In the wake of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (“ECJ”) Schrems II decision invalidating the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (“Privacy Shield”) but upholding the validity of standard contractual clauses (“SCCs”), the U.S. government has released a White Paper entitled “Information on U.S. Privacy Safeguards Relevant to SCCs and Other EU Legal Bases for EU-U.S. Data Transfers after Schrems II.”  The Schrems II ruling requires companies relying on SCCs “to verify, on a case-by-case basis,” whether the level of protections afforded by the SCCs are respected and observed in the recipient country.  According to the cover letter accompanying the White Paper, it “outlines the robust limits and safeguards in the United States pertaining to government access to data” as part of “an effort to assist organizations in assessing whether their transfers offer appropriate data protection in accordance with the ECJ’s ruling.”

The cover letter emphasizes that while the White Paper is intended to help companies make the case that they can transfer personal data from the EU to the United States in compliance with EU law, it does not “eliminate the urgent need for clarity from European authorities or the onerous compliance burdens generated by the Schrems II decision.”  It concludes by citing the importance of the “$7.1 trillion transatlantic economic relationship” and stating that “the Trump Administration is exploring all options at its disposal and remains committed to working with the European Commission to negotiate a solution that satisfies the ECJ’s requirements while protecting the interests of the United States.”
Continue Reading U.S. Government Issues White Paper on Privacy Safeguards Following Schrems II

On June 16, 2020, the First Circuit released its opinion in United States v. Moore-Bush.  The issue presented was whether the Government’s warrantless use of a pole camera to continuously record for eight months the front of Defendants’ home, as well as their and their visitors’ comings and goings, infringed on the Defendants’ reasonable expectation of privacy in and around their home and thereby violated the Fourth Amendment.  The appeal followed the district court’s decision in June 2019 in favor of Defendants’ motions to exclude evidence obtained via the pole camera.  The Government, without obtaining a warrant, had installed a pole camera on a utility pole across the street from Defendants’ residence.  The pole camera (1) took continuous video recording for approximately eight months, (2) focused on the driveway and the front of the house, (3) had the ability to zoom in so close that it can read license plate numbers, and (4) created a digitally searchable log.

In their motions to exclude, the Defendants, relying on Katz v. United States, argued they had both a subjective and objective reasonable expectation of privacy in the movements into and around their home, and that the warrantless use of the pole camera therefore constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.  The Government relied on an earlier First Circuit case, United States v. Bucci, which held that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in a person’s movements outside of and around their home—“An individual does not have an expectation of privacy in items or places he exposes to the public.”  Thus, Bucci held that use of a pole camera for eight months did not constitute a search.
Continue Reading United States v. Moore-Bush: No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy Around the Home

On October 31, 2019, Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s Information Commissioner issued an Opinion and an accompanying blog urging police forces to slow down adoption of live facial recognition technology and take steps to justify its use.  The Commissioner calls on the UK government to introduce a statutory binding code of practice on the use of biometric technology such as live facial recognition technology.  The Commissioner also announced that the ICO is separately investigating the use of facial recognition by private sector organizations, and will be reporting on those findings in due course.

The Opinion follows the ICO’s investigation into the use of live facial recognition technology in trials conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and South Wales Police (SWP).  The ICO’s investigation was triggered by the recent UK High Court decision in R (Bridges) v The Chief Constable of South Wales (see our previous blog post here), where the court held that the use of facial recognition technology by the South Wales Police Force (“SWP”) was lawful.

The ICO had intervened in the case.  In the Opinion, the Commissioner notes that, in some areas, the High Court did not agree with the Commissioner’s submissions.  The Opinion states that the Commissioner respects and acknowledges the decision of the High Court, but does not consider that the decision should be seen as a blanket authorization to use live facial recognition in all circumstances.


Continue Reading AI/IoT Update: UK’s Information Commissioner Issues Opinion on Use of Live Facial Recognition Technology by Police Forces

R (on the application of Edward Bridges) v The Chief Constable of South Wales [2019] EWHC 2341 (Admin)

Case Note

Introduction

In Bridges, an application for judicial review, the UK High Court (Lord Justice Haddon-Cave and Mr. Justice Swift) considered the lawfulness of policing operations conducted by the South Wales Police force (“SWP”) which utilised Automated Facial Recognition (“AFR”) technology.  The Court rejected Mr Bridges’ allegations that the SWP’s conduct was unlawful as contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”), Article 8, the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2018 (“DPA 98 and 18”), and the Equality Act 2010.  In this blog post we consider several key aspects of the case.


