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Top Privacy News

STUDENT PRIVACY—U.S.

InBloom Wilts Amid Privacy Backlash

April 22, 2014

Following months of controversy, nonprofit inBloom announced Monday it is shutting down. In an e-mail to the organization’s supporters, CEO Iwan Streichenberger wrote, “I have made the decision to wind down the organization over the coming month.” InBloom had been financed with $100 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, providing a cloud service for schools to centrally store encrypted student data. “InBloom’s demise yesterday in the face of a flurry of privacy allegations unambiguously demonstrates that privacy can also be a first-order business risk. So much so,” writes IAPP VP of Research and Education Omer Tene in this post for Privacy Perspectives, “that it can bring a high-flying, much-celebrated, well-funded and strongly backed organization to its knees.”
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PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

Illinois To Write a New Consent Law, But What About Other Two-Party States?

April 22, 2014

It’s a good thing producers of The Good Wife aired their episode “A Few Words” when they did, or one of the best lines—for privacy litigators, at least—would’ve been moot. In this Privacy Tracker post, InfoLawGroup’s Tanya Forsheit, CIPP/US, breaks down the People v. Clark decision deeming Illinois’ two-party consent law unconstitutional and why most other two-party state laws won’t be affected—most notably California’s. “California’s two-party consent law does not suffer from the defect that doomed Illinois’s two-party consent law in Clark,” writes Forsheit, noting, however, “it remains to be seen, in California and elsewhere, what happens in close cases where it is far less clear whether all the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation.”
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DATA PROTECTION—U.S.

Verizon Report: Hackers Getting Better at Their Job; Brands Struggling To Keep Up

April 22, 2014

Headlines of breaches at major brands have been pervasive in the last year, and millions of users had their data compromised. The bad news is that it’s predicted to get worse, The Washington Post reports. That’s according to Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report, which found that hackers are becoming “more efficient and organized while many companies are struggling to get even fundamental cybersecurity measures into place.” Meanwhile, employees of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) affected by the data breach there have filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status. One plaintiff says a tax return was fraudulently filed in her name as a result of the breach. UPMC has until April 30 to respond to the initial charges in the suit. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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PRIVACY TECH

PIA Tool Stocked With New Templates for DPI, Infosec

April 22, 2014

In anticipation of next week’s IAPP Data Protection Intensive in London, and the concurrent Infosecurity Europe event across town, the IAPP has released new templates that allow users of the APIA automated privacy impact assessment tool to work with guidance from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office and ISO standards 27001 and 27002 for information security management and information security controls. These templates can be downloaded from the IAPP site (scroll to the bottom of the “Full Story” linked page) and uploaded into the APIA tool once it’s been installed, or uploaded immediately if you’re already working with APIA. Are you using APIA and have a great set of questions you’ve already been working with in the field? Please export your template and upload it for the community to use.
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PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

The FTC’s Common Law of Privacy

April 22, 2014

Columbia Law Review has published the “The FTC and the New Common Law of Privacy,” co-written by Profs. Daniel J. Solove and Woodrow Hartzog. They note the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been enforcing companies’ privacy policies through its Section 5 authority since the late 1990s, resulting in a body of FTC jurisprudence that “is functionally equivalent to a body of common law…” In their paper, Solove and Hartzog “explore how and why the FTC, and not contract law, came to dominate the enforcement of privacy policies” while contending the FTC’s jurisprudence has effectively “codified certain norms and best practices and has developed some baseline privacy protections.” They argue standards now resemble rules and this “common law” is the foundation for “a robust privacy regulatory regime.” Editor’s Note: Woodrow Hartzog will be an instructor, focusing on privacy and the FTC, at this year’s IAPP Information Privacy Summer Institute. Find the IAPP’s burgeoning FTC Casebook here.
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

Facebook COO: “Privacy Is of the Utmost Concern”

April 22, 2014

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg says despite the use of personalized advertisements, the company is very protective of its users’ privacy and personal data, The Press Association reports. Facebook users retain control of users’ data, she said: “When we are able to personalize ads, we are doing that without sharing their private data with any advertisers.” Meanwhile, a new app aims to help parents ensure their kids use Facebook safely without having to access their kids’ accounts or even “friend” them online, and another app indicates how much of a user’s life is exposed on Facebook via charts and info-graphics.
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PRIVACY BUSINESS

