October 30, 2020

Lab notes: October 2020

Ben Moskowitz

Director, Digital Lab at Consumer Reports

We’ve been busy at the CR Digital Lab introducing new tools, research and policy solutions to strengthen consumer power. Have a look at what we’re up to this Fall — we’d love to hear from you with any thoughts, feedback, or ideas on how we might work together.

Introducing CR Security Planner

 

This month we launched CR Security Planner — a free, easy-to-use guide to staying safer online. Security Planner provides personalized, expert advice on adjusting common settings and choosing products and services that best protect you. The original Security Planner was launched in 2017 by Citizen Lab and with support from CR. The new Security Planner has been updated and expanded with 48 recommendations, a new design and new features. We’re proud to carry the torch on the best resource for expert advice on privacy and security. The tool will remain free and open to anyone to use, and no company will ever exercise influence over our recommendations. Give it a try at https://securityplanner.org — and please share your feedback. We’ll have more news to share on Security Planner soon.

 

The market case for why companies should invest in privacy and security

 

“Privacy Front and Center” — a new report from CR’s Digital Lab with support from Omidyar Network — examines the commercial benefits for companies that differentiate their products based on privacy and data security. The report combines a representative survey of 5000+ US adults, a meta-analysis of 25 years of public opinion studies, and a conjoint study that quantifies how consumers value privacy and security in their purchasing decisions. The evidence suggests real business impact when companies prioritize these values. Check out the report here.

 

CR endorses California Proposition 24

 

Prop 24, the California Privacy Rights Act, is on the November 3rd ballot in the Golden State. If approved by voters, the measure would amend the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the first-of-its-kind privacy law that gives local residents the right to access, delete, and stop the sale of their information. Read more about why we are supporting Prop 24 in our op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle and in a recent story from Media Post.

 

New CR supported initiative helps you take control of your privacy

 

CR is a founding member of a new initiative to let people set a global preference to opt-out of the sale of their data. You can read more about this new initiative in Wired, which also highlights a recent CR investigation into how California consumers are having problems exercising their privacy rights under the CCPA.

 

CR consumer attitudes survey on online platforms cited by House antitrust report

 

The House antitrust subcommittee’s staff released findings of a year-long investigation into the power and practices of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. The report found these Big Tech giants have exercised and abused their monopoly power. A section of the report featured highlights from CR’s recent survey of consumer attitudes about online platforms. You can read more about the report in Marketplace and Mashable, as well as our reaction to the more recent antitrust lawsuit against Google by the Department of Justice in The New York Times and USA Today. Our President and CEO, Marta Tellado, also published an op-ed in The Seattle Times about how consumers are harmed by the concentration of tech power.

 

In case you missed it:

 

CR introduced an updated website for the Digital Standard, the framework we use to evaluate the privacy, security and fairness of consumer technologies. The Digital Standard is an open framework maintained by researchers, developers, and advocates who believe human interests should drive the development of consumer technologies. You can check out case studies of how we’ve applied the Digital Standard, and get involved using or contributing to the Standard.

 

Digital Lab investigative journalist Kaveh Wadell wrote about how you can spot false information online for the upcoming election.

 

CR wants to help consumers meaningfully exercise their data rights, which is why we’re exploring the potential of “authorized agent” services now possible under the CCPA. Read more about our experiments here.

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