The federal government’s chief auditor has recommended Congress consider developing legislation to beef up consumers’ internet data privacy protections. much like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. The recommendation was included in a 56-page report (PDF) issued Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, the government agency that provides auditing, evaluation and investigative services for Congress. The report was prepared at the request two years ago by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has scheduled a hearing to discuss the subject for Feb. 26.”Since I requested this report, the need for comprehensive data privacy and security legislation at the federal level has only become more apparent,” Pallone said in a statement. “From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the unauthorized disclosures of real-time location data, consumers’ privacy is being violated online and offline in alarming and dangerous ways.” In making its recommendation, the GAO cited Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, saying the episode was just one of many recent internet privacy incidents in which users’ personal data may have been improperly disclosed. The GAO suggests giving the Federal Trade Commission more authority over internet privacy enforcement but also raised concerns about the commission’s enforcement abilities. Noting that the FTC is already the de facto authority over internet privacy in the US, the GAO found that the FTC filed 101 internet privacy enforcement actions in the past decade. Nearly all of those cases resulted in settlement agreements, and in most cases, no fines were issued because the FTC lacked the authority in those cases. “Recent developments regarding Internet privacy suggest that this is an appropriate time for Congress to consider comprehensive Internet privacy legislation,” the GAO report said. “Although FTC has been addressing Internet privacy through its unfair and deceptive practices authority, among other statutes, and other agencies have been addressing this issue using industry-specific statutes, there is no comprehensive federal privacy statute with specific standards.”The report was issued a day before news emerged that the FTC and Facebook were negotiating a multibillion-dollar fine to settle an investigation into the social network’s privacy practices. The exact amount hasn’t been determined, but it would be the largest fine ever imposed by the agency.The FTC began investigating Facebook last year after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy linked to the Trump presidential campaign, improperly accessed data from as many as 87 million Facebook users. The agency is looking into whether Facebook’s actions violated a 2011 agreement with the government in which it pledged to improve its privacy practices. Facebook has said it didn’t violate the consent decree. Creating a US internet privacy law like the GDPR has won some support from tech leaders. Apple CEO Tim Cook has praised the effective data privacy regulation and said he supports a “comprehensive federal data privacy law” in the US.”It is up to us, including my home country, to follow your lead,” he told the European Parliament in October. 3 Tags Tech Industry Security Comments Share your voice Privacy
Egyptian president Mohamed MorsiDeposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is being detained in conditions that fail to meet international standards and could lead to his premature death, according to a report released Wednesday by three British lawmakers.Morsi, who has a history of ill-health including diabetes, liver and kidney disease, is not receiving the adequate medical care required, the members of parliament found.The parliamentarians — who formed an Independent Detention Review Panel — also highlighted that 66-year-old Morsi is kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, with just one hour for him to exercise alone.That could be classified as torture by the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the panel noted.”Our conclusions are stark,” said panel chair Crispin Blunt MP, presenting the findings in London. “On his health, the denial of basic medical treatment to which he is entitled could lead to his premature death.”The whole overseeing chain of command up to the current president would have responsibility for this.”The panel requested to visit Morsi in prison to review detention and health conditions, but said it received no response from Egyptian authorities.The report was compiled using “all available testimonies”, including witness statements, reports by NGOs and evidence submitted independently, it added.Abdullah Morsi, Morsi’s son, who told the panel he has been denied access to the deposed president along with other relatives and his legal team, was quoted as saying in the statement that their “fears and concerns have been confirmed by the findings”.He called on the international community to condemn his father’s treatment and “push the Egyptian government to allow his family to visit, and for him to receive medical care”.”We do not want him to die in prison,” he added.Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian president following the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring uprisings.But his year in power proved deeply divisive and he was ousted by current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, then the army chief, amid mass protests in 2013.