The state will revive the practice of putting visa expiration dates on foreign visitors� driver�s licenses as part of a deal between the Spitzer administration and the Department of Homeland Security, an official said on Tuesday. The change follows Gov. Eliot Spitzer�s announcement last weekend that he was revising his much-criticized plan that would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain the same licenses as citizens. The state will now move to a new three-tier driver�s license system that complies with forthcoming federal security rules. Immigrants� supporters and some lawmakers were already critical of Mr. Spitzer�s deal with federal officials, saying that New York should offer only one kind of license to all residents, legal or not.
U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings yesterday released what she called "user-friendly" guidelines to help educators and parents interpret federal privacy laws in an initiative prompted by the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Concerns about properly balancing privacy and safety concerns have been on the minds of educators nationwide since the April 16 massacre. A panel appointed by Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) found that "widespread confusion" about privacy restrictions led to communications lapses among officials who dealt with mentally ill student Seung Hui Cho before he shot and killed 33 people, including himself.
Most consumers are familiar with do-not-call lists, which are meant to keep telemarketers from phoning them. Soon people will be able to sign up for do-not-track lists, which will help shield their Web surfing habits from the prying eyes of marketers. Such lists will not reduce the number of ads that people see online, but they will prevent advertisers from using their online meanderings to deliver specific ad pitches to them. Today the AOL division of Time Warner will announce a service of this type, which will be up and running by the end of the year. Other programs are likely to be articulated soon, as online advertisers prepare for a two-day forum on privacy to be held by the Federal Trade Commission.
To the unease of many in a country with a history of government spying through the era of the Gestapo and communist rule in East Germany, law enforcement authorities are using the suitcase bomb case to argue for measures that would significantly expand their ability to spy on the once-private realm of My Documents. Now, along with several other European countries, Germany is seeking authority to plant secret Trojan viruses into the computers of suspects that could scan files, photos, diagrams and voice recordings, record every keystroke typed and possibly even turn on webcams and microphones in an attempt to gain knowledge of attacks before they happen.
Canada's privacy commissioner has ruled that the Privy Council Office broke the law last year when it revealed a journalist's name in documents released under an Access to Information Act request. Jim Bronskill of The Canadian Press complained to the commissioner in September last year after his name surfaced in documents sent to another journalist. The names of people making access requests are supposed to be kept private, although the protection comes under the Privacy Act, not the Access to Information Act. There are, however, no penalties in the legislation. Commissioner Raymond D'Aoust ruled that the Privy Council Office violated Bronskill's rights
Telecommunications companies that assisted the government's warrantless-surveillance program after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks relied on periodic letters bearing the legal endorsement of the attorney general, and in one case the authorization of the White House legal counsel, according to a Senate intelligence report (PDF) released Friday. The report, which accompanies and explains the reasons behind the Senate Intelligence Committee's approval of an update to the law that oversees government intelligence surveillance activities, gives incremental new details of how the White House deployed a now contentious program run by the National Security Agency without seeking court warrants. The committee's update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, contains a clause granting legal immunity to telecom providers that assisted the program, a measure that has met with strong opposition from other members of Congress.
The Department of Corrections will soon issue photo identification to offenders released from prison to aid them in obtaining new driver's licenses or Washington state identification cards, the agency announced Friday. Convicts often lack proper identification because they lost their driver's licenses or failed to keep track of other documents such as Social Security cards. That can make it more difficult upon their release to find employment or housing, which boosts their chances for recidivism, according to the Corrections Department.
No federal agency will meet a deadline this weekend to complete background checks and to begin issuing employee identity cards that will control access to federal buildings and computers, the top information technology executive at the Office of Management and Budget said Friday. Agencies were required to complete by Oct. 27 background checks for employees and contractors who have worked for the federal government for 15 years or less and to begin issuing new identity cards that include employees' fingerprints. The cards would control what federal buildings employees could access and what computers employees could log on to.
The White House on Thursday offered to share secret documents on the National Security Agency�s domestic surveillance program with the Senate Judiciary Committee, a step toward possible compromise on eavesdropping legislation. Fred F. Fielding, the White House counsel, offered to show the documents to Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, the committee�s chairman; Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the committee; and staff members with the necessary security clearances, said Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman.
Ten schoolchildren in the United Kingdom are being tracked by RFID chips in their school uniforms as part of a pilot program. David Clouter, a parent and founder of Leave Them Kids Alone, a children's advocacy group, condemned the plan. "With pupils being fingerprinted and now this it seems we are treating children in a way that we have traditionally treated criminals," he told the Doncaster Free Press.
