European Data Protection Digest

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman. Dare I say, be careful what you wish for, Virginia Wolf. Judging by the research my colleague Jed Bracy has been doing on “revenge porn,” women today might just face the exact opposite challenge. For those unfamiliar with revenge porn, it is the practice of posting online nude pictures of a person (surprisingly (not) women most of the times) out of revenge. The perpetrators are usually ex-boyfriends. You know how when we were young our exes would spread false rumours about us in school to get back at us? Same thing more or less—except that, instead of a rumour, in this case the exes disseminate pictures and their audience expands well beyond a school’s walls. Not to mention the right to be forgotten (or lack thereof) implications. It’s basically stalking on steroids.

As creepy as revenge porn is, in a recent blog post, Jed also brought to my attention this gem of a Facebook group that is WWEOT, Women Who Eat on Tubes (as in the London underground). So much has been written about this group (see this article from the The Guardian, for example) that I’d rather not waste another word about it. Interestingly, though, TFL’s enforcement director has been quoted as saying that, whilst taking photos on the Tube isn’t illegal (fair enough) they ask anyone doing so to ensure that they use common sense and respect for other passengers. Yes, common sense and respect are exactly the notions that spring to mind here.  

So let’s think—I am definitely not from the “selfie generation” and might be immune from revenge porn, but now I can’t even eat crisps on the Tube?

We have a saying here in Italy that goes something like this: The mother of the ignorant ones is always pregnant.

Rita Di Antonio
Managing Director
IAPP Europe

Top European Privacy and Data Protection News

PRIVACY LAW—EU

WP: Search Engines Violate Data Protection Rules (May 28, 2010)

The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party announced Wednesday that search engine operators Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are not compliant with the EU's data protection rules. The group sent letters to the companies, U.S. Federal Trade Commission and EU Commissioner Viviane Reding specifying that the methods used to make search data anonymous do not comply with the EU's Data Protection Directive. The Working Party also wants the time period in which data is kept before it is made anonymous reduced to six months. The Wall Street Journal reports that while Yahoo and Microsoft fall within that timeframe, Google has responded that it keeps search queries for nine months to provide "the best experience for users both in terms of respect for their privacy and the quality and security of our services." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

Facebook Privacy Changes Receive Mixed Responses (May 28, 2010)

Privacy groups have given a "half-hearted" welcome to Facebook's announcement that it will be rolling out simplified privacy settings in the weeks ahead, The Guardian reports, with Privacy International suggesting they "merely correct some of the most unacceptable privacy settings on the site. Very little has changed in terms of the overall privacy challenge that Facebook and its users need to navigate." In Germany, officials are reviewing the site's terms and conditions to ensure compliance with that nation's strict data protection standards. Carola Elbrecht of Germany's national consumer protection agency said the group will file an injunction if it finds noncompliance. Meanwhile, Facebook released more details about the changes on its blog yesterday.
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PRIVACY LAW—EU & U.S.

Commission Adopts Draft Data Transfer Mandate (May 28, 2010)

The European Commission has adopted a draft mandate to negotiate a personal data protection agreement between the EU and U.S. for information shared during criminal investigations or anti-terrorism efforts, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reports. The goal is to ensure protection of personal information such as passenger data or financial records transferred during instances of transatlantic cooperation in criminal matters, the report states. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said she expects "one to two years will be necessary" to complete such a deal.  According to a statement from the commission, "The agreement would enhance the right of citizens to access, rectify or delete data, where appropriate. EU citizens would receive a right to seek judicial redress in the U.S. if their data is unlawfully processed."
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PRIVACY LAW—UK

Queen: New Law Will “Restore Freedoms and Civil Rights” (May 28, 2010)

"Legislation will be brought forward to restore freedoms and civil liberties through the abolition of identity cards and repeal of unnecessary laws." Those were the words of the Queen during her speech at the state opening of parliament on Tuesday. Home Secretary Theresa May said Thursday that the bill will be the first piece of legislation introduced to parliament by the new government, The Guardian reports. The "Freedom Bill" calls for abolishing second-generation biometric passports and national ID cards and also includes adopting the Scottish model for the National DNA Database in both England and Wales and further regulation of CCTV.
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PRIVACY LAW—IRELAND

