2014-06-06 11.13.06 am

Using the Internet to erase history

Using the Internet to erase history

The day Google opened its online submission process to comply with the European “right to be forgotten” ruling, the company received 12,000 requests – one every seven seconds – from users demanding that information be pulled from search results.

The cost of ignoring those requests, or getting them “wrong” in the eyes of the EU courts? Google could face fines of a billion dollars per incident. In the European Union, the process of whitewashing history is underway.

With the ruling, the court is forcing Google to perform the impossible balancing act between the newly invented “right” be forgotten and the Internet’s unique power to preserve, contextualize, and disseminate information.

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2014-06-09 09.07.18 am

As You Were Saying . . . Mass. driving to extremes

As You Were Saying…Mass. driving to extremes

As the national debate over license plate readers reaches consensus on an approach that protects privacy and safety concerns alike, Massachusetts has veered down a radical path by considering a new bill that would sidetrack cops and severely weaken technology that saves lives and protects communities.

This bill does nothing to strengthen or safeguard Registry of Motor Vehicle databases or in any way ensure that they are being used effectively for purposes allowed under existing federal privacy protections.

Instead, the bill borrows heavily from an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) draft in banning private collection of license plate data and drastically limiting how long police can store license plate images.

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2014-06-06 11.13.06 am

Privacy advocates say “No” to tagging, even on your own computer

Privacy advocates say “No” to tagging, even on your own computer

The debate over commercial and personal use of facial recognition technology was bound to be contentious once you put technology companies in the same room with hard-line privacy advocates.  But recent developments call into question whether compromise is even possible.

In February, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) kicked-off a process to develop a voluntary code of conduct for how companies and their customers use facial recognition tools. This week, participants in the process – including privacy advocates, companies, and technologists – will meet again to try finding areas of consensus.

If recent history is any indication, consensus will be very hard to find.

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California Constution

Californians Overwhelmingly Support Use of License Plate Readers and Their Ability to Solve Crimes, New Survey Finds

The majority of Californians agree that license plate reader (LPR) technology helps law enforcement solve crimes and any restrictions on who can photograph license plates would be unacceptable, according to a new poll conducted by Zogby Analytics and commissioned by Vigilant Solutions. 

The poll of 800 California residents (with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%), conducted during the first week in April, showed overwhelming support for the benefits of LPR technology and disdain for government limits on personal and corporate photography.

By more than a 6:1 margin, California residents said that they believe that license plate recognition technology helps to solve crimes.  Read more

PassTheBuck

Catch the Criminals – Don’t Pass the Buck

When a crime is committed it’s the criminal that is responsible.  But some in Congress think that since capturing cyber-criminals is challenging we should hold online services accountable.  That’s like holding Ford accountable for making the car a bank-robber uses.

But that didn’t stop the attempts by Sen. McCain to assign false blame at today’s Senate hearing on a threat to consumers called “malvertisements” — when a cyber-criminal injects malware into an online ad and then misleads an ad network into displaying the contaminated ad.

I appreciated the shift in focus from privacy to security as threats to consumers’ security pose real harms.  Unfortunately, the hearing was more about trying to assign liability rather than talking about catching the criminal perpetrators of this new form of malware. Read more

mixed-bag-web

White House Delivers a Mixed Bag with Big Data Report

Like many in the technology space, I was pleasantly surprised last week when the White House delivered a balanced report on Big Data addressing the challenges posed by ubiquitous information sharing with the real value that sharing provides us. It’s just unfortunate that the report didn’t address the greatest public concern post-Snowden — government surveillance.

The report could have analyzed government access to our online accounts but instead chose a less self-critical route by raising bombastic specters of corporate misuse. Read more

iawful logo building texture

Spring 2014 iAWFUL List – Consumers in the Crosshairs

Twice a year, the team releases an updated iAWFUL list. The list provides a concise collection of both active and proposed legislation that would present a significant non-market barrier to Internet commerce.

This year’s list is full of legislative efforts run amok. As legislators and regulators fall over themselves in a race to regulate Internet services, many are doing more harm than good. In many cases unfamiliarity with technology or misinformation is driving action.

Data breaches and privacy concerns have whipped elected officials into action, but as the 2014 iAWFUL list finds, elected officials are making things worse. Read more

CASTILLA_LA_MANCHA_-_MOLINOS_DE_CONSUEGRA

States Tilting at LPR Privacy Windmills – at a cost to citizens safety

Like Don Quixote charging dragons that don’t exist, states like Maryland are tilting at license plate recognition (LPR) technology.

This week Maryland legislators, listening to over-the-top rhetoric, introduced a bill to restrict law enforcement’s use of LPR technology – significantly diminishing law enforcement’s ability to stop crimes and save lives.

These concerns take the shape of potential abuses of LPR.  Fortunately, existing police policies, federal laws, and the LPR providers already address the privacy concerns regarding the use of LPR.  Read more

Target Breach Notice

The Cost of Collateral Damage from Data Breaches

Consumers come first.  The theft of data affecting thousands of shoppers from the servers of Target and Nieman Marcus could harm individuals. And the threat of identity theft has exploded, rising by more than 50 percent from 2005 through 2010.

Media and policymakers are right to focus on customer plight.  But we shouldn’t forget that data theft also costs retailers too and we shouldn’t resort to new legislation that penalizes the victim.

With any data breach, businesses face the obvious damage to trust and consumer confidence.  Consumers start shopping at competitors and become skeptical of loyalty cards.  But there’s also the monetary cost of a data breach cutting a business’s ability to meet investor expectations, grow and create jobs. Read more