Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts in USA Privacy

The NSA has nothing on the ed tech startup known as Knewton.

The data analytics firm has peered into the brains of more than 4 million students across the country. By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke, every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know, but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch — and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday.

Even as Congress moves to rein in the National Security Agency, private-sector data mining has galloped forward — perhaps nowhere faster than in education. Both Republicans and Democrats have embraced the practice. And the Obama administration has encouraged it, even relaxing federal privacy law to allow school districts to share student data more widely.

At least in Nevada, it will cost a parent $10,000 to learn what data the schools are collecting on his child.

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verizon

Verizon is “enhancing” its Relevant Mobile Advertising program, which collects data from its users to display ads that are supposed to be relevant to the individual.

“In addition to the customer information that’s currently part of the program, we will soon use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites,” Verizon Wireless is telling customers.

“This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network,” it says.

That means exactly what it looks like: Verizon will monitor not just your wireless activities but also what you do on your wired or Wi-Fi-connected laptop or desktop computer — even if your computer doesn’t have a Verizon connection.

The company will then share that additional data with marketers.

Verizon is installing this software and enrolling customers into the program, often without customers even knowing about it.

There is a way to opt-out.

Can I refuse permission to use my information for Relevant Mobile Advertising?

Yes, you can notify us that you do not want us to use your information for Relevant Mobile Advertising by visiting www.vzw.com/myprivacy or by calling (866) 211-0874.

Note: if you have a multi-line account, you must indicate your privacy choices with respect to each individual line.

In addition, if you would like to prevent third party advertising entities from using information they have about your web browsing across sites unrelated to Verizon, including the use of this information in the Relevant Mobile Advertising program, you can opt-out at www.aboutads.info.

In order to opt-out, javascript and cookies must be enabled. There is no way to tell if this will actually do anything or if you will just be tracked via cookies after opting out.

The best way to opt-out remains with your wallet.

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“PTSD was once thought to be something that was peculiar to Vietnam vets,” says Matt Warshauer, a history professor at Central Connecticut State University. ”We then figured out not surprisingly, that no, combat fatigue existed during World War II, shell shock existed during World War I, and Soldier’s Heart existed in the Civil War.”

There are many more books — now under lock and key — that Warshauer is eager to see. They’re about the size of a photo album and their covers, made of burlap and leather, have started to fall apart. Each contains the records of 325 or so patients and perhaps, of some Civil War veterans who walked across the lawns of the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane in the late 1800′s.

“They mean the motherlode,” Warshauer says. “Those are the books that we need.”

This past February, Warshauer thought he might soon have access to what he needed. Connecticut legislators drafted a bill, allowing the release of medical records 50 years after a patient’s death. But then, with backing from mental health advocates as well as the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, lawmakers inserted an amendment: all names would be redacted, or blacked out, making patient files of little use to historians.

Warshauer’s research is now at a standstill. He says one reason he’s not giving up is that he wants to help returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD understand they’re part of a long line of soldiers who have suffered.

“They’re the ones who told me you have no idea how important this work is, how important it is for us to be able to tell this story,” he adds.

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There’s no doubt in my mind that we, as an Internet community, need to take back our state legislatures. We need our current legislators to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, to focus their energies on the problems that they properly understand and are best suited to solving (which almost never involve Internet regulation), and to find another job if they can’t wield their power wisely. Before you just vote for your incumbent state legislators next election, ask yourself if they have been doing right by the Internet.

Why State Legislatures Shouldn’t Regulate Internet Privacy from Whittier Law School on Vimeo.

Whittier Law School, 2013-14 Colloquia and Distinguished Speaker Series
Distinguished Speaker in Privacy Law:
Prof. Eric Goldman, Santa Clara Law School
"Why State Legislatures Shouldn't Regulate Internet Privacy"

Slides and audio.

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