Gov’t Group Wants Breach Notifications, Sanctions (May 28, 2010)

A government-appointed review group has concluded that data controllers should face sanctions for deliberate or reckless breaches of data protection law, reports The Irish Times. The Data Protection Review Group recommends the creation of a statutory code of practice outlining when data controllers must disclose that a breach has occurred and stating that failure to disclose a breach leads to prosecution. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern welcomed the report, saying that measures to help prevent data breaches will boost consumers' confidence in e-commerce. He will now consider the report's recommendations at the EU level before deciding if Irish legislation needs to be updated, the report states.
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GEO PRIVACY—FRANCE

CNIL Issues Vehicle Location Guidelines (May 28, 2010)

The French data protection agency has issued recommendations on geo-location systems intended to support pay-as-you-drive programs as well as the anti-theft and emergency call system offerings of insurance companies and auto makers, insurancenews.net reports. The guidance includes recommended limits on how long vehicle location data should be retained and places limits on how much data insurers can access, among others.
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Opinion: On the Internet, Our Secrets Are Worth Billions (May 28, 2010)

Privacy concerns over access to the content we create on the Internet have taken the focus away from data we put out there for companies to collect, but that is where our primary concerns should be, Aditya Chakrabortty reports in a column for The Guardian. Search engines, online retailers and other Web-based companies "have only got better at taking our information and analysing it," Chakrabortty writes, while, "we have handed over intimate information--in clicks and search terms and hours of browsing--about ourselves with barely any questions asked." The result, he suggests, is making "commercial Internet enterprises the under-regulated custodian of our most intimate intentions and secrets...and it's a database worth billions."
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DATA LOSS—UK

HMRC Investigates Tax Data Breach (May 27, 2010)

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is investigating a breach involving taxpayer data, The Register reports. HMRC sent 50,000 letters to tax credit recipients, some of which contained details about other taxpayers, the report states. The agency has not disclosed how many customers have been affected by what it describes as a printer's error. "HMRC takes data security extremely seriously," a spokeswoman said. "Unfortunately, an error has occurred in one of the tax credit print runs causing some customer information to be wrongly formatted." The breach comes as the agency works to implement Poynter Review data protection recommendations made after the 2007 data breach involving HMRC's child benefit database.
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Google Unable to Meet Regulators’ Data Deadline (May 27, 2010)

Google will not comply with requests from regulators in Germany and Hong Kong to surrender data collected from unsecured wireless networks, citing the need to address the "legal and logistical process for making data available." The New York Times reports that Google implied German privacy laws were preventing the disclosure, but Hamburg Data Protection Supervisor Johannes Caspar said the request would not constitute "criminal behavior" so there was "no apparent reason to still withhold the data from us." According to Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner Roderick B. Woo, Google is not "taking the matter seriously enough. Unless some remedial measures are taken by Google promptly, I shall have to consider escalating the situation and resort to more assertive action." In the U.S., meanwhile, where lawsuits continue to be filed over the company's WiFi data collection, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has sent a letter to Google seeking details on how it "accidentally collected private data." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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BEHAVIOURAL TARGETING—UK

OFT Plans Could Signal More Oversight (May 27, 2010)

The British Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced Tuesday that it will back a self-regulatory approach to behavioural advertising practices. But the agency also voiced concerns about privacy issues and said it is working with the Information Commissioner's Office to strengthen regulations "should industry action prove ineffective." A Financial Times report suggests this might be "the first hint that the OFT and the Information Commissioner's Office could bring formal regulation to what has previously been a self-governing sector." AFP outlines the privacy concerns associated with behavioural advertising in this report.
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DATA PROTECTION—EU & U.S.

