Online Privacy

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."

Privacy Concerns over Gmail

There is an article at about privacy concerns for Google's new gmail service. According to the article Google will scan incoming email for keywords and put ads into the text of the emails that relate to the keywords.

Web Tip: View a Website's Privacy Policy


Shopping sites, banking sites, auction sites, and pretty much all other sites that ask you for personal information, including TechTV, have a privacy policy. The policy states how the site collects and uses your personal information. You should always read a site's privacy policy before handing over your name, email address, credit card number, or anything else you'd rather not share with complete strangers.

Instead of telling you to dig around each website to read its privacy, let Internet Explorer show you how websites plan to use your information. Read More.

The erosion of high-tech privacy protection has published an article relating to recent claims about research being conducted into data mining technology that have invoked privacy concerns. According to the article writer, Michael J. Sniffen, the Bush government’s ‘fight against terrorism’ has contributed to the closure of two privacy-protection projects and continuing research into somewhat dubious software technology. This relates to an earlier story posted about the activities of DARPA.

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"


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