Jan 312010
 
 January 31, 2010  Court, Online

From their announcement of January 28th:

Consumer Watchdog today filed a brief urging a federal court to reject the revised Google Books settlement because it is remains anticompetitive and violates both U.S. and international law.

Though the original settlement was withdrawn and amended in the face of objections from the U.S. Justice Department, Consumer Watchdog and others, “the revised settlement suffers from the same fundamental problems as its predecessor,” the nonpartisan, nonprofit group said in a friend-of-the-court brief.

Consumer Watchdog said the public deserves a ruling on what constitutes fair use, the original issue prompting the suit, but left unresolved in the proposed settlement.

“The settlement still abuses the class-action mechanism and purports to enroll absent class members automatically into new business ‘opportunities,’ in violation of current copyright laws,” the brief said. “This scheme acts to the disadvantage of absent class members and would result in unfair competitive advantages to Google in the search engine, electronic book sales, and other markets, to the detriment of the public interest.  Along the way, the settlement raises significant international law and privacy concerns.”

Click here to read Consumer Watchdog’s full amicus curiae brief.

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Jan 312010
 
 January 31, 2010  Breaches, Non-U.S.

Peter Mickelburough reports:

The personal details of 3.4 million Victorians continue to be abused by VicRoads staff despite a State Government bid to stamp out licensing fraud.

Seven VicRoads workers have been sacked or resigned for improperly accessing or releasing information from the authority’s database in the past two years.

Two other staff have been counselled and a 10th had a pay cut.

But the state’s vehicle licensing authority refuses to detail the exact nature of the abuse or the number of breaches committed by the staff.

Read more in the Herald Sun.

Jan 312010
 
 January 31, 2010  Laws

If you are convicted of a violent crime in the state of New York, you are required to provide a DNA sample to authorities. This is kept on file and used by law enforcement to help identify the perpetrators of future crimes. Key to this practice is the idea that a DNA sample is taken after an individual has been found guilty.

This could soon change, however, if New York lawmakers pass Katie’s Law. The law would give law enforcement the right to take DNA samples from anyone arrested for a violent crime.

Arrest vs. Conviction

It is important to note the difference: DNA samples would be taken from suspects following arrest, rather than conviction. This means that someone who is wrongly accused and arrested would be required to submit a DNA sample and, even if acquitted, would have his or her most personal information listed next to convicted criminals’ information.

In Albany, the law was proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Morelle. Supporters of the bill include victims’ rights advocates and Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy. Among those opposing the law’s passage is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which campaigned against Katie’s Law in other states and is voicing its opinion in New York as well.

Katie’s Law is gaining traction and, if 21 other states are any indication, it will likely pass.

A Slippery Slope?

The proposed law is named for a New Mexico college student who was raped and murdered. The man guilty of the crime was later arrested for burglary, but because DNA evidence was not collected until his conviction, he was not found guilty of Katie’s murder until more than three years later. Had DNA evidence been collected immediately following his arrest, the young woman’s murder would have been solved much earlier.

This is the argument for Katie’s Law: By collecting more DNA evidence, chances are good that law enforcement will be able to identify more individuals who are guilty of crimes.

It starts down a slippery slope, however. After that, why stop at those who have been arrested? Why not take DNA samples from every citizen? Surely, this would help law enforcement solve more crimes more quickly.

Opponents argue that the proposed law flies in the face of personal liberties as old as the country itself. Some have pointed out that the law contradicts the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure. Many argue that it goes against the presumption of innocence upon which our criminal justice system is based.

Indeed, according to a Congressional study, “Courts have not fully considered legal implications of recent extensions of DNA-collection to people whom the government has arrested but not tried or convicted.” According to the New York Times, criminal justice experts have spoken out against the practice, worrying that the U.S. is “becoming a genetic surveillance society.”

Under Governor George Pataki, New York expanded its DNA collection to individuals convicted of even minor crimes, including misdemeanors like simple assault, meaning that now even non-felons will not only have a permanent criminal record with no chance of expungement but their DNA will remain on file, allegedly safeguarded by a government agency forever. New York’s version of Katie’s Law may eventually be expanded to those accused of even petty offenses like trespassing or disorderly conduct. Are traffic infractions next? Will highway patrolmen start carrying portable DNA kits for cheek swabs along with every speeding ticket? Let’s hope not.

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Jan 312010
 
 January 31, 2010  Breaches, Business

Mark Titus reports:

Subscribers to Flow’s telephone service are demanding explanations at the sudden appearance of their private information in the national telephone directory, produced annually by a third party.

But they will have to wait at least a year before the problem can be rectified.

The telephone directory, though distributed by LIME Jamaica/Cable and Wireless Jamaica, captures the fixed-line telephone numbers, internet and street addresses of subscribers.

LIME is the official owner and publisher of the directory but its production is outsourced to Caribbean Publishing Company, a subsidiary of Global Directories Caribbean Limited.

[…]

But Columbus Communications Jamaica, which trades under the name Flow, is adamant that it did not breach any policy or agreement with its customers in passing on clients’ information for publication in the directory.

Flow’s marketing director Sharon Roper said that on signing up, Flow customers are given the option to ‘delist’ and for clients who chose not to, their information was already in the public domain via the firm’s website.

Read more in The Gleaner.