Thursday, October 29, 2009

US Homeland Security Privacy Office Seen To Be Enabling, Not Curbing Privacy Violations

"Privacy advocates have asked lawmakers to investigate the Department of Homeland Security office in charge of protecting Americans' privacy, saying it has shown "an extraordinary disregard" for its duty.

In a letter sent Friday to the House Homeland Security Committee, 21 organizations and seven people belonging to the Privacy Coalition say the department's chief privacy officer has seen its role as enabling, rather than curbing, government surveillance and intelligence programs.

"The job of Chief Privacy Officer is not to provide public relations for the Department of Homeland Security," stated the coalition letter, whose signers included the American Civil Liberties Union, Gun Owners of America, former congressman Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.) and libertarians inspired by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), a former presidential candidate. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest group in Washington, organized the coalition. "

Washington Post - Probe of Homeland Security privacy office sought. Group says chief is enabling, not curbing, surveillance

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Privacy and the Patriot Act"

"In the aftermath of 9/11, legislators cut legal corners to protect the nation. Congress should amend that now by revising certain expiring provisions of the law.
October 25, 2009

Along with the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the Bush administration's illegal eavesdropping on U.S. citizens, the USA Patriot Act came to symbolize the excesses of the post-9/11 war on terrorism. Now, as it weighs the extension of three expiring provisions, the Democratic-controlled Congress has an opportunity to restore key privacy protections that were forgotten in the aftermath of the attacks."

"The Patriot Act's greatest threat to personal privacy lies not in any of the provisions set to expire but in the law's expansion of the use of national security letters, subpoenas that allow the FBI to obtain records without a warrant. In 2008, the FBI issued 24,744 letters involving the records of 7,225 people. Not surprisingly, there have been abuses. In 2007, after an investigation of four FBI offices, the Justice Department's inspector general found irregularities in 22% of documents related to the issuance of national security letters."

"The other problem with national security letters is that the companies or other institutions that receive them are not allowed to reveal that fact publicly, though they can appeal them in a closed hearing in federal District Court."

LA Times Editorial - Privacy and the Patriot Act

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Healthcare IT Complaint: Senior Management Does Not View Privacy And Data Security As A Priority

"Healthcare providers aren't adequately protecting patient privacy in implementing e-health records, according to a recent survey of healthcare IT managers. Some 80% of healthcare organizations have experienced at least one incident of lost or stolen health information in the past year.

The study from security management company LogLogic and the Ponemon Institute, which conducts privacy and information management research, found that patient privacy is at risk in the nationwide push to implement e-health records.

"The majority of IT practitioners in our study don't believe that their organizations have adequate resources to protect patients' sensitive or confidential information," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of The Ponemon Institute, in a statement about this month's study, released Tuesday. "The lack of resources and support from senior management is putting electronic health information at risk."

Some 70% of IT managers surveyed said that senior management does not view privacy and data security as a priority. [my bold]"

Information Week - E-Health Records Put Patient Privacy At Risk

----

EDITORIAL COMMENT: SENIOR MANAGERS, LIKE MANY PARENTS, ARE TOO LAZY OR FRIGHTENED TO INFORM THEMSELVES OF THE DATA AND TECHNOLOGY ISSUES THEY ARE FACED WITH

In my experience IT personnel pull the rabbit out of the hat one too many times for senior managers that just don't give a shit about things like data security.

IT people often give that extra bit of effort for managers that chronically under resource data safety, fixing problems that should have never happened in the first place. Managers who make decisions on IT based on the colour of the computers and whether or not it matches their decor. Managers who think that having the biggest monitor is a sign of their technological prowess.

Data security is unsexy. I can only hope a few criminal charges and lawsuits from now managers will start to get with the program.

- J. Burton

Friday, October 16, 2009

Does The Lack Of Privacy Rule Out Public Office For Many?

"Our belief that senior politicians have forgone their right to privacy makes leadership impossible in a modern democracy"

"That’s the life of the modern democratic leader for you, as illustrated by two statesmen in the space of a fortnight. You start off your career by being given the Nobel Peace Prize, and you finish up being quizzed about whether or not you pop pills."

"Gordon Brown came to it on The Andrew Marr Show, to my suprise. Although I knew there was loose-ish optimistic talk about his eyesight being used as a pretext for resignation, I had somehow not registered the flood of rumours about the Prime Minister’s supposed pill dependency. In Marr’s words: “Let me ask you about something else which everybody has been talking about out there in the Westminster village, which is a lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of those people?” No, said Mr Brown.

The journalistic world divided over Marr’s question. Some said he shouldn’t have asked it, some said it was a valid line of inquiry. Had not David Owen recently written a book in which he argued (and remember that Dr Owen is a proper stethoscope Dr and not a John Reid read-my-thesis kind of Dr) that we have had bad decisions as a result of undiagnosed or undisclosed illnesses on the part of leading politicians going back a ways?"

"An unsubstantiated allegation, but so what? It’s a reasonable thing to ask you, Mr Brown, to which you may answer yes or no, because the public have an interest in knowing. As they do in such questions as: do you drink? Did you have your son immunised? How much does your wife earn? Do you get depressed? Is there a history of depression in your family? Did your spouse rent an adult movie and claim it back on expenses, unwittingly or not? What movie was it? Was it arousing? Do the children know about it? (Well, they do now.) And because it’s you, none of the privacy protection people turn a hair. You are fair game. You don’t have privacy. Your lack of it is the price you pay for power, the equivalent of, in Patrick Marber’s words, the “fame tax” that celebrities pay." [my bold]

Times Online - The price of the ‘power tax’ is far too high

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dark Side Of Social Networking And Intelligent Usage Tracking

"There is a dark side to some of the impressive new online technologies that are appearing, from social networking to behavioural advertising to RFID 'smart chips', the European Commission's internet chief has warned.

While such technologies offer great vistas of opportunity, the commission is monitoring their development "closely" for the very real potential threats to privacy they contain, information society commissioner Viviane Reding said on Monday at a debate on the future of the internet in Brussels."

"...she worries about all users of social networking, not just children, and fears that most users of such sites are unaware of the dangers to their privacy.

"Social networking has a strong potential for a new form of communication and for bringing people together, wherever they are," she said. "But is every social networker really aware that all pictures and information uploaded on social networking profiles can be accessed and used by anyone on the web?""

"The EU's internet chief also said that behavioural advertising – those ads that appear that seem to know exactly the sort of books or vacations or concerts you would be interested in – was "another privacy concern repeatedly mentioned to the European Commission these days."

Behavioural adverts are able to do this by keeping track of internet users' web browsing to better target them with advertisements."

Business Week - Future Internet Privacy Worries Europe