On September 26, 2018, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation convened a hearing on Examining Consumer Privacy Protections with representatives of major technology and communications firms to discuss approaches to protecting consumer privacy, how the U.S. might craft a federal privacy law, and companies’ experiences in implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”). Continue Reading Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Examining Consumer Privacy Protections

On August 29, 2018, Bloomberg Law reported that four Senate Commerce Committee members are discussing a potential online privacy bill. The bipartisan group consists of Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), according to anonymous Senate aides. Continue Reading Senate Commerce Committee Members Rumored to be Discussing Online Privacy Bill

On July 12, 2018, two U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to investigate the privacy policies and practices of smart TV manufacturers. In their letter, Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) note that smart TVs can “compile detailed profiles about users’ preferences and characteristics” which can then allow companies to personalize ads to be sent to “customers’ computers, phones or any other device that shares the smart TV’s internet connection.” Continue Reading Senators Ask FTC to Investigate Smart TV Manufacturers

On May 8, 2018, Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) demanded that the Federal Communications Commission investigate the alleged unauthorized tracking of Americans’ locations by Securus Technologies, a company that provides phone services to prisons, jails and other correctional facilities. Securus allegedly purchases real-time location data from a third-party location aggregator and provides the data to law enforcement without obtaining judicial authorization for the disclosure of the data. In turn, the third-party location aggregator obtains the data from wireless carriers. Federal law restricts how and when wireless carriers can share certain customer information with third parties, including law enforcement. Wireless carriers are prohibited from sharing certain customer information, including location data, unless the carrier has obtained the customer’s consent or the sharing is otherwise required by law. Continue Reading Senator Wyden Calls for FCC Investigation into Company Sharing Location Data

On April 26, 2018, the U.S. Senate confirmed by unanimous consent all five pending nominees to the Federal Trade Commission. Once installed, the agency will have a full complement of Commissioners for the first time in nearly three years. The FTC will be comprised of three Republicans — Joseph Simons (Chairman), Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine Wilson — and two Democrats — Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Rohit Chopra.

Continue Reading FTC Nominees Confirmed by Senate

On February 6, 2017, the House of Representatives suspended its rules and passed by voice vote H.R 387, the Email Privacy Act. As we previously reported, the Email Privacy Act amends the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”) of 1986. In particular, the legislation would require government entities to obtain a warrant, based on probable cause, before accessing the content of any emails or electronic communications stored with third-party service providers, regardless of how long the communications have been held in electronic storage by such providers. Continue Reading House of Representatives Passes Email Privacy Act

On January 9, 2017, Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO) reintroduced the Email Privacy Act, which would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”) of 1986. In particular, the legislation would require government entities to obtain a warrant, based on probable cause, before accessing the content of any emails or electronic communications stored with third-party service providers, regardless of how long the communications have been held in electronic storage by such providers. Although ECPA currently requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to search the contents of electronic communications held by service providers that are less than 180 days old, communications that are more than 180 days old can be obtained with a subpoena. Continue Reading Email Privacy Act Reintroduced in Congress

On February 24, 2016, President Obama signed the Judicial Redress Act (the “Act”) into law. The Act grants non-U.S. citizens certain rights, including a private right of action for alleged privacy violations that occur in the U.S. The Act was signed after Congress approved an amendment that limits the right to sue to only those citizens of countries which (1) permit the “transfer of personal data for commercial purposes” to the U.S., and (2) do not impose personal data transfer policies that “materially impede” U.S. national security interests. Continue Reading President Obama Signs Judicial Redress Act into Law

On February 10, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Judicial Redress Act, which had been approved by the Senate the night before and included a recent Senate amendment. The House of Representatives previously passed the original bill in October 2015, but the bill was sent back to the House due to the recent Senate amendment. The Judicial Redress Act grants non-U.S. citizens certain rights, including a private right of action for alleged privacy violations that occur in the U.S. The amendment limits the right to sue to only those citizens of countries that (1) permit the “transfer of personal data for commercial purposes” to the U.S., and (2) do not impose personal data transfer policies that “materially impede” U.S. national security interests. The bill now heads to President Obama to sign.

Continue Reading Congress Passes Judicial Redress Act

On January 28, 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Judicial Redress Act (the “Act”), which would give EU citizens the right to sue over certain data privacy issues in the U.S. The Act passed after an amendment was approved which would condition EU citizens’ right to sue on EU Member States (1) allowing companies to transfer personal data to the U.S. for commercial purposes and (2) having personal data transfer policies which do not materially impede the national security interests of the U.S. The vote was initially set to take place on January 21, 2016, but was delayed.

Continue Reading Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Amended Judicial Redress Act