Privacy Group: Safe Harbor Certification Does Not Guarantee Compliance (May 26, 2010)

The Düsseldorfer Kreis, an informal group of Germany's private sector data protection entities, is cautioning that even if U.S. companies are part of the Safe Harbor data protection agreement, European companies should not take their word on compliance with EU privacy requirements. OUT-LAW.com reports that the group instead urges EU firms to conduct their own reviews of U.S. companies certified under Safe Harbor as complying with similar privacy standards to those enforced in the EU. "At the very least, the exporting company must clarify when the Safe Harbor certification of the U.S. company was issued," the Düsseldorfer Kreis recommends, noting that, "Any certification older than seven years old is not valid."
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ONLINE PRIVACY

The Dangers of “You Are What You Buy” Sites (May 24, 2010)

Shoppers are sharing everything from how much they paid for lunch to where they're traveling through purchase-based networking sites Blippy and Swipely, prompting privacy advocates to warn such information could be at risk. The Washington Post reports on concerns about divulging "a dangerous level of personal financial information" that could be gold for behavioral advertisers. Blippy users, for example, share details on about $1.5 million worth of transactions every week, the report states, and give the company access to credit, debit and online accounts to create purchase histories and post new transactions to the site. "Blippy already knows what you're doing with every swipe," the report states, "And friends, or strangers, can join your network and watch your money leave your wallet." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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ONLINE PRIVACY—SWITZERLAND

Thür: A Change in Legislation Needed (May 24, 2010)

According to Swiss Data Protection Commissioner Hanspeter Thür, new rules should be put in place to regulate Internet service companies that handle sensitive personal data, reports swissinfo.ch.  "A change in legislation is needed...for all IT applications," Thür told the Sonntag newspaper. "Everyone that offers applications on the market that could harm personal rights must be certified." The commissioner is currently in a legal dispute with Google over its Street View mapping service, as well as part of a multinational effort taking the company to task for collecting personal data from unprotected wireless networks while taking pictures for Street View.
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ONLINE PRIVACY—EU

European Commission Unveils Digital Agenda for Europe (May 21, 2010)

Improving Internet trust and security is one of the goals of the European Commission's Digital Agenda for Europe, which was unveiled on Wednesday, EUobserver reports. In a release outlining the 10-year action plan, the commission calls for a "better coordinated European response to cyber-attacks and reinforced rules on personal data protection" as well as actions requiring Web sites "to inform their users about security breaches affecting their personal data." The plan also calls for tougher laws against such attacks and an increased role for the European Network and Information Security Agency, the report states, and will rely on 100 separate actions to accomplish its seven goals related to information and communication technologies.
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ONLINE PRIVACY

More Investigations Launched (May 21, 2010)

Spain, France and the Czech Republic have joined a growing list of data protection authorities planning to investigate Google for its collection of personal data sent over wireless networks, The New York Times reports. Officials in Germany, Australia and elsewhere are already investigating what data was collected by cars capturing photos for the company's Street View mapping feature and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle rebuked company co-founder Larry Page during a meeting yesterday. It remains to be seen what will come out of the various investigations, but a Hamburg-based privacy lawyer said the company can probably expect fines. However, said Ulrich Börger of the firm Latham Watkins, "What is probably much more worrisome to the company is the potential loss of image."
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FINANCIAL PRIVACY—ITALY

Police Reviewing Stolen Account Information (May 21, 2010)

Italian finance police investigating instances of possible tax evasion or money laundering are reviewing a list of more than 7,000 Swiss bank accounts stolen by a former bank employee earlier this year, Bloomberg reports. The names are included on a list of 127,000 accounts belonging to 80,000 people, the report states. HSBC previously confirmed that French authorities had obtained details on about 24,000 accounts that were stolen by the employee in March, stating that while the theft posed a threat to client privacy, the data in question would not allow third-party access to the accounts. Tensions persist between Switzerland and countries that are willing to pay for stolen data to pursue tax evaders, the report states.
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

Facebook Hunkers Down While Users Open Up (May 21, 2010)

The backlash to recent changes by Facebook to make more public users' profiles has resulted in all-hands and closed-door meetings at the company's headquarters, The Wall Street Journal reports. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is looking into how social networks use members' data and European regulators are calling on the company to address what they describe as "unacceptable" practices. "The company can't afford not to act" the report states. But one blogger asserts that the privacy concerns are overblown, saying that "FB is a publishing function" and users give up privacy in order to use it. "If you think it's a problem," writes Mark Cuban, "deactivate your account." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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ONLINE PRIVACY—EUROPE

Smart Grid, Meters Come with Concerns (May 21, 2010)

The European Voice reports on the emergence of the smart grid and its associated privacy concerns. Several European states plan to incorporate smart meters into every household in the coming years, but authorities need to take into consideration the implications, experts say. "Many people do not like the idea of utility companies having a permanent window on their private life," said a renewable energy analyst at Datamonitor. Europe's commissioner for consumer policy, John Dalli, recently warned the electricity industry that privacy concerns should be addressed "proactively and not just simply to comply with legislation."
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PERSONAL PRIVACY—UK

