Jan 302010
 January 30, 2010  Posted by  Breaches, Featured News, U.S.

A Notre Dame University alumnus, Gary Caruso, has taken to the Web to question how Notre Dame University Alumni Association records were obtained by Illinois Republican Gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna’s campaign.

According to Caruso, McKenna is an alumnus of NDU and those alumni who were in his class have found themselves on the receiving end of campaign mailings that used email addresses and/or postal addresses known only to the NDU Alumni Association.

Caruso writes:

…. the inappropriate mining of Notre Dame alumni data by other Domers in support of McKenna is a breach of political ethics inexcusable for any Notre Dame graduate. The University officially bans the use of lists for solicitations, and institutes electronic limits on downloads to a maximum of 500 files. Unfortunately, the McKenna campaign circumvented those limitations which ultimately phished me into their digital campaign net.

Last Friday, at University President Fr. John Jenkins’ Washington, D.C., reception following the Right to Life March, I sat at length discussing the e-mail data breach with several University officials including those from our alumni association office. They emphasized their guiding principle of neutrality and privacy protections with all proprietary data collected from alumni. They further clarified the University’s policy to me and acknowledged that they are well aware of how McKenna supporters maneuvered around the firewall limitations. I left our discussion with the impression that the breach’s loophole had been closed once and for all.

As one who has tumbled within the rough world of campaigns and developed a thick political skin, the data breach initially in my mind was more of a campaign spam one-ups-man-ship until I heard complaints from others who considered the incident a breach of the University’s trust. Moreover, campaign tactics do not excuse or lessen the deleterious effect such digital maneuvering has within our alumni ranks. For many who leave their politics at the edge of campus, this is not just the phishing of alumni e-mail addresses. It is a break in the trust that they placed in their support for Notre Dame because they believe that they personally are being used as a commodity — good only until the candidacy of McKenna (or any other soliciting alumni) ends.

Caruso’s use of the words “pilfered” and “phish” may not be accurate as there has been no explanation by the NDU Alumni Association as to how this breach occurred and the alumni association has not responded to a request for an explanation as to how this breach occurred.

Update of Feb. 1: I was sent a copy of the McKennaSolicitationsolicitation letter. (pdf) According to the recipient, it was sent to all 1700 NDU classmates including those who did not reside in Illinois. Neither NDU nor McKenna’s campaign have responded to requests for clarification of how what appears to be a privacy breach occurred.

Jan 302010
 January 30, 2010  Posted by  Non-U.S., Online, Surveillance

Chris Williams reports:

The Home Office has created a new unit to oversee a massive increase in surveillance of the internet, The Register has learned, quashing suggestions the plans are on hold until after the election.

The new Communications Capabilities Directorate (CCD) has been created as a structure to implement the £2bn Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), sources said.

The CCD is staffed by the same officials who have have been working on IMP since 2007, but it establishes the project on a more formal basis in the Home Office. It is not yet included on the Home Office’s list of directorates.

Read more in The Register.

Simon Watkin of the Home Office responded to an inquiry about the program on a list serv that is available on the Web:
Continue reading »

Jan 302010
 January 30, 2010  Posted by  Breaches, Non-U.S.

Rob Shaw and Lindsay Kines report:

Mistakes, missed opportunities and bureaucratic bungling led more than two dozen officials to botch the B.C. government’s response to a major privacy breach, according to a scathing internal review released yesterday.

The investigation found supervisors in four provincial ministries used poor judgment and failed to alert the right people to handle the breach.

But nobody will be fired, because the failure was so widespread across so many officials that it cannot be pinned on one person, concluded the review.

“The judgment exercised in the many decisions made as events unfolded fell short of the due diligence that is expected of the public service,” said Allan Seckel, B.C.’s deputy minister to the premier and head of the public service.

The government report follows a series of Times Colonist stories last year that revealed the personal data of 1,400 income-assistance clients was found in the Victoria home of Richard Ernest Wainwright, a supervisor in the youth and special-needs office of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Read more in The Province.

Jan 302010
 January 30, 2010  Posted by  Court, Non-U.S.

Gordon Rayner and Martin Evans report:

The “creeping” culture of secrecy in Britain’s courts was halted when a judge revoked a privacy injunction obtained by the England football captain John Terry.

Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled that there were no grounds for a gagging order that prevented the disclosure that the £150,000-a-week Chelsea player and married father of two had an affair with a former team-mate’s girlfriend.

The “super-injunction” had been granted last week after Terry’s legal team used human rights laws to argue that the public had no right to know about his extramarital relationship with Vanessa Perroncel, the long-term girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, a fellow England defender.

The decision to discontinue the injunction came the day after The Daily Telegraph highlighted concerns about the secrecy of the case, without being able to name any of those involved.

The injunction had been criticised as the latest example of courts bringing in a privacy law by the back door. A succession of wealthy and powerful figures have used the Human Rights Act to prevent the publication of damaging allegations on the basis that it breached their right to privacy.

Read more in the The Telegraph.

Culture of secrecy? Perish the thought that the media should not be able to freely discuss people’s private lives. Yes, the public is curious about famous people, but does that mean that the public has a right to know everything about someone who is not a government or public official? What’s wrong with human rights law protecting an individual’s right to privacy? Yes, a lot of tabloids might lose some of their audience if gossipy news were restrained, but I do wish more countries and courts would respect individuals’ privacy. Sadly, tell-all books and gossip sell better than hard news.