Privacy Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Privacy Media Articles from Major Media


Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important privacy articles reported in the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up. Links are provided to the full articles on major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These privacy articles are listed by article date. You can also explore the articles listed by order of importance or by date posted. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.


Privacy Media Articles


Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.

Government black boxes will 'collect every email'
2008-11-05, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/government-black-boxes-will-co...

Internet "black boxes" will be used to collect every email and web visit in the UK under the Government's plans for a giant "big brother" database, The Independent has learnt. Home Office officials have told senior figures from the internet and telecommunications industries that the "black box" technology could automatically retain and store raw data from the web before transferring it to a giant central database controlled by the Government. Plans to create a database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK have provoked a huge public outcry. Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, described it as "step too far" and the Government's own terrorism watchdog said that as a "raw idea" it was "awful". News that the Government is already preparing the ground by trying to allay the concerns of the internet industry is bound to raise suspicions about ministers' true intentions. Further details of the database emerged on Monday at a meeting of internet service providers (ISPs) in London where representatives from BT, AOL Europe, O2 and BSkyB were given a PowerPoint presentation of the issues and the technology surrounding the Government's Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the name given by the Home Office to the database proposal. "It was clear the 'back box' is the technology the Government will use to hold all the data. But what isn't clear is what the Home Secretary, GCHQ and the security services intend to do with all this information in the future," said a source close to the meeting.

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Interpol wants facial recognition database to catch suspects
2008-10-20, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/20/interpol-facial-recognition

Interpol is planning to expand its role into the mass screening of passengers moving around the world by creating a face recognition database. Every year more than 800 million international travellers fail to undergo "the most basic scrutiny" to check whether their identity documents have been stolen, the global policing cooperation body has warned. Senior figures want a system that lets immigration officials capture digital images of passengers and immediately cross-check them against a database of pictures of [alleged] terror suspects, international criminals and fugitives. The UK's first automated face recognition gates -- matching passengers to their digital image in the latest generation of passports -- began operating at Manchester airport in August. Mark Branchflower, head of Interpol's fingerprint unit, will this week unveil proposals in London for the creation of biometric identification systems that could be linked to such immigration checks. The civil liberties group No2ID, which campaigns against identity cards, expressed alarm at the plans. "This is a move away from seeking specific persons to GCHQ-style bulk interception of information," warned spokesman Michael Parker. "This is the next step. Law enforcement agencies want the most efficient systems but there has to be a balance between security and privacy."

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Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones
2008-10-19, Times of London
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article4969312.ece

Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance. Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society. A compulsory national register for the owners of all 72m mobile phones in Britain would be part of a much bigger database. Whitehall officials have raised the idea of a register containing the names and addresses of everyone who buys a phone in recent talks with Vodafone and other telephone companies, insiders say. The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain’s estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details. The pay-as-you-go phones are popular with criminals ... because their anonymity shields their activities from the authorities. But they are also used by thousands of law-abiding citizens who wish to communicate in private. The move aims to close a loophole in plans being drawn up by GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, to create a huge database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

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Wiretap lawsuit defense challenged in court
2008-10-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/18/BATN13JVOG.DTL

Civil liberties groups started a legal challenge ... to the new federal law designed to dismiss their wiretapping suits against telecommunications companies, saying the statute violates phone customers' constitutional rights and tramples on judicial authority. The law ... granted retroactive protection to AT&T, Verizon and other companies against lawsuits accusing them of illegally sharing their telephone and e-mail networks and millions of customer records with the National Security Agency. Almost 40 such suits from around the nation are pending before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco. The law requires him to dismiss the cases if the Justice Department tells him the companies had cooperated in a surveillance program authorized by President Bush. Details of the department's filing and the judge's dismissal order are to be kept secret. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation attacked the secrecy requirements and argued that Congress and President Bush lack authority to order courts to whitewash constitutional violations. "If Congress can give the executive the power to exclude the judiciary from considering the constitutional claims of millions of Americans ... then the judiciary will no longer be functioning as a coequal branch of government," Cindy Cohn, the foundation's legal director, said in court papers. She said the law's secrecy makes the proceedings one-sided. "Due process requires more than the chance to shadow-box with the government," Cohn wrote.

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The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America
2008-10-14, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/10/09/DI20081009...

