Privacy SOS

Privacy and technology news: 7-5-13

Photo credit: Matt Wade

This news round-up was created by the ACLU of Northern California's Chris Conley

‘Restore the 4th’ galvanizes over 100 nation-wide protests against NSA, PRISM, and government spying [Venture Beat – John Koetsier]

It’s the largest online protest since SOPA. And perhaps an even larger offline protest, as protestors galvanized by the Restore the Fourth movement are using Independence Day to demand their government stop spying on them. The NSA’s PRISM online surveillance program was revealed NSA contractor Edward Snowden just weeks ago, which said that U.S. companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple were sharing private data with the NSA about Americans and foreigners… “The NSA programs that have been exposed are blatantly unconstitutional … You can’t disregard people’s privacy, invade their personal lives on a daily basis, and not expect them to fight back.”

See also Thomas Drake at ‘Restore the Fourth’ Rally: ‘We the People Do Not Consent to the Surveillance State’ [Firedoglake – Kevin Gosztola]

See also 40 Best Signs From The “Restore The Fourth” Rallies [BuzzFeed – Ellie Hall]


BREAKING: Privacy Advocates To File Supreme Court Petition Challenging NSA Surveillance Program [ThinkProgress – Andrea Peterson]

Amie Stepanovich, Director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), announced that her organization is submitting a petition asking the Supreme Court to vacate Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court (FISC) ruling that authorized the National Security Agency’s (NSA) to siphon up metadata on all domestic phone calls on Monday… “EPIC truly believes that this Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court exceeded it’s authority, is not acting in accordance with the law and needs to be overturned — and cannot be allowed to continue conducting this surveillance. ”

See also EU votes to support suspending U.S. data sharing agreements, including passenger flight data [ZDNet – Zack Whittaker]

See also NSA revelations throw wrench into lawmakers’ cybersecurity push [The Hill – Brendan Sasso]

See also Snowden’s Run [BoingBoing – Xeni Jardin]


Courts Can’t Agree on Whether Cops Can Track Your Cell Without a Warrant [Wired – David Kravets]

[T]he law on cell-site locational tracking is all over the books, with judges offering mixed rulings on whether warrants are needed. While dozens of lower courts have ruled on the issue, only two appellate courts have. All of which means some suspects are being convicted based on locational data of what towers their cell phones are pinging, and others are not, because some courts are requiring warrants. “Only a few courts of appeal have considered this, although a number of lower courts have. They’ve been all over the map,” said Nathan Wessler, an American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney.


Child Privacy Online: FTC Updates COPPA Rules [InformationWeek – Mathew J. Schwartz]

The Federal Trade Commission said this week that revised rules for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) have taken effect… On the latter front, the new final rule amendments to COPPA now "make clear that the rule covers an operator of a child-directed site or service where it integrates outside services, such as plug-ins or advertising networks, that collect personal information from its visitors."…The revision also updates the FTC's definition of personal information "to include geolocation information and persistent identifiers that can be used to recognize a user over time and across different websites or online services," as well as photos, videos and audio recordings.


Twitter Shows The Way Forward With Do Not Track [Electronic Frontier Foundation – Adi Kamdar]

Twitter today announced a new way of targeting advertisements for its users, including a partnership with three online tracking firms: media6degrees (m6d), Chango, and Adara. This new system will display ads based on your behavior and reading habits, which show up as "Promoted Tweets" or "Promoted Accounts." This is typical of the direction that major online companies are moving. But Twitter has made some praiseworthy design decisions: 1. Twitter will honor your browser's Do Not Track setting by treating it as a "do not collect" signal. In other words, when Do Not Track is enabled, Twitter will not collect your browsing information in order to show targeted ads on Twitter. 2. Twitter is incorporating a setting to completely opt out of targeted ads.

See also Twitter Updates Policies When It Knows No One's Paying Attention [Gawker – Sam Biddle]


Mastercard and Visa Start Banning VPN Providers [TorrentFreak – Ernesto]

Following the introduction of restrictions against file-sharing services, Mastercard and Visa have now started to take action against VPN providers. This week, Swedish payment provider Payson cut access to anonymizing services after being ordered to do so by the credit card companies. VPN provider iPredator is one of the affected customers and founder Peter Sunde says that they are considering legal action to get the service unblocked.

See also WikiLeaks says MasterCard has unblocked it from receiving donations [The Verge – Carl Franzen]


Privacy Class Actions: Current Trends and New Frontiers in 2013 [Bloomberg – David F. McDowell, D. Reed Freeman Jr., & Jacob M. Harper]

While we have seen a new wave of privacy class actions, the issues facing the federal courts are the same: how to reconcile an inarticulable discomfort with data methods asserted in privacy class actions with their constitutional mandate to address only plaintiffs with standing: the requirement that courts remedy only “concrete” and “particularized” injuries. This article addresses how federal courts are dealing with notions of privacy harm in the online tracking context.

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