Online Privacy

Hooked on Phonics Sued by the FTC

Although they haven't admitted to doing anything wrong, and can't seem to be reached for comment, the Gateway Learning Corporation, makers of Hooked on Phonics, have been fined by the Federal Trade Commission for selling private information about its customers, including children.

"The incident came to light last year when a Washington Post reporter spotted an advertisement in a marketing trade publication offering the customer list for "rent," at a price of $95 per 1,000 names. By renting the information, Gateway would allow the firms to contact its consumers, while still maintaining control over the data."

HoP's privacy policy originally stated that they would not share such information. However, when they changed the policy, they neglected to notify customers. The FTC has since ordered Hooked on Phonics to stop selling customer information and fined them an amount equal to their profits from doing so.

Read More.

California Privacy Law Kicks In

The nation's first state law governing online privacy policies has begun in California, but not everyone is in compliance as companies scramble to get up to par with the Online Privacy Protection Act (OPPA).

Major companies like Google,
Yahoo and
eBay are affected.

The Federal Trade Commission said it plans to crackdown on Web site operators over privacy practices. According to the California Attorney General's Office, "They've made consumer privacy a high priority and they plan to vigorously defend the law."

While Google has revamped its policy, some feel that it, and other companies, "don't go far enough, because they don't detail how legal requests for personal information on users will be handled, what the process will be for disclosing such information in civil and criminal cases, or whether users will be notified beforehand."

Sound a little familiar? Read More.

Court Allows Email Interception, Raising Privacy Questions

While this particular case is not about libraries, this could set a precedent that libraries, as community centers, may be forced to deal with sooner than we think...

"In an online eavesdropping case with potentially profound implications, a federal appeals court ruled it was acceptable for a company that offered e-mail service to surreptitiously track its subscribers' messages.

A now-defunct online literary clearinghouse, Interloc Inc., made copies of the e-mails in 1998 so it could peruse messages sent to its subscribers by rival Amazon.com Inc. An Interloc executive was subsequently indicted on an illegal wiretapping charge.

An advocacy group said Tuesday's ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opens the door to further interpretations of the federal Wiretap Act that could erode personal privacy rights." Read More.

Librarians Emphasize Balance of Privacy, Security

Here's a good article about a group of 50 college librarians who got together in Orlando at ALA's annual convention to talk about how to protect patron privacy while still helping to preserve national security. Read More.

Man Free on $500 Bail in Library Web Porn Case

From the Chicago Tribune...

"The man charged with fondling himself in front of teenagers while viewing a pornographic Web site in Nichols Library in downtown Naperville, IL was released Wednesday from the DuPage County Jail after posting $500 bail." Read More.UPDATE posted by Rochelle, 9 am cst: The man has not been charged for obscenity violations, but for "with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and two counts of public indecency" according to this story from the Daily Herald

Naperville Patron Incident Update

daidy sends " a story from the Daily Herald'Naperville police say they've arrested a man who has inappropriately touched himself at least twice in the computer lab of the downtown Nichols Library." Police obtained a subpoena and court order to identify the man.'

Library Journal is also reporting on the story's confidentiality angle

Officials in Naperville, IL have asked state and county officials for interpretation of the state law governing privacy of library records, after city police expressed displeasure at the response of Naperville Public Library (NPL) staff to a request to look at computer records.

Search Weapons Aim at Privacy

The term "online privacy" is quickly evolving into an oxymoron. Is there really such a thing anymore? No matter where you surf the web, someone is gathering information about you. I recently sought out a news article, using Google, by typing in the name of the person whom the article was about. Lo and behold, up popped his home address and phone number. Was it a fluke?According to an article over at ZDNet,
Steve Johnson suggests that people use a "common sense" approach when it comes to providing personal information via the web, but do they? "As is true of virtually all Internet services, safe, effective use of personalized search requires consumers to use common sense. There are certain pieces of information that a person should not part with, regardless of the promised benefits. For example, if a sports Web site asks for a consumer's Social Security number, that person should see red flags waving. If that same Web site asks the consumer to rate his or her favorite teams, that is a different question entirely." Read More.

A few days left for your input

nbruce writes ""Last year the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) established three Task Forces to develop policy for the WHOIS database. The Task Forces Preliminary Reports have just been released to the public. ICANN now requests public comments on each of these three reports, which focus on access, data, and accuracy, respectively. The comment period lasts only from May 28 - June 17, 2004. . . The WHOIS database broadly exposes domain registrants' personal data to a global audience, including criminals and spammers. Civil society groups have urged ICANN to limit the use and scope of the WHOIS database to its original purpose, which is the resolution of technical network issues, and to establish strong privacy protections based on internationally accepted privacy standards. This would mean restricting access to the data, minimizing data required, and not penalizing registrants for protecting their personal information by entering an inaccurate home address or telephone number."

The report is divided by the 3 task forces, with separate areas to comment on each. You can read it here. "

The Matrix has You ... and Your Privacy

It seems the Matrix is causing some stir in Michigan, where citizens are being warned about a database called the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Informational Exchange, or MATRIX for short. It's original intent was to sniff out potential terrorists, however, according to the article, "In order to participate in Matrix Michigan law enforcement is required to provide five data sets: including their sex offender registry; Department of Corrections data; criminal history records; driver license information; and registered vehicle records. Publicly available databases such as Accurint, Choicepoint and Lexis/Nexis are also included, as are FAA records, boat and merchant vessel registration records, real estate records, directories of telephone numbers, watch lists of federal terrorists, bankruptcy filings and state-issued professional licenses. Strangely to some, it does not include permits to carry concealed weapons." Read More.

Group Seeks to Protect Kids from Harmful Interactive Ads

The Center for Digital Democracy wants the FTC to block interactive ads and online gaming sites that target children until they figure out whether or not technology has gotten ahead of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (aka COPPA). According to the CDC, "Other groups that target children through ads placed inside entertainment pose significant risks to the psychosocial development of youth. Play, imagination and physical health will all be further compromised." Here's a thought: Perhaps parents could take an active role in ensuring the "psychosocial development" of their own children, like limiting the time their children spend on the computer, making sure their children get out and interact with other children, buying their children coloring books and crayons, so on and so forth. Should it really require an act of Congress to ensure their proper "psychosocial development? Read More.

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