Daily updates on privacy stories in the news.

February 2009 Archives

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Facebook Looking Ahead at New Governing Policy

Facebook proposed guidelines and a statement of rights and responsibilities governing its relationship with users. The social networking service called for user comment on the principles, which include "Ownership and Control of Information" and "Transparent Process." Facebook further committed to "open up Facebook so that users can participate meaningfully in our policies and our future." Facebook's announcement follows last week's abandonment of changes to its Terms of Service on the eve of an EPIC complaint to federal regulators.

Facebook open-sources its terms of service, CNET.news.com, February 27, 2009

Homeland Security Secretary Proposes Increases for Domestic Surveillance Programs

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before the House Committees on Homeland Security, and said that DHS plans to connect governmental databases containing personal information, expand the government's employment tracking system, promote passenger screening, use e-passports, employ watchlists and utilize contactless identity verification cards. Fusion Centers, E-Verify, and Backscatter X-Ray have proven to be persistent privacy problems.

DHS Appoints New Chief Privacy Officer

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced the appointment of Mary Ellen Callahan, a partner at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, located in Washington, DC, as the department's Chief Privacy Officer. Her background is in self regulatory privacy policies developed for business purposes. She replaces outgoing Chief Privacy Officer Hugo Teufel. The Chief Privacy Office at the Department of Homeland Security is distinguished as being the first statutorily established position on privacy within the US government.

Data Protection Lawyer Appointed to lead DHS privacy efforts, Dan Kaplan, SC Magazine, February 19, 2009

Facebook Blinks In the Face of EPIC Compliant

Hours before EPIC planned to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding changes to Facebook’s Terms of Service, the social network service announced that it will restore the original policy. The new Terms of Service were announced on Feb. 4, were widely criticized, and were to be the subject of the EPIC complaint. Facebook users observed that, under the revised policies, Facebook asserted broad, permanent, and retroactive rights to users' personal information - even after they deleted their accounts. The EPIC complaint was supported by more than a dozen members of the Privacy Coalition representing consumer and privacy organizations.

EPIC readying federal complaint over Facebook privacy policy, February 17, 2009

Privacy Advocacy Groups React Release of Behavorial Targeting Guidance

The Federal Trade Commission released its recommendations for industry self regulation of online behavioral advertising practices. Consumer privacy experts cited the disparate treatment of consumers' online and off-line privacy rights based on old and new marketing/advertising tactics. Advocacy organizations have been working on the issue for years, without the benefit of a federal law or strong Internet consumer privacy protection regulations.

Consumer groups: FTC online ad policy falls short, Deborah Yao, Associated Press, February 12, 2008

Facebook Users Face Threats from Identity Thieves

Facebook users are rethinking how much information they should provide when creating a page. The issue of privacy settings are another step users can take to protect themselves. Social Networking sites are attracting millions of new users.

Use Facebook? Beware identity theft, 10Connects.com, Tampa Bay, FL, February 3, 2009