Tracking Your Every Mile (May 21, 2010)

British Transport Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed this week that the government is revisiting a pay-as-you-drive revenue producing scheme that would track vehicles on trunk roads, reports the The Times. The Department of Transport has for almost two years been testing "black boxes" that transmit drivers' movement and speed data from cars to a central computer, the report states. Hammond says the program is currently only being considered for lorries and will not, during the lifetime of the current parliament, include cars, but some privacy advocates aren't convinced. "Creating large databases, filling them with (information on) the entire population and using them to track their daily lives is simply unacceptable," said Michael Parker, a spokesman for privacy rights organisation NO2ID. "It is about the principle of separating government and the rights of the individual."
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PRIVACY LAW—UK

New Center to Support Privacy Cause (May 20, 2010)

Britain's Law Society and Privacy International are teaming up to help usher in a more privacy-sensitive society, the Financial Times reports. On the heels of the new coalition government's promise to "reverse and restrain many of the surveillance systems that have marked its citizens out as the most watched in the world," the groups today launched a center dedicated to helping individuals take part in that effort. The founders hope to shadow the government agenda by "helping create a respect for privacy that reaches into the DNA of society" and by empowering more individuals to bring claims against those alleged to have breached their privacy. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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BEHAVIORAL TARGETING

Study: Regulations Affect Ads’ Effectiveness (May 20, 2010)

A study conducted by marketing professors concludes that even moderate regulation impacts the effectiveness of ad targeting, reports MediaPost News. The study explored European participants' intent to purchase and compared the results with similar studies carried out in non-EU countries, concluding that online ad effectiveness in Europe is lower by more than 65 percent due to more stringent online privacy laws, the researchers say. Another academic suggests the findings may be due to greater consumer awareness in the EU about targeted ads rather than the regulations.
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PRIVACY LAW—FRANCE

Bill Shows Commitment to Data Protection (May 19, 2010)

Whether or not legislation "intended to better guarantee the right to privacy in the digital age" under review by the Law Commission of the French National Assembly is passed in its current form, its existence "demonstrates the importance attached to the protection of personal data by the French lawmaker," explain Cynthia O'Donoghue and Daniel Kadar of Reed Smith LLP. The bill's goals include educating students about the exposure of personal information on the Internet, reinforcing the obligations of data processors and increasing the powers of the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL)--including doubling the potential fines for infringements. The bill won strong majority support in the Senate, the report states, but does not have the French government's backing and is not likely to be passed without changes.
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

MySpace Launches Simplified Privacy Settings (May 18, 2010)

MySpace has announced it has created simplified privacy settings for user information, The Wall Street Journal reports. The new controls include giving users the option of selecting one privacy setting for all their information as well as choosing whether to make their profile public to friends only, to all users over the age of 18 or to everyone. MySpace users also have the ability to block the sharing of their information with other Web sites or third-party applications, the report states. In disclosing the company's new policies, MySpace Co-President Mike Jones said, "we want to get out and state a clear position so that our users understand that we take privacy very seriously." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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SOCIAL NETWORKING—UK

Report: UK Users Are Limiting Profile Access (May 18, 2010)

A report released Monday states that British subscribers to social networking sites such as Facebook are limiting those who can see their online profiles to friends and family, The Washington Post reports. Ofcom, Britain's communications regulator, released a portion of its Media Literacy reports that shows that in 2009, 80 percent of adults with a social networking profile allowed only friends and family to view their profiles, compared with 48 percent in 2007. The findings come as regulators and lawmakers worldwide examine ways to protect consumers' privacy in the social era. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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ONLINE PRIVACY

Tracking Web Users? No Cookies Necessary (May 18, 2010)

Deleting those cookies from your Web browser is not enough to protect your privacy online, an Electronic Frontier Foundation computer scientist asserts in a paper due to be formally presented this summer. CNET News reports on Peter Eckersley's findings that modern browsers have been designed to provide Web sites with "a torrent of information thought to be innocuous" that can actually become personally identifiable when taken in combination and compared with other browsers. Eckersley said the law should treat these "browser fingerprints" as personally identifiable information and is recommending changes to ensure browsers send less information about their configuration settings to Web sites.
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TRAVELLERS’ PRIVACY—EU

