Online Privacy

Privacy Advocates Play Into the Hands of Terrorists

Privacy advocates have forced the government to abandon a program designed to keep terrorists off of planes. Even as the Bush administration warns of an imminent terror attack, it is again allowing the ''rights'' brigades to dictate the parameters of national defense. The administration just cancelled a passenger screening system designed to keep terrorists off planes, acceding to the demands of ''privacy'' advocates. The implications of this for airline safety are bad enough. But the program's demise also signals a return to a pre-9/11 mentality, when pressure from the rights lobbies trumped security common sense. Read all about it.

ACLU: 9/11 Report Raises Privacy Concerns

In spite of the promise of 9/11 commission Chair Tom Kean that the 9/11 report "will make the American people safer," civil liberties groups say some of those ideas could jeopardize the personal privacy of millions of Americans in the name of enhancing security. The commission recommends that the federal government set national standards for issuing birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Read More.

ACLU Sues to Block Michigan Cops From Participating in Matrix database

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said Tuesday it has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Michigan State Police from participating in the Matrix multistate crime and terrorism database.

Matrix, short for Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, combines state vehicle and crime records with commercial databases owned by a private company, Seisint Inc. It gives investigators quick access to billions of pieces of information on potential suspects.

Officials recently said the Matrix format was going to being changed, however, in hopes of allaying privacy and legal concerns that led several states to drop out of the federally funded project.

The pilot project originally was to include 13 states, covering half the U.S. population. The remaining Matrix states, including Michigan, were to try a method in which each state will maintain its own records. Read More.

Commerce Department Names Chief Privacy Officer

"The Commerce Department has made the connection between privacy and technology explicit this week by naming Dan Caprio, deputy assistant secretary for technology policy, as the department's first chief privacy officer. Caprio will hold both titles. As chief privacy officer, he'll oversee departmental activities related to the development and implementation of federal privacy laws, policies, and practices." Read More.

Crime Info Project Adopts Decentralized Model to Reduce Privacy, Legal Questions

Here's more on the Matrix, a multi-million dollar crime and terrorism database that was designed to give investigators quick access to billions of pieces of information on potential terror suspects through state vehicle and crime records and commercial databases. Eight of the original thirteen states who participated in the pilot project, which would have contained records on half the US population, have withdrawn, citing privacy concerns and whether sending state-owned records to computers owned by a private company is legal. The format is being changed in order to allow the five remaining states to maintain their own records. Read More.

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 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


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