By exploring the current, post-9/11 operations of the NSA [National Security Agency, James] Bamford ... goes where congressional oversight committees and investigative journalists still struggle to go. [When] the Bush administration declared its ... global war on terror, Congress agreed to most of the White House's demands. According to Bamford, the NSA's expanded powers and resources enabled it to collect communications both inside and outside the United States. He quotes a former NSA employee as a witness to the agency's spying on the conversations of Americans who have no connection to terrorism. After suing the NSA for documents, [Bamford] obtained considerable evidence that telecommunication companies (with the notable exception of Qwest) knowingly violated U.S. law by cooperating with the NSA to tap fiber optic lines. In impressive detail, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America tells how private contractors, including some little-known entities with foreign owners, have done the sensitive work of storing and processing the voices and written data of Americans and non-Americans alike. In the book, he offers new revelations about the National Security Agency's counterterrorism tactics, including its controversial domestic surveillance programs. Bamford warns of worse to come: 'There is now the capacity to make tyranny total in America. Only law ensures that we never fall into that abyss -- the abyss from which there is no return.'"

Note: Bamford is the author of two other books on the NSA: Body of Secrets and The Puzzle Palace.




Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans
2008-10-09, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=5987804&page=1

Hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. "These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA's Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003. She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States. Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad's Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007. Both former intercept operators came forward at first to speak with investigative journalist [James] Bamford for a book on the NSA, The Shadow Factory, to be published next week. "It's extremely rare," said Bamford, who has written two previous books on the NSA, including the landmark Puzzle Palace which first revealed the existence of the super secret spy agency. "Both of them felt that what they were doing was illegal and improper, and immoral, and it shouldn't be done, and that's what forces whistleblowers."

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New, controversial FBI guidelines go into effect
2008-10-05, Agence France Presse
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hP_LBcTEJD1GJG_ScYfk20kl0bPw

US Attorney General Michael Mukasey has signed new guidelines for FBI operations he said are designed to better protect the country from terrorist attacks, but that raise concern of some lawmakers and civil rights groups. The new, revised regulations -- the original version met strong criticism from congressional committees last month -- comprise 50 pages dealing with five areas of FBI investigation, including criminal, national security and foreign intelligence. Despite Mukasey's assurances that the new regulations "reflect consultation with Congress as well as privacy and civil liberties groups," not all concerns over their effect on privacy rights were dispelled. [The] Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Democrat Patrick Leahy, said the new guidelines expand the FBI's powers of surveillance. "It appears that with these guidelines, the attorney general is once again giving the FBI broad new powers to conduct surveillance and use other intrusive investigative techniques on Americans without requiring any indication of wrongdoing or any approval even from FBI supervisors," Leahy said in a statement. "The American people deserve a ... Justice Department that does not sacrifice or endanger their rights and privacy," he added. The American Civil Liberties Union, who had called for an investigation into the first version of the FBI regulations, said the new rules "reduce standards for beginning 'assessments.'" "More troubling still," it added, "the guidelines allow a person's race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move that the ACLU believes may institute a racial profiling as a matter of policy."

Note: For many reports on increasing government surveillance and threats to privacy, click here.




Satellite-Surveillance Program to Begin Despite Privacy Concerns
2008-10-01, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122282336428992785.html

The Department of Homeland Security will proceed with the first phase of a controversial satellite-surveillance program, even though an independent review found the department hasn't yet ensured the program will comply with privacy laws. Congress provided partial funding for the program in a little-debated $634 billion spending measure that will fund the government until early March. For the past year, the Bush administration had been fighting Democratic lawmakers over the spy program, known as the National Applications Office. The program is designed to provide federal, state and local officials with extensive access to spy-satellite imagery. Since the department proposed the program a year ago, several Democratic lawmakers have said that turning the spy lens on America could violate Americans' privacy and civil liberties unless adequate safeguards were required. A new [but classified] 60-page Government Accountability Office report said the department "lacks assurance that NAO operations will comply with applicable laws and privacy and civil liberties standards." The report cites gaps in privacy safeguards. The department, it found, lacks controls to prevent improper use of domestic-intelligence data by other agencies and provided insufficient assurance that requests for classified information will be fully reviewed to ensure it can be legally provided. But the bill Congress approved, which President George W. Bush signed into law Tuesday, allows the department to launch a limited version.

