Archive for the ‘computers’ Category

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BTC – Digital Privacy, like most things over 35 years of age,  is in need of a little in need of shaping up around the middle as Senators push to update to electronic privacy law in spite of elections.

Almost on cue, Washington domestic intelligence agencies are expressing resistance to this new regimen of reduced budget diet and political exercise to cut the fat.

To start, DHS is asking to be exempted from the dated provisions in the 1974 Privacy Act in a new National Proposed Rule or NPRM concerning “electronic records”.  Yes, that would include e-mail, phone calls and anything else that creates a record from an electronic pulse. This is possibly so they won’t have to pass an additional appropriations bill or comply with the development of more stringent Privacy codes designed to protect citizens from non-criminal surveillance.

“The Department of Homeland Security is giving concurrent notice of a newly established system of records pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 [EPCA] for the “Department of Homeland Security/ALL-031 Information Sharing Environment Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative System of Records” and this proposed rulemaking. In this proposed rulemaking, the Department proposes to exempt portions of the system of records from one or more provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement requirements.”

[They are seeking public input on this for the next 19 days.]

NPRM’s are a chronic source of irritation for electronic privacy advocates seeking ways to cut funding to bureacratic tech adoptions in local and national governance; which are later used for broad public surveillance.  Domestic federal intelligence agencies, like the FBI, are trying to hang onto the vagueries which allow them to veer into places they have no right to go.  However, in all fairness, the government is only one aspect of our society where upgrades to the EPCA will face resistance.

Wireless, social networking, and cloud computing companies, like Google, have been compromising the public cache, divesting analytics, or information gained by use of their technology, for profit or for leverage in a tough economy.  Strange concessions from these companies have started to emerge, maybe to demonstrate how they can change their evil ways.  Perhaps more so they won’t get the heavy legal hit expected if the EPCA gets the legal upgrade necessary to constrict the private tap of consumer information being abused today.

One thing is clear ; as the EPCA is updated it should end the festive looting of your private digital records at the convenience of the US government and private information brokers.

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Keeping Personal Data Private

c/o Wall Street Journal

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, is sponsoring a bill, the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2009, that would beef up cybersecurity and make people’s personal information safer. It would require entities that keep personal data to establish effective programs for ensuring that that data is kept confidential. That could include encryption of data, although the law does not specify any security method. When there is a breach, it would require that notice be given to individuals whose personal information is exposed.

The Leahy bill applies both to the private companies and to government, which is important, since both the private and public sectors have been responsible for major data breaches in the past few years. It would require data brokers — companies that collect personal data and sell it to third parties — to inform consumers about the data they have on them and allow people to correct erroneous information. The bill also makes it a crime to intentionally conceal a security breach that exposes personal data, and it increases criminal penalties for identity theft by use of electronic personal data.

One potentially troubling aspect of the bill is that it would pre-empt, or nullify, state laws in this area. That is not a problem if the bill remains in its current form. But it should not be allowed to get weaker during the legislative process. A weak federal law that pre-empts state protections would be worse than no federal law at all.

Mr. Leahy’s bill was sent to the full Senate by the Judiciary Committee this month along with another worthy, but more limited, bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat of California. ::: MORE HERE:::