Consumer Alert

WPF urges stakeholders to put the consumer first, focus on what is important

Mobile privacy — Mobile app privacy is the topic of the multistakeholder process to be undertaken this week under the direction of the US Department of Commerce. Over the weekend, a NYT article revealed that mobile carriers received more than 1.3 million requests by law enforcement for mobile data, including requests for text messages. This article is a focusing event. It is a reminder that in mobile privacy we need to put the consumer first, focus on what is important, and apply responsibility for privacy and transparency throughout the hierarchy of mobile players, from carriers to platforms to app stores to publishers to developers. It is unclear yet what segments of the hierarchy require what amounts of the burden, but what is clear is that carriers will certainly need to do a lot. It is also clear that the idea of just an icon on a screen to communicate the idea of mobile privacy to consumers is a band-aid approach at best when faced with the truth of where some of the real risks are for consumers.

FTC starts sending out checks to LifeLock victims

LifeLock — The Federal Trade Commission began sending checks to almost a million consumers who were subscribers to the LifeLock ID theft protection service. LifeLock agreed to pay fines of $11 million to the FTC and $1 million to a group of state attorneys generals to settle charges that had been made against the company. Consumers with questions about this distribution may call 888-288-0783 or see the FTC’s web page on this, http://www.ftc.gov/refunds.

Consumer Alert: Monster.com announces another big data breach

Monster.com | Consumer Alert | Job search privacy — According to the job site Monster.com, its users’ IDs and passwords, email addresses, names, phone numbers, and some “basic demographic data” were compromised in a data breach. Monster notified victims of the security breach through its web site on Friday, January 23, 2009. It is unclear how many people this notice impacts, as Monster.com did not give an estimate. In press reports, however, Monster has admitted that the breach is global, with Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe being spared. Job seekers’ information can be used like a road map for criminal ventures, including identity theft, phishing and spamming. User passwords, which Monster.com says were compromised in this breach, are especially valuable as they can potentially be used to access other sites or email accounts, especially if a person regularly uses the same passwords. The World Privacy Forum has published a consumer alert about this data breach with tips for victims. This data breach also impacts USAjobs.com, the government job search site affiliated wiith Monster.com.

WPF Consumer Advisory: The Potential Privacy Risks in Personal Health Records Every Consumer Needs to Know About

Consumer advisory | PHRs and privacy — The World Privacy Forum has issued a consumer advisory about the privacy of PHRs to help consumers understand and approach the complex privacy issues PHRs can raise. Consumers need to know that not all PHRs protect privacy in the same way, and some PHR systems can undermine consumer privacy in serious ways that consumers may not be expecting.