Illinois: Tell Legislators to Protect Your Privacy

If you live in Illinois, your state legislators are set to consider a critical new privacy law poised to protect residents from microphone surveillance. With smartphones a fact of life and smart home technology becoming ever more common, Illinois residents deserve to know that data-hungry corporations will be punished should they abuse this household technology. Bill SB 1719, the Keep Internet Devices Safe Act, will make it unlawful for companies to collect audio information using built-in device microphones without the knowledge and consent of the user.

This week, SB 1719 is expected to reach committee before the Illinois General Assembly. We need you to speak out now, and show your support for a bill that protects the privacy of Illinois citizens.

To register your support, please visit the Illinois General Assembly witness slip page for the bill. Fill out:

  1. Your personal details

  2. Who you represent. "Self" if you're just signing for yourself, otherwise the group you're speaking on behalf of.

  3. Select your position as a "Proponent" of the bill, and "Record of Appearance Only".

Together, we can help advance Illinois privacy protections!

Illinois SB 2149 and HB 2736: The Right to Know Act

Amidst the ever-growing data economy, we deserve to know how our data is used. Illinois legislators have the chance to make a positive impact with the Right to Know Act, which will help ensure that customers can stay informed how their personal information is collected by companies. First introduced through the collaborative efforts of Rep. Art Turner and Sen. Michael Hastings, and now with the support of Rep. Kambium Buckner, the Right to Know Act is comprised of Senate Bill 2149 and House Bill 2736. Under this new legislation, companies that collect personal information will be required to disclose to consumers what data they are collecting and sharing with third parties. The Right to Know Act is currently in committee. Should this legislation pass, Illinois residents will be empowered to make more informed choices about how they trade personal information for online services. We applaud this effort to enact a practical data privacy law which serves the needs of users, not just corporate interests.

More details on SB 2149 are available here. Details on HB 2736 are available here.

Illinois SB 1719: Keep Internet Devices Safe (KIDS) Act

A new data privacy bill is poised to protect Illinois residents from microphone surveillance. Legislators are currently considering Senate Bill 1719, the Keep Internet Devices Safe (KIDS) Act, which will make it unlawful for companies to use digital device microphones to collect information without explicit permission from the user. The KIDS Act further requires that any company which makes use of such data must maintain "reasonable security measures" to protect this personal information. With the modern proliferation of digital devices equipped with microphones, this legislation is both sensible and necessary to protect our personal privacy.

More details on SB 1719 are available here.

Action needed: protect your biometric privacy!

Today, as Mark Zuckerburg goes in front of a combined Senate committee hearing to again explain his company's actions in their abusive practices in selling your data to Cambridge Analytica, industry groups partially funded by Facebook are in Springfield, Illinois trying to reduce the legal protections we have around our personal biometric data.

Biometrics are the data that physically identify you. These can be everything from genetic material, to blood type, to fingerprints, to identifying facial photographs. Unlike an email address, a password, or credit card number, your biometrics don't change. If they are spread or shared without your knowledge or consent, you cannot go back and change them and invalidate the old data. This by necessity means everyday people should have more control over their personal biometric information.

In Illinois, the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is the country's leading and most comprehensive legislation to protect this sensitive information. It provides consumers reasonable control over their data, while allowing companies to still make use of it should they get consent from the people they collect this data from.

Facebook and others would love nothing but to see BIPA ended so they can continue collecting personal data to sell to companies like Cambridge Analytica in the future. To do so, they've introduced IL SB 3053, which creates loopholes so large in BIPA a company would have to be trying to wind up regulated under the proposed changes. SB 3053 must not be allowed out of committee!

To register your opposition to the bill, please visit the IL General Assembly witness slip page for the bill. Fill out:

  1. Your personal details
  2. Who you represent. "Self" if you're just signing for yourself, otherwise the group you're speaking on behalf of.
  3. Select opposition to the original bill, and "Record of Appearance Only". 

Together, we can help save Illinois privacy protections!

WGN 720's Justin Kaufmann on HB 3449

WGN 720's Justin Kaufmann on HB 3449

Last night on WGN Radio, Justin Kaufmann had Industry Outreach Director Matt Erickson on to discuss privacy issues across the United States and what Illinois was doing to protect their citizens in light of failing Federal protections

Historic Data Privacy Bill Reaches Governor's Desk

Last night, NBC's Katie Kim did an extraordinary segment on Illinois House Bill 3449 - the Geolocation Privacy Protection Act. The piece featured our very own Board of Director Peter Hanna and our Industry Outreach Director Matthew Erickson explaining why such basic transparency is needed to protect ourselves and our families. “Geolocation data is in some ways the holy grail of personal data,” said Peter Hanna, co-founder of the Digital Privacy Alliance and a data privacy attorney. “Where we are, where we go – it’s among the most intimately private information about our day-to-day lives.” In fact, just this past July the FBI issued a warning to parents telling them that Internet connected devices pose dangers to our children's privacy and physical safety.  