MEPs Suggest “Compromise Model” on PNR (May 7, 2010)

The European Parliament is holding up a vote on a 2007 agreement allowing EU governments to share passenger names records (PNR) with the U.S., European Voice reports, as MEPs remain convinced the plan breaches EU data protection rules. MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who has suggested there is "very little good" in the EU-U.S. accord, says parliament "will not vote on this, but we will try to work constructively to get something better." She has suggested a compromise EU "standard model" of PNR data that can be transferred to non-EU countries, and Cecilia Malmström, commissioner for home affairs, is to present a "PNR package" to comply with EU rules before the end of July. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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SURVEILLANCE—NORWAY

Support for EU DRD Could Mean “Surveillance Regime” (May 7, 2010)

An opinion poll has found that 51 percent of the public are in favour of implementing the EU's Data Retention Directive (DRD), but Norwegian privacy advocates remain concerned. The Foreigner reports that Gunnel Helmers of the Data Inspectorate believes that although "people are increasingly concerned about privacy, we see a tendency towards numerous believing it doesn't concern them. It's a rather abstract issue, and many think they've nothing to hide. But we all do." Regardless of majority support for the plan, Lars-Henrik Parup Michelson, head of an independent bipartisan campaign against the DRD, cautions, "We're talking about a directive that will introduce one of the most comprehensive surveillance regimes in Norway's history."
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SOCIAL NETWORKING—EU

Lack of “Safer Social Networking” Could Prompt New EU Legislation (May 7, 2010)

With more and more Europeans sharing increasing amounts of personal data online, public authorities and privacy advocates are struggling to ensure that social networking sites and search engines are managing that information appropriately. European Voice reports on recent responses on both sides of the Atlantic to actions by social networking and Internet search giants that have raised privacy concerns. Efforts by the European Commission to convince providers to sign on to "safer social networking principles" has had "patchy progress," the report states, and European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx has advocated for new legislation to give users better control over their data. As European Commissioner Viviane Reding put it, "self-regulation is effective only when it is properly enforced." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—EU

EDPS: E-Health Must Have Privacy Safeguards (May 7, 2010)

While the European Commission and national governments favour e-health as a mechanism to drive down healthcare costs and improve patient care, "the potential can only be enjoyed in practice if we are successful in ensuring a strong trust...and a strong protection of health data." That is the message being shared by European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx as privacy advocates continue to raise concerns about e-health. European Voice reports on fears that "policymakers' enthusiasm for e-health may compromise sensitive patient information, which can be easily copied and transferred once it is in electronic form." European Commissioner Neelie Kroes has said e-health will be an integral part of a multi-annual work plan she is due to present later this month. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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PRIVACY LAW—U.S. & EUROPE

Draft U.S. Law Could Regulate Online Ads (May 7, 2010)

Draft legislation to address Internet privacy issues includes provisions related to targeted advertising, an issue that has been of interest in the UK and EU in recent months. The proposed law sets new rules for use of information, privacy notification and consent. When it comes to online advertising, the bill's sponsors stress the legislation will not disrupt the model, but "simply extends to consumers important baseline privacy protections." A report published in The Register points out that the UK Office of Fair Trading is conducting an investigation into whether it needs to take action to protect consumers over the use of their information to decide what ads they see, while the EU's former consumer affairs commissioner has also raised concerns about behavioural advertising.  
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DATA LOSS—UK

NHS Forth Valley Employee Suspended (May 7, 2010)

An NHS Forth Valley employee has been suspended for losing a memory stick that contained sensitive information about patients of a secure hospital near Falkirk, BBC reports. A 12-year-old boy found the device, which is being returned to the NHS. It contained patients' criminal histories and staff details. An NHS Forth Valley spokesperson said "We have clear policies in place on the safe use of portable data devices," and "We can confirm a member of staff has been suspended in connection with this incident." A Scottish government spokesperson described the incident as a "major breach" of standards.
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DATA LOSS—UK

Parties Could Be in Breach of DPA (May 7, 2010)

