The Wall Street Journal investigates web snoops. The 50 sites installed a total of 3,180 tracking files on a test computer used to conduct the study. Only one site, the encyclopedia Wikipedia.org, installed none. Twelve sites, including IAC/InterActive Corp.'s Dictionary.com, Comcast Corp.'s Comcast.net and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com, installed more than 100 tracking tools apiece in the course of the Journal's test. [more inside]
The ACLU of Maryland
Anthony Graber for violating Maryland wiretap laws because he recorded a video
of a plain clothes officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop without first identifying himself as a police officer. The Maryland State Police raided Graber's parents' after learning of the video on YouTube. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute. [more inside]
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously against a fourth amendment claim of a right against an employer search of texts on a work pager.
The decision, City of Ontario v. Quon, rejected the claims, by the officer and by others who texted him on the device, that the employer city and the city's service provider violated their rights by reviewing transcripts of the text messages. Justice Kennedy's decision
assumed the officer had a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, he said, the city’s search was not unduly intrusive. There was a “legitimate work-related purpose” for the audit, Justice Kennedy wrote. The city “had a legitimate interest in ensuring that employees were not being forced to pay out of their own pockets for work-related expenses, or on the other hand that the city was not paying for extensive personal communications.” Interestingly, the officer's direct supervisor had told him
that he could use the pager for personal messages, as long as he paid their cost. Kennedy nonetheless opined for the Court that he likely only had a "limited privacy interest." The Court did not reach the question of whether there is an employee privacy interest in email on work servers, or conversations on work telephones.
Your Open Book
(NSFW language) lets you search Facebook's publicly accessible status updates. While the site exists ostensibly to protest Facebook's problematic privacy settings
, perhaps its even greater achievement is to let us peer into the lives of our fellow Facebook users.
Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera
is an exhibition at the Tate Modern in London which examines voyeurism through the medium of photography. In addition to works from professionals such as Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lee Miller, Shizuka Yokomizo, Guy Bourdin, Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe, it includes amateur and CCTV "stolen" images taken both with and without the knowledge of their subjects
-- all intended to "explore the uneasy relationship between making and viewing images that deliberately cross lines of privacy and propriety." [more inside]
"Now, I'm willing to admit the policeman has a difficult job, a very hard job. But it's the essence of our society that the policeman's job should
be hard. He's there to protect the free citizen, not to chase criminals—that's an incidental part of his job. The free citizen is always more of a nuisance to the policeman than the criminal. He knows what to do about the criminal." Orson Welles' musings on privacy and its erosion, police harassment, and the need for an International Association for the Protection of the Individual Against Officialdom.
) [more inside]
"Google WiFi Snafu Likely Illegal."
In May, Google admitted "inadvertently" collecting data from unsecured networks with its Streetview cars, resulting in investigations around the world
and in the US
Attorney General (and current US Senate candidate
) Richard Blumenthal has lined up Google in his target sights (and recommended residents change their passwords)
, and six class action lawsuits
have already been filed.
We've already discussed
of a University of Virginia Lacrosse player
, allegedly killed
by her boyfriend
. Now, UVa President John Casteen (statements on the murder 1, 2, 3, 4)
wants greater access
to student arrest records
in the hopes that it will help prevent violence on campus
Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative [I]n December, with the help of newly hired Beltway privacy experts, it reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you’ve signed onto.
This spring Facebook took that even further. All the items you list as things you like must become public and linked to public profile pages. If you don’t want them linked and made public, then you don’t get them — though Facebook nicely hangs onto them in its database in order to let advertisers target you.
It's been estimated that the average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by nearly five million CCTV cameras. So how hard would it be for an average citizen to disappear completely?
That’s the subject
of a new documentary film: Erasing David
, (Trailer: YouTube
) which premieres this evening in the UK on More4
. It's also now available worldwide online at the iTunes store and through several Video On Demand services
, as well as through Good Screenings
. [more inside]
Want to share your credit card purchases with your friends on facebook? Blippy does that.
Want to share your credit card numbers with everyone
? Blippy also does that.
Do you have a life-changing medical condition? Patientslikeme (mentioned previously in a 2008 post on mood conditions)
is a way for you share information online with other people who have the same condition. Some of the conditions with groups established already are epilepsy, depression, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Started by 3 MIT engineers who had personal experiences with ALS (Lou Gherig's disease), the site is funded by partnerships with healthcare providers
who have access to anonymised data about the member base. The stated goal in their Openness Policy
has a plain-English description of what happens to information that members share.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rules that once emails have been received by a third party, no Fourth Amendment protection applies to any copies.