County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz wants police to have access to surveillance camera images at shopping centers in their patrol cars in real time. That access would come with not only a cost to the county but to shopping center operators who just installed equipment to comply with a law passed in 2005 and who now may be asked to upgrade those cameras. Kamenetz, the author of that law, said other jurisdictions are exploring the use of similar technology to expand the reach of the police.
A criminal case against Phoenix New Times fell apart Friday amid a crush of public outrage and admissions that a special county prosecutor made serious mistakes. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas dismissed all charges against the free weekly newspaper less than 24 hours after two New Times owners were arrested for publishing details of a grand-jury subpoena that demanded the Internet records of any person who had visited the newspaper's Web site since 2004. Thomas' announcement came just hours after the State Bar Association confirmed that it had received multiple complaints and had launched an internal investigation into Thomas and special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik for their actions in the New Times case and an unrelated one.
United States border agents have stepped up scrutiny of Americans returning home from Mexico, slowing commerce and creating delays at border crossings not seen since the months after the Sept. 11 attacks. The increased enforcement is in part a dress rehearsal for new rules, scheduled to take effect in January, that will require Americans to show a passport or other proof of citizenship to enter the United States. The requirements were approved by Congress as part of antiterrorism legislation in 2004.
Social Security numbers of the former director of the CIA and Florida�s lieutenant governor have been found at the Lee County Courthouse. The News-Press review of Lee County court records found Social Security numbers commonly included in supporting documents to lawsuits, such as contracts for home purchases, alimony and child support affidavits, and death certificates.
Last June, in a phone conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney, John D. Rockefeller IV, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, set down his conditions for revising the law governing the National Security Agency�s eavesdropping. Only when the committee got access to secret administration documents authorizing surveillance without court warrants, Mr. Rockefeller told the vice president, would it consider such legislation. That vow paid off this week when, after some last-minute brinkmanship, the committee got to see the documents and then on Thursday night passed a bipartisan bill that offers a compromise between Congress and the Bush administration on the contentious eavesdropping issue.
Two executives from Village Voice Media � a company that owns a number of alternative weeklies including The Village Voice, The LA Weekly and The Phoenix Times � were arrested Thursday night in Phoenix on charges that a story published earlier in the day in The Phoenix New Times revealed grand jury secrets. Michael Lacey, the executive editor, and Jim Larkin, chief executive, were arrested at their homes after they wrote a story that revealed that the Village Voice Media company, its executives, its reporters and even the names of the readers of its website had been subpoenaed by a special prosecutor.
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Thursday night to approve compromise legislation that would strengthen court oversight of eavesdropping on Americans while granting telephone and Internet companies legal immunity for their role in assisting government surveillance programs since 2001. After nearly five hours of closed discussions, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Democratic chairman, and Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, the Republican vice chairman, emerged to announce that the measure had been approved in a 13-to-2 vote.
The Homeland Security Department is trying to squash criticism of its slow development of an exit piece to the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program. Robert Mocny, US-VISIT director, said yesterday the agency has decided a piece of the exit program will require airlines to collect biometric data of visitors leaving the country when they check in at the airport. Mocny said DHS will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register by January 2008 detailing the program.
The Transportation Security Administration, which has taken over document-ticket screening at U.S. airports, is rolling out small black lights and loupes (magnifying lenses) to 1,300 specially trained screeners who check suspicious IDs in the ticket lines. Airline contractors did the preliminary driver's license checks at major airports until August. Until then, the TSA had no occasions in the security process to vet people's IDs against their boarding passes.
Canadians' right to privacy is threatened by Ottawa's practice of exchanging citizens' personal information with law enforcement and security agencies in other countries, the Privacy Commissioner says. The government has claimed that this transborder flow of information will improve transportation safety and enhance our national security, Jennifer Stoddart said in her annual report presented to Parliament yesterday. "We are particularly concerned about the number of travel-related security programs that have been put in place," she said.
Security screeners at two of the nation's busiest airports failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60% of tests last year, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY. Screeners at Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75% of simulated explosives and bomb parts that Transportation Security Administration testers hid under their clothes or in carry-on bags at checkpoints, the TSA report shows. At Chicago O'Hare International Airport, screeners missed about 60% of hidden bomb materials that were packed in everyday carry-ons � including toiletry kits, briefcases and CD players.
Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers' telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005. Verizon also disclosed that the FBI, using administrative subpoenas, sought information identifying not just a person making a call, but all the people that customer called, as well as the people those people called. Verizon does not keep data on this "two-generation community of interest" for customers, but the request highlights the broad reach of the government's quest for data.
