Lab notes: June 2020

We are undergoing a transformative moment in society. At the Digital Lab, we have taken this moment to help inform people who are protesting across the country about how you can protect your digital security and privacy and how to stay safe while protesting during a pandemic.

Here’s a look at some of what we’ve been working on:

  • Enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act starts on July 1, but advocates are working to overhaul the existing law with a new ballot initiative. CR policy analyst Maureen Mahoney testified at a legislative hearing on the California Privacy Rights Act, the proposed ballot to amend the CCPA, which is expected to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot. CR praised the initiative, which would close up behavioral advertising loopholes that Google and Facebook have exploited to avoid compliance, but also raised concerns that the initiative would open new loopholes, like one that would allow third parties working on a company’s behalf to combine consumer data they’ve received from other clients, allowing them to develop even more detailed insights into consumers’ preferences..
  • Zoom made consumer-friendly changes after CR and other organizations pushed the company to make end-to-end encryption available for all users. After Zoom’s CEO announced that encryption for videoconferencing would only be available for paying customers, CR criticized the decision for placing a price tag on privacy and security. The company reversed course, making encryption available to everyone. Read coverage of our statement and the story in MarketWatch.
  • Two COVID-19 privacy bills were introduced into Congress, and CR has analyzed both. Justin Brookman, Director for Technology and Privacy, found positive steps regarding data protection with both the Democratic and Republican bills. A full breakdown of the bills can be found here.
  • Consumer Reports has partnered with The NYC Media Lab to announce the Fall 2020 Open Challenge for Data and Privacy Prototyping. Are you a graduate student or faculty member passionate about privacy rights? Consumer Reports and NYC Media Lab are seeking university teams to explore how we can make privacy policies and terms of service more useful to consumers. Selected teams get up to $5,000 to work on the challenge. Click here for more info on how you can get involved.

ICYMI News, Stories and Updates

That’s it for now. Please reach out if you have any tips, ideas or questions.


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