Online Privacy

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.

Tracking the E-mail You Sent

Have you ever forgotten to reply to an email only to be cornered by the sender and interrogated as to why? On such a situation, it's easy to claim that you never received the email, which may or may not be true, but that little white lie may no longer work. There's a new snoop in town and she's called DidTheyReadIt. The bane of privacy advocates, DidTheyReadIt "promises to pull back the curtain on anyone hiding behind the common white lie, 'I never got your email.'" The problem is, the recipient will never know whether or not the sender used the service. It's done in total secret and the program even lets the sender know where the message was read. Of course this all means that someone has to develop a program that will trap the snoop and let the recipient know that he/she is being spyed on. May the wonders of technology never cease. Read all about it.

Database Nation: The upside to "zero privacy"

Pete writes "Reason Online has a nifty article about the upside to surrendering some privacy.

"It's more difficult to appreciate how information swapping accelerates economic activity. Like many other aspects of modern society, benefits are dispersed, amounting to a penny saved here or a dollar discounted there. But those sums add up quickly.Markets function more efficiently when it costs little to identify and deliver the right product to the right consumer at the right time. Data collection and information sharing emerged not through chance but because they bring lower prices and more choices for consumers."

The icing on the gravy is the personalized covers subscribers are receiving, showing an aerial photo of their homes. They even did one of John Ashcroft's home."

Protecting your library from a privacy lawsuit

Anonymous Patron writes "One From LLRX:Could your library be sued for turning over an Internet user's sign-up information to law enforcement? What if you only did so pursuant to a search warrant? Here is a cautionary tale about an Internet service provider, AOL, that turned over subscriber information to local police in response to a search warrant. The subscriber is now suing AOL, and he just might win. It turns out that AOL apparently did not closely examine the search warrant, which was invalid..."

European Council proposes data retention law

Pete writes "The Register reports that the European Council has quietly proposed pan-European data retention laws that will require communications service providers to keep user data for a minimum of a year, and possibly indefinitely.The draft framework will apply to data generated by an exhaustive list of comms architectures and protocols: phone, text, MMS, email, Voice over IP, and Web communications among them.The stated aim is not to store content, just the data generated by the flow of traffic, and its associated user information. However, as Joe McNamee of lobbying group Political Intelligence points out, at no point does this draft specify exactly what consitutes content, and what constitues traffic data."

ALA vs. federal webtapping

The American Library Association issued a press release yesterday announcing its opposition to the Justice Department's move to bring broadband internet access within the scope of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act:

CALEA was passed in October 1994 to obligate telecommunications carriers to assist law enforcement in executing court-authorized electronic surveillance, such as wiretapping. In March, the DOJ, the FBI, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency petitioned the FCC to expand the coverage and strengthen the enforcement of CALEA.

[ALA states] that if the petition is granted, “innovation will be threatened, privacy diminished, and unnecessary costs imposed� on libraries and campuses that provide broadband connectivity. The groups also maintain that the expansion of CALEA could hinder the efficiency and security of existing applications and could require libraries to collect and retain more personally identifiable information about patron use, which would then be subject to requests under the USA Patriot Act.

Complete press release.

More on Gmail stirring up controversy

Steffers writes "This article from says that Google's Gmail service is potentially harmful to user's privacy. A group in the U.K. has already filed a complaint about the service saying it violates communication protections. Apparently, in-coming and out-going e-mails will be saved on Google's servers even after the user has terminated their account."

Here is the letter filed by twenty eight privacy and civil liberties organizations. This was mentioned yesterday and last Friday, as well.

The 'Privacy' Jihad

The 'Privacy' Jihad is an opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal on those pesky privacy advocates, the "privacy community," "privacy vigilantes," "Privacy zealots," "privacy battalions," "privacy onslaught," "the privocrats." Heather Mac Donald says just when the country should be unleashing its technological ingenuity to defend against future attacks, scientists stand irresolute, cowed into inaction. "The "privocrats" will rightly tell you that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Trouble is, they're aiming their vigilance at the wrong target."


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