The World Privacy Forum prepared this report in part because the role of the Department of Commerce in privacy may change in the near future. The Department of Commerce is co-chair with the Department of Justice on the Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy established by the Obama Administration toward the end of 2010. It is not comforting to consumer privacy advocates that Department of Justice is a law enforcement agency that is often antagonistic to consumer privacy interests, that the Commerce Department has mostly represented business interests in international privacy matters, and that the Commerce Department does not have an admirable record in the areas of privacy that it currently oversees. This leaves the leadership of the Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy without a strong voice for consumer privacy interests.
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.
Opt-out and how-to — The popular WPF Top Ten Opt Out List has been newly updated. We have added a new section to our list with step by step details on how to opt out of RapLeaf. We encourage consumers to view any of their profiles that exist at RapLeaf and to opt out of RapLeaf permanently. We have also updated the phone numbers and other information on the rest of our opt out list. To see more, visit our Opt Out List.
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.
Health privacy and HIPAA — The World Privacy Forum filed two sets of detailed regulatory comments on recently proposed changes to HIPAA. The first comments focused on proposed changes to HIPAA in the area of marketing patient information. The proposed changes would be harmful to patient privacy, and are contrary to the law. WPF was joined in the marketing comments by the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy Activism, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and Privacy Times. The second set of comments WPF filed included the comments on marketing as well as on additional provisions that would be problematic if enacted.