Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts in USA Privacy

Do I have to give permission for my health records to be in an HIE? from World Privacy Forum on Vimeo.

A health care provider does not need your permission to share your medical information for treatment purposes within an HIE, just as a doctor does not need permission to send your records via fax to another doctor for treatment purposes. This is true even if your health record is going to a doctor you have never met before. The idea is that this information is shared only when necessary and only for treatment purposes. However, some HIEs, recognizing that HIEs involve many more patients and new methods of sharing, do give patients the ability to opt out of the HIE.

Taken from the video series at World Privacy Forum.

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When GameStop buys used video games from customers, the chain says it is following a local law that allows the store to collect thumb prints, which go into a database to help law enforcement track down thieves who fence stolen goods.

City Solicitor Shelley Smith says, however, the city is not requiring GameStop to abide by the pawnbroker’s ordinance:

“What GameStop does doesn’t meet any of the elements of the definition in the code, so the pawnbreaker ordinance doesn’t apply to GameStop.”

The Philadelphia Police Department says the company is being proactive by storing fingerprints in a secure database – LeadsOnline – which is the nation’s largest online investigation system.

Don’t sell your games back at GameStop. Sell them on ebay or Amazon, or anywhere else.

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Each of the records, which are gathered by license plate cameras mounted on police cars or at fixed locations, includes a photograph and the time and place that a particular vehicle was imaged. Strung together, the records can paint a picture of where a person has traveled — whether to the scene of a crime, a doctor’s office or to church.

The system can instantly alert patrol officers of a “hit” on a stolen car or, more often, a vehicle whose registration has lapsed and is ripe for ticketing. Stored records also can be accessed later as part of criminal investigations.

Records used for those purposes, though, constitute only a small fraction of all the data being saved. The vast majority of the vehicles tracked in the license-plate data were driven not by scofflaws or criminals but by innocent citizens who happen to be photographed driving to work or while running errands.

And least nine of New York’s most populous counties — Monroe, Erie, Onondaga, Albany, Broome, Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau — are now engaged in long-term storage of these records.

More.

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CoSN announced that it has issued resources to complement it K-12 Education Privacy Toolkit.

CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) today unveiled two freestanding resources to accompany its in-depth, step-by-step privacy toolkit. Designed to help school system leaders navigate the complex federal laws and related issues, the complementary resources include:

•    “10 Steps Every District Should Take Today”; and
•    “Security Questions to Ask of an Online Service Provider

Launched in March through CoSN’s Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning initiative, the existing toolkit addresses compliance with laws such as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and offers smart practices to better protect student privacy and their data. The security questions for online service providers were included in the v.1 toolkit.

In the fall, CoSN will expand the toolkit with additional sections covering the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) and the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) – filling out the privacy guide with all four federal privacy laws applied to K-12 education.

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The smooth, perforated sheaths of metal are decorative, but their job is to protect and conceal a system of data-collection sensors that will measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation and wind. The sensors will also count people by measuring wireless signals on mobile devices.

Some experts caution that efforts like the one launching here to collect data from people and their surroundings pose concerns of a Big Brother intrusion into personal privacy.

In particular, sensors collecting cellphone data make privacy proponents nervous. But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of each device.

Many cities around the globe have tried in recent years to collect enormous piles of “big data” in order to better understand their people and surroundings, but scientists say Chicago’s project to create a permanent data collection infrastructure is unusual.

Sounds innocent enough, until you keep reading.

Data-hungry researchers are unabashedly enthusiastic about the project, but some experts said that the system’s flexibility and planned partnerships with industry beg to be closely monitored. Questions include whether the sensors are gathering too much personal information about people who may be passing by without giving a second thought to the amount of data that their movements — and the signals from their smartphones — may be giving off.

But such an effort could still lead to gathering more sensitive information than is intended, said Fred Cate, an expert on privacy matters related to technology who teaches at Indiana University’s law school.

“Almost any data that starts with an individual is going to be identifiable,” Cate said. When tracking activity from mobile phones, “you actually collect the traffic. You may not care about the fact that it’s personally identifiable. It’s still going to be personally identifiable.”

King, the Harvard sociologist and data expert, agreed that the Chicago scientists will inevitably scoop up personally identifiable data.

“If they do a good job they’ll collect identifiable data. You can (gather) identifiable data with remarkably little information,” King said. “You have to be careful. Good things can produce bad things.”

Researchers hope these sensors will eventually expand into neighborhoods.

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