PRG News Roundup, February 9, 2022

During the third PRG meeting of the Spring 2022 semester, the following topic were discussed.

This week, the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2022 has been introduced. It’s a bill requiring new transparency and accountability for automated decision systems. Requirements include conducting impact assessments for bias, effectiveness, and other factors. It also creates, for the first time, a public repository at the Federal Trade Commission of these systems and adds 75 staff to the commission to enforce the law.

The Senate confirmed the nominations of two new members for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), a federal privacy watchdog tasked with ensuring the federal government’s counterterrorism efforts don’t trample on privacy and civil liberties. The agency, having been ineffective for quite some time due to vacancies, can now fully function again.

Seton Hall University School of Law’s Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology and Institute for Privacy Protection are co-hosting a virtual conference on Big Tech and Antitrust to explore these issues from U.S., EU, and international perspectives with leading academics, practitioners, and former regulators.

In its efforts to collect information on the use of “standard technical measures” to address copyright infringement, the U.S. Copyright Office is meaning to hold a plenary hearing on automated filters on February 22nd.

On February 3rd, the Illinois Supreme Court filed an opinion holding that people can sue their employers for damages under the State’s privacy law, the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The decision means that employers do not have a powerful weapon at their disposal when it comes to defending privacy claims.

The IRS has announced that it will “transition away” from using third-party facial recognition services for the verification of taxpayers’ identities, effectively ending a contract with facial recognition company ID.me that had received widespread criticism.

Duke Law Journal is organizing an event about automating the administrative state.

Israeli police has been using a spy software (Pegasus) to spy on its own citizens, including political activists involved in the Black Flag and Balfour demonstrations that took place against former Prime Minister Netanyahu last year.

A lawsuit challenges facial recognition as unconstitutional and illegal in Indian state Telangana, the most surveilled state in the world, according to Amnesty International.

For the first time, a German lower Court granted a data subject compensation under Article 82 GDPR for non-material damages suffered because of an unauthorized third-party access to the subject’s personal data. Furthermore, the Court found that the defendant company is obligated to compensate all material future damages resulting from the breach. 

A Human Rights Coalition is urging the Senate to drop the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT, S.3538). According to the Coalition, EARN IT will in fact make it harder for law enforcement to protect children and result in online censorship disproportionately impacting marginalized communities.

As Meta disclosed regulatory risks to its investors, the media spun that into a withdrawal from Europe threat. Meta issued a press release clarifying that they are not threatening to leave Europe but disclosed that continuing uncertainty over EU-US data transfer mechanisms poses a threat to their ability to serve European consumers.

(Compiled by Student Fellow Ge’ez Engidashet)