Coalition Efforts

Consumer Action is working on these important issues along with other organizations. If you would like to know more about these issues, please see “More Information” at the end of each article.

 

Postings

The new California privacy agency should prioritize consumers’ privacy
The recently-passed California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) augments and supplements California’s existing privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It also creates a new supervisory authority for data protection and privacy in California — the California Privacy Protection Agency. Privacy advocates wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to select members to the new agency who have demonstrated experience working on behalf of consumers and a commitment to civil rights and ending discriminatory business practices.

Advocates urge the Biden administration to reject Big Tech appointments to his cabinet
In a letter to President-elect Biden, consumer and privacy advocates urged the President-elect to avoid appointing representatives from tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to his cabinet. These companies represent serious threats to privacy, democracy, innovation and to Americans’ economic well-being. Advocates warned that representatives from these companies should not hold positions of power within our government. Instead, advocates urged Biden to assemble a team of advocates that will represent working Americans and not the Big Tech companies that work to exploit them.

Privacy advocates urge U.S. FCC to protect privacy during pandemic
Consumer Action joined in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to uphold privacy protections during the pandemic. The agency is attempting to remove the Customer Proprietary Network Information certification requirement, which is the easiest and most straightforward way to hold wireless and telephone companies accountable for violating their customers’ privacy. The COVID-19 crisis has made telecom privacy protections even more essential as people are more reliant than ever on their phones. It would be highly inappropriate for the FCC to eliminate or weaken these valuable protections during the pandemic.

You private genetic testing information can be sold without warning—that needs to change
Help could be on the way for California consumers thanks to SB 980, a bill that was recently approved by the California legislature with strong bipartisan support. If signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the bill would provide strong privacy and security requirements over deeply personal data that Californians currently lack by way of consumer genetic testing services provided by companies like Ancestry and 23andMe.

The next COVID-19 relief package should include these critical consumer protections
Millions of people and small businesses in the United States are experiencing tremendous financial distress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment is skyrocketing and families are struggling to put food on the table. Congress and the administration need to enact broad-based, efficient, and effective relief that goes far beyond the CARES Act to protect people’s homes, cars, bank accounts, income, and benefits so that they can weather this crisis. Consumer Action joined nearly 100 consumer, civil rights, community and other public interest groups weigh in on recommendations for Congress' next stimulus package.

Protection of democracy and privacy are critical as tech responds to pandemic
Over 80 civil rights, civil liberties, labor, and consumer protection organizations released principles to guide employers, policymakers, businesses, and public health authorities as they consider strategies to reopen American society and deploy information technologies designed specifically to monitor, track, or trace individuals in order to mitigate or respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The groups note the need to protect the civil rights and privacy of all persons, especially communities of color and other populations who are at high risk for the virus, when considering the deployment of technological measures.

White House must prioritize privacy and equity in COVID-19 response
In a letter to Vice President Michael R. Pence, who leads the Coronavirus Task Force, coalition advocates called on the government to set guidelines to protect individuals’ privacy, ensure equity in the treatment of individuals and communities and communicate clearly about public health objectives in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress: Pass a clean budget for FY2021
Advocates called on Congress to pass an upcoming federal budget that funds the things that Americans care about, not undo essential consumer and environmental safeguards through policy riders. Policy riders are attached to legislation and rarely have anything to do with the bill. In fact, most riders are handouts to big corporations and special favors for interest groups that could not become law on their own merits. As Congress prepares the federal budget for fiscal year 2021, no appropriations titles, package of bills, or continuing resolutions should pass if they contain poison pill policy riders that go against the public interest, including policies that ensure safe and healthy food, restrain Wall Street abuses, provide access to justice and fair housing, and guarantee access to safe healthcare.

The FCC prepares to regulate providers’ efforts to curb annoying robocalls
The Federal Trade Commission received 3.78 million consumer complaints about robocalls in 2019, compared with 3.79 million in 2018. Congress passed the TRACED Act late last year, which aims to crack down on robocalls by requiring voice service providers to implement caller ID authentication technology, and directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the providers’ efforts. In preparation for its upcoming report on robocalls, advocates call on the FCC to take further action to hold voice service providers accountable in their efforts to stop annoying scam calls.

Backlash grows over use of facial recognition
In a letter to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency in the executive branch, consumer, privacy and civil liberties groups urged President Trump and his administration to prohibit the federal government from using facial surveillance on the American public. Advocates are ringing the alarm after a recent federal study by The National Institute of Standards and Technology found pervasive racial bias in facial surveillance technology, and a New York Times investigation found a startup, Clearview AI, was stockpiling more than 3 billion photos from online sites and offering them up to help law enforcement match photos of suspects to pictures online. Considering the startup’s obvious violations of existing privacy laws, and the prevalent bias and discrimination in the facial recognition systems that are currently in use, advocates recommend a blanket moratorium on the technology.

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