EFF in the News
There was an exemption from the disclosure requirements for what was called “operational” (defined as “a purpose reasonably necessary for the operation” of the company) or “transactional” (defined as “a purpose necessary for effecting, administering or enforcing” a transaction between company and customer). Those exceptions were “troubling,” said Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of these groups.
"What we need is better default rules of the road for how privacy occurs on the Internet [so] you don't have to worry about opting-out," said Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"One of the biggest concerns that we have with the current regime is that when opt-outs are present, they're frequently kind of dummy opt-outs," Eckersley continued. "What you're opting out of is not the collection of information about you, but rather the targeting of advertising to you based on the information that was previously collected. You have no option of being surveilled, you can only opt out of being marketed to."
Today, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Power's behalf. The EFF rightly points out that the problem with accepting Facebook's argument is doing so would allow a private company to transform millions of Web users into criminals simply by issuing terms of service that people ignore.
A coalition of consumer and privacy groups is taking its fight for online consumer privacy to Capitol Hill. In their sights: online advertising practices and behavioral targeting. In a joint letter to Congress, the groups warn that tracking and targeting of consumers have reached “alarming levels.”
They say they want legislation, not self-regulation. The coalition includes the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumers Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
"It's a very, very, very huge potential privacy invasion because we're talking about very, very small sensors that can be undetectable, effectively," said Lee Tien, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocate.
What remains is a sobering combination — on one hand, there is the detailed information held by companies like Amazon and Google, which have a strong business incentive to fight off the government. Yet even as they go to court to protect the information they have collected, that information still represents a “honey pot for the government,” Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says.
In her talk, Boyd suggested that social networking sites could save themselves potential embarrassment by vetting potential new features and changes through privacy rights watchdogs like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
"When (Facebook) started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice," the EFF's timeline written by attorney Kurt Opsahl explains. "Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads."
A group of privacy groups sent their principles for controlling data collection and use, in a letter to be sent to members of Congress on Monday. The groups include the Center for Digital Democracy, the Consumer Federation of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the United States Public Interest Research Group and the World Privacy Forum.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has written a 12-step guide to protecting your online privacy. The guide explains how to make sure you are not "shedding" your personal details online and provides handy tips about configuring your web browser preferences, setting up "clean" email addresses, and common sense tips about staying safe (and private) on the web.