The corporate giants who oppose the bill conveniently say that it does not provide additional protections - yet, they could not be more wrong. Current law does not require mobile applications to get consent before tracking and selling your location information. In fact, companies regularly collect such information without your knowledge, as evidenced by a report showing that the popular app AccuWeather could collect location information even when location sharing was off.

Fortunately, the Illinois Legislature understood that this bill remedies a public safety issue of the highest order and passed it with bipartisan support. As concerned parent Andre Delattre puts it, "It’s just a basic right to know issue. If someone is going to collect and store information about me or my daughter or both of us, then the very least I ought to be afforded is to know that that’s the case.”


NPR Illinois: The Battle Over Transparency And Privacy In The Digital Age

NPR Illinois: The Battle Over Transparency And Privacy In The Digital Age

NPR's Daisy Contreras covers the fight for bringing the Right to Know and Geolocation Privacy Protection Acts into law in Illinois.

Tackling An Important Question: "Why do so many tech products seem to ignore the unique safety threats that women experience online?"

"Why do so many tech products seem to ignore the unique safety threats that women experience online?"

Great question. This article provides some insight as to why the tech industry isn't thinking about the consequences of their actions and why the Geolocation Privacy Protection Act sponsored by Ann M. Williams - State Representative and Senator Tom Cullerton is so timely and important.

cc: Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation Social Change Tom Dart ACLU of Illinois Illinois PIRG Governor Bruce Rauner

The Geolocation Privacy Bill Passes Both Chambers!!!

We have incredible news to share: The ILLINOIS GEOLOCATION PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT HAS OFFICIALLY PASSED BOTH HOUSES and will soon be sent to Governor Rauner's desk.

We want to thank chief sponsor Ann M. Williams - State Representative for her hard work and amazing advocacy. Her closing remarks during today's floor debate were especially compelling:

“Internet security is a huge industry with a lot of issues we can’t possibly solve in a day. This legislation just scratches the surface but it does let people know we’re going to do what we can to keep them safe. This is common sense legislation that simply requires companies to let you know before using and sharing the geolocation data they collect when tracking your whereabouts. We believe people have a right to know who has their information and how they plan to use it.”

We also want to thank Senator Tom Cullerton for championing this important bill through the Illinois Senate, and all of the civil rights, advocacy groups, and TECH COMPANIES that supported this bill and contributed mightily to its passage, including ACLU of IllinoisIllinois PIRGChicago Alliance Against Sexual ExploitationCenter for Democracy & TechnologySocial ChangeIndivisible IllinoisWestside Justice CenterCook County Sheriff's Office (Official)Illinois Attorney GeneralSpiderOakDatamadeData FoundryChicago CityscapeOpen Tech Strategies. We couldn't have done this without you. Thank you.

But no time celebrate. It's time to begin educating Governor Rauner and his staff about all the reasons why this bill is absolutely imperative to protect the public, restore online privacy and trust, foster competition, and level the playing field so that our technology companies in Illinois can compete with the behemoths in Silicon Valley. Take a look at the Illinois tech community's open letter urging Governor Rauner to sign the bill for these very reasons.


Geolocation Privacy Bill Advances To Full House Vote for Concurrence

Major update out of Springfield. The Illinois Geolocation Privacy Protection Act just passed out of committee on concurrence, meaning that the members have approved the amendments (which were minor) that were made by the Senate. The bill is now headed for a full floor vote in the House. If a majority of the House votes to approve the amendments, the bill would go straight to Governor Rauner's desk.

Thank you to Ann M. Williams - State Representative for her incredible testimony this morning, and thank you to Senator Tom Cullerton, ACLU of IllinoisIllinois PIRGChicago Alliance Against Sexual ExploitationCenter for Democracy & TechnologyTodd Belcore, and Social Change for your continued support and advocacy. We still have a long way to go but this is a very big step.

We are receiving many phone calls and emails from folks asking us how they can help. Here's the answer: Call your Representative and tell them to Vote Yes on House Bill 3449. These phone calls really do make a difference. You can use the tool below to identify and contact your Representative.

 We'll post updates as they become available.

Tom Dart on WGN's "The Chicago Way with John Kass"

Tom Dart on WGN's "The Chicago Way with John Kass"

Recently Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was on The Chicago Way with John Kass on WGN. He talks about recent successes regarding the Cook County Jail system, and goes into detail regarding the Right to Know Act about halfway through. Give it a listen!

Over 200 Million American Voters Data Leaked

Over 200 Million American Voters Data Leaked

The Intercept reports that personal data for nearly every American voter was exposed by a GOP data mining firm. Poor stewardship over gigantic databases of personal data is one of, if not the, key reason why Americans need more transparency for where their personal information winds up.