Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers’ names and other personal details, despite promises they don’t share such information without consent. The practice, which most of the companies defended, sent user names or ID numbers tied to personal profiles being viewed when users clicked on ads. Read the article: tp://gigalaw.com/2010/05/20/facebook-myspace-sent-user-data-to-advertising-firms/ (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
May 25, 2010
May 21, 2010
Two lawmakers who co-chair the House Privacy Caucus asked the Google broke the law in collecting WiFi and other Internet data while taking photographs for its Street View product. Reps. Joe Barton, a Republican, and Edward Markey, a Democrat, wrote to the FTC chairman to ask if the agency was looking into the data collection, which Google has said was “a mistake.”
Read the article: http://gigalaw.com/2010/05/19/lawmakers-seek-legal-opinion-on-google-wifi-error/ (Source: Reuters) if
May 20, 2010
Google came under increased pressure in Europe over its collection of private data from unsecured home wireless networks, as a German regulator threatened legal action if the company did not surrender a hard drive for inspection. The German demand underscored the seriousness of the quandary Google now faced following its admission that it had stored the snippets of Web sites and personal e-mail messages from people around the world while compiling its Street View photo archive.
Read the article: http://gigalaw.com/2010/05/18/germany-threatens-legal-action-over-google-street-view/ (Source: The New York Times)
May 18, 2010
May 15, 2010
Germany’s consumer protection minister strongly criticized Google for a widespread privacy breach and insisted the U.S. Internet giant must cooperate better with data protection authorities. Google Inc. issued an apology, acknowledging it has been vacuuming up fragments of people’s online activities broadcast over public Wi-Fi networks for the past four years while expanding a mapping feature called “Street View.”
- Read the article: ABC News
May 17, 2010
May 13, 2010
A European data protection group penned a letter to Facebook in which it told the social networking site that its recent privacy changes are “unacceptable”. That Article 29 Working Party, a collection of European data groups, sent letters to 20 social networking sites overall, but singled out Facebook for “fundamentally chang[ing] the default settings on its social-networking platform to the detriment of a user.”
- Read the article: PC Magazine
May 14, 2010
Google has defended its privacy practices following a letter of complaint from data protection commissioners around the world. The original letter expressed concerns on privacy issues surrounding Google's social networking tool Buzz and its Street View service. In response Google said it was "committed to ensuring privacy is designed into our products".
But it admitted that mistakes were made with the launch of Buzz. "We do not get everything 100% right - that is why we acted so quickly on Google Buzz," said the letter, signed by Jane Horvath and Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google. A spokesman for Google said the letter represented Google's "full response" to the concerns raised by ten privacy commissioners from around the world, including the UK, Canada and France. Google insisted that it had a "core commitment" to privacy.
"We are keenly aware of the trust that our users place in our services, and of our responsibility to protect their privacy. As part of this responsibility, we are committed to being transparent with our users about the information that we collect," the letter read.
"Respecting privacy is a part of every Googler's job," it added.
This respect was not apparent to all users at the launch of its social networking service Buzz. The search giant found itself with a flurry of complaints from users unhappy that their Gmail accounts had automatically been connected to the service without their consent. As the row escalated, Google moved quickly to enable Buzz users to set their own privacy controls. In a subsequent letter from Canada's privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, this prompt response was praised. But the letter also raised concerns about the way Google handled users' privacy.
It was co-signed by Ms Stoddart's counterparts in France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the UK. It called on Google to collect and process the minimum amount of personal information required for a service, to be clear about how it would be used and to ensure that privacy settings were default and easy to use. It also expressed unease about Street View, Google's street level, 360-degree photographs of areas taken by specially equipped Google vehicles.
In Germany there has been criticism of the Street View service because it has recorded the details of private wi-fi networks. Germany's Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar has complained to Google. A legal claim in February 2009 by a Pittsburgh couple who said that Street View violated their privacy was thrown out by a federal judge.
