• DHS: electronic devices of border crossers can be searched without reasonable suspicion

    An internal DHS study says there was no legal problem with U.S. border agents searching a traveler’s laptop, cellphone, or other electronic devices based solely on a hunch. The study says that the searches do not violate the First and Fourth amendments, and that a 1986 government policy allowing only a cursory review of a traveler’s documents was insufficient.

  • NSA collecting information on Verizon customers’ communications

    The National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting massive amounts of “metadata,” or transactional information, on millions of Verizon’s U.S. customers. A court granted the NSA permission to begin information collection on 25 April, stipulating the collection must end by 19 July. The court order instructs Verizon to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order.” It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information,” such as “originating and terminating number,” the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information.”

  • Iowa City to ban red-light cameras, drones, license plate readers

    Iowa City could become the first city in the United States to issue a sweeping ban on three law-enforcement technologies:  drones, license plate readers, and red-light cameras. Privacy advocates say each of these technologies poses a threat to privacy, and the cumulative effect of using all three would turn America into a surveillance society.

  • Divided Supreme Court allows collection of DNA samples from suspects upon arrest

    The Supreme Court on Monday, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that law enforcement is now allowed to take samples of DNA from people who have been arrested on suspicion of committing a serious crime.“Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,”Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

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  • DHS debars scanner maker from government contracts

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has sent OSI Systems, the manufacturer of airport body scanners, a debarment notice which would prevent the company from receiving government contacts in the future. The notice was sent to the company after TSA determined that the company had failed to address security concerns about its scanners.

  • Social sites’ privacy practices “seriously deficient”

    The privacy management of sixteen popular social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, is “seriously deficient,” according to a new study. Researchers found a disconnect between privacy statements and the site’s actual privacy controls.

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  • U.S. secretly obtains AP phone records to identify source of story

    In what the AP calls a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into the news organization’s news work, the U.S. Justice Department secretly gathered two-months-worth of telephone records of the agency’s reporters and editors. The AP says the records listed incoming and outgoing calls to the offices and homes of reporters and editors. The Justice Department began collecting the phone records in order to identify the source or sources of a 7 May 2012 AP story which detailed a secret CIA operation in Yemen to intercept an al Qaeda-sponsored attempt to load an IED onto a U.S.-bound airplane.

  • Texas legislators want TSA out to allow for anti-groping policy

    Texas lawmakers  are considering proposals  to opt out of federal protection at all airports in the state. One of the proposals calls for charging airport security officials who aggressively check passengers.

  • Pervasive surveillance threatens privacy, gives power advantage to the watcher

    Surveillance is everywhere, from street corner cameras to the subject of books and movies. A researcher says that pervasive surveillance menaces our intellectual privacy and it gives the watcher a power advantage over the watched, which can be used for blackmail, persuasion, or discrimination.

  • In 2012, Microsoft received 70,665 law-enforcement requests for customer information

    On Thursday, Microsoft released the number of law enforcement requests it has received for information on its hundreds of millions of customers. By releasing the information, Microsoft is now putting itself on the same team as Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and other Web businesses which have published reports on law-enforcement request for customer information. In 2012 Microsoft received a total of 70,665 law-enforcement requests for customer information.

  • Google’s assault on privacy: a reminder

    A year ago, on 1 March 2012, Goggle launched its privacy-eroding policy of combining and collating users’ information across all of Goggle’s products. Google offers no opt-out option. Forcing consumers to share every aspect and nuance of their Internet practices with the company was not enough for Google. Yesterday, the attorney generals of thirty-eight states reached an agreement with Google concerning Google’s practice of spying on Wi-Fi users. The company sheepishly admitted that its Street View Vans collected 600GB of user data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks, and was fined a measly $7 million.

  • Facebook’s Likes expose intimate details, personality traits of millions

    Research shows that intimate personal attributes can be predicted with high levels of accuracy from “traces” left by seemingly innocuous digital behavior, in this case Facebook Likes. Study raises important questions about personalized marketing and online privacy.

  • iPhones can reveal a lot about their owners to law enforcement

    People assume their iPhones are safe to keep their personal information on. They would be dismayed to realize what law enforcement agencies can find about them on their phone.

  • DHS reasserts right for search and seizure without probable cause

    Thousands of times a year  people are stopped as they cross into the United States, and their cell phones, tablets, and laptops are taken from them. Their e-mails and photos and other important documents are searched thoroughly without  probable cause.

  • Seattle mayor says no to drones

    Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has shut down the Seattle Police Department’s drone program before it started. McGinn said the police need to stay focused on “community building.” The announcement came just one day after the city held a public hearing to discuss restrictions to be imposed on drone use by the police departments. Many citizens voiced their concerns about possible violations of privacy.