Canadian airlines are balking at a Department of Homeland Security plan that would require them to turn over information about passengers flying over the United States to reach another country. The proposal, which appears at odds with Canada�s privacy laws, would mostly involve Canadians who join the annual winter exodus to Mexico, Cuba and the Caribbean. It is also viewed by the Canadian airline industry as a rejection of several costly measures already taken to assuage American concerns.
Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon says Ottawa is in talks with Washington about a compromise to a U.S. plan to force Canadian airlines to send all passenger lists for flights that cross U.S. airspace on the way to holiday sun spots such as Mexico. Mr. Cannon said there's still time to amend the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's proposal to collect passenger manifests 72 hours in advance of trips between Canada and foreign vacation destinations. Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal public safety critic, said the Tories are making �dismal� suggestions that will have only a modest impact on the TSA's aggressive plans. Canada should assert its sovereignty and rip up the TSA's proposal, he said.
Privacy advocates have slammed government moves to merge the U.K.'s General Register Office, which oversees the registration of births and deaths, into the nation's Identity and Passport Service. The government plans to give IPS staff online access to births and deaths information which could be cross checked with ID card or passport applications. Data sharing between the two bodies was given a legal basis in July by an order made under section 38 of the Identity Cards Act. But Phil Booth, national coordinator of the No2ID campaign monitoring the government's ID card and data sharing plans, described the merger as "chilling."
A bill by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Friday, bars California employers and others from forcing people to have a radio frequency identification (RFID) devices implanted under their skin. The bill goes into effect Jan. 1. "It's the ultimate invasion of privacy," Simitian said. "They should find other ways to keep track of employees." Wisconsin and North Dakota have enacted similar laws.
The federal privacy commissioner has launched a "preliminary inquiry" following several complaints that Prime Minister Stephen Harper compiled a mailing list of Jewish Canadians. The investigation follows reports that a number of households received unsolicited Rosh Hashanah greetings from Harper last month. Some of the recipients complained to news media that they had no idea how they came to be on a mailing list based on their religious affiliation.
According to comScore, more than 750 million people 15 years old or older, or about 95 percent of the Internet audience around the world, performed 61 billion searches in August. That's an average of 80 searches per users, comScore said. Those 750 million people used Google for 37.1 billion searches. Of those, 31 billion searches were performed on Google, and 5 billion were at Google's video-sharing site YouTube.com, according to comScore.
In an attempt to resolve privacy questions about the city's plans to set up thousands of closed-circuit television cameras and license plate readers in lower Manhattan, the New York Civil Liberties Union has filed requests for more information from local and federal agencies. The proposed surveillance system is modeled on London's Ring of Steel, and is designed to protect what Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has called "the most sensitive stretch of real estate on Earth." It is expected to be completed by September 2009.
More than two dozen hospital staffers have been suspended for four weeks after allegedly peeking at George Clooney's confidential medical information after he was hurt in a motorcycle accident last month. Clooney, 46, suffered a broken rib and scrapes in the Sept. 21 crash, while his passenger, Sarah Larson, 28, injured her foot. Both were treated at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen.
President Bush said Wednesday that he will not sign a new eavesdropping bill if it does not grant retroactive immunity to U.S. telecommunications companies that helped conduct electronic surveillance without court orders. A proposed bill unveiled by Democrats on Tuesday does not include such a provision. Bush, appearing on the South Lawn as that measure was taken up in two House committees, said the measure is unacceptable for that and other reasons.
Research Tuesday reveals that lax password habits are leaving a quarter of people in serious danger of falling victim to online fraud. Online security specialists McAfee released survey findings to coincide with National Identity Fraud Prevention Week suggesting that nearly one in four people in Europe are at risk from online fraud. Almost half (43 percent) of the 3,500 respondents to McAfee's survey never change their password, increasing the risk of giving away their complete identity should that password be hacked or stolen.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has officially declined to launch an inquiry into the behavior of US telephone companies after September 11. Extensive news reports have claimed that AT&T, BellSouth (now part of AT&T), and Verizon offered the NSA access to certain information from their networks, and some reports have indicated that AT&T even allowed the government to install optical splitters at key locations. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), who heads the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, has been asking the FCC for months to launch an investigation of the entire affair.
Campaigners are calling for a change in the law to restrict lenders' access to consumers' credit reports in a bid to reduce identity theft. Under the present system, banks check consumers' credit history every time a new account is opened, but identity fraud campaigners want the government to pass a 'freeze law', which would mean there was an automatic block on lenders accessing the information.
Hoping to deter crime by expanding the use of surveillance cameras, Aberdeen passed a measure that empowers the city government and police to require cameras in new developments. The Police Department, the Department of Planning and Community Development, and the Department of Public Works will decide whether a new residential, commercial or industrial development must install cameras at "strategic locations" before a development permit is issued. But the ordinance does not spell out guidelines for determining whether a new development will be required to have cameras, which concerned the lone dissenter on the council vote, Ruth Elliott. "We have no internal procedures or policies on this," Elliott said. "It is vague, and you can read in between the lines."
