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EDUCAUSE Joins Letter in Support of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendment

While the Cybersecurity Act (S. 3414) was defeated on August 2, 2012, there was a specific privacy amendment filed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) of interest to the EDUCAUSE community.  Senate Amendment 2580, cited as the “Electronic Communications Privacy Act,” would provide privacy protections for email and other electronic communications — including requiring that the government obtain a search warrant based on probable cause in order to obtain email content.  “In the information age, stronger privacy protections are also needed to safeguard Americans’ personal information and private communications in cyberspace,” Sen. Leahy said after filing the amendment.

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World Intellectual Property Organization: Discussion on Possible Treaty That Would Affect Education

The 24th meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is taking place in Geneva from July 16 to July 25, 2012 to discuss three international treaties on copyright exceptions and limitations.  The SSCR is a subcommittee of WIPO whose mandate is to foster discussion surrounding the establishment of standards for exceptions and limitations on copyright.  WIPO, known for its pro-rights holder inclination, is devoting much of its current meeting to advance balanced international copyright law.

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What Facial Recognition Technology Means for Privacy and Civil Liberties: A Hearing

On Wednesday, July 18, 2012 the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law entitled, “What Facial Recognition Technology Means for Privacy and Civil Liberties.”  Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) spoke about the need for tight rules on facial recognition software.  He said that the privacy and legal implications surrounding facial recognition technology remain murky.  The committee questioned privacy advocates, government officials, academics, industry and law enforcement, and Facebook about how the technology is being used and what privacy issues it raises.  The committee focused on potential problems with facial recognition technologies.

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Intermediaries May Not Be Exempt in Copyright Infringement Cases

A recent New York Times article highlighted the case of the British student, Richard O’Dwyer, who is the subject of an extradition order to the U.S. on criminal copyright infringement charges for distributing pirated movies and television programs.  Our campuses should keep an eye on this case.

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NTIA Holds Its First Privacy Multistakeholder Meeting

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) first multistakeholder meeting on mobile privacy was held in Washington, D.C. on July 12, 2012. The goal was to develop a code of conduct to provide transparency in how companies providing applications and interactive services for mobile devices handle personal data. Mobile devices pose distinct consumer privacy challenges, such as disclosing relevant information on a small display. In addition, many have noted that practices surrounding the disclosure of consumer data privacy practices do not appear to have kept pace with rapid developments in technology and business models. 

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First Sale and the Supreme Court: A Case to Watch

The Supreme Court will hear a case in the fall that has implications for higher education.  The question before the Court is -  How do Section 602(a)(1) of the Copyright Act, which prohibits the importation of a work without the authority of the copyright’s owner, and Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act, which allows the owner of a copy “lawfully made under this title” to sell or otherwise dispose of the copy without the copyright owner’s permission, apply to a copy that was made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States?

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Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Rejected by European Union

The European Parliament on Wednesday, July 4, 2012, voted overwhelmingly against a controversial trade agreement designed to combat online piracy.  The European Union's (EU) 27 member states rejected participation in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) with 478 members voting against, 39 voting in favor, and 165 members abstaining. (See earlier blog for further background information.)

The controversial copyright- and trademark-related trade agreement previously provoked huge demonstrations across Europe.  The vote is another setback for entertainment and content companies that have been pushing governments around the world to combat copyright theft. That effort floundered in the U.S. earlier this year when Congress dropped the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) legislation. 

The Need for Privacy Protections: Is Industry Self-Regulation Adequate?

On June 28, 2012, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on the need for consumer privacy protections. The FTC and the Administration have both outlined voluntary industry practices, such as the implementation of Do Not Track options on Web browsers, but they have also said that further legislation is necessary.

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New Technologies and Innovations in the Mobile and Online Space, and the Implications for Public Policy

The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held an educational hearing on June 19, 2012 entitled "New Technologies and Innovations in the Mobile and Online Space, and the Implications for Public Policy." The hearing focused on privacy issues related to mobile, online, and geolocation technologies, as well as private sector efforts to safeguard consumer privacy and whether legislation to impose new regulations is warranted.

Witnesses included: 

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Data Protection Reform Legislation in the European Union

Earlier in 2012, the European Commission proposed a major reform of the European Union’s (EU) legal framework on the protection of personal data.  The new proposals are meant to strengthen individual rights and to address the challenges of globalization in light of emerging technologies.  The EU's Data Protection Directive is also developing specific rules for the transfer of personal data outside the EU to ensure the best possible protection of data when it is exported abroad.

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