Internet Privacy

Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Report on PRISM publishes; reveals split

An important report came out today from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the board that was appointed to be a privacy watchdog for the US government surveillance programs. The newly released report covers PRISM and other Section 702 surveillance programs conducted under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The report is complex, and provides important benchmarking on how PRISM and “upstream” surveillance programs work. The report’s recommendations, however, are what have proven to be more controversial.

Good privacy decision in Amazon v. Lay fight to keep customer information private

Resource | case file — Amazon.com filed a lawsuit in April to fight the North Carolina Department of Revenue’s request for detailed information on Amazon.com customers. The North Carolina tax department requested Amazon.com to hand over “all information for all sales to customers with a North Carolina shipping address” between 2003 to 2010. In the decision, Seattle, Washington U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman wrote, “Citizens are entitled to receive information and ideas through books, films, and other expressive materials anonymously.” She also stated that “The fear of government tracking and censoring one\’s reading, listening, and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights.” This is an important decision for privacy rights, and online privacy in particular.

Genetic regulations and privacy: Department of Labor

Genetic privacy — The World Privacy Forum filed comments today with the Department of Labor requesting that the DOL expand its protections of how genetic information may be used by health insurance companies or group health plans. The World Privacy Forum urged the DOL to include genetic information posted on social networking sites in its consideration of the GINA regulations.

OECD reaffirms its support for the 1980 OECD principles on privacy, or “Fair Information Practices”

OECD | Fair Information Practices — At a key meeting of the OECD on the future of the Internet economy, the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria reaffirmed support of the 1980 OECD Privacy Principles. Also, Secretary General Angel Gurria expressed support for formalizing the participation of civil society in OECD going forward and for paying more attention to information security and identity theft problems. Secretary General Gurria noted that “A more decentralised, networked approach to policy formulation for the Internet Economy that includes the active participation of stakeholders needs to be the norm.” Many parts of the recent OECD meeting may be viewed online.