Intersection: Sidewalks & Public Space

Chapter by Melissa Ngo

"The Myth of Security Under Camera Surveillance"

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    Archive for the ‘Civil liberties’ Category

    Businessweek: Hospitals Are Mining Patients’ Credit Card Data to Predict Who Will Get Sick

    Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

    Businessweek reports on a story about data mining that could affect the privacy of individuals’ medical information:

    Carolinas HealthCare, which runs more than 900 care centers, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, and surgical centers, has begun plugging consumer data on 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients so that doctors can intervene before they get sick. The company purchases the data from brokers who cull public records, store loyalty program transactions, and credit card purchases. [Carolinas operates the largest group of medical centers in North and South Carolina.]

    Information on consumer spending can provide a more complete picture than the glimpse doctors get during an office visit or through lab results, says Michael Dulin, chief clinical officer for analytics and outcomes research at Carolinas HealthCare. The Charlotte-based hospital chain is placing its data into predictive models that give risk scores to patients. Within two years, Dulin plans to regularly distribute those scores to doctors and nurses who can then reach out to high-risk patients and suggest changes before they fall ill. [...] Read more »

    Wired: ISPs File Legal Complaint in Europe Over Spying

    Monday, July 7th, 2014

    Wired reports that a group of Internet service providers and nonprofits in different countries have filed a legal complaint over allegations of spying by Britain’s GCHQ and the United States’s National Security Agency:

    Seven Internet service providers and non-profit groups from various countries have filed a legal complaint against the British spy agency GCHQ. Their issue: that the clandestine organization broke the law by hacking the computers of Internet companies to access their networks.

    The complaint, filed with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, calls for an end to the spy agency’s targeting of system administrators in order to gain access to the networks of service providers and conduct mass surveillance. The legal action was filed in conjunction with Privacy International, and stems from reports last year that GCHQ hacked employees of the Belgian telecom Belgacom in order to access and compromise critical routers in the company’s infrastructure to monitor the communication of smartphone users that passed through the router. [...] Read more »

    Update on PCLOB Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of FISA

    Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

    Today, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent oversight agency within the executive branch, voted on a “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of FISA” (pdf). In January, the board released a report on the NSA’s surveillance program that collects telephone records in bulk in which it said that NSA program is illegal and should be ended. That report was a strong statement for privacy and civil liberties. Unfortunately, the report that the board released on Section 702 today is not. The board has concluded that the program, which authorized the government to target foreigners reasonably believed to be located overseas, is legal.

    The board noted that the Section 702 program does raise privacy issues, but its proposals fall short of what are needed for real reform to protect individuals’ privacy and civil liberties. The board says, “The Section 702 program has enabled the government to acquire a greater range of foreign intelligence than it otherwise would have been able to obtain — and to do so quickly and effectively. [...] The program has proven valuable in the government’s efforts to combat terrorism as well as in other areas of foreign intelligence.” Read more »

    Pre-release Version of PCLOB Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

    The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent oversight agency within the executive branch, has published a pre-release version of its “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (PCLOB pdf; archive pdf). The board says: “Although the report will not become official and the final version will not be posted until after the Board votes on July 2nd, this pre-release copy is now available for members of the press (with no embargo) and the public to preview the Board’s findings and recommendations.” The board is set to vote tomorrow at a 10 a.m. meeting that members of the public can attend. More info on the meeting is here. The report was released less than an hour ago, so I haven’t had a chance to review it, but I will soon and set out my thoughts.

    Op-Ed at USA Today: Student privacy should be a priority

    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

    Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour writes about student privacy rights in an opinion column for USA Today:

    Debates about the relationship between privacy and personal liberty have come to a head in the past year, with legitimate arguments being made by folks from across the political spectrum. But when it comes to school children, some things should be non-negotiable. Student privacy should be protected, and companies should not be raiding kids’ records to make a buck. [...]

    It seems as if every day there’s a new story about hacking, data breaches, or major online security flaws that put students’ personal information at risk. Read more »

    U.S. Supreme Court: Warrants Needed to Search Cellphones After Arrest

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

    In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Riley v. California (court pdf; archive pdf) that the police need search warrants to search individuals’ cellphones after their arrest, which is a substantial victory for privacy rights. (Note: This decision is issued for two cases – Riley v. California, No. 13-132, and United States v. Wurie, No. 13-212. Riley concerned two searches of a smartphone after David Riley was arrested, and Wurie concerned the search of a flip phone after Brima Wurie was arrested.) Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for eight of the justices. Justice Samuel Alito joined in the judgment, but he wrote a separate concurrence.

    In the opinion, Justice Roberts noted that cellphones, “are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy” and “Cell phones, however, place vast quantities of personal information literally in the hands of individuals.” He explained, “[W]e generally determine whether to exempt a given type of search from the warrant requirement ‘by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which it intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.’” In this case, the justices found that individual privacy trumped government interests.

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