Aug 312011
 August 31, 2011  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, U.S.

From EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today to preserve lawsuits challenging the government’s illegal mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. In oral arguments today, EFF asked the court to block the government’s attempt to bury the suits with claims of state secrecy and an unconstitutional “immunity” law for telecoms that participated in the spying.

Appearing before the court in Seattle, EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn and Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston argued against the dismissal of EFF’s two lawsuits, Hepting v. AT&T and Jewel v. NSA, along with the 32 other cases