Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts in USA Privacy

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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Deborah C. Peel, MD is the world’s leading advocate for patients’ rights to control the use of personal health information in electronic systems. She is also a practicing physician and Freudian psychoanalyst. She became an expert and privacy warrior to stop patients from being harmed. The lack of health privacy causes millions of US citizens to avoid early diagnosis and treatment for cancer, depression, and STDs every year.

Her passion is informing the public about privacy-enhancing technologies and the major fixes needed in law and policy, so they can join the battle to restore our civil and human rights to health privacy.

Before you think this isn’t a big deal, think again. Hospitals have begun creating profiles on current and potential patients by tracking their consumer data to identify when a person may become ill.

Information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions can reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke. The largest hospital chain in the Carolinas is plugging data for 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients, while Pennsylvania’s biggest system uses household and demographic data.

Carolinas HealthCare System operates the largest group of medical centers in North Carolina and South Carolina, with more than 900 care centers, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and surgical centers. The health system is placing its data, which include purchases a patient has made using a credit card or store loyalty card, into predictive models that give a risk score to patients.

While all information would be bound by doctor-patient confidentiality, he said he’s aware some people may be uncomfortable with data going to doctors and hospitals. For these people, the system is considering an opt-out mechanism that will keep their data private,

How about just making the system opt-in? Anyone who wants to be spied upon and have others making their lifestyle decisions for them can participate. Those who value their privacy wouldn’t have to do a thing.

Video.

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