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Posts from the ‘Privacy’ Category

DEA Sued for Creating Fake Facebook Account Using Woman’s Photos

How would you like to stumble upon a Facebook page that you did not create, and that also displayed your name and your personal photographs?  Better yet, how would you feel if that same page was created and being used by a government agency to catch criminals?

That is exactly what happened to a Sondra Arquiett in 2010 when an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) took it upon himself to create a fake Facebook account with the hopes of establishing contact with criminal drug dealers.  DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen admitted to creating the account and appropriating Arquiett’s likeness, according to the federal lawsuit that Arquiett filed against the DEA and agent Sinnigen in the Northern District of New York.  Arquiett had previously been arrested for drug charges in 2010, and during that time some of her personal items were seized.  One of those items was her cell phone, which contained personal and private photographs.  Sinnigen used the photographs on the fake Facebook page in order to create the impression that it had been created and was being managed by Arquiett.

The photographs, some of which contain images of Arquiett’s young son and niece, were taken and used without permission or authorization.  The complaint alleges that Arquiett was “deprived of her Constitutional rights, including her right of privacy afforded to her under the First Amendment”.  This clearly raises some concerns about privacy, and to what extent the government can use your personal information.  The Justice Department will investigate this practice and the issues it creates.

The case had been set for trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, however it appears now that it may head to mediation.
By Taylor Hume

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Piracy, ISPs, and six strikes: not two outs, or even one…

In a voluntary self-policing effort most likely intended to help safeguard their Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) Section 230 immunity from suit, several Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) have created a “Copyright Alert System” (“CAS”) to allow content owners the opportunity to report piracy, through which “strikes” can be issued to Internet service users as a warning for piracy.  This YouTube user who I can’t identify as an authority, has a few generally accurate, and fairly informative videos about the CAS regime.  It’s not clear whether this user is a representative of the ISPs or not.  Comcast also has a pretty good set of faqs on the CAS.

Essentially, the CAS allows content owners to identify infringing IP addresses after verifying that infringement is taking place by P2P (“peer to peer”) file sharing.  The ISP then sends a warning to the Internet service user who had that IP address at the relevant time.  After multiple warnings the Internet service user may be required to view a video about piracy, and after several warnings that user’s service may be “throttled,” or slowed down to make piracy more difficult or time-consuming.  The CAS includes an arbitration process for challenging warnings (Russell’s teapot: How do you prove you weren’t pirating?), but no circumstance under which an Internet service user’s account is to be terminated.

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FTC Amends Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA)

For those of you not familiar with COPPA, the FTC passed the act in 1998 and it is designed to help protect the personally identifiable information of Internet users under the age of 13 and gives parents control over the information companies collect online from their children.  COPPA specifically applies to websites targeting children, but essentially applies to any site that a child could use that collects personally identifiable information.  The FTC is concerned with children’s privacy now more than ever with the increased use of social media and smartphone apps that use features such as geolocation.

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Another Lesson Learned: Instagram Quickly Backtracks After Angering Its Users

This week, users of Instagram scored a victory with the company’s management over a plan to amend Instagram’s terms of service that would allow the third-party use of users’ photos without their permission or any form of compensation.  This change, which was scheduled to take effect in mid January, caused an uproar among Instagram’s user base.

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California Attorney General Sues Delta Airlines for Not Having a Privacy Policy for Mobile App

Not having a privacy policy could be a problem, especially if you collect personally identifiable information from users located in California.  Delta Airlines is learning this tip the hard way.  Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General, filed a complaint in state court last week against Delta Airlines for not adhering with California state law. The state law at issue is the California Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires a website that collects personally identifiable information about individual consumers residing in California to conspicuously display a privacy policy.

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FTC v. Epic Marketplace: It’s not paranoia if…

Remember that Rockwell song from the 80’s: “I always feel like somebody’s watching me…”?  Chances are, while you were online, Epic Marketplace was.  Earlier today the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a settlement with Epic Marketplace that required that company to stop “datasniffing” websurfers’ browsing and destroy records gained by doing so.  Find the Consent Order here.

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EPIC Wants FCC’s Full Report on Google Street View

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an internet privacy advocacy group, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Wednesday with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the full release of its report on the investigation of Google Street View. Google Street View was under investigation for the collection and storage of data from unencrypted wireless networks. The investigation started when it was determined that Google Street View collected data about personal online usage from unsecured Wi-Fi networks for four years while intending to simply collect the locations of Wi-Fi access points. Read more

Congress to Consider Radically Different Approaches in Cybersecurity Standoff

The House of Representatives has plans to focus on cybersecurity in the coming weeks and, as a result, is slated to consider at least two bills that have gained substantial traction out of committee.  These bills carve out exceptions to privacy laws to allow private companies to disclose “cyber threat intelligence” to the government.  The need for such a law is proclaimed by political officials and private entities alike. Current privacy laws—such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act or the Privacy Act—provide an all-important shield against disclosure of private information but often have the consequence of hamstringing efforts to identify and prevent cyber threats.  Read more

Is Your Website COPPA-Compliant?

On March 27th, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it has settled its complaint that RockYou, Inc., an online gaming site, allowed hackers to access the personal information of 32 million users while it touted its security features and that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule when it collected information from approximately 179,000 children. The settlement requires RockYou to stop its deceptive claims about privacy and data security, implement a data security program, stop all future violations of COPPA, and pay a civil penalty of $250,000. Read more

House (Mis)fires First Shot in Battle over Employer Access to Facebook Passwords

While at least one Senator is drafting a bill to stop the “unreasonable invasion of privacy” resulting from employer access to your Facebook page, the House has rejected a similar proposal from Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter.  The measure would have prevented employers from collecting Facebook user names and passwords as a condition of employment.  The law was added as an amendment to the FCC Reform Act Bill, but was shot down 236-184. Republican opposition spelled disaster for the amendment, though it’s not clear whether House Republicans were genuinely opposed to the legislation or simply did not want to address the matter as part of the FCC Bill (which incidentally, they passed later that day).

As this blog has reported previously, Facebook is vehemently opposed to employers gaining access to employee pages. However, presumably because Facebook lacks the legal and technical capacity to stop the practice, Facebook (and its user base) has been ratcheting up the pressure on Congress to do something.

Given the attention on this issue, it’s practically certain that these measures will be reintroduced in future legislation. We’ll no doubt be blogging about these developments, so check back with us for updates as this saga unfolds.

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