Evidon Changes Name; Offers Broader Site-Monitoring for Publishers

April 22, 2014

Evidon is changing its name to Ghostery—the name of its consumer-targeted browser app, used by 15 million people currently—and launching a platform for managing website vendor technologies, Advertising Age reports. Evidon “has taken the massive pool of data from its growing panel of Ghostery users and is serving it up to companies including Target and Equifax” to help them keep a watchful eye on the ad-tech vendors operating on their sites, the report states. The system will show clients “which analytics or ad-technology firms are gathering data on their users, dragging down page loads or sharing information with other companies unbeknownst to the site publisher,” the report states.
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SURVEILLANCE—U.S.

Sheriff’s Dept. Secretly Tested Aircraft Surveillance

April 22, 2014

In 2012, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent a civilian aircraft over Compton, CA, to secretly test mass surveillance technology, The Atlantic reports, capturing everything within the 10-square-mile municipality without residents’ knowledge. “We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” said Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems, the purveyor of the technology. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so to mitigate those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush," said Sgt. Douglas Iketani.
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PERSONAL PRIVACY

Why Public Shaming Needs To Stop

April 21, 2014

A recent court ruling on GoDaddy.com v Hollie Toups, Et Al. reveals the thorny legal issues involved for victims seeking redress in cases of “revenge porn.” Yet, that is not the only form of online shaming. Take, for example, the Facebook group calling itself “Women Who Eat on Tubes.” This group—armed with nearly 27,000 members—looks for contributors to send in photos and corollary stories of women eating food while on London’s public rail transportation. Part of the protocol for posting such photos is to include time of day the photo was taken and on which rail line. This Privacy Perspectives post examines the online shaming of both strangers and exes, how it disproportionately affects women and how narrowly crafted law can help maintain, rather than hinder, a free, fair and open Internet.
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PRIVACY LAW

Industry Asking for Legislation in Some Cases, Fighting It in Others

April 21, 2014

While the retail and drone industries are wary of some state laws getting traction in the U.S., a software industry executive in Africa is touting the need for a continent-wide privacy law to drive cloud adoption. In this Privacy Tracker weekly legislative roundup, read about concerns surrounding the Pakistani-proposed cybercrime law, EU member states’ reactions to the EU Court of Justice’s decision on the Data Protection Directive and which sections of South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act are now in effect. (IAPP member login required.)
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BEHAVIORAL TARGETING

Tips To Help Detect “Creep”

April 21, 2014

The Future of Privacy Forum’s Jules Polonetsky, CIPP/US, and IAPP VP of Research and Education Omer Tene ask, “What is creepy?” and suggest in this Re/Code report that if businesses knew the answer to that question, they would “steer clear of privacy snafus and consumer backlash.” They write, Creepiness, defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as something ‘producing a nervous shivery apprehension,’ has become a veritable term of art among privacy professionals.” They share examples of personalization strategies erring on the side of “creepy” rather than “cool,” quoting a recent Privacy Perspectives post where Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E, wrote, “Is this really the beginning of an era where companies must include a set of social instructions with a new product?” Polonetsky and Tene offer organizations tips and pointers to assist them in detecting “creep.”
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PRIVACY BUSINESS

Hoffman: Businesses Benefit from Proactively Addressing Privacy

April 21, 2014

David Hoffman, CIPP/US, examines the value of privacy in the digital economy for Harvard Business Review. “While a digital economy requires businesses to rethink priorities and practices, this doesn’t have to be a burden,” he writes, suggesting “privacy protection should be a practice as fundamental to the business as customer service.” With consumer trust eroded by their perceptions of organizations’ level of privacy protections and concerns about security breaches, Hoffman contends that “any business will benefit from proactively tackling privacy issues in one of three primary ways: protecting your brand, offering a competitive advantage from integrating privacy and security features into products and services and creating new products and services designed to protect personal data.”
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