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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

    Associated Press: Teens adept at social media get privacy training

    Monday, April 14th, 2014

    The Associated Press reports on a privacy program at St. Michael School in suburban St. Louis. The program is based a privacy curriculum based on one released by the Fordham Law School’s Center for Law and Information Policy. AP reports:

    CLAYTON, Mo. — In an age of increased online government surveillance and targeted social media ads, the notion of privacy as a classroom subject worthy of distinct study is gaining momentum far beyond the narrow niches of First Amendment lawyers and computer hackers.

    Using a privacy curriculum developed at Fordham Law School in New York, educators there and at another dozen of the country’s top law schools want to equip adolescents growing up in a digital world with a user manual that has little to do with apps and pixel resolution.

    At the St. Michael School in suburban St. Louis, middle-school students recently learned how to manage their digital reputations. Led by a law-student instructor from nearby Washington University, the preteens discussed how facial recognition software is used everywhere from Facebook to the local mall. As the cellphone increasingly becomes an early adolescent rite of passage, they debated the legal and ethical issues raised by spending hours each day online or texting with friends. […] Read more »

    GAO: IRS Needs to Address Control Weaknesses That Place Financial and Taxpayer Data at Risk

    Friday, April 11th, 2014

    The Government Accountability Office has released a new report, “IRS Needs to Address Control Weaknesses That Place Financial and Taxpayer Data at Risk (GAO-14-405),” concerning security problems that could affect the privacy of taxpayers. Here’s an excerpt detailing problems at the Internal Revenue Service:

    Specifically, the agency had not always (1) installed appropriate patches on all databases and servers to protect against known vulnerabilities, (2) sufficiently monitored database and mainframe controls, or (3) appropriately restricted access to its mainframe environment. In addition, IRS had allowed individuals to make changes to mainframe data processing without requiring them to follow established change control procedures to ensure changes were authorized, and did not configure all applications to use strong encryption for authentication, increasing the potential for unauthorized access. Read more »

    InformationWeek: When Employees Steal Patient Records

    Thursday, April 10th, 2014

    InformationWeek reports on accusations of insiders misusing their access privileges in New York. We’ve seen the problems that arise when insiders abuse or misuse their access privileges to individuals’ data and violate the individuals’ rights. Such cases have occurred in: Tucson, Ariz., where University Medical Center officials fired three employees for violating privacy of patients connected to the shooting rampage of which Jared Loughner is accused; New York City, where a police sergeant pleaded guilty “to illegally entering a federal database and giving information from a terrorist watch list to an acquaintance to use in a child-custody case in Canada”; Ohio, where the Ohio Inspector General released a report (pdf) finding that state employees improperly accessed and distributed confidential state records related to Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who gained fame during the 2008 election as “Joe the Plumber”; and the U.S. government, where the State Department found that federal employees repeatedly snooped into the passport files of entertainers, athletes and other high-profile Americans. The cases aren’t confined to the United States; for example, they’ve occurred in Canada and New Zealand.

    InformationWeek reports on a case concerning medical privacy in Queens, N.Y., as well as other cases in the United States:

    The Queens, N.Y., district attorney recently charged two employees of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center with illegally accessing emergency room patients’ medical records and personal identification information, and selling that data to individuals who then solicited services such as outpatient care or legal assistance — sometimes while patients were still in the ER. [...] Read more »

    EU Court: European Union Data Retention Directive Is Invalid

    Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

    The Court of Justice of the European Union announced that it has ruled (pdf) that the EU’s Data Retention Directive is invalid. The court said:

    The Court observes first of all that the data to be retained make it possible, in particular, (1) to know the identity of the person with whom a subscriber or registered user has communicated and by what means, (2) to identify the time of the communication as well as the place from which that communication took place and (3) to know the frequency of the communications of the subscriber or registered user with certain persons during a given period. Those data, taken as a whole, may provide very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained, such as the habits of everyday life, permanent or temporary places of residence, daily or other movements, activities carried out, social relationships and the social environments frequented. Read more »

    Washington Post: Yahoo’s uphill battle to secure its users’ privacy

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    The Washington Post reports on attempts by Internet services company Yahoo to better protect its users’ privacy:

    On Wednesday, Yahoo’s freshly minted Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos announced the company had implemented a series of stronger security and privacy measures, including securing traffic that moves between their servers and encrypting most search queries automatically.

    This is a major step for Yahoo which has been dogged by critics for years for lagging behind its competitors on some basic privacy and security measures. In a Tumblr post, the company proclaims its latest announcement is only the start of a broader mission “to not only make Yahoo secure, but improve the security of the overall web ecosystem.”

    But although Yahoo, Google, and others have upped their security game in light of the revelations about National Security Agency spying over the last year, the tracking practices tech firms rely on for advertising also appear to have made some covert government operations easier. [...] Read more »

    Guardian (UK): Smart cities: are you willing to trade privacy for efficiency?

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    The Guardian reports onquestions of privacy concerning “smart” cities — where data is increasingly collected on the habits of citizens and residents:

    Privacy must play an instrumental role in any smart city strategy otherwise citizens might fear the introduction of other innovative technology, according to an executive at one of the world’s largest infrastructure companies.

    Wim Elfrink, executive vice president of industry solutions and chief globalisation officer of Cisco, heads up the company’s smart cities team and warned that if cities did not give citizens the choice of whether or not to allow the government to use their data, they might opt-out of future initiatives. [...]

    A number of councils have already installed a number of sensors around London with the aim of creating a smarter city. This is done through collecting large amounts of data – from information about available parking spaces, electricity usage and even refuse levels – before then analysing it and understanding problems they may not know existed. Read more »