previous recommendations for Congress to enact strong, flexible, and technology-neutral federal legislation to strengthen its existing data security enforcement tools and to provide notification to consumers when there is a security breach.

The report goes on to state that the “pervasiveness of information collection and use” made possible by the Internet of Things “reinforces the need for baseline privacy standards, which the Commission previously recommended in its 2012 privacy report.”

“Commission staff thus again recommends that Congress enact broad-based (as opposed to IoT-specific) privacy legislation,” the report states. “Such legislation should be flexible and technology-neutral, while also providing clear rules of the road for companies about such issues as how to provide choice to consumers about data collection and use practices.”

The report notes that Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen disagrees with this portion of the recommendations, because she “questions what harms baseline privacy legislation would reach that the FTC’s existing authority cannot.”

Much of the report focuses on staff recommendations for best practices for companies on security, data minimization and notice and choice.

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