EFF: Big Tech’s Disingenuous Push for a Federal Privacy Law

Following the theme of the earlier article on The Meat Packing Myth is this article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation – an organization leading the fight for digital privacy and free speech — about a push by big tech companies for federal regulation of digital privacy and why this push is in the self-interest of these corporations rather than in support of your actual privacy.

Big Tech’s Disingenuous Push for a Federal Privacy Law

This week, the Internet Association launched a campaign asking the federal government to pass a new privacy law.

The Internet Association (IA) is a trade group funded by some of the largest tech companies in the world, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Uber. Many of its members keep their lights on by tracking users and monetizing their personal data. So why do they want a federal consumer privacy law?

Surprise! It’s not to protect your privacy. Rather, this campaign is a disingenuous ploy to undermine real progress on privacy being made around the country at the state level. IA member companies want to establish a national “privacy law” that undoes stronger state laws and lets them continue business as usual. Lawyers call this “preemption.” IA calls this “a unified, national standard” to avoid “a patchwork of state laws.” We call this a big step backwards for all of our privacy.

The question we should be asking is, “What are they afraid of?”

Stronger state laws

After years of privacy scandals, Americans across the political spectrum want better consumer privacy protections. So far, Congress has failed to act, but states have taken matters into their own hands. The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), passed in 2008, makes it illegal to collect biometric data from Illinois citizens without their express, informed, opt-in consent. Vermont requires data brokers to register with the state and report on their activities. And the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), passed in 2018, gives users the right to access their personal data and opt out of its sale. In state legislatures across the country, consumer privacy bills are gaining momentum.

This terrifies big tech companies. Last quarter alone, the IA spent nearly $176,000 lobbying the California legislature, largely to weaken CCPA before it takes effect in January 2021. Thanks to the efforts of a coalition of privacy advocates, including EFF, it failed. The IA and its allies are losing the fight against state privacy laws. So, after years of fighting any kind of privacy legislation, they’re now looking to the federal government to save them from the states. The IA has joined Technet, a group of tech CEOs, and Business Roundtable, another industry lobbying organization, in calls for a weak national “privacy” law that will preempt stronger state laws. In other words, they want to roll back all the progress states like California have made, and prevent other states from protecting consumers in the future. We must not allow them to succeed.

A private right of action

Laws with a private right of action allow ordinary people to sue companies when they break the law. This is essential to make sure the law is properly enforced. Without a private right of action, it’s up to regulators like the Federal Trade Commission or the U.S. Department of Justice to go after misbehaving companies. Even in the best of times, regulatory bodies often don’t have the resources needed to police a multi-trillion dollar industry. And regulators can fall prey to regulatory capture. If all the power of enforcement is left in the hands of a single group, an industry can lobby the government to fill that group with its own people. Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai is a former Verizon lawyer, and he’s overseen massive deregulation of the telecom industry his office is supposed to keep in check.

The strongest state privacy laws include private rights of action. Illinois BIPA allows users whose biometric data is illegally collected or handled to sue the companies responsible. And CCPA lets users sue when a company’s negligence results in a breach of personal information. The IA wants to erase these laws and reduce the penalties its member companies can face for their misconduct in legal proceedings brought by ordinary consumers…

Judge’s Unconstitutional Effort to Block Blueprints for 3D-Printed Guns

In news directly related to the recent announcement of a federal settlement with Defense Distributed, a Seattle federal judge has issued a restraining order to prevent Defense Distributed from posting the blueprint files.  From National Review:

If there’s a hall of fame for futile, symbolic, and ultimately unconstitutional federal court orders, the temporary restraining order just issued in Seattle blocking Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation from posting blueprints for 3D-printed guns deserves at least a plaque, if not a full display. The court’s order temporarily overturns a Trump administration legal settlement that reversed an Obama-era policy designed mainly to limit the spread of the relevant files abroad, not here at home. I love NPR’s sardonic Twitter response:

NPR gets it. Let’s be clear about what has just happened. A federal court has issued a prior restraint on speech (it’s attempting to block the spread of information; it is not blocking the lawful home manufacture of firearms) that is already thoroughly and completely moot. The files are out. They’re all over the internet. They’ve been copied and reproduced. The judge’s order can’t change that fact.

Moreover, Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation are hardly the only sources for online files or blueprints that enable a home manufacturer with a 3D printer to make a gun. I’m honestly unclear what the court is trying to accomplish here, aside from targeting the Trump administration and/or targeting a disfavored private company.

Earlier today I published a lengthy explainer of the factual and legal issues surrounding the 3D-printed gun controversy. I’d urge you to read the whole thing, but the bottom line is easy to understand. First, home manufacture of weapons is clearly lawful, and it has been common practice in the United States since before the founding of the nation. Second, it is thus just as lawful to “print” a gun as it is to assemble one with parts in your garage. Third, the plans to print guns are widely-available on the internet — and have been for some time.

Put another way, a gun that’s lawful to assemble is lawful to print. A gun that’s unlawful to assemble is unlawful to print, and that includes undetectable plastic guns that are either printed or assembled. It’s that simple.There is no new “threat” here. There is no crisis…

The files at issue can still be downloaded from http://codeisfreespeech.com/

Tonight, the organizations and individuals behind CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, a new Web site for the publication and sharing of firearm-related speech, including machine code, have issued the following statement:

Our Constitution’s First Amendment secures the right of all people to engage in truthful speech, including by sharing information contained in books, paintings, and files. Indeed, freedom of speech is a bedrock principle of our United States and a cornerstone of our democratic Republic. Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom.

Should any tyrants wish to chill or infringe the rights of the People, we would welcome the opportunity to defend freedom whenever, wherever, and however necessary. Hand-waving and hyperbole are not compelling government interests and censorship is not proper tailoring under the law.

There is no doubt that Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed have inspired countless Americans to exercise their fundamental, individual rights, including through home gunsmithing. Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we hope to promote the collection and dissemination of truthful, non-misleading speech, new and evolving ideas, and the advancement of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms…

The Market Ticker: Editorial on Free Speech

Source: Kart Denninger at Market-ticker.com

To The Press, The Pols And The Rest

Let me say this just one more time:

That someone is a Neo-Nazi, a White Supremacist, KKK member or racist does not render them bereft of the First Amendment.  Just as being a member of BLM or the Antifa does not render them bereft of the First Amendment.

It is not acceptable, legal or excusable to meet speech by any such person with violence.

Period.

To suggest, state, or advocate that such is the case, or to promote the premise that violence is an appropriate remedy for speech you find vile and outrageous is to declare civil war, because there are others who will likely find your speech vile and outrageous and by your statement you have made the claim that just punishment for speech you deem vile is to be found at the hands of a mob.

The press and now lawmakers are openly advocating for the complete breakdown of civil society — they are stating by the droves that violence in response to mere speech that one finds offensive yet has the protection of the First Amendment is not only worthy of said violence the person uttering same is not worthy of having their assailants prosecuted or the protection and investigation of the police forces to interdict violence intended for or served upon them

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