In Rehburg v. Paulik
, among other claims, Charles Rehburg alleged a violation of his constitutional rights by the improper subpoena of his emails from his ISP. Last week, the Eleventh Circuit ruled against him: [more inside]
the $1 million Next Big Thing contest, which would have rewarded a team to improve their recommendation engine. [more inside]
Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet.
"The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it’s Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence..." [Via]
Changes to Orphan Works copyright legislation in the US began to crumble
in 2008 when the NPPA and a grassroots initiative finally gained momentum. Still, the ASMP has a FAQ
outlining their position on the 2008 Orphan Works bill stating that it is inevitable legislation and they should take advantage of a favourable congress to retain as positive a position for photographers as possible.
It seems that new laws are close to coming into effect in the UK government seemingly nationalising orphan works
and in a separate action (same article) banning non-consentual photography making street photography essentially impossible. [via]
In 2006 some Italian teenagers filmed themselves assaulting a youth with Down Syndrome and uploaded the video to Google Video Italia. It was pulled from the site within hours, but that did not satisfy the Italian Down Syndrome support group named Vivi Down
, who filed a complaint that resulted in a two-year investigation. That lead to charges and indictment of four Google executives, who were never aware of the video until after it had been removed, for violating Italy’s privacy code.
Today the Italian court ruled
that three of the four - chief legal officer David Drummond, global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer and former CFO George Reyes - are guilty, and sentenced them to 6 months to a year of jail-time. The fourth, Arvind Desikan, former head of Google Video in London, was acquitted. [more inside]
A worrisome set of posts from Princeton University's 'Freedom to Tinker"
In many situations, it may be far easier to unmask apparently anonymous online speakers than they, I, or many others in the policy community have appreciated. Today, I'll tell a story that helps explain what I mean.
Second post: what BoingBoing knows about John Doe
. Third, and most concerning post: The traceability of an online anonymous comment
. Related post: a well researched review of the privacy concerns around the roll-out of, and push-back against, Google Buzz.
A lawsuit alleges that the Lower Merion School District has been spying on students through webcams on school issued laptops.
According to the complaint
no indication was giving to the parents or students that this activity was possible. The spying program was only revealed when a student was informed by the school that they had witnessed improper behavior through the webcam and saved photographic evidence.
tells you when people on Twitter are advertising that they are not at home. [more inside]
'It's optional if you want to remain anonymous, but what's the point anymore?' A new generation doesn't mind
sharing every detail
of their lives online. So familiar online companies increasingly
don't bother letting you control privacy
options from the start, and make it difficult to detach
. Are the privacy-concerned folks
mostly older individuals who don't see the benefits
of connectedness? Or are the people who share just about everything lined up
with a pro-corporate culture pushed by marketers? [more inside]
Conversations About the Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee
. [more inside]
"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." (SLYT)
Because of this statement, made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Mozilla's director of community development Asa Dotzler has informed readers of his personal blog
how to change Firefox's default search engine from Google to Bing. This is a pretty interesting stance coming from someone who works for a company that not only directly competes with Microsoft (the owners of Bing), but also derives a huge amount of its revenue from support from Google. (via
8 Million Reasons for Real Surveillance Oversight.
"Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers."
Wikipedia is being sued for publishing the names of two convicted killers.
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber killed well-known German actor Walter Sedlmayr
in 1990. They were convicted of the crime in 1993 and sentenced to prison, and recently released. Under German law, publishing the name of a criminal after he has served his sentence is considered an undue infringement of privacy, and is illegal. Accordingly, the German Wiki removed the names of the killers off the page discussing the murder --- but the English language version of wiki, based in the US and operating under the First Ammendment, has not. Now the killers' lawyer has sued the Wikimedia foundation to get them to remove the names. [more inside]
This morning, Google launched
a new feature called "Google Dashboard
" that lets users view (and in some cases control,) what data is being stored on a range of more than 20 Google services, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts and Latitude. [more inside]
Google Street View
is currently taking pictures in and around my home village
. Google Japan has released a rather cute animated video
explaining how the whole process works. Its main aim seems to be to respond to all the criticism regarding privacy issues
. It's still cute, though.