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Feds give customs agents free hand to seize travelers' documents
2008-09-24, Feds give customs agents free hand to seize travelers' documents
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/23/BA9P133LEA.DTL

The Bush administration has overturned a 22-year-old policy and now allows customs agents to seize, read and copy documents from travelers at airports and borders without suspicion of wrongdoing, civil rights lawyers in San Francisco said Tuesday in releasing records obtained in a lawsuit. The records also indicate that the government gives customs agents unlimited authority to question travelers about their religious beliefs and political opinions, said lawyers from the Asian Law Caucus and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They said they had asked the Department of Homeland Security for details of any policy that would guide or limit such questioning and received no reply. "We're concerned that people of South Asian or Muslim-looking background are being targeted inappropriately" for questioning and searches, said Asian Law Caucus attorney Shirin Sinnar. The Bay Area legal groups filed a Freedom of Information Act suit against the government in February, seeking documents on the policies that govern searches and questioning of international travelers. The organizations said they had received more than 20 complaints in the previous year, mostly from South Asians and Muslims. The travelers said customs agents regularly singled them out when they returned from abroad, looked at their papers and laptop computers, and asked them such questions as whom they had seen on their trips, whether they attended mosques and whether they hated the U.S. government.

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Agency and Bush Are Sued Over Domestic Surveillance
2008-09-18, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/washington/19nsa.html?partner=rssuserland&e...

A privacy group filed a class-action lawsuit on Thursday against the National Security Agency, President Bush and other officials, seeking to halt what it describes as illegal surveillance of Americans’ telephone and Internet traffic. The lawsuit parallels a legal action brought against the AT&T Corporation in 2006 by the same nonprofit group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, charging that the company gave the N.S.A. access to its communications lines and customer records without proper warrants. Congress derailed that lawsuit this year by passing legislation granting immunity to telecommunications companies that had provided assistance to the agency, though the foundation has said it intends to challenge the constitutionality of the new law. A lawyer with the foundation, Kevin S. Bankston, said the new suit opened a “second front” against a “massively illegal fishing expedition through AT&T’s domestic networks and databases of customer records.” When Mr. Bush started the program in late 2001, the N.S.A. began eavesdropping inside the United States without court warrants for the first time since 1978, when Congress created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to oversee such intelligence collection. The suit’s plaintiffs are five AT&T customers, but it is filed on behalf of all customers. Like the 2006 suit, it is based in part on information from Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who says he saw what he believed to be equipment installed by the N.S.A. at a company communications hub in San Francisco allowing the agency to filter a huge volume of Internet traffic.

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A New Rush to Spy
2008-08-22, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/opinion/22fri2.html?partner=rssuserland&emc...

There is apparently no limit to the Bush administration’s desire to invade Americans’ privacy in the name of national security. According to members of Congress, Attorney General Michael Mukasey is preparing to give the F.B.I. broad new authority to investigate Americans — without any clear basis for suspicion that they are committing a crime. Opening the door to sweeping investigations of this kind would be an invitation to the government to spy on people based on their race, religion or political activities. Mr. Mukasey has not revealed the new guidelines. But according to senators whose staff have been given limited briefings, the rules may also authorize the F.B.I. to use an array of problematic investigative techniques. Among these are pretext interviews, in which agents do not honestly represent themselves while questioning a subject’s neighbors and work colleagues. The F.B.I. has a long history of abusing its authority to spy on domestic groups, including civil rights and anti-war activists, and there is a real danger that the new rules would revive those dark days. Clearly, the Bush administration cannot be trusted to get the balance between law enforcement and civil liberties right. It has repeatedly engaged in improper and illegal domestic spying — notably in the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program. The F.B.I. and the White House no doubt want to push the changes through before a new president is elected. There is no reason to rush to adopt rules that have such important civil liberties implications.




Internet Providers' New Tool Raises Deep Privacy Concerns
2008-08-21, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/20/AR20080820032...

If you're reading this story on our Web site, I don't know what you did online before you reached this page. But your Internet provider might if it engages in something called deep packet inspection. That phrase may sound like what the Transportation Security Administration does to uncooperative airline passengers, but on the Internet it means a thorough and automatic inspection of online traffic -- not just where you've been but also what you've seen. Peering inside the digital packets of data zipping across the Internet -- in real time, for tens of thousands of users at once -- was commercially impractical until recently. But the ceaseless march of processing power has made it feasible. Unsurprisingly, companies have been trying to turn this potential into profit. By tracking users' Web habits this closely, they can gain a much more detailed picture of their interests -- and then display precisely targeted, premium-priced ads. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce recently asked dozens of providers to explain whether they had done any such testing. Most companies said they had yet to try the technology and had no plans to do so. (Although AT&T allowed that "if done properly," deep packet inspection "could prove quite valuable to consumers.") Taking these companies at their word, what's there to worry about? Systems such as deep packet inspection unnerve a lot of Internet users for sound reasons. One is, of course, the immensely greater surveillance they allow. Another concern is the difficulty of circumventing this constant tracking. The machinery of deep packet inspection hides out of reach in your provider's servers.




