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Sep 26, 2017

Online Privacy Issues_Tech Policy Podcast_WashingTech_Jules Polonetsky

Online Privacy Issues -- An Overview

As online privacy issues mount in the U.S., regulators are pulling back. Earlier this year, Congress repealed the privacy rules the FCC passed under former Chairman Tom Wheeler. The rules would have required ISPs to obtain subscribers' permission before using their data for commercial purposes. The ISPs argued that they should be entitled to the same free reign over consumer data that large tech companies enjoy. But, of course, the FCC doesn't have jurisdiction to directly regulate tech companies. Jules Polonetsky discusses online privacy issues and where U.S. privacy law and policy now stand in light of recent data breaches. He also explains what consumers can do to protect their data from hackers.


Jules Polonetsky (@JulesPolonetsky) serves as CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF). FPF is a leading Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization focused on privacy. The chief privacy officers of more than 130 leading companies support FPF. Further, FPF is supported by several foundations. FPF has an advisory board comprised of the country’s leading academics and advocates. FPF’s current projects focus on Big Data, Mobile, Location, Apps, the Internet of Things, Wearables, De-Identification, Connected Cars and Student Privacy.

Jules' previous roles have included serving as Chief Privacy Officer at AOL and before that at DoubleClick, as Consumer Affairs Commissioner for New York City, as an elected New York State Legislator and as a congressional staffer, and as an attorney.Previously, Jules served as an elected member of the New York State Assembly from 1994 to 1997. From November 1992 through 1993, Jules was a legislative aide to Congressman Charles Schumer. Prior to that, he was also a District Representative for Congressman Steve Solarz.. Jules practiced law in the New York office of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan from 1989 to 1990.

Jules has served on the boards of a number of privacy and consumer protection organizations. These include TRUSTe, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, and the Network Advertising Initiative. From 2011-2012, Jules served on the Department of Homeland Security Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee. He is also a member of The George Washington University Law School Privacy and Security Advisory Council.

Jules is a regular speaker at privacy and technology events. He has has testified or presented before Congressional committees and the Federal Trade Commission.

Jules is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Yeshiva University. He is admitted to the Bars of New York and Washington, D.C. Jules is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional.


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News Roundup

Puerto Rico all but destroyed following Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico absolutely devastated last week. Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S. remain unable to reach friends and family members. Maria made landfall on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with 155 MPH winds, the likes of which the island hasn't seen in generations. The storm knocked off Puerto Rico's entire electrical grid leaving millions without power. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai released a statement saying 95% of Puerto Rico's cell sites are out of service. The island is running out of supplies. Many were thunderstruck over the weekend by President Trump's silence about Puerto Rico. Instead, Trump spent the weekend news cycle railing against NBA and NFL players taking a knee against the national anthem. Tom McKay has the story in Gizmodo.

Mother of slain sex trafficking victim testifies before Senate Commerce Committee

Yvonne Ambrose, the mother of the 16-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by a 32-year-old user, testified on the Hill. Ambrose appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee in support of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESA). The bi-partisan bill, introduced by Senator Rob Portman, would hold internet companies more accountable for content on their sites. Currently, the Communications Decency Act shields websites from liability for content posted by third parties. That's what enabled to post ads placed by criminals selling opportunities to sexually abuse children. So the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act would hold web companies more accountable. It would do so by making them liable for knowingly hosting sex trafficking content. Sabrina Eaton reports on

SEC reports hackers breached EDGAR last year

So the Securities and Exchange Commission--the nation's top Wall Street regulator--was hacked. Last year. The SEC decided last week that it would finally get around to telling us.  In an eight-page statement, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton announced that hackers breached the agency's filing system--EDGAR. That breach may have enabled improper trading to take place. The statement doesn't explain either  the reason for the delay in notifying the public or the date on which the breach occurred. Renae Merle reports in the Washington Post.

Google signs $1.1 billion "cooperation agreement" with HTC

Google invested $1.1 billion in struggling device manufacturer HTC last week and is expected to announce the release of two new devices on October 4th. David Pierce, Jordan McMahon, Issie Lapowsky, Jack Stewart, Eric Niiler, Andy Greenberg, and Michelle Dean report in Wired.

Facebook to change ad targeting

In response to revelations that it was allowing advertisers to target racists, Facebook announced changes to its ad targeting system. For example, according to the New York Times, advertisers had the ability to target self-described "Jew Haters"  Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company would be adding more human review and oversight. Sapna Maheshwari reports in the New York Times.

Facebook turning over thousands of Russia-linked ads to Congress

In other Facebook news, Facebook announced last week that it would also be turning over some 3,000 advertisements placed by Russia-linked groups during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

U.S. and EU kick off first Privacy Shield review season

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova travelled to Washington last week to meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The EU is set to release its first report on the efficacy of the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield on October 4th. The Privacy Shield allows data transfers between the U.S. and EU, which have entirely different standards when it comes to protecting consumer privacy. Privacy Shield replaced a previous framework that the EU overturned last year because it didn't provide enough oversight over U.S. mass surveillance practices.  Under the Privacy Shield, the U.S. is supposed to appoint an Ombudsman to review the U.S.'s mass surveillance tactics. However, the U.S. has yet to appoint anyone to the ombudsman role. Jimmy Koo reports for Bloomberg.

Equifax breach happened months earlier than initially disclosed

Ali Breland and Olivia Beavers report in the Hill that the Equifax breach happened in March rather than July. The breach exposed the personal data of an estimated 143 million Americans.