Political parties have been encouraging voters to send their postal vote application forms to local political offices instead of town halls, The Times reports, and those actions could be in violation of the Data Protection Act. Election officials have said the practice is open to abuse because the forms include voter signatures and dates of birth. If political parties copy any information from the forms or store the data, they could be in violation of the Data Protection Act, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has warned. An ICO spokesman said voters may be unaware of how their information could be used if submitted to the local party office.
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PERSONAL PRIVACY—UK

Opinion: Perfecting Personal Privacy Law (May 7, 2010)

In an op-ed for The Guardian, Henry Porter suggests ideas for new laws he would like to see enacted to protect personal freedom--and privacy. Porter suggests a personal information bill that "would gather together all present laws on personal information and data protection to give the ordinary citizen much greater ownership of his or her data." He goes on to write in favor of privacy impact assessments for all future legislation as well as children's information rights to address the use of CCTV and the collection of biometric data. "The last 10 years have seen an astonishing growth of biometrics in schools," he writes, adding, "children are being groomed for a life in the surveillance society."
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RFID—EU

Chip Technology Causes Concern (May 7, 2010)

RFID chips have become a standard tool in recent years and will soon be used by mobile-phone manufacturers to allow customer payments in shops, the European Voice reports. But the technology, identified by the European Commission as the building block of the "Internet of things," has elicited concerns from consumer groups about customer surveillance both in and out of shops, among other concerns. European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx said last year that the commission should be ready to propose legislation if self regulation by industry "does not deliver." Last week, Assistant Commissioner Gibranni Butarelli said the EU's existing approach of self-regulation "has been good so far but is probably not enough." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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BEHAVIOURAL TARGETING

Marketers Curtail BT Methods Due to Privacy Concerns (May 7, 2010)

A survey of marketers has revealed that privacy fears are slowing adoption of behavioural targeting methods, The New York Times reports. The Ponemon Institute surveyed 90 marketers for the independent study. Nearly all of the respondents indicated that privacy concerns had them restricting their use of the method, despite the fact that 70 percent feel the method is more effective and despite estimates on how much more lucrative it is than traditional advertising. "Privacy fears are definitely having an economic impact," said the institute's founder, Larry Ponemon, CIPP. While the advertising industry has increased its efforts to ease privacy fears, economists say "information asymmetry" is at least partially to blame for their persistence. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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PRIVACY LAW—EU & U.S.

Parliament: Protect Data Collected by U.S. Authorities (May 6, 2010)

The European Parliament has approved two resolutions calling for limitations on the use of personal data collected by U.S. authorities. European Voice reports that two separate data transfer requests are at issue: the collection of passenger name records (PNR) on transatlantic flights and the collection of bank transfer information. MEPs decided to postpone approval on the transfer of PNR, the report states, and are seeking negotiations with the U.S. covering all data transfer deals. The MEPs have also called for better safeguards to protect European financial data transmitted to U.S. authorities. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with MEPs today on balancing anti-terrorism initiatives and human rights. "The longer we are without an agreement," he warned, "the bigger the threat of a terrorist attack that could have been prevented."
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SOCIAL NETWORKING

An “Inopportunely Timed” Glitch Gets Fixed (May 6, 2010)

The New York Times reports on a glitch that gave Facebook users access to friends' chats for a few hours yesterday. The glitch has been fixed, but users are frustrated, the report states. "While this breach appears to be relatively small, it's inopportunely timed," said Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray. "It threatens to undermine what Facebook hopes to achieve with its network over the next few years, because users have to ask whether it is a platform worthy of their trust." Recent changes to site's privacy settings have elicited criticism from advocates and users alike. But the company's vice president for public policy said the unease is a reflection of a greater shift in the online world. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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TRAVELERS’ PRIVACY

Hotels Identify Guests Through Online Reviews (May 5, 2010)

An increasing number of hotels have been finding ways to figure out who you are if you're reviewing them anonymously online, The Washington Post reports. Travel experts point out that hotels are using such online data as locations, dates and usernames to narrow down identity. "Once they find a likely match," the report states, "the review is added to a hotel's guest preference records, next to information such as frequent-guest number, newspaper choice and preferred room type." One expert suggests that with the evolution of technology, "every hotel representative could have a toolbar on his or her computer that reveals everything about a guest at the click of a mouse." (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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