Online Privacy: Concerns About Employer or Insurance Company Detection of Disability-Related Browser Add-ons

This comment raises concerns about an individual’s digital fingerprint as revealed by browser add-ons. Add-ons are pieces of software that enhance the capabilities of a larger software application, such as a web browser. When an individual visits a website, most websites ask the computer for the browser’s installed add-ons, and other information about a user’s computer (such as screen size), to ensure that the content and information it sends to a computer is properly formatted. This information may be thought of as an individual’s “digital fingerprint.”

Add-ons have many useful benefits. However, a digital fingerprint also creates the potential for employers, insurance companies, and others to discriminate based on add-on information. The TLPC’s comment to the FTC highlights concerns that a party (for example, an employer) could see that a user (for example, a job applicant) has an add-on installed that is specific to his disability. This information could be potentially misused. Consider a person with a vision impairment, who uses a screen reader add-on, in applying for a job on the potential employer’s website. The potential employer sees the installed add-on and decides not to hire the applicant because the employer does not want to pay for accessibility programs for the applicant. The TLPC argues that regulatory agencies should be sensitive to such abuse and consider whether additional safeguards are warranted.

Comment on FTC’s Proposed Privacy Framework

Reexamination of FCC Spectrum Enforcement and Dispute Resolution Mechanism

The FCC’s leadership in spectrum management has led to increased spectrum accessibility, more flexibility in how licensees and unlicensed users utilize the spectrum, and a greater reliance on market-type mechanisms. These developments each reflect a welcome migration away from a command and control-type approach to managing the spectral resource. In this Comment, the TLPC encourages the FCC to take the next step in spectrum management by reexamining existing spectrum enforcement mechanisms. Speedy and predictable ways to enforce rights are an important dimension of a well-functioning market. There is reason to question whether existing enforcement mechanisms are sufficient given wireless regulatory and market trends. In Spring 2011, Colorado Law’s TLPC filed a Reply Comment under the FCC’s Dynamic Spectrum Notice of Inquiry (NOI). The TLPC’s filing explains why the FCC should reexamine its existing enforcement and dispute resolution mechanisms in order to adapt to an environment where more intensive and dynamic spectrum activity is likely to increase the frequency of spectrum rights disputes.

University of Colorado Reply Comment ET Docket No. 10-237

Social Media for Emergency Communications (March 2011)

by Meg Panzer

This comment, submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), analyzes how consumers have used social media during an emergency, how consumers will expect to use social media for emergency purposes in the future, and to what extent public safety jurisdictions might employ social media tools as a way to interact with the public.  This filing requests that the FCC encourage social media use as part of emergency response and provide guidance to jurisdictions that wish to employ social media tools during a crisis.

Comments of Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law and Policy Clinic