Looking for the latest stories? We're now at cironline.org

privacy

State steps up enforcement of digital privacy protections

A handful of mobile app makers that defied an order from state Attorney General Kamala Harris to post a written privacy policy can expect enforcement actions to be filed against them as early as next week.

Several companies might face sanctions after Harris sent warning letters in late October to 100 app makers that had not posted a written policy. The vast majority agreed to comply, said Travis LeBlanc, who oversees the attorney general’s new Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit.

The companies that rejected her order maintain they aren’t required to have a policy because the personal data they collect is not subject to the California Online Privacy Protection Act, LeBlanc said. He declined to name the companies or say how many were violating the law.

The prevalence of mobile app downloads has exploded in recent years, while enforcement of privacy protections has struggled to keep up. Privacy advocates say having a policy in place is the minimum requirement for app makers and a necessary first step in educating consumers who increasingly rely on mobile devices to share and store sensitive information.

 

App makers have 30 days after receiving a warning letter to post a privacy statement or face a $2,500 fine every time an app is downloaded without a privacy policy – which for popular apps could result in a huge penalty.

“We’ve reached out to industry associations and let everyone know that they have an obligation to do this,” LeBlanc said.

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

SF supervisor seeks more privacy for Clipper card users

San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos has introduced a resolution urging the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and state Legislature to strengthen privacy protections for Clipper card users.

The transportation commission, which administers the transit card, also has begun re-examining why personal data is stored for seven years after a Clipper card account is closed.

The supervisor’s resolution and the commission’s self-examination come after The Bay Citizen, sister site of California Watch, reported earlier this month that a customer’s personal data and Clipper card travel record can be stored for as long as seven years and that the transportation commission had received three search warrants or subpoenas for customers’ personal travel information since the card was introduced in 2010.

“We have a lot of people in the Bay Area who use public transportation to get to events where they exercise their free speech,” Avalos told The Bay Citizen on Wednesday. “The worry is that people would feel that how they move around could get tracked and that could have a chilling effect on free speech.”

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

DEA installs license-plate recognition devices near Southwest border

In their unending battle to deter illegal immigration, drug trafficking and terrorism, U.S. authorities already have beefed up border security with drug-sniffing dogs, aircraft  and thousands more agents manning interior checkpoints.

Now, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has decided it wants more, and the Justice Department agency doesn’t care whether someone has even set foot in Mexico.

Clusters of what at first appear to be surveillance cameras have begun turning up in recent months on the Southwest border, and while some of the machines are merely surveillance cameras, others are specialized recognition devices that automatically capture license-plate numbers and the geographic location of everyone who passes by, plus the date and time.

The DEA confirms that the devices have been deployed in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico. It has plans to introduce them farther inside the United States.

Special Agent Ramona Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the DEA’s Phoenix division, said the information collected by the devices is stored for up to two years and can be shared with other federal agencies and local police. She declined to say how many have been installed or where, citing safety concerns.

“It’s simply another surveillance method used to monitor and target vehicles that are commonly used to transport drugs, bulk cash and weapons north and south,” Sanchez said.

Journalists at the Center for Investigative Reporting saw them situated near a well-traveled checkpoint far inland from Mexico on Interstate 19, which stretches 63 miles from Tucson, Ariz., to the city of Nogales on the border.  

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

Police, lobbyists defeat attempt to limit license-plate scanners

Under pressure from law enforcement lobbyists and private industry, a California lawmaker has abandoned his effort to restrict how personal information on the whereabouts of drivers generated from high-tech license-plate scanners can be collected and stored in a database.

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, proposed the bill [PDF] in March after California Watch reported that a private company had stockpiled more than a half-billion records on drivers from the license-plate readers.

The scanner is affixed to the outside of patrol cars and captures the geographic location of motorists along with the date and time, regardless of whether the individual is a wanted criminal, a fact that alarms privacy groups. The Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco said it was disappointed by the bill's fate.

Simitian said in an interview that he was encouraged when the proposed legislation survived two committees, but any momentum had shifted once it reached the Senate floor, where Simitian realized he didn’t have the votes. 

“I’m disappointed but not surprised by the lack of sensitivity to privacy concerns on the part of public entities, including law enforcement,” Simitian said. “This is not uncommon in my experience. I think for many of these organizations … they see privacy as a fairly abstract right.”

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

State, tech companies build alliances to combat sex trafficking

Last year, California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined attorneys general across the country in declaring war against Backpage.com, a free classified website run by Village Voice Media. The officials threatened legal action if the site didn’t stop running ads for adult services, some of which have been linked to underage sex trafficking.

But while Harris took a confrontational tone with Backpage – which has since balked at shutting down its adult pages – a more cooperative dynamic has emerged this year between the attorney general and online companies.

Harris recently announced an agreement with mobile and tech companies that requires their apps to better display their privacy policies. While Harris said she will not rule out legal action against sites such as Backpage, her office has begun to build more alliances with online firms. And as companies such as Facebook have matured, they have become more willing to cooperate with government leaders and law enforcement. 

