Jan 27, 2017

Why Trump’s immigration order hit a privacy nerve

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

A short section of President Trump's immigration executive order that tells agencies "ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information" is drawing attention in tech circles.

Why privacy hawks are worried:

  • Nuala O'Connor, the head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said that the order sends the message that "people who don't hold a U.S. passport or current green card are not entitled to the same dignity as those of us who do."
  • It raises questions about the United States' broader approach to protecting the data of non-citizens.

The bigger picture: The order has worried some in Europe, where recent revelations about American tech companies working with the government surveillance regime have caused officials to be wary of Silicon Valley. It also raises questions about the fate of the US-EU Privacy Shield agreement governing the transatlantic transfer of data.

Hold your horses: A European Commission spokesperson told TechCruch that the Privacy Shield agreement "does not rely on the protections under the U.S. Privacy Act." But the body has promised to keep an eye on the issue.

Update: Ken Propp, a director at software trade group BSA, says that the executive order "should not affect the privacy protections afforded under the US-EU Privacy Shield," and cited the agreement's grounding in a law called the Judicial Redress Act.

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The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

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4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.