Citizens' U.S. Border Crossings Tracked
2008-08-20, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/19/AR20080819028...

The federal government has been using its system of border checkpoints to greatly expand a database on travelers entering the country by collecting information on all U.S. citizens crossing by land, compiling data that will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations. The Border Crossing Information system, disclosed last month by the Department of Homeland Security in a Federal Register notice, ... reflects the growing number of government systems containing personal information on Americans that can be shared for a broad range of law enforcement and intelligence purposes, some of which are exempt from some Privacy Act protections. While international air passenger data has long been captured this way, Customs and Border Protection agents only this year began to log the arrivals of all U.S. citizens across land borders, through which about three-quarters of border entries occur. The volume of people entering the country by land prevented compiling such a database until recently. But the advent of machine-readable identification documents, which the government mandates eventually for everyone crossing the border, has made gathering the information more feasible. Critics say the moves exemplify efforts by the Bush administration in its final months to cement an unprecedented expansion of data gathering for national security and intelligence purposes. The data could be used beyond determining whether a person may enter the United States. For instance, information may be shared with foreign agencies when relevant to their hiring or contracting decisions.




U.S. May Ease Police Spy Rules
2008-08-16, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/15/AR20080815034...

The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years. Law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target groups as well as individuals, and to launch a criminal intelligence investigation based on the suspicion that a target is engaged in terrorism or providing material support to terrorists. They also could share results with a constellation of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and others in many cases. Michael German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the proposed rule may [permit] police to collect intelligence even when no underlying crime is suspected. German, an FBI agent for 16 years, said easing established limits on intelligence-gathering would lead to abuses against peaceful political dissenters. He pointed to reports in the past six years that undercover New York police officers infiltrated protest groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention; that California state agents eavesdropped on peace, animal rights and labor activists; and that Denver police spied on Amnesty International and others before being discovered. "If police officers no longer see themselves as engaged in protecting their communities from criminals and instead as domestic intelligence agents working on behalf of the CIA, they will be encouraged to collect more information," German said. "It turns police officers into spies on behalf of the federal government."

Note: For many disturbing reports on increasing threats to civil liberties from reliable sources, click here.




Civil liberties: Outrage at New York police plan to track vehicles
2008-08-14, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/14/usa.humanrights

The Big Apple is turning into Big Brother, civil liberties groups have warned in response to a new plan from New York city's police chiefs to photograph every vehicle entering Manhattan and hold the details on a massive database. As well as placing cameras at all tunnels and bridges into Manhattan, the 36-page plan, called Operation Sentinel, calls for a security ring to be erected at Ground Zero and for a 50-mile buffer zone around the city within which mobile units would search for nuclear or "dirty" bombs. [The] 3,000 cameras that could be mounted as a result of the plans of the New York police ... have provoked outrage in the United States. Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the idea of tracking the movements of millions of people was "an assault on the country's historical respect for the right to privacy and the freedom to be left alone". The NYCLU is pressing the New York police to release further details of its intentions under freedom of information laws. The toughest element of the scheme relates to preparations to secure Ground Zero once the six-hectare site is rebuilt and open to the public again. Those measures include moveable roadblocks, security cameras across lower Manhattan and an underground bomb-screening centre through which all delivery vehicles would have to pass. The plan to video the number plates of every vehicle would be applied to all points of entry into Manhattan, including the main Brooklyn-Battery, Holland, Lincoln and Midtown tunnels and Brooklyn, Manhattan and other bridges.

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FBI plans to loosen post-Watergate FBI rules
2008-08-13, Minneapolis Star-Tribune/McClatchy News Service
http://www.startribune.com/nation/26935044.html?elr=KArksi8cyaiUBP7hUiD3aPc:_...

Attorney General Michael Mukasey confirmed plans ... to loosen post-Watergate restrictions on the FBI's national security and criminal investigations. Mukasey said he expected criticism of the new rules because "they expressly authorize the FBI to engage in intelligence collection inside the United States." The Justice Department ... is expected to publicly release the final version within several more weeks. Even then, portions are expected to remain classified for national security reasons. Nonetheless, Mukasey provided enough detail Wednesday to alarm civil libertarians. Michael German, a former veteran FBI agent who is now policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said if Mukasey moves ahead with the new rules as he describes them, he'll be weakening restrictions originally put in place after the Watergate scandal to rein in the FBI's domestic Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO. "I'm concerned with the way the attorney general frames the problem," German said. "He talks about 'arbitrary or irrelevant differences' between criminal and national security investigations but these were corrections originally designed to prevent the type of overreach the FBI engaged in for years." German said recent events demonstrated that Mukasey needed to strengthen the FBI's guidelines, not "water them down. ... What the attorney general is doing is expanding the bureau's intelligence collection without addressing the mismanagement within the FBI. If you have an agency collecting more with less oversight, it's only going to get worse."

