Google is suing to funnel individual user remunerations, awarded by courts, to EFF, CDT. Data owners should speak up for themselves now in small claims court.
By Sheila Dean
For many years, I wondered why Democratic leaning nonprofits like Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and EFF, former coalition colleagues in the privacy field, overlooked and entirely ignored the Privacy Act of 1974 in public education efforts against mass surveillance. It represents an important consumer civil right: the individual right to tell the government to stop processing personal data for non-exempt government uses. They kept mum during the entire Obama administration about this law and only filed a mea culpa amicus brief this Summer based on some recent personal rights violations.
This particular right gets down to hairsplitting among judges, like potential Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Ars Technica reported statements during Kavanaugh’s confirmation indicating he would side with any corporation’s rights to collect mass data on behalf of the government for their unique purposes. Unfortunately, unless the normative T-mobile or Verizon informs the customer that they may refuse exchanges of personal data to government agencies (such as the Department of Education, NASA, DARPA, the Geospatial Intelligence Agency) by expressly denying consent to share data with them, Kavanaugh would allow businesses and nonprofits to launder consumer consent tacitly to government transactions. This bypass would treat government actors as a 3rd party data processors. No warrant necessary. That is why the Privacy Act of 1974 and filing a small claims suit is more important than ever.
According to Media Post, data owners were represented in a class action lawsuit involving Google. Google is suing to send remunerations to nonprofits rather than the data owners or users impacted in the case. We never hear about users who never received an award from their position in the case of privacy, until now. EFF and CDT seem motivated by a win to get Google’s largesse funnel to go to their work. It is likely this is not the first or last time you will see a non-profit, like the ACLU, go in for a civil suit win to collect funding for their non-profit work. You will have to wait until Halloween to hear users vouch toward whether they were actually offered their court award or if feral feudal administrators between these non-profits and Google made decisions for their digital serfs. Google, aware of mass scale of privacy violations, changed its corporate classification in 2017 from an Incorporated public company to a Limited Liability Company incorporation (LLC), because of the mounting volume of lawsuits landing on them due to ongoing willful privacy violations.
That is why I am actively advocating and proclaiming that each data owner impacted by a personal privacy violation file a small claims suit against company or nonprofit data license violators. This means, 501c3’s (like the EFF, CDT or the ‘Church of Google’) or 501c4s (like a political party, partisan political campaign, or a Political Action Committee) also can be taken to small claims courts. You can even take your local government to small claims court for privacy violations. You may even file privacy violations claims against the federal government in your local District Court.
This process is given overview in my current work Privacy Is A Spider; A Guide to Rebalance Private Living, Chapter 2: Droping in From Above, currently available for download at Gumroad.com. Companies with history of serial privacy violations won’t stop violating your rights. You have to stop them and make them pay. Small claims has the power to order anyone who has processed against your consent cease and desist. The courts need to see you self advocate with the legal means you have; which is possibly $15 and a court appearance with your local version of Judge Judy.
Each data owner has a private right of action to make each of these companies or entities pay for their violations of your consent rights and to collect any profits made from involuntary exchange your data, whether it is only $74 or $.74. If you want to win your privacy case, you will have a higher likelihood in small claims court. The political class won’t reign them in quickly. You have to do it. There is no real privacy movement if you are not making the legal decisions that matter about your privacy.
3 STRONG REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD USE SMALL CLAIMS FOR ANY CORPORATE OR NON-PROFIT PRIVACY VIOLATION
Build case law history against violators; which mounts against their lobbying efficacy with agencies like the FTC and the SEC.
Win the unique knowledge and access to the transactional trade path of your personal information without the mass invasive process of a Superior Court legal case with your name on it.
Be awarded profits from the unapproved licensing of your personal information and private data. (This keeps self-involved lawyers at non-profits from collecting awards made on small bill privacy violations.)