Privacy Act of 1974 — The Department of Justice published a notice proposing to update the Routine Uses of its systems and databases under the Privacy Act of 1974. The proposal was not precise enough, and was written in such a way as to allow sensitive Privacy Act systems such as the Criminal Division Witness Security File (CRM-002), the Witness Immunity Records (CRM-022), and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS, FBI-018) to be disclosed to almost anyone in certain circumstances, including to individuals working outside of law enforcement. The World Privacy Forum is requesting that the DOJ significantly tighten its language in the proposal, and to specify what individuals or entities may have access to these sensitive records, under what specific conditions. The World Privacy Forum is also requesting the DOJ republish all of its up-to-date system of records notices in their entirety immediately and at least every two years thereafter.
Genetic privacy — Genome-wide association studies present complex and challenging privacy issues. The National Institutes of Health, in a published request for information, asked for public comment on its proposed policy regarding its support and management of a central genomic repository for genome-wide association studies. In comments filed with the National Institutes of Health, the World Privacy Forum raised concerns about the proposed NIH policy in the specific areas of genetic identifiability, secondary uses of the genetic data, oversight, legal protections, and informed consent.
Privacy Act of 1974 — In response to a proposed Department of Homeland Security rulemaking regarding a system of records, the World Privacy Forum filed comments requesting changes. The primary objections are that the proposed system of records commingles records and functions, the proposed exemption is inconsistent with the system notice, and DHS’s proposed exemption from civil remedies was not correct, among other issues. The World Privacy Forum stated in its comments that the Department of Homeland Security should demonstrate its commitment to accountability and transparency in the rulemaking.
Internet privacy — The World Privacy Forum announced today that it would be filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the posting by AOL of a portion of its users’ search data on the Internet. While the data was not expressly identified by name, the search queries themselves included in some cases personally identifiable information such as individuals’ names, Social Security Numbers, and myriad other personal information. The World Privacy Forum urges consumers to take precautions when using search engines.
AOL released three months’ worth of the detailed search queries of 657,000-plus of its users. The approximately 20 million search queries and the additional data on users’ click-throughs to web sites in the search results are generally highly revealing of individuals’ personal, financial, political, medical, religious, and other preferences as well as the businesses and people they associate with.