FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tim Little | 510-658-0702 x301
Rose Foundation Awards Over $400,000 To Protect Consumer Privacy
Oakland, CA – January 22, 2016: Millions of American voters, consumers, and children will have greater protection from online threats thanks to grants awarded by Rose Foundation’s Consumer Privacy Rights Fund. The Consumer Privacy Rights Fund is a nationwide grantmaking fund with the goal of educating consumers and regulators around the issues of privacy and identity. In December 2015, Rose Foundation awarded over $400,000 in grants following a highly-competitive open application process that invited hundreds of privacy activists nationwide to submit their best ideas. A volunteer funding board of privacy experts provided guidance and hands-on assistance. A full list of grants is included with this release.
These Consumer Privacy Rights Fund grants were enabled by a cy pres payment from a class action lawsuit involving Netflix. The case revolved around allegations that Netflix unlawfully retained and disclosed personally identifiable information about its customers. Rose Foundation extends its gratitude to Lead Class Counsel Edelson PC for creating the cy pres that enabled these grants. For more information about Rose Foundation’s program as Cy Pres Trustee, please visit //rosefdn.org/restitution-and-cy-pres-fund-trustee.
In recent years, rapid technological innovations have led to a host of new consumer privacy challenges, including the hoarding of personal data, government and corporate surveillance, and the threat of hacks. “We’re outnumbered,” admits Ken McEldowney of Consumer Action, a national organization that educates consumers on protecting their privacy while using social media and streaming video content. “Even though we work very much as part of coalitions, the resources on the other side just far surpass what we’re able to amass.”
But the Consumer Privacy Rights Fund provides an exciting opportunity to open up cy pres benefits to the community and help tilt the balance in activists’ favor. “It feels like there was a tipping point,” states Alison Macrina of the Library Freedom Project, an organization that teaches libraries and community members about online privacy and surveillance threats. “There seems to be a lot more on-the-ground activism happening and that’s coinciding with a lot of interest in the public.”
Josh Golin of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a group working to protect children from data harvesting by schools, agrees. “This seems to be the time to rally and take action to protect consumer privacy,” Josh explains. “The growing awareness of data misuse is really creating an opportunity to get this right.”
About Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment supports community-based advocacy to protect consumers, the environment, and public health through grantmaking and direct service programs. Many of these programs are supported by cy pres awards and other court-ordered mitigation payments. Rose Foundation is not a plaintiff in these actions. Rose Foundation is a neutral trustee accepted by the parties and the courts. Rose Foundation accepts the liability for meeting nexus requirements, and based on individual settlement requirements utilizes the funds to support consumer rights, grassroots activism, watershed protection, and environmental justice. Rose Foundation works with private plaintiffs, nonprofits, and government agencies to provide an accountable and highly transparent mechanism that allows notice cy pres and settlement funds to be broadly distributed, and all grants are awarded through an open and competitive process that achieves deep penetration of the cy pres benefits into the community. Over the past 20 years, Rose Foundation has received hundreds of settlement and cy pres awards, enabling approximately $40 million in community grants. Rose also administers New Voices Are Rising, a youth leadership development and environmental justice advocacy training program.
Full List of Consumer Privacy Rights Fund Grants Awarded December 2015
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
Toolkits to Protect Student Privacy
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood will partner with the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy to create and distribute privacy toolkits to educate parents, teachers, and administrators about best practices for ensuring students’ personal information is protected when using online venders, educational apps and other web-based resources.
Internet Privacy and Security Educational Project
Consumer Action will create, translate, print, post and distribute a multilingual educational module with two brochures (in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese) to educate consumers on how to protect their privacy while streaming video content and using social media. They will distribute 100,000-125,000 publications to low and moderate income consumers using their national network of more than 7,500 community-based organizations.
Council for Responsible Genetics
Genetic Privacy Genealogy Project
The increasing popularity of direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits and the growing online world of genetic genealogy is putting the privacy of consumers and their relatives at risk. The Council for Responsible Genetics will develop, disseminate and promote the “Genetic Privacy and Genealogy Manual: Understanding the Threats – Understanding Your Rights.” The manual will educate consumers, media and policy makers about privacy threats and provide tips on how to safeguard genetic information.
East Bay Community Law Center
Fair Chance Reporting Project: Advocating for Accurate Background Checks
Background checks often contain information that is erroneous, outdated or improperly disclosed (such as dismissed convictions) and can be a barrier to obtaining employment and / or housing. EBCLC will vigorously enforce consumer protection laws to protect the privacy rights of vulnerable consumers; file strategic impact litigation to force companies and agencies to improve accuracy and create user control procedures to correct errors and violations; and empower and train community partners to help enforce privacy and consumer rights of their constituents.
Georgia Consumer Privacy Education Project
To educate and empower Georgia consumers to enhance their privacy online, prevent identity theft, and avoid common scams and predatory practices. Georgia Watch will train and empower community-based advocates to educate vulnerable populations across the state, so they can avoid online threats and protect their assets.
Identity Theft Resource Center
Hands-On Privacy Workshops
The ITRC and San Diego BBB Foundation will conduct a series of hands-on training workshops throughout Southern California and prepare instructional video(s) regarding online safety, management of privacy settings on mobile devices and online accounts, and identity theft risk minimization. Videos and materials will be disseminated through BBB and other partner organizations across the country, on social media platforms and ITRC’s highly visited website.
Library Freedom Project
Library Freedom Project
Fiscal Sponsor: The Miami Foundation
The Library Freedom Project teaches librarians how to educate library users about threats to online privacy, privacy rights and law, and technology tools that can be used to protect privacy. The participating librarians will gain better capacity to help protect the many members of underserved communities who often do not have ready access or much exposure to technology and must visit the library to use computers and the Internet.
The Utility Reform Network
Smart Phone Privacy Project
$60,000, 2-year project
To protect the privacy of 16 million smart phone users in California by prohibiting mobile phone carriers from selling private web browsing data, phone call records, texting logs, and location information to data brokers without the affirmative informed consent of smart phone customers.
University of Washington Tech Policy Lab
Toys that Listen
An increasing number of Internet-connected toys and other consumer products have the potential to listen to what is being said in the home and disclose this information through the Internet to manufacturers or other third parties. This project will bring an interdisciplinary group of experts together to build a set of consumer protection best practices for the design and user control of Internet-connected devices in the home.
Verified Voting Foundation
How New Voting Tech Compromises Privacy, and What You Can Do About It
Our democracy depends on the right to a secret, private ballot, but Internet-based voting systems could compromised voter privacy. Voters’ identities and ballots are vulnerable to cyber attack and exposure, but the scope and severity of this threat is not widely understood by voters or election administrators. VVF will research and publish a report that describes the problem and proposes alternatives. This report will be widely publicized, starting a substantive public discussion about how to best protect voters’ privacy and election integrity.