What the Internet knows about you.
"This project was started by a small group of Web developers and security researchers in order to highlight the problem of Web browser history detection
-- a problem which can dramatically affect the Web and hurt many people, if not solved quickly. Our direct goal is to educate the mainstream public and show them the direct consequences of allowing this aspect of Web browser behavior, as well as provide some solutions which mitigate the problem. However, since there are no existing satisfactory solutions
, our other objective is to point the attention of browser developers to this issue and strongly encourage them to implement the necessary and long-overdue fixes." [Via]
to a complaint by law students
at the University of Ottawa in May of 2008
, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
is operating contrary
to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
. In other words, Facebook is breaching Canadian privacy law
has pledged to work with the Canadian government on this issue, and has 30 days to comply
; if the Commissioner remains unsatisfied
with their progress, they may take the case to Federal Court to force compliance.
Voicemail-to-text firm Spinvox strenuously denied
accusations that they infringed privacy standards by actually having the voicemails transcribed by human operators in low-wage countries
. [more inside]
Everybody knows about the Google Van now, some love it
, some hate it
, but it has become an assumed condition now that, if you're near a street, Google Maps might have your picture (I'm at work!
). Living further off the path might seem like a solution to avoid detection, but Google has stepped off the roadway and into more scenic routes with the Google Tricycle
. Being unpowered and smaller allows Google to get their 360° photographs from vantage points other than the curb in front of your house. Google Street Views won't just include streets anymore: they plan to cover national parks, bicycle paths, college campuses
, theme parks, any any other public place which isn't exactly van-friendly.
Neurosecurity: security and privacy for neural devices.
"An increasing number of neural implantable devices will become available in the near future due to advances in neural engineering. This discipline holds the potential to improve many patients' lives dramatically by offering improved—and in some cases entirely new—forms of rehabilitation for conditions ranging from missing limbs to degenerative cognitive diseases. The use of standard engineering practices, medical trials, and neuroethical evaluations during the design process can create systems that are safe and that follow ethical guidelines; unfortunately, none of these disciplines currently ensure that neural devices are robust against adversarial entities trying to exploit these devices to alter, block, or eavesdrop on neural signals. The authors define 'neurosecurity'—a version of computer science security principles and methods applied to neural engineering—and discuss why neurosecurity should be a critical consideration in the design of future neural devices." [Via Mind Hacks]
In an 8-1 ruling,
the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that school officials violated an Arizona teenager's rights by strip-searching her for prescription-strength ibuprofen, declaring that U.S. educators cannot force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk. Clarence Thomas demurred
, suggesting that panties would become the new drug underground.
"Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.," the City form states. There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords. The City of Bozeman takes their job application process too far?
NSA E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress.
"Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation." [Via]
The FCC investigated
a pirate radio station in Boulder, Colorado
earlier this month and left a copy of their official inspection policy
asserting that they have the authority to perform warrantless searches of private property if there is any FCC-licensed equipment on the property, including cordless phones, cell phones, wireless routers, intercom systems, and baby monitors. [more inside]
In 1996, sixteen children and one adult died in Dublane, Scotland
after Thomas Hamilton walked into a school armed with four handguns. In 2009, journalist Paula Murray
tracked down and befriended several of the survivors on Facebook, waited until they turned eighteen, and then wrote this article
for the Sunday Express
. [more inside]
The novlist Julie Myerson has written a book, The Lost Child, about her son's addiction to cannabis, the violent behaviour she says this caused and her tough love policy. Extract
. Her son is angry
that she's published it, and says his parents over-reacted: "I wasn't doing anything that most other teenagers do, but such was their naive terror of drugs they were acting like six-year-olds". It comes out through MumsNet
that Julie Myerson was the anonymous author of a Guardian column, "Living with Teenagers," which described her children's behaviour candidly without their knowledge. Extract
. Myerson first denied this
. The Guardian discusses whether it was right to publish the columns
. Myerson is interviewed
about whether she was right to publish The Lost Child. Her partner, and son's father, Jonathan Myerson supports her: This is an emergency
. Her son says she's addicted to writing
. [more inside]
Bob Boorstin, Google's Director of Policy Communications, wrote a letter
to the Rose Foundation
, suggesting that the foundation stop funding Consumer Watchdog
, an outspoken Google critic. [more inside]