Online Privacy

Google to cut back on how long it keeps search history

On Tuesday, Google announced that it would reduce the length of time it saves users' search history, from 24 months to 18 months. This is in response to recent criticism about its privacy practices, including the recent study by Privacy International. The International Herald Tribune has the story.

Google: The Search Engine that Knew Too Much

Forbes reports that a study by Privacy International ranked Google last among online companies in user information protection. Google issued a statement in response saying that the study was based on "numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings about Google's products and services."

Anti-War Activists Tracked in Libraries by DOD

Kelly writes "The IHT headline says: 'Newly disclosed documents show U.S. Defense Department tracked anti-Iraq war activities.' According to this article, 'An anti-terrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks on military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations, newly disclosed documents show.'"

She's Dunn

mdoneil writes "Patricia Dunn the Chairman of HP who orchestrated the spying mission on Board members to uncover a leak of company information to the media is on her way out.
Dunn, who hired private dicks to obtain phone records of Directors ostensibly through pretexting — lying to the telcos — will be replaced by the non-executive president (whatever the heck that means) of HP in January.
So don't worry about your government spying on you, be wary of employers hiring professional liars to get your personal information by lying to the phone company, a practice that they seem to think is legal.
There is no fine line between legal, ethical, moral, and OK in my book. If it does not seem fair don't do it. Dunn is a fine example of corporate morality. She and Ken Lay should have hooked up before he died, they would make quite the couple."

AOL Fires Data Leak Project Managers

Search Engines WEB writes "AOL announced the resignation of its chief technology officer today, following two weeks of intense criticism from privacy advocates after members of its research staff released hundreds of thousands of its customers' personal Web search queries. The researcher and a manager overseeing the project were dismissed, according to an AOL employee who did not want to be identified because the company does not comment publicly on personnel matters.
AOL also said it planned to beef up data privacy protections, reconsider the length of time that it holds onto the millions of search queries that customers make every day, and re-educate its own employees about the sensitivity of personal data.

D.C. 'Privacy' Event to Honor Librarians

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and Campaign for Reader Privacy is sponsoring an event on September 28 in Washington DC to honor George Christian, executive director of Connecticut's Library Connection and three board members who fought an FBI subpoena of customer records. The librarians and press corps, some of whom had their phones tapped (such as Brian Ross of ABC) will be present.

On that same subject, the ACLU, who defended the four librarians, is offering all libraries FREE DVD copies of 'Freedom Files', which includes a report on the Library Connection incident. The ten episode series Freedom Files series also includes shows entitled: Women's Rights, Youth Speak, Religious Freedom, Voting Rights, and The Supreme Court, among others.

UK Schoolchildren are Being Fingerprinted

Anonymous Patron writes "icLiverpool: Kids across Merseyside are being fingerprinted in the classroom, it was claimed last night.

Five schools in Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens and Warrington are said to be among hundreds in the country to use a new biometric system.

The Government says the method is mainly used for accessing school libraries, but critics last night described it as a "big brother system"."

Government Increasingly Turning to Data Mining

Anonymous Patron sent over A Washington Post article that reports The Pentagon pays a private company to compile data on teenagers it can recruit to the military. The Homeland Security Department buys consumer information to help screen people at borders and detect immigration fraud.

As federal agencies delve into the vast commercial market for consumer information, such as buying habits and financial records, they are tapping into data that would be difficult for the government to accumulate but that has become a booming business for private companies.

CALEA passes civil liberties challenge

cjovalle writes "The Center for Democracy and Technology reports that "a federal appeals court today ruled 2-1 that telephone regulators and the FBI can control the design of Internet services in order to make government wiretapping easier." Several groups contributed to the civil liberties challenge, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Americal Library Association. The EFF has a page how CALEA harms civil liberties and innovation. Service providers affected by this law include universities and libraries."

The Verdict is In: Google v. U.S.A.

Google Inc. won a partial victory in a battle with the government when a federal judge ruled yesterday that the company didn't have to turn over customer search queries to the U.S. Justice Department.

U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose, California, refused to make Google, the most-used Internet search engine, give the agency 5,000 search queries as part of an effort to defend a law aimed at keeping children from accessing Internet pornography. Ware did rule Google had to comply with the U.S. demand for 50,000 Web addresses from its index of Web sites. New from Bloomberg.com and The New York Times.

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