Current Grantees Consumer Privacy Rights Fund

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California
Digital Privacy & Security Training for Activists in Vulnerable Communities
$40,000
The work of activists serving vulnerable communities – from undocumented residents to religious minorities – is critical, especially in the current political climate, and technology is a crucial tool in their work. Without strong digital privacy skills, the tools that allow for rapid communication and online mobilizing may put communities at even greater risk. Activists must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to protect and control their own information and the private information of those they serve. This project will fund the production of an online privacy and security curriculum and trainings that will equip activists working with vulnerable communities – including organizers, attorneys, and on-the-ground community members – with the knowledge and tools to protect their sensitive information. The curriculum will be available to all online, and the trainings will be conducted in different areas of California, specifically including inland and rural regions.

California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Responding to the Equifax Breach with Secure Solutions for All
$30,000
This project will build support for policy solutions for credit freezes that better protect consumers’ privacy in the wake of the Equifax security breach. Currently, credit freezes for consumers are not free and can be difficult to begin and end. Freezes should not only be free, they should be turned on by default, and in the age of online banking, it should be quick and easy for consumers to control when the freeze is on and off. The expected outcome of the project would be that either Equifax and the other reporting agencies adopt the recommendations on credit freezes, or if they do not, then that key policymakers respond through legal and/or regulatory action.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
FS: TSNE/MissionWorks
IoT and Kids: Testing the Regulatory Framework for Internet-Connected Toys
$25,000
Internet-connected toys and devices collect a wealth of data from children and raise many privacy and security concerns, namely data breaches, inadequate privacy policies, and questionable data sharing. This project will assess whether the Federal Trade Commission’s current regulatory framework is sufficient to protect the privacy of children using connected toys. With legal experts at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation and the help of security and privacy professionals, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood will develop and bring to the FTC a test case designed to establish best practices for connected toys under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Through media and legislative outreach, this project will also advance the public’s knowledge about the privacy risks of connected toys and lay the groundwork for future legislation to protect children’s privacy.

Center for Digital Democracy
Promoting Accountability & Transparency in the Use of Digital Ads & Data in Political Campaigns
$50,000
The 2016 U.S. elections marked a critical turning point, when campaign operations across the political spectrum were fully integrated into the Big Data marketing ecosystem that has transformed corporate advertising. Digital marketing advances, including “ad-tech” service providers dedicated to political data targeting, have enhanced the capacities of campaigns to identify, reach, and interact with individual voters. Many of the new campaign practices raise serious issues about privacy, discrimination, manipulation, and lack of transparency. In the absence of effective public education and policy interventions, these tactics will likely become more widespread and sophisticated in the future. This project is designed to educate stakeholders, policy makers, and the press about this critical issue, working with other organizations in the privacy, consumer, campaign reform, and civil liberties communities to develop a framework for effective action in both the public and private sectors.

Class Size Matters
Parent Coalition for Student Privacy: Teacher Toolkit for Student Privacy
$25,000
The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy will to partner with the Badass Teachers Association to create and distribute a Teacher Privacy Toolkit, including concrete steps educators can take to ensure that their students’ and their own personal information is not breached or misused. Providing guidance to educators on how to protect their students’ privacy is a need that has been largely unmet. Many teachers are under intense pressure to adopt online apps from private vendors that collect and redisclose large amounts of personal student data. Yet professional development rarely covers the topic of how to ensure that these digital tools have strong privacy and security protections, and there are few resources that focus on the educator audience, leaving teachers uninformed when it comes to identifying what is a good privacy policy or best practice. This project will create a comprehensive resource for educators to help advance student privacy nationwide.

Electronic Privacy Information Center
General Support
$50,000
EPIC is one of the leading consumer privacy organizations in the United Sates. EPIC provides educational resources to consumers, publishes books and articles, submits comments to federal agencies, drafts amicus briefs, and organizes coalitions in support of consumers in the United States. EPIC works closely with a distinguished advisory board, with expertise in law, technology and public policy. Their website, epic.org, is one of the most popular privacy web sites in the world.

International Computer Science Institute
AppCensus: Mobile App Privacy Analysis at Scale
$40,000
AppCensus is a testing tool which analyzes Android smartphone apps and reports what personal data is being accessed and shared by the apps, and to what other parties the data is being sent to over the Internet (usually ads and analytics services). It works by running each app being tested on real mobile phones in their laboratory which are being monitored by their tools, performing a broad exploration of the app via simulated user input, and generating reports of relevant app privacy behaviors. The results of this automated and reproducible analysis can be structured in a database and are made available at their website, https://appcensus.mobi. The mission of AppCensus is to increase transparency for app users around how their mobile apps use (and misuse) their personally identifying information. They hope this transparency will foster a better mobile app ecosystem as users are exposed to hidden privacy costs, and app developers are made aware of best practices for their future apps. Support will be used to expand the scale of AppCensus monitoring and to help developers ensure their apps respect user privacy.

Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
Privacy Protection for Older Adults
$20,000
Seniors are an especially vulnerable population in regards to online privacy, This project involves training older adults in Maryland in privacy protection, including how to protect their privacy online, what to do if their privacy is breached, and what protections are available to them under Maryland law. MCRC will utilize a Train the Trainers model, providing sessions in both urban and rural Maryland. In addition to the training sessions, this project makes training and outreach materials and a complaint form available online and disseminates short brochures covering the main issues and tips to local community organizations.

Media Alliance
Broadband Privacy in California
$20,000
This project will support action to advance statewide broadband privacy protections in 2018 to replace federal privacy protections revoked by Congress in the spring of 2017. The statewide protections contained in AB 375 emphasize user consent and focus on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as the repository of the most complete online profiles available. If a legislative solution does not go forward in 2018, California faces an expensive ballot initiative fight that will drain millions from the state’s economy, when modest philanthropic support for research, preparation and distribution of advocacy materials and a Sacramento hearing may well achieve the same results. The concept of user consent is enormously popular and the disappointing 2017 results were directly attributable to an imbalance in resource support to address last minute deceptive industry materials. With more time and adequate support, these protections can be advanced in California, and hopefully serve as a model for the rest of the country.

New Media Rights
FS: California Western School of Law
General Support
$40,000
Founded in 2006, New Media Rights provides preventative, privacy-related legal consultation and educational resources for consumers, nonprofits, and early-stage startups across the country. The consultations they provide to projects before they launch has an exponential effect on reducing privacy violations because they can prevent issues before they happen – fixing the violations at their source. After providing counsel, New Media Rights then publishes educational resources based on those consultations, magnifying their impact. To date, they have worked on more than 2000 cases, had 2 million people visit their website, and created more than 13 hours of educational videos that have been viewed more than 350,000 times. Support for this group builds on their existing partnerships with the California Consumer Protection Foundation, the San Diego Office of Small Business, and their work on the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
General Support
$12,471.53
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is a consumer education and advocacy organization, whose mission is to engage, educate, and empower consumers to protect their privacy. PRC engages in outreach and provides educational materials and services to individuals nationwide. PRC uses information learned directly from consumers to form the basis of their advocacy work, focusing direct advocacy efforts at the California state level, while also participating in numerous state and federal public policy task forces and weighing in on federal privacy legislation and administrative agency proceedings. PRC was the first consumer organization to publish consumer guides on two complex laws when initially implemented: the Financial Services Modernization Act (also known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley) and the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). They publish guides as laws are passed and rules implemented, and provide regular updates.

The Tor Project, Inc.
General Support
$40,000
The Tor software is a suite of tools used by millions of people every day to communicate privately online and avoid being tracked and monitored. It works by using a series of distributed relays run by volunteers around the world to send communications, preventing a possible surveillant to learn what sites the user visits and the sites visited from learning the user’s physical location. Using Tor enables children to browse the internet without revealing personally identifying information, whistleblowers to send tips confidentially, or individuals to protect communications from corporations that use or store data irresponsibly, and those are just some of the many more privacy-enhancing uses of anonymized internet presence via Tor. Support enables further development of Tor software and increases public awareness of how to use Tor to protect consumer privacy.

The Utility Reform Network
Smart Grid Privacy Project
$40,000
This project is a policy advocacy campaign to mobilize grassroots communities, privacy activists, and the mainstream media to pressure utility companies and public officials to adopt policies to eliminate, or minimize, the release of data from thousands of private resident smart meters to law enforcement agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Utility Reform Network (TURN) has discovered that private energy usage data of thousands of California residents is being released each year by PG&E, Southern California Edison, SoCal Gas, and SDG&E with inconsistent application of rules for data request protocols, and without an understanding of the rules that govern data releases under California Public Utilities Committee (CPUC) smart meter privacy rules. None of TURN’s work supported by this grant will be included in any requests to receive intervenor compensation from the California Public Utilities Commission.

United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund
Internet-Connected Toys and Childhood Privacy Protection Project
$10,000
Connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT), the vast network of internet-connected devices, can compromise privacy and identity information. IoT toys have the ability to gather data and personal information, making them targets for hacking and leaving children playing with these toys particularly vulnerable to privacy threats. Many parents aren’t aware of the risks of “smart” toys, and simply don’t know how to protect their children’s privacy while using these devices. In 2017, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund began to publicize the dangers of IoT toys and equip consumers with tools to identify and safely use these toys. Grant funds will be used to expand further upon the issue of “smart” toys in their 33rd annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, produce consumer tipsheets, raise the profile of the issue through media coverage, and use targeted advertisements, social media outreach and email campaigns to educate a broad base of consumers about the risks of internet-connected toys.

World Privacy Forum
Face the Facts: Where are you in the biometric universe, and what can you do about it?
$25,000
This project will educate consumers about biometrics on social media platforms; what it is, what it means for them now, 5 months from now, 5 years from now, and possibilities 10 years down the line. The focus is on how to identify biometrics in social media, how to evaluate short, medium, and long-term potential privacy consequences, and how to make privacy choices and/or opt out of biometrics uses (when possible) on major social media platforms. The project will focus on creating educational materials for the general consumer in the U.S., and will also take a portion of the funding and create materials for highly vulnerable populations including victims of crime, seniors, and children.

 

 

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