 

This week, representatives from Facebook and Microsoft will be among 50 law enforcement and nonprofit leaders who are meeting as part of a new Department of Justice task force on human trafficking in the state. By the end of the summer, the government task force plans to issue a report containing best-practice guidelines for law enforcement, tech companies and service providers combating human trafficking locally and online.

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

Court decision on police GPS spying unclear, researchers say

A critical Supreme Court ruling at the intersection of modern technology and privacy leaves open whether police can still track the car or cell phone of a suspect without threatening their constitutional rights, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

FTC: Apps aimed at kids raise privacy concerns

The number of mobile apps marketed to kids is growing at a rapid pace, yet a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission raises new concerns about child privacy and the lack of disclosure about the personal data being collected.

The FTC reviewed the promotional pages for 400 apps aimed at kids and found that fewer than 2 percent disclosed what personal information is collected or how it is used. The commission noted that smartphone apps can collect personal data from the device automatically, including the user’s location, phone number, list of contacts and call logs, and share that with others.

The review [PDF] did not delve into what information apps actually are collecting from children, but the FTC is looking into that and plans to release its findings within the next four months.

 

“Parents should be able to learn before they download apps what information will be used and how it’s shared,” said Patricia Poss, one of the FTC report authors.

As part of its review, the FTC fined a California company on accusations of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which outlaws the collection of data from children younger than 13 without parental approval. By law, companies must explain what information is being collected and how it is used. The California company, W3 Innovations LLC, was fined $50,000 for collecting e-mail addresses and other information from tens of thousands of children without parental consent. It was the FTC’s first mobile app case.

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

11 Calif. lawmakers support contentious cybersecurity bill

Eleven California lawmakers are among the more than 100 co-sponsors of an increasingly controversial cybersecurity bill that would make it easier for private companies to swap information with the federal government on threats against computer systems.

Hackers and thieves, say the bill's supporters, threaten to undermine national security and the economy by targeting business secrets and financial information.

One of the co-sponsors – Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of Menlo Park – represents a district containing parts of Silicon Valley, home to the tech industry and its years of skepticism toward Washington meddling in Internet growth and digital innovation.

Critics worry that the bill’s language could put the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense’s Cyber Command in the position of compiling sensitive personal information belonging to Americans that flows between the federal government and the private sector.

 

There are no meaningful restrictions for how the government can use data that consumers intended to give only to a private company, says the Center for Democracy & Technology in San Francisco. Any restrictions on the data that might exist are left up to businesses, and the information also could be used for government surveillance purposes, adds the group.

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

Increasing use of facial recognition software spurs privacy concerns

When several armed robberies occurred recently in Lancaster, Calif., police had little of use on the two suspects. Then, a reliable image of one suspect turned up from a surveillance camera.

In years past, that still might not have been enough for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to close the case.

But with the help of new facial recognition software, investigators plugged the image into a database of booking photos and quickly came up with a possible match. That led to a pair of arrests on Jan. 27.

Facial recognition technology is growing rapidly, both in the consumer world and among police, but privacy advocates are troubled by the potential for intrusion and misuse.

Police in Tampa, Fla., created an uproar several years ago when they installed facial recognition devices in an entertainment district, hoping to identify wanted criminals. The system eventually was unplugged, because it didn’t catch any perpetrators. A similar effort at the 2001 Super Bowl also netted few results.

 

Things have changed since then. Agencies like the cutting-edge Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida are using millions of jail mug shots to double-check identities if they believe someone is lying about who they are. Deputies can simply snap a photo of the person and begin a search using their in-car laptop.

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

Feds continue push to nationalize criminal intelligence data

In the latest push by federal law enforcement agencies to nationalize criminal intelligence data gathered by state and local police, Minnesota is weighing whether to link a statewide database with an FBI information-sharing system, despite concerns by privacy and open-government advocates about the accuracy of such data, among other issues.

A task force made up of police, probation officers, judges, public defenders and other members will make a final decision next week on whether to recommend to the Minnesota Legislature that the state participate. Several agencies in California already belong to the program, known as the National Data Exchange, or N-DEx. The program became fully operational nationwide last summer.

“Allowing law enforcement records to be forwarded to N-Dex would be a benefit to law enforcement agencies not only in Minnesota, but also across the nation,” Ron Sager, president of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, wrote in support of the program. “As we are all aware, criminals are not concerned with geographic or political jurisdictional boundaries.”

The Land of 10,000 Lakes has some of the nation’s strictest data privacy laws, which have restricted the sharing of information on a federal level. Any decision to share information on a statewide level would require a change to Minnesota law.

Filed under: Public Safety, Daily Report

Comments

Comments are closed for this story.

via Twitter

© 2013 California Watch   /  development:  Happy Snowman Tech   /  design: