Modern Permanent Record

The modern permanent record is a set of disparate bits of information about you that can be pieced together from online, offline, and other data sources to create a mosaic of your likes, dislikes, characteristics, finances, education, buying habits, eating habits, health conditions, and more. This mosaic can contain segments that are stubbornly difficult to remove or change; we call this the “modern permanent record.”

WPF on CES Panel on Facial Recognition

Facial recognition — Pam Dixon spoke at a CES panel on privacy issues in facial recognition technologies as part of the Leaders in Technology program at CES. The panel was moderated by Tony Romm of Politico and included FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen and Harley Geiger, legislative counsel for Representative Zoe Lofgren. Dixon spoke on the need for increased work on consumer options in a “sensor rich environment where there is no option to opt out by walking out.” Referenced in the panel was WPF’s report on digital signage and facial recognition, The One-Way Mirror Society.

US Supreme Court delivers opinion about GPS tracking

01/23/2012 GPS tracking | United States v. Jones — The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police must get a warrant before using GPS devices to track criminal suspects. This case was narrow and dealt specifically with a GPS device physically attached to a suspect’s vehicle. The concurring opinion of Justice Sotomayor points out that the subtler issues of digital era tracking were not dealt with in this case, for example, cell phone tracking, web site tracking, etc. She wrote: “More fundamentally, it may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties. E.g., Smith, 442 U. S., at 742; United States v. Miller, 425 U. S. 435, 443 (1976).” She continued: “This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.”

FTC Privacy Roundtable: WPF to testify on information brokers

FTC Privacy Roundtable — WPF executive director Pam Dixon will testify at the FTC Privacy Roundtable about information brokers and commercial data practices and they impact consumers. Dixon will be discussing the business models of data brokers, issues with smart grids, and opt-out problems, among other issues.

World Privacy Forum comments on genetic non-discrimination to HHS

Genetic non-discrimination regulations (GINA) — The World Privacy Forum filed comments on proposed regulations for implementing Title I of GINA, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act. The WPF requested a change to the proposed regulations, asking the Department of Health and Human Services require immediate posting of revised notices of privacy practices on the web sites of affected health plans. Under the proposed regulations, written notice of revised privacy practices to individuals could be delayed due to the cost of postal mailing. The WPF noted that a revised privacy notice posted on a health plan’s web site would not incur postal costs, and that regulated entities should take this minimum step to inform consumers of any changes regarding privacy practices affecting genetic non-discrimination.

Facebook, MySpace, Xing receive warning letters from EU consumer group

Social networks — In the wake of Europe’s Article 29 Working Party Opinion on Social Network Providers adopted in June, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) has sent out warning letters to five social networking providers in Germany, including Facebook and MySpace. The letters focus on the excessive rights the companies allow themselves in their respective Terms of Use agreements, and on shortcomings in the privacy policies. VZBV is comprised of 41 German consumer associations.