May 12, 2010
A coalition that includes firms that compete with Google says a proposed settlement aimed at allowing Google to create an online digital library violates U.S. treaty obligations aimed at protecting intellectual property. The Open Book Alliance, which includes Google rivals Amazon.com, Microsoft and Yahoo as well as some smaller publishers and writers groups, released an analysis of the proposed settlement between Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers that claims the deal violates the Berne Convention’s Protection of Literary and Artistic Works as well as the nondiscrimination provision of the World Trade Organization’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
- Read the article: National Journal
May 11, 2010
In a potential blow to Google’s efforts to establish itself as a major player in enterprise software, a leading public university has ended its evaluation of Gmail as the official e-mail program for its 30,000 faculty and staff members — and it’s got some harsh words for the search giant. In a joint letter to employees, University of California-Davis CIO Peter Siegel, IT chair Niels Jensen, and Campus Council IT chair Joe Kiskis said the school decided to end its Gmail pilot, which could have led to campus-wide deployment, because faculty members doubted Google’s ability to keep their correspondences private.
Read the article: http://gigalaw.com/2010/05/05/university-drops-gmail-cites-privacy-concerns/ (Source: InformationWeek)
May 7, 2010
House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman , D-Va., released draft privacy legislation that would require Web sites to provide enhanced notice about how they use consumer information and obtain a user’s consent before collecting sensitive information or sharing data about a consumer with some third parties. In an interview, Boucher said he will use the feedback from the draft to make some possible modifications to the measure.
Read the article: http://gigalaw.com/2010/05/04/lawmaker-releases-draft-of-internet-privacy-bill/ (Source: National Journal)
May 5, 2010
By Emily Steel (The Wall Street Journal)
More than a year in the making, the draft legislation proposes regulating Internet companies' tactics for collecting information about Web visitors and the use of that data for ad targeting. It also could apply to the practices for collecting consumers' information in the offline world.
The proposed legislation comes as the furor over privacy issues related to the Internet grows. Lawmakers and regulators say that most consumers experience a great deal of confusion about what information is collected about them and how it is used. Privacy advocates say such tracking has reached alarming levels.
Meanwhile, Internet and advertising companies say that they are capable of regulating themselves and privacy legislation threatens to stifle the $23 billion Internet-ad market.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D., Va.), along with Rep. Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.), plan to post a draft of the bill on their websites on Tuesday, then solicit feedback for a two-month period. Legislators will then revise the bill for introduction during a House subcommittee hearing. To be sure, the proposal doesn't mean that Congress will pass a law.
Mr. Boucher revealed details of the much-anticipated legislation on Monday during a conference for American Business Media, a trade group of business-to-business publications, said Mark Sableman, a partner at the law firm Thompson Coburn and counsel to American Business Media.
Under the current draft, websites collecting information about their visitors would need to disclose to consumers how that information is collected and used, with whom it is shared and the circumstances under which that sharing takes place, Mr. Sableman said. If consumers decide they don't want their information to be collected or used for those stated purposes, they should be able to opt out directly on the site.
The regulation also lays out a separate set of regulations for outside companies that collect information about consumers on websites and target ads to those consumers on other, unrelated sites.
Consumers would need to grant these third-party companies special permission for their data to be collected. The draft legislation provides some exceptions. The ad company wouldn't need to solicit permission to collect information about consumers if the targeted ad includes a link that explains which company was involved in making the ad appear, shows consumers what information is collected about them and gives them the chance to opt out.
The draft also includes special restrictions for the collection of sensitive information, including financial information, medical history, government identifiers such as drivers' license and Social Security cards and information about children or adolescents.
The legislation would grant authority to the Federal Trade Commission to endorse the provisions of the bill.
"We haven't seen the bill, but protecting privacy is a priority for the FTC, as it is to Congressman Boucher, and we're eager to work with Congress as it crafts legislation to address privacy concerns," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement.
"Although I do not support all of the provisions in the draft, I look forward to getting back comments to improve the bill and then hopefully advance it through the committee process," Rep. Stearns said in a statement, noting that it was premature for him to comment on the legislation as it has yet to be made public. He said that the bill is based on earlier privacy legislation that he developed in 2005.
A new survey finds that while more than 90 percent of private and public sector security experts say cyber attacks pose a serious threat, they differ on whether each side is doing enough to protect their networks. The poll, released before the start of a worldwide cybersecurity summit in Dallas, found that 70 percent of government officials surveyed said private-sector networks were not secure enough, while only 39 percent of private sector security officials surveyed believed government networks were not secure enough.
Read the article: http://gigalaw.com/2010/05/03/risk-of-cyberattacks-seen-as-serious-threat/ (Source: National Journal)