Privacy

Adopting cloud computing can mean entrusting data to a third-party vendor. For agencies responsible for personally identifiable information or mission-critical applications, this raises a host of privacy concerns, chief among them the issue of data sovereignty and the question of determining appropriate government and commercial uses of private citizens’ data. This section of the SafeGov.org site analyzes the risks to privacy associated with cloud adoption and explores ongoing means to mitigate them.

Google loses UK appeal court battle over 'clandestine' tracking

The Guardian,  Friday, March 27, 2015

Google has failed in its attempt in the court of appeal to prevent British consumers having the right to sue the internet firm in the UK. A group known as Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking wants to take legal action in the English courts over what it says is Google’s tracking of Apple’s Safari internet browser. It has accused Google of bypassing security settings in order to track users’ online browsing and to target them with personalised advertisements. Three judges have dismissed Google’s appeal over a high court decision against it and ruled that claims for damages can be brought over allegations of misuse of private information.

Microsoft Petitions U.S. Government for Surveillance Reform

Pedro Hernandez , eWeek,  Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Since Edward Snowden lifted the veil on the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) extensive spying capabilities, Microsoft has emerged as an outspoken critic of the government's intelligence-gathering tactics. Today, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech titan is once again imploring government leaders to rein in the NSA. "Today, Microsoft and members of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, along with civil liberties advocates, sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders supporting essential reforms to the USA Patriot Act," announced Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft. "As we've said before, these reforms must include an end to bulk collection and allow for companies to be transparent about the requests they receive for information." In the wake of the NSA spying scandal, Microsoft compared the intelligence agency's actions to those of hackers—and not the white-hat kind. "Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat,' alongside sophisticated malware and cyber-attacks," Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel, said in a December 2013 statement.

ECJ Hears Safe Harbor Arguments

Sam Pfeifle, IAPP,  Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today heard arguments on C-362/14, a case originally brought by Austrian law student Max Schrems against the Irish Data Protection Commissioner in the Irish courts and then referred up the line to the EU's highest adjudicators. At issue is this: Does the Safe Harbor program adequately protect the rights of EU citizens when "compliant" companies are known to share EU citizen data with U.S. intelligence bodies, such as the NSA? Today, a number of voices weighed in on the question, including Schrems, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and a number of individual member states.

Boston parents overwhelmingly agree that schools should demand restrictions on data mining from Internet companies

SafeGov,  Monday, March 23, 2015

A survey of parents with school-age children in Boston shows parents see many benefits from in-school internet access, with more than 80 percent stating that in-school internet access helps students develop the necessary skills to gain employment and participate in the global economy. However, a majority of parents are unaware that technology companies may be tracking their children’s internet use at school. This demonstrates the importance of and need for stronger protections to prevent student data mining and online tracking in Boston schools. The findings are based on a survey conducted for SafeGov.org aimed at understanding Boston parents’ views on technology in the classroom and their awareness of student data mining.

Bipartisan student data privacy bill hits House

Cory Bennett, The Hill,  Monday, March 23, 2015

Lawmakers on Monday will introduce a bill limiting what companies can do with digital data collected on kindergarten through 12th-grade students, The New York Times reported. The bill, called the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, would ban companies from knowingly using student data to create targeted advertising or individual marketing profiles. The law would apply to third-party companies operating digital school services, like online homework portals, student email programs, or digital teaching aides. The members behind the bill — Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Luke Messer (R-Ind.) — told The Times the measure is intended to ease growing worries that student data is being abused.

Top trends local governments need to watch in 2015

American City & County,  Monday, March 23, 2015

State and local CIOs continue to be challenged with the task to do more with less, the “new norm,” yet at the same time expected to remain on top of technology trends driving the marketplace. Like its market counterparts, the public sector has become a consumption-based world focused on the asset of data and the promise of transparency. With so much on the line, and so many options to consider, state and local CIOs would be wise to pay particular attention to the following areas of growth within the technology stratosphere, and focus their attention and resources on these key issues that will shape technology at the state and local level for 2015.

A Message from Parents: Advertising and Education Do Not Mix

Jeff Gould by Jeff Gould, SafeGov.org
Monday, March 23, 2015

A new survey by privacy advocate SafeGov of parents in a large American city confirms what most sensible people already believed: parents want corporate-sponsored advertising out of our schools. After spending much of the past two years asking parents in a dozen foreign countries how they feel about online privacy and advertising in their children’s schools, SafeGov decided it was time to do a deep dive on this subject back home in the United States. They looked for a city with a progressive school district committed to bringing technology into the classroom. They chose Boston. The underlying insight of the project is that while the boom in classroom use of Internet apps based on technology originally designed for consumers has been largely beneficial for students, it has also led to a potentially dangerous confusion of business models. The power of Internet apps comes from their ability not only to deliver content quickly and efficiently to vast numbers of users, but also to track how those users interact with the content.

Study Shows People Act To Protect Privacy When Told How Often Phone Apps Share Personal Information

Byron Spice, Carnegie Mellon University,  Monday, March 23, 2015

Many smartphone users know that free apps sometimes share private information with third parties, but few, if any, are aware of how frequently this occurs. An experiment at Carnegie Mellon University shows that when people learn exactly how many times these apps share that information they rapidly act to limit further sharing. In one phase of a study that evaluated the benefits of app permission managers – software that gives people control over what sensitive information their apps can access – 23 smartphone users received a daily message, or “privacy nudge,” telling them how many times information such as location, contact lists or phone call logs had been shared.

A new worry for consumers: Cross-device tracking

Mitch Lipka, CBS News,  Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cell phone data, purchase history and what you look at on a company's website are cobbled together with other databases in attempt to better target consumers. While that technology can seem mind-boggling, the practice of tracking consumers across multiple devices is growing -- adding another layer to the mix as marketers build ever-richer profiles of us. The emergence of this type of data collection led the Federal Trade Commission to schedule a meeting in the fall to pull together experts and determine the risks and benefits, and if any additional regulation is needed.

Here's The Digital Privacy Battle At The Center Of Obama's Big Trade Deal

Dana Liebelson and Zach Carter, Huffington Post,  Monday, March 16, 2015

Open Internet advocates are still fighting for key privacy protections in a major trade pact the Obama administration is negotiating with 11 Pacific nations. But as talks over the deal enter their final stages in Hawaii this week, it looks like an uphill battle -- Internet freedom activists appear to be opposing important traditional allies: major tech companies and even Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Wyden's views on privacy issues are especially significant due to his position as the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee -- the panel with jurisdiction over Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. And some of his backers worry that he’s not on their side.