May 312010
 May 31, 2010  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Non-U.S., Surveillance

Jane Seyd reports that BC Hydro pushed back when RCMP obtained an order for them to turn over all customer records based on energy usage:

North Vancouver RCMP have backed off on a request that would have forced BC Hydro to turn over the records of more than a thousand North Vancouver homeowners using large amounts of power to police.

On Thursday, at a closed-door hearing in North Vancouver provincial court, the federal department of justice withdrew the request for the Hydro records after facing a court challenge by the power authority.

BC Hydro filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court this month fighting the request after a North Vancouver judge ordered the power company to hand over a list of residential addresses to police of anyone in North Vancouver whose power consumption averaged more than 93 kilowatt hours per day.

Details about why the North Vancouver RCMP made the unusual request have been sealed by the court, but are believed to involve a search for potential marijuana growing operations, which typically use large amounts of electricity.

Read more on Global Toronto.

Image credit: cabbit/Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

May 312010
 May 31, 2010  Posted by  Misc

“Get back.
Get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.”

That Beatles’ tune kept running through my head yesterday as I read through some of the draft papers for the upcoming Privacy Law Scholar’s Conference to be held this week in Washington, D.C. While many of the papers are forward-looking, some take us back or urge a return to earlier approaches to privacy:

Peter Winn, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the DOJ and law lecturer at the University of Washington
Law School, will be presenting an absolutely fascinating paper on the “History of the Law of Privacy in the 16th & 17th Century.” His article really left me with a better understanding of the English roots of our legal system’s approach to privacy and with new appreciation that the “right to be let alone” was not judicial activism but was more firmly rooted in English law than some current jurists and members of Congress seem to realize.

Continue reading »

May 312010
 May 31, 2010  Posted by  Featured News, Misc

The following is a blog entry I wrote for Chronicles of Dissent for Memorial Day 2006:

I think somewhere along the line, the meaning of Memorial Day must have changed, because why else would Colin Powell be talking about remembering those who are currently serving in the war? The original meaning of Memorial Day –and the meaning I grew up with — was to remember and honor those who gave their lives serving their country.

As a child, I’d always see what appeared to be very old men out in front of the stores, giving out artificial little red poppies that we’d wear to remember and honor the fallen.

Most of those old men have long since passed on. Many of them were proud members of the VFW, like my two neighbors across the street. Every morning John would raise the flag on a flagpole he had in front of his house. And every Veteran’s Day, he and Joe would don their caps and march proudly in the local parade. Joe and John are both gone now, dying within a year of each other. They were good neighbors and good men.

So I’m sitting here, thinking about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But I’m also remembering my dad who served in the “War to End All Wars,” my cousin-in-law who survived Pork Chop Hill in Korea, a former patient who had been a physician and part of the liberation forces for the concentration camps, and my friend’s father. They survived their wars, but the wars changed each of them in perceptible ways.

Like a lot of men in their generation, my dad and my friend’s dad never talked much about the war. Occasionally my father would tell me some funny stories and talk a bit about his work analyzing the bombs and weaponry that were delivered to him behind the lines. But that was it. The war was not a topic he wanted to discuss or ever raised. And just like he didn’t talk much about the war, neither did my friend’s father. It was only after his death that my friend found the papers showing how he had been shot down behind enemy lines in 1944 and had been a POW for quite a while in Stalag Luft I.

There was no old man selling red poppies outside the supermarket this morning, and we’re the only house on our block that has an American flag flying today. I don’t even know if school children still get red poppies to remember. I hope they do. Whether or not you agree with a war, those who gave their lives in service of their country deserve some recognition and respect.

May 312010
 May 31, 2010  Posted by  Business, Online

Stephanie Clifford reports:

As concern increases in Washington about the amount of private data online, and as big sites like Facebook draw criticism that they collect consumers’ information in a stealthy manner, many Web start-ups are pursuing a more reciprocal approach — saying, in essence: give us your data and get something in return.

The budgeting Web site, for example, displays discount offers from cable companies or banks to users who reveal their personal financial data, including bank and credit card information. The clothing retailer Bluefly could send offers for sunglasses to consumers who disclose that they just bought a swimsuit. And location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla ask users to volunteer their location in return for rewards like discounts on Pepsi drinks or Starbucks coffee.

Read more in the New York Times.