• Law enforcement and privacy concerns in Vancouver

    Last month, the police in the otherwise sedate Vancouver had to use tear gas, pepper spray, and flash bombs in downtown Vancouver to try to disperse angry rioters who set cars on fire, looted stores, and taunted police officers after the Canucks’ 4-0 Stanley Cup final loss to the Boston Bruins; the police wants to use facial recognition technology to identify the rioters, but privacy advocates are worried

  • Law enforcement and privacy concerns in Massachusetts

    Massachusetts has a plan: create a database which could map drivers’ whereabouts with police cruiser-mounted scanners that capture thousands of license plates per hour — and store that information indefinitely so local police, state police, federal agencies, and prosecutors could access it as they choose; privacy advocates are worried

  • Can DHS seize -- and hold for months -- U.S. citizens' laptops?

    On Friday, a federal judge heard arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the government’s right to search laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices at the border and hold them indefinitely; civil liberties groups say the policy violates a travelers’ First Amendment right to free speech and the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure; according to the civil liberties groups, more than 6,500 travelers have been subject to such search and seizure of their electronic devices from October 2008 to June 2010

  • Data breaches compromise nearly 8 million medical records

    The revelation that millions of people have had their personal medical records stolen could slow the Obama administration’s efforts to digitize the nation’s health care records; in the last two years alone nearly eight million people have had their medical records stolen or compromised; 1.7 million patients, staff members, contractors, and suppliers at several New York hospitals had their information stolen when thieves removed them from an unlocked van; to ensure that medical records are safe, HHS has begun imposing penalties on health care providers who compromise their patient’s records; but some health care experts wonder if enforcing HIPAA alone will be enough to address the problem

  • Study urges DHS to stop seizing laptops at border

    A recent report called on DHS to stop its border agents from searching electronic devices like laptops and smartphones of individuals entering the United States without reasonable suspicion of wrong doing; the study, released last week by the bipartisan legal think tank The Constitution Project, argued that computers and cell phones contain far too much personal information and searching these devices without probable cause violates privacy considerations; border patrol agents have routinely conducted searches of individuals and their belongings entering the country, it is only recently become a potential legal issue due to the vast amount of personal data that electronic devices can now hold

  • Texas House prohibits intrusive airport pat downs

    The Texas House of Representatives approved a bill that would make invasive pat downs at airports a crime; pat down procedures that would be covered under the measure are inspections that touch the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person; the law would not be enforceable since state legislatures have no authority over federal agencies such as the TSA

  • 25 million more users hit in second cyber attack on Sony

    Japanese electronics giant Sony recently announced that hackers successfully broke into its networks and stole sensitive data from more than twenty-five million online gaming subscribers; the announcement comes days after Sony’s admission that seventy-seven million users had their personal information stolen; in the most recent attack, hackers infiltrated Sony’s Online Entertainment network and stole names, addresses, emails, birth dates, and even phone numbers from online gamers; some analysts estimate that the attacks could cost Sony and credit card companies as much as $1 to $2 billion

  • Strikeout! Yankees release ticket holders' personal data

    Apple and Google, Sony and Microsoft have all made news with security failures in the last weeks; the venerable New York Yankees baseball franchise now joins that list with the release of personal information of half of their season-ticket holders; this is but the latest example of cyber vulnerability owing to human fallibility

  • Sony's gaming network hacked, Microsoft's follows suit

    Gamers are in a frenzy over Sony’s announcement that its PlayStation network security had been breached, resulting in the exposure of a large amount of each user’s personal and financial information; the first of an expected flood of lawsuits, as well as class action is filed in U.S. District Court; Microsoft announces an exploited vulnerability in one of their game titles leading to phishing attempts, and acknowledged that previously banned “modded” consoles were attaching to the network again

  • Google joins Apple in privacy furor

    iPhones transmit locations back to Apple, and Apple is not alone in this activity; Google has disclosed that its Android cell phones have been transmitting location data for some time; members of the Congress and Senate have begun to demand answers and explanations

  • Android apps send private data in the clear

    Cell phones running the Android operating system fail to encrypt data sent to and from Facebook and Google Calendar, shortcomings that could jeopardize hundreds of millions of users’ privacy; Facebook’s recently unveiled always-on SSL encryption setting to prevent snooping over insecure networks — but the encryption is no good, meaning that all private messages, photo uploads, and other transactions are visible to eavesdroppers

  • Woman wins payout after screener exposed her breasts

    U.S. woman was awarded a nominal sum from the government after a TSA pat down exposed her breasts; in May 2008, Lynsie Murley was singled out for an extended search during which agents pulled down her shirt and exposed her breasts; the agents then laughed and joked about the incident

  • TSA: Religion offers no exemption from airport screening

    An airline passenger was thrown out of the San Diego airport for rejecting a full-body scan and pat-down groin check and instead insisting on passing through a metal detector; the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says the agency will not allow airline passengers to get out of body imaging screening or pat-downs based on their religious beliefs; TSA chief John Pistole said that passengers who refuse to go through a full-body scanner machine and reject a pat-down will not be allowed to board, even if they turned down the in-depth screening for religious reasons; “That person is not going to get on an airplane,” Pistole said yesterday in a congressional committee testimony

  • U.S. snoops scan the Web for potential terror risks

    The U.S. government created a special center prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration for analyzing oceans of data passing through Facebook, Twitter, and other sites in an attempt to identify hazards; personnel at DHS’s National Operations Center scan the Web using dozens upon dozens of key search terms and phrases, among them “militia,” “cops,” “riot,” “dirty bomb,” “Mexican army,” “decapitated,” “Iraq,” “radicals,” and many more

  • Law enforcement agencies dig deeper into applicants' digital past

    More and more police departments are digging deep into the social media accounts of applicants, requesting that candidates sign waivers allowing investigators access to their Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and other personal spaces; some agencies are demanding that applicants provide private passwords, Internet pseudonyms, text messages, and e-mail logs; of “particular concern” to law enforcement agencies is that defense lawyers could use officers’ posts to undercut their credibility in court