Whitepaper roundup: Privacy, copyright, and digital advertising

by Thompson Coburn LLP

Readers seem to have liked our post about the recent GAO report that summarized the U.S. data privacy debate. For those interested in Internet law and policy issues, there are plenty of other official reports that you can use as primers and starting points for further research.

The Congressional Research Service, in particular, prepares many excellent nonpartisan reviews of current policy issues. While CRS doesn’t make its reports available on its website, its reports (as federal government works) are copyright free, and many third-party sites make CRS reports available.

Data privacy

So for example, if you are focused on the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance, CRS can give you more background in its July 2013 report, “NSA Surveillance Leaks: Background and Issues for Congress.” The report covers what information is being collected, the legal bases for the collection, the oversight mechanisms, arguments for and against the current practices, and, finally, legislative proposals.

On Internet censorship and freedom globally, see CRS’s October 2013 report, “Promoting Global Internet Freedom: Policy and Technology.”

Following up its data privacy overview, GAO just issued a new report on a specific mobile privacy issue — the tracking of vehicles through in-car communications systems, portable navigation devices, and smart phones. In its transmittal letter to U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who requested the study, GAO stated, “we found that the companies in our sample did not consistently follow industry-recommended privacy practices, and that federal agencies could clarify their expectations for steps companies should take to protect consumers’ location data privacy.” The report is, “In-Car Location-Based Services: Companies Are Taking Steps To Protect Privacy, But Some Risks May Not Be Clear to Consumers.”

Internet domain names

If you’re concerned about Internet domain names, including the recent expansion of top-level domains and the continuing dispute about how and by whom the worldwide Internet should be regulated, look up CRS’s 2013 report, “Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues.”

Digital advertising

Internet advertising is covered in CRS’s October 2013 report, “The Shift to Digital Advertising: Industry Trends and Policy Issues for Congress.” And if you are following and attempting to comply with the advertising industry’s Digital Advertising Alliance self-regulatory system, you will want to check out the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council’s recent “Compliance Warning” about the responsibilities of first parties for notice of third party data collection for online behavioral advertising on their websites.


If copyright policy is your issue, you are probably already overwhelmed with whitepapers, but there are a few new ones you’ll want to consider.  In September 2013, the Copyright Office issued its “Copyright Small Claims” report concerning the challenges of resolving small copyright claims in the current legal system. And the Department of Commerce in July 2013 issued its “green paper” on “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.” In fact, comments on this report are being accepted through January 17, 2014.


Interested in cybersecurity? Check out any of the following:

Of course, on this issue, you’ll probably also want to examine the October 2013 report of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Executive Order 13636: Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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