Study Shows People Act To Protect Privacy When Told How Often Phone Apps Share Personal Information

Byron Spice, Carnegie Mellon University,  Monday, March 23, 2015

Many smartphone users know that free apps sometimes share private information with third parties, but few, if any, are aware of how frequently this occurs. An experiment at Carnegie Mellon University shows that when people learn exactly how many times these apps share that information they rapidly act to limit further sharing. In one phase of a study that evaluated the benefits of app permission managers – software that gives people control over what sensitive information their apps can access – 23 smartphone users received a daily message, or “privacy nudge,” telling them how many times information such as location, contact lists or phone call logs had been shared.

A new worry for consumers: Cross-device tracking

Mitch Lipka, CBS News,  Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cell phone data, purchase history and what you look at on a company's website are cobbled together with other databases in attempt to better target consumers. While that technology can seem mind-boggling, the practice of tracking consumers across multiple devices is growing -- adding another layer to the mix as marketers build ever-richer profiles of us. The emergence of this type of data collection led the Federal Trade Commission to schedule a meeting in the fall to pull together experts and determine the risks and benefits, and if any additional regulation is needed.

Here's The Digital Privacy Battle At The Center Of Obama's Big Trade Deal

Dana Liebelson and Zach Carter, Huffington Post,  Monday, March 16, 2015

Open Internet advocates are still fighting for key privacy protections in a major trade pact the Obama administration is negotiating with 11 Pacific nations. But as talks over the deal enter their final stages in Hawaii this week, it looks like an uphill battle -- Internet freedom activists appear to be opposing important traditional allies: major tech companies and even Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Wyden's views on privacy issues are especially significant due to his position as the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee -- the panel with jurisdiction over Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. And some of his backers worry that he’s not on their side.

U.S. Cloud Providers Face Backlash From China’s Censors

Eva Dou and Alistair Barr, Wall Street Journal,  Monday, March 16, 2015

U.S. tech companies are caught in the middle of an escalating battle between China’s increasingly active Internet censors and the free-speech activists determined to thwart them. Activists outside of China say they are disguising Internet traffic banned by Beijing—which includes anything from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, to Gmail and news websites—by tunneling it encrypted through cloud servers run by major U.S. companies.

Big Data Is an Economic Justice Issue, Not Just a Privacy Problem

Nathan Newman, Huffington Post,  Monday, March 16, 2015

The control of personal data by "big data" companies is not just an issue of privacy but is becoming a critical issue of economic justice, argues a new report issued by the organization Data Justice, which itself is being publicly launched in conjunction with the report. I am the director of this new effort and wanted to outline why we see this as a critical issue for progressives. This steady loss of data by individuals into the hands of increasingly centralized corporate hands is helping drive a large portion of the economic inequality that has become central to the political debate in our nation.

Senate Asks Facebook, Google To Send User Information Without A Warrant

Neal Ungerleider, Fast Company,  Monday, March 16, 2015

A new bill making its way through the Senate would allow the federal government to collect user information from companies like Google and Facebook… without a warrant. The bill, called the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015, "encourages" private companies to share user information with the federal government with minimal oversight. In a closed-door meeting on Thursday, March 12, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved the bill and is now sending it on for a vote. Reading through the latest publicly available draft of the bill, CISA’s provisions seem unusually broad and designed to allow future invasions of privacy. Although the bill says its purpose is to prevent hacker attacks, it encourages the sharing of all sorts of user information with wide swaths of the federal government.

EU ministers OK new cross-border data protection plan, sparking criticism

Loek Essers, PCWorld,  Friday, March 13, 2015

Ministers of European Union countries have agreed on a new plan to deal with cross-border privacy cases. Companies and a variety of critics, though, have called the proposal a mess. The plan, at least originally, was supposed to put in place a “one-stop-shop” mechanism that would make it easier for businesses and citizens to deal with privacy-related complaints. The idea of a streamlined approach to resolving privacy issues is a key pillar of EU data-protection reform and member states agreed on a version of such a plan on Friday, said Vra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice during a press conference.

EU data protection rules shake-up set to rile US tech groups

Murad Ahmed and Duncan Robinson, Financial Times,  Thursday, March 12, 2015

EU member states are expected to back data protection reforms that US technology groups have labelled a “Eurovision Song Contest” for regulators, in the latest transatlantic split on regulation of the sector. Initially, the EU had planned to introduce a “one-stop shop” for data regulation, whereby companies would only have to deal with one national regulator. But under the new proposals, which are likely to be approved by member states this week, regulators in other affected countries would have a say in data protection disputes.

Tech groups renew push for cloud, email privacy protections

Grant Gross, InfoWorld,  Thursday, March 12, 2015

This may finally be the year that the U.S. Congress gives email and other documents stored in the cloud for several months the same privacy protections from police searches as newer files or paper records stored in a file cabinet, say backers of electronic privacy reform. A coalition of tech companies, digital rights advocates and other groups on Wednesday renewed their call for Congress to change a 29-year-old electronic privacy law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

HIPAA Regulations v. FERPA Rules In Privacy Rights

Elizabeth Snell, Health Security,  Wednesday, March 11, 2015

HIPAA regulations were created to ensure that patients’ PHI remained secure, and that individuals would not have to worry about their personal information falling into the wrong hands. Similarly, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law protecting the privacy of student education records. However, recent events have pushed the two laws to the forefront, as individuals’ privacy rights are being called into question. A University of Oregon (UO) student was reportedly going to file a sexual assault-related lawsuit against the school. However, UO allegedly accessed the student’s therapy records from its counseling center and handed them over to its general counsel’s office. The student’s medical records were then used to help defend against her lawsuit.