Democrats pressure Oracle and AWS over their post-Roe data collection
In letters shared exclusively with The Technology 202, six House Democrats asked if the giants were taking steps to “protect the privacy rights of those seeking to exercise their reproductive rights” after the Supreme Court struck down the federal abortion rights.
“Data collected and sold by your company could be used by law enforcement and prosecutors in states enforcing aggressive abortion restrictions,” the lawmakers wrote Wednesday, expressing concern about the collection and disclosure. use of location data, in particular.
(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The pair join a growing group of companies under pressure to rein in their data-gathering tactics as more states seek to ban or restrict abortions.
In recent weeks, Democrats have stepped up their campaign to pressure common targets like Google and Apple, but the letters could be the first to the cloud computing giants.
“These are some of the biggest companies that collect geolocation data, and as we’ve seen with SafeGraph, we’re extremely concerned about how geolocation data can be used to threaten people,” said Amnesty International. Michael Kleinmanwhose group sent separate letters to the companies echoing lawmakers’ concerns.
In a new wrinkle, Democrats are urging companies to disclose whether they have “conducted a human rights impact assessment” to assess whether their practices could be used to prosecute those seeking abortions.
Led by Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), the group is calling on the tech giants and two other data brokers to respond by August 3. Res. David Cicilline (DR.I.), Yvette Clarke (DN.Y.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich), Adam Schiff (D-California) and Sean Casten (D-Ill.) co-signed it.
Amnesty International, Access Now and Fight for the Future have urged companies to follow in the footsteps of data broker SafeGraph, which pledged in May to stop selling information about visits to abortion clinics. The company announced the move after Vice reported on those sales.
“Further, we urge you to take action to stop the collection and disclosure of data related to abortion and reproductive rights,” the groups wrote.
Spokespersons for Oracle and Amazon did not return requests for comment.
Kleinman also expressed concern that data brokers are selling anonymized data that could be easily re-identified and linked to users for prosecution.
“What we need to ensure is that companies sitting on this massive amount of potentially sensitive data have thought about the rights implications of this data,” he said.
Even if companies adhere to their demands, that won’t be enough until there are stronger legal safeguards to protect against over-collection and misuse of data, he said.
“Actions like this are necessary, but not sufficient. And so companies need to act…we also need, and this is Amnesty speaking, effective federal privacy legislation,” he said.
Lawmakers raised concerns about anonymized data and the creation of guardrails around data brokers during the latest round of data privacy talks on Capitol Hill.
Last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said a major bipartisan privacy proposal “unfortunately would not do enough to protect a woman’s basic rights,” citing concerns that a “loophole” around anonymized data could be exploited to target those seeking abortion.
House lawmakers introduced an amended version of Bill 53-2 on Wednesday.
While Wyden is still reviewing other recent changes to the bill, he “strongly believes this needs to be fixed before any legislation becomes law,” spokesperson Keith Chu said Wednesday.
The remarks reflect how Democratic lawmakers and human rights groups are still grappling with how to respond to a host of privacy risks afterDeer.
Data privacy bill goes through House panel
The bipartisan U.S. Privacy and Data Protection Act became the first consumer privacy bill to emerge from a congressional panel on Wednesday, as I reported.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved Bill 53-2 with only two California Democrats representing. Anna Eshoo and Nanette Barragan, voting against. Led by the President Frank Pallone Jr. (DN.J.) and Republican classification Cathy McMorrisRodgers (Wash.), the measure would set limits on the amount of data companies can collect, give consumers a limited right to sue violators, and override most state privacy laws.
“Today’s vote took years to prepare and is a major step forward in our bipartisan efforts to establish national data privacy protections for all Americans,” said Pallone, McMorris Rodgers and others. panel leaders in a joint statement after the markup session.
But the proposal still faces major hurdles in the Senate, where a senior Democrat dismissed the proposal as too weak on enforcement.
Pelosi backs revamped flea bill, teases possible floor vote
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House plans to vote as early as next week on the slimmed-down version of a proposal to boost U.S. semiconductor production, Reuters’ David Shepardson reports.
“As the Senate follows its legislative process, we are optimistic that the House will be able to consider this bill as early as next week,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to lawmakers, adding that the measure “will reduce costs for families right here at home while reviving America’s competitiveness on the world stage.
The remarks come as Senate leaders cast their own vote. “On Tuesday, the Senate backed a procedural measure by 64 to 34 to set the stage for potential votes to pass the legislation in the Senate as soon as this week,” Shepardson reports.
Ex-Twitter staffer on trial over allegations he secretly provided data to Saudi Arabia
Authorities have arrested the former Twitter employee, Ahmad Abouammoin 2019. He is accused of being an unregistered agent of the Saudi government and of committing wire fraud and money laundering, my colleague Aaron Schaffer reports for The Technology 202.
Abouammo was paid at least $300,000 per Bader Al Asakera Saudi official who led the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman‘s charity, say prosecutors.
“Abouammo, who was arrested in Seattle, worked for Twitter as a media partnerships manager,” my colleagues wrote in 2019. “He met Asaker in London in late 2014. Within a week, he began illegally accessing data Saudis,” and one of his targets was an anonymous Saudi critic whose tweets about Saudi corruption to more than a million followers angered Saudi officials, they wrote.
Abouammo’s lawyer, Angela Chuang, told the New York Times that “we look forward to proving Mr. Abouammo right and seeing him through the day in court.” Prosecutors expect Abouammo’s team to argue that he was working legally as a consultant for Saudi Arabia, the Times reports, citing a court filing.
Federal privacy legislation is moving forward, but data broker concerns loom (Tonya Riley)
Google announces hiring break (information)
How will Big Tech react to the end of Roe v. Wade? Look abroad. (Protocol)
Tesla abandons Bitcoin under pressure from factory closure (Faiz Siddiqui)
EU should bolster Apple probe with new evidence, not new charges – sources (Foo Yun Chee)
Hot phone? Here’s how to chill it (say no to the fridge) (Chris Velazco)
- I will be moderating a panel on content moderation and online safety today at 9:30 am for the Youth Internet Governance Forum.
- FCC Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr discusses broadband subsidies at an American Enterprise Institute event today at 10 a.m.
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