TAG | Privacy
A guest post by Janelle Pierce who enjoys writing about various business issues, and spends her time answering questions like, “what is point of sale”?
“A statement or a legal document (privacy law) that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses and manages a customer or client’s data. Personal information can be anything that can be used to identify an individual, not limited to but including; name, address, date of birth, marital status, contact information, ID issue and expiry date, financial records, credit information, medical history, where you travel, and intentions to acquire goods and services.”
Which brings me to the point I’d like to make, that is, I think Chau’s idea to force privacy policies to a maximum of 100 words, and require that they’re written at an eighth grade reading level, is a good one. However, I do feel it has a few drawbacks that almost invalidate its ability to be credible. First, requiring that a legal document be 100 words or less is a little short sighted. Don’t get me wrong, I think the thought behind making this otherwise lengthy, unreadable, and downright obnoxious (yet important) document accessible to everyone is a great goal, but requiring 100 words or less doesn’t offer a company the chance to disclose everything they need to disclose. I think a maximum word count should be required, but there is no reason it needs to be so low.
Do you read privacy policies or simply click “accept”? Share your thoughts below.
For millennia people have asked the question “what happens to us when we die?”
While the larger spiritual question will continue to be debated, the question about what happens to our on-line data and presence is more recent, and also more tractable.
Until very recently little thought has been given to this issue. Accounts would continue until subscriptions lapsed, the website shut down, or the account was closed for inactivity.
This has lead to some rather creepy results. I have lost some friends over the last few years, but I continue to be haunted by their unquiet spirits, which remind me of their birthdays, ask me to suggest other friends for them, and generally keep bobbing in my virtual peripheral vision.
Many social media sites do have a process for dealing with accounts after the death of their owners, but they are cumbersome and I have never actually seen them used. Generally, they are only engaged postmortem, by the family of the deceased. Assuming that they don’t have the passwords to the account, they need to contact the provider in writing and provide proof that they are a relative and of the death of the account’s owner.
Google has an interesting idea that I would like to see other sites adopt. They have set up the “Google Inactive Account Manager” which allows the user to specify what will happen in advance. The user specifies what length of inactivity should be taken as a sign of death. Once that is triggered, Google contacts the user using secondary email accounts and phone numbers, if available, to make sure this was not just a long vacation or a loss of interest. If there is no response to that, then the Inactive Account Manager kicks in.
It notifies a list of people that you specify that this has happened. You have the option of having your data packaged up and sent to some or all of those people. Finally, you may have it delete your account, or leave it available but closed as a memorial.
This may not be the perfect implementation of this concept, but it is an important step.
So please, set up your digital will, and lets put a stop to the digital zombie apocalypse.
The right to be forgotten is a topic discussed more in Europe than in the US. The core question is whether you have a right to control information about yourself that is held and published on the Internet by third parties.
This includes social media, news sites, discussion forums, search engine results, and web archives.
The information in question may be true or false, and anything from embarrassing to libelous.
Often discussions about removing old information center on calls for Google to remove information from their search results. I think they are chosen because they are the dominant search engine, and people feel that if the information is not shown in Google, then it is effectively gone. Of course, search engines are really just pointing to the actual data, while generally lives on some other website.
Being removed from Google does nothing to the existence of the information, nor would it impact indexing of that information by other search engines.
Even if you get the hosting website to remove the information, there are many organizations like archive.org who may have copied and archived the information, thus keeping it alive and available.
Here are some examples of information that you might want removed.
- Racist rantings on an old social media site to which access has been lost.
- Drunk party pictures on a friend’s social media account.
- Newspaper articles about dubious business activities.
- Court records of a conviction after the sentence has been completed.
- Negative reviews on a review website.
- Unflattering feedback on a dating website.
In many of these cases, your “right to be forgotten” runs directly into another person’s “right to free speech”.
My thinking on this is still evolving, and I would welcome your thoughts and feedback. Right now I think that the free speech right trumps the right to be forgotten except in specific situations which need to be legally carved out individually; things like limitations on how long credit information should be allowed to follow you. Of course, the problem will be that every country will draw these lines differently, making enforcement and compliance very difficult, and leading to opportunities for regulatory arbitrage.
We are already seeing this in the EU. While most of the EU is moving towards codifying a right to be forgotten, the UK is planning to opt out of that.
Cnet reports that an internal DEA document reveals that the DEA are unable to intercept text messages sent over Apple’s iMessage protocol.
The protocol provides end to end encryption for messages between iOS and Mac OS X devices.
This is not to suggest that the encryption in iMessages is particularly good, but to contrast with standard text messages and voice calls which are completely unprotected within the phone company’s networks.
It appears that an active man in the middle attack would be able to thwart the encryption, but would be significantly more effort. The lack of any kind of out of band channel authentication suggests that such an attack should not be too difficult.
If you really need to protect your chat messages, I suggest using a tool like Silent Text. They take some steps that make man in the middle attacks almost impossible.
The House Judiciary Committee is going to be discussing the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. There is a chance that they will strengthen it.
This act was written decades ago, before there were any real cloud solutions. Email was downloaded by your email client, and immediately deleted from the server. They law assumed that any email left on a server more than 180 days had been abandoned, and so no warrant was required for law enforcement to obtain it.
These days, with services like gmail, we tend to keep our email on the servers for years, with no thought that it has been abandoned. Law enforcement is opposing reforms of this law because it would make their work more difficult. Doubtless it would, as does almost any civil liberty.
Earlier this month Zoe Lofgren introduced the Online Communications and Geolocation Protection act, amending ECPA. It would require a warrant to obtain cell phone location information. There is clearly some momentum for reform.