Note: For many disturbing reports on increasing threats to civil liberties from reliable sources, click here.




Police Turn to Secret Weapon: GPS Device
2008-08-13, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/12/AR20080812032...

Across the country, police are using GPS devices to snare [criminal suspects], often without a warrant or court order. Privacy advocates said tracking suspects electronically constitutes illegal search and seizure, violating Fourth Amendment rights of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and is another step toward George Orwell's Big Brother society. With the ... ever-declining cost of the technology, many analysts believe that police will increasingly rely on GPS ... and that the public will hear little about it. "I've seen them in cases from New York City to small towns -- whoever can afford to get the equipment and plant it on a car," said John Wesley Hall, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "And of course, it's easy to do. You can sneak up on a car and plant it at any time." Details on how police use GPS usually become public when the use of the device is challenged in court. Leibig said GPS should be held to a different standard because it provides greater detail. "While it may be true that police can conduct surveillance of people on a public street without violating their rights, tracking a person everywhere they go and keeping a computer record of it for days and days without that person knowing is a completely different type of intrusion," he said. Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program, considers GPS monitoring, along with license plate readers, toll transponders and video cameras with face-recognition technology, part of the same trend toward "an always-on, surveillance society."

Note: For lots more on threats to privacy from major media sources, click here.




Some Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent
2008-08-12, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/11/AR20080811022...

Several Internet and broadband companies have acknowledged using targeted-advertising technology without explicitly informing customers, according to letters released yesterday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The revelations came in response to a bipartisan inquiry of how more than 30 Internet companies might have gathered data to target customers. Some privacy advocates and lawmakers said the disclosures help build a case for an overarching online-privacy law. "Increasingly, there are no limits technologically as to what a company can do in terms of collecting information . . . and then selling it as a commodity to other providers," said committee member Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). "Our responsibility is to make sure that we create a law that, regardless of the technology, includes a set of legal guarantees that consumers have with respect to their information." Markey said he and his colleagues plan to introduce legislation next year, a sort of online-privacy Bill of Rights, that would require that consumers must opt in to the tracking of their online behavior and the collection and sharing of their personal data. Ari Schwartz, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said lawmakers are beginning to understand the convergence across platforms. "People are starting to see: 'Oh, we have these different industries that are collecting the same types of information to profile individuals and the devices they use on the network," he said. "Internet. Cellphones. Cable. Any way you tap into the network, concerns are raised."

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Prescription Data Used To Assess Consumers
2008-08-04, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/03/AR20080803020...

Health and life insurance companies have access to a powerful new tool for evaluating whether to cover individual consumers: a health "credit report" drawn from databases containing prescription drug records on more than 200 million Americans. Collecting and analyzing personal health information in commercial databases is a fledgling industry, but one poised to take off as the nation enters the age of electronic medical records. Some insurers have already begun testing systems that tap into not only prescription drug information, but also data about patients held by clinical and pathological laboratories. Privacy and consumer advocates fear [the trend] it is taking place largely outside the scrutiny of federal health regulators and lawmakers. The practice also illustrates how electronic data gathered for one purpose can be used and marketed for another -- often without consumers' knowledge, privacy advocates say. And they argue that although consumers sign consent forms, they effectively have to authorize the data release if they want insurance. "As health care moves into the digital age, there are more and more companies holding vast amounts of patients' health information," said Joy Pritts, research professor at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute. "Most people don't even know these [companies] exist. Unfortunately the federal health privacy rule does not cover many of them." Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "We've got to stop these practices before the marketplace is fully developed and patients lose all control over their medical information."

Note: For lots more on increasing threats to privacy from reliable sources, click here.




Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border: No Suspicion Required
2008-08-01, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/01/AR20080801030...

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin. DHS officials said the newly disclosed policies ... apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens. Civil liberties and business travel groups have pressed the government to disclose its procedures as an increasing number of international travelers have reported that their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices had been taken -- for months, in at least one case -- and their contents examined. The policies cover "any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form," including hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover "all papers and other written documentation," including books, pamphlets and "written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter.' "

Note: For many reports from reliable, verifiable sources on threats to privacy, click here.





Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


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