Some of Big Telecom’s biggest shills in Congress are planning to introduce legislation that claims to protect people’s privacy as more tech companies and governments show interest in using smartphones and other technology to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing.
In fact, this bill is yet another thinly veiled attempt to weaken existing privacy protections. Digital rights group Fight for the Future issued the following statement on the proposed bill, which can be attributed to deputy director Evan Greer (she/her):
This is an anti-privacy bill. Not a privacy bill. Once again senators like Marsha Blackburn and Roger Wicker, who have taken unfathomable amounts of money from the telecom industry, are pretending to care about Big Tech companies abuses while pushing for legislation that would do absolutely nothing to protect people.
During normal times, their behavior is unseemly. During a pandemic, it’s unconscionable. Tech companies and government agencies are rapidly moving forward with numerous proposals that could put people’s safety, privacy, and civil liberties at risk. Beyond contact tracing, millions of people are now staying home and engaging in incredibly sensitive activities and conversations online.
Congress has been dragging its feet for years on enacting meaningful federal data privacy legislation. This bill guts the FCC’s strong privacy limits on mobile carriers, while utterly failing to give the FTC the ability to respond to abuses. It’s disgusting and offensive that this is what they’ve come up with. They’re not even trying to pretend they care anymore. Lawmakers need to cut the crap and enact real data privacy legislation as soon as possible. Now more than ever, it’s essential for both human rights and public health.
Fight for the Future and a number of other organizations have previously outlined key provisions that should be in any real federal privacy legislation at FightForPrivacy.co