Online Privacy

How Public Should Public Records Be?

Bob Cox writes "A Minnesota Supreme Court advisory committee has been debating for the past year what kinds of court records should be posted on the Web, and it will accept public comment on the issue. In an increasingly tech-savvy age, the committee is drawing delicate lines between personal privacy and government transparency. The committee will make final recommendations to the Supreme Court, which will decide which records to put on the Web.

The committee is using what it calls a "go-slow approach." Members have agreed to keep some data, such as Social Security numbers, off the Web because the information might be used to commit identity theft. They are prepared to recommend that entire documents, such as divorce records and lawsuits, be kept off the Internet and that only overview information, such as court calendars and court-produced orders, go online.
More here from the Star Tribune"

Does your data belong to you?

Does your data belong to you? is a piece from ZDNet Australia that cites numerous examples of privacy erosion. RFID, Northwest Airlines, and JetBlue.
"Privacy has always been part and parcel of our civil liberties but in the name of security, the basics are always forgotten. If this type of "data mining" continues, privacy will be a privilege... no longer a right."

RFID monitoring

rachel writes "Well, here's one that should add fuel to the fire for those opposing RFID technology in libraries and elsewhere -- WSIS Delegates Bugged by RFIDs"

Citizens strike back in intelligence war

Citizens strike back in intelligence war from over at newscientist.com, takes a look at a website to be launched later in 2003 will allow people to post information about the activities of government organisations, officials and the judiciary.
The two MIT researchers behind the project face one serious problem: how to protect themselves against legal action should any of the postings prove false. The answer, they say, is to borrow a technique from the underground music-swapping community.
[Via /.]

Privacy and Human Rights 2003: An International Survey of Privacy Laws and Developments

David Dillard writes "Privacy issues since the terrorist attacks in the United States have become an even more critical issue in the libraries of the United States, in major part due to the USA PATRIOT Act. The report discussed in this NetGold post may, therefore, be of particular interest to librarians."

The hidden dangers of documents

The Beeb Reports Your Microsoft Word document can give readers more information about you than you might think.
There is a function in many versions of Microsoft Office programs, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint, that means that fragments of data (which Microsoft refers to as metadata) from other files you deleted or were working on at the same time could be hidden in any document you save.

This could be embarrassing for any home workers whose colleagues find out that they have been applying for jobs while working at home or being less than complimentary about their co-workers.

The leaky net

The leaky net, from The BBC says in everyday life, with a few simple precautions, you can keep your personal details private. But on the net, almost no matter what you do, you leave behind scraps of information about what you have been doing.
The Wausau Daily Herald Reports the same anonymity that protects Internet users from credit card and identity thefts and from having ne'er-do-wells show up on their doorsteps is a hindrance to law enforcement officers.

New kind of snooping taking place at the office

Steve Fesenmaier writes "Corporations and other organizations are snooping on their workers' computers more than ever. Here is a good survey of what is going on - and how organizations should have a printed policy,etc.The full story is at
The NYTimes. They say corporate executives are becoming increasingly aggressive about spying on their employees, and with good reason: now, in addition to job shirkers and office-supply thieves, they have to worry about being held accountable for the misconduct of their subordinates. "

Government Information Awareness

Two cheeky fellows at MIT have turned the tables on the US government and its Total Information Awareness program by creating a website that offers information on government officials. Called Government Information Awareness the bonus is that anyone can add their own intelligence reports on officials, with no requirement that the information be verified. One of the project\'s creators, Chris Csikszentmihalyi, refers to it as \"sort of a citizen\'s intelligence agency.\" The TIA, now renamed the Terrorist Information act, after a public outcry over privacy concerns, was created to track possible terrorist activity by analyzing vast amounts of information stored in government and private databases, such as credit card data.
The rest of the story here from Boston.com and here from Wired. Also a great discussion at slashdot. GIA page is very slow to load, or will not load at all, as of 7/5 a.m.

Web Firms Choose Profit Over Privacy

Someone writes " Jonathan Krim
Washington Post Staff Writer looks at the state of online privacy. With the onslaught of spam, almost all companies promise not to sell consumer data. But many don't mention that such information is rented. This means that the list owner won't release the data to an outside marketer, but it will send messages to the list on the outsider's behalf. Targeted lists available for rent number in the thousands, including those from magazines, professional organizations and even political interest groups such as Republicans for Jesus.

"Companies continually troll for, and exploit, personally identifiable information," said Joseph Turow, a media professor at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in mass marketing. "Some Web sites unabashedly collect all the information they can about visitors and market [it] as aggressively as they can to advertisers and other marketers."

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