Continue Reading UK Court upholds police use of automated facial recognition technology

On January 24, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) adopted a report (“Report”) regarding the second annual review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (“Privacy Shield”).  In a press release accompanying the Report, the EDPB welcomed efforts by EU and U.S. authorities to implement the Privacy Shield,  including in particular the recent appointment of a permanent Ombudsperson.  But the EDPB also noted that certain concerns remain with respect to the implementation of the Privacy Shield.

The EDPB, which is made up of representatives of various European data protection authorities, is established by the GDPR, and advises on the consistent application of data protection rules throughout the EU.  The Report is not binding on the EU or U.S. authorities directly; instead it will serve to guide regulators considering the implementation of the Privacy Shield.  The Report is also likely to influence the EU Commission’s assessment of the Privacy Shield, and to contribute to political pressure in the European Parliament to continue to reform the Shield.    
Continue Reading European Data Protection Board Releases Report on the Privacy Shield

On the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) third annual “PrivacyCon,” the Future of Privacy Forum hosted its eighth annual “Privacy Papers for Policymakers” event on Capitol Hill—a gathering in which academics present their original scholarly works on privacy-related topics to D.C. policy wonks who may have a hand in shaping laws and regulations at the local, federal, and international level. The goal of the event is, in part, to foster academic-industry collaboration in addressing the world’s current and emerging privacy issues.

FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny kicked off the program with a reminder of the unique challenge that has always faced the world of tech policy: the rapid acceleration of the Digital Age and the need for consumer rights to catch up. Commissioner McSweeny opined that the challenge may require some solutions that go beyond privacy—such as individual control over personal data, data portability, and governance by design—and pointed out several ways in which the honored papers may help spur the evolution of existing privacy frameworks:
Continue Reading Future of Privacy Forum: Privacy Papers for Policymakers 2018

Yesterday, the European Parliament voted to approve the EU-U.S. Umbrella Agreement, a framework for the exchange of personal data for law-enforcement (including anti-terrorism) purposes between the EU and U.S.  As we previously explained, negotiations on this Agreement have been underway for quite some time, with the European Parliament first calling for it back in March 2009.

According to the European Commission’s fact sheet, the Agreement “puts in place a comprehensive high-level data protection framework for EU-US law enforcement cooperation.”  Specifically, the Umbrella Agreement includes the following protections:

  • Data Use Limitations
  • Onward Transfer Requirements
  • Publicly Available Retention Periods
  • Access and Rectification Rights
  • Data Breach Notification
  • Judicial Redress and Enforceability


Continue Reading European Parliament Approves EU-U.S. Umbrella Agreement

A report released yesterday by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University addresses the recent debate over the use of encryption in communications technologies and its impact on government access to communication data.  The report focuses on the U.S. government’s use of the “going dark” metaphor to describe recent decisions by several major providers of communications services and products to enable end-to-end encryption on their applications, operating systems, and mobile devices.

According to the report, the government’s use of the “going dark” metaphor to describe this phenomenon dates back to at least 2010, when the FBI’s then-General Counsel Valerie Caproni used the term in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The report acknowledges that views on encryption differ within the government, and that the Obama administration announced in October 2015 that it would not pursue legislative action to force companies to decrypt data in response to government requests.  It notes, however, that several recent statements by FBI Director James Comey and others in the law enforcement and intelligence communities have expressed concern that encryption technologies inhibit access to communications even when the government has the legal authority to access them.  This, in turn, could limit the government’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks or investigate and prosecute criminal activity. 
Continue Reading Report Questions Use of “Going Dark” to Describe Encryption Trends

As readers of the InsidePrivacy blog know, we often save some fun reading on privacy issues for the weekend, given the crush of business during the week.  Sure, you’re reading the FTC’s just‑released Internet of Things report (and hopefully Shel’s helpful analysis of it), but a little broader reading might be just right for our (somewhat) snowy weekend.

At the top of my list for this weekend is Neil Richards’ new book, Intellectual Privacy: Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age.  This book follows up on Neil’s great law review article of the same name, but develops and updates the arguments, examples and use cases.  The subject of the work is the conflict between privacy and free expression, one of the most important issues in our area of law and policy.  Topics such as the “right to be forgotten” place this issue squarely into today’s headlines.  Neil suggests that free speech should win out in the event of a true conflict between the two values, but concludes that true conflicts are exceedingly rare.  It is more likely that privacy should be seen as a precondition for the exercise of free speech — without some assurance that privacy rights will be honored, individuals will not speak freely.  It’s a great premise with which I agree, and one that I look forward to thinking more about.  And if you’re in New York on Monday and can stop by the book launch sponsored by Data & Society, you can ask Neil about it!
Continue Reading Privacy Weekend: Provocative Articles We’re Reading Now