The Transportation Security Administration plans to expand its use of screening machines that look under passengers' clothing for hidden weapons. New York's Kennedy and Los Angeles International airports will get "backscatter" X-ray machines that the American Civil Liberties Union has called a "virtual strip search" for the vivid anatomical images they can create. Those airports and Phoenix Sky Harbor also will test a similar technology, using low-intensity millimeter waves, to scan passengers' bodies. Barry Steinhardt, head of the ACLU's technology program, said privacy filters make body imagers "useless as a security device" because blurring can make it difficult for screeners to see weapons.
This month, police will begin installing a network of surveillance cameras downtown. The network is designed to provide a high-tech edge in the fight to bring down St. Louis' crime numbers, which topped an FBI index released last month. Similar systems are already in use from Los Angeles to New York, but law enforcement officials know the networks have limits. "The cameras are not silver bullets," said St. Louis Assistant Chief Stephen Pollihan, who is overseeing the local project. And some believe the cameras, if abused, could jeopardize privacy rights.
The European Commission is set to open an in-depth antitrust inquiry into online search giant Google Inc's proposed 3.1 bln usd acquisition of online advertising and management technology company DoubleClick Inc, sources and senior lawyers familiar with the matter told Thomson Financial News. A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal always had a 'better-than-even chance' of going to the 'second phase' of the commission's regulatory procedure -- one that can last up to five months -- given the complexity of the issues implicated in the transaction. The commission's current deadline to rule on the deal is Oct 26.
Ending a three-month delay, the Transportation Workers Identification Credential program is ready to begin enrollments of port workers on Oct. 16, the Homeland Security Department announced Thursday. The department�s Transportation Security Administration released a schedule of enrollments for 750,000 port workers at various ports, beginning with Wilmington, Del., on Oct. 16 and extending to 11 other ports.
Microsoft launched a free, ad-supported online health portal called HealthVault yesterday that allows people to upload their medical records to the Web and share the information with doctors. Microsoft beat not only the federal government to the punch but also a number of other companies that reportedly have been working on similar portals. Some privacy advocates are concerned that such sites could expose sensitive medical data to hackers and outsiders, but Microsoft said it has spent the past several years consulting with experts to ensure that HealthVault will keep personal information private.
The government of Belgium expects to be the first to issue multipurpose national chip cards to all citizens and residents. The Belgian government has begun issuing children's cards both as an identity and a child protection measure. The children's card is part of a national programme to replace existing cards with multi-purpose electronic tokens. Some 6m electronic ID cards have been issued to Belgians; a similar card is being issued to 1.4 million foreigners.
State lawmakers across the country are adopting broad changes to criminal justice procedures as a response to the exoneration of more than 200 convicts through the use of DNA evidence. All but eight states now give inmates varying degrees of access to DNA evidence that might not have been available at the time of their convictions. Many states are also overhauling the way witnesses identify suspects, crime labs handle evidence and informants are used.
The Data Protection Commissioner of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein Thilo Weichert has expressed grave reservations about Google's acquisition of the advertising marketing company DoubleClick. "At present we have to assume that in the event of a takeover of DoubleClick the databases of that company will be integrated into those of Google, with the result that fundamental provisions of the European Data Protection Directive will be violated," the head of the Independent State Center for Data Protection of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein (ULD) in Kiel writes in a letter addressed to Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition.
The Homeland Security Department has been using the ATS for several years to perform risk assessments on the 120 million people who seek to enter the United States annually through all forms of travel; almost 90 million come by air. Federal officials call the ATS a critical tool that captures vital information from airline ticketing and other travel records, matches that information with law enforcement and intelligence data, and analyzes threats at the nation's borders to stop terrorist acts. But privacy advocates and civil-liberties groups have decried the ATS program as nothing more than a secretive data-mining and profiling technology that allows the government to collect and store highly personal information on travelers, including their habits and their contacts abroad. Some Democrats in Congress have also raised concerns about privacy and have questioned whether DHS is correcting any erroneous data in the system.
Democratic members of the House Homeland Security Committee yesterday asked congressional appropriators to hold off funding for the Homeland Security Department�s new office for domestic satellite surveillance set to open Oct. 1. The department�s new National Applications Office is set to begin offering satellite information on request for homeland security, including preventing and responding to severe weather systems, natural disasters and terrorist attacks. But the Democrats contend there are not enough legal protections in place to govern how, and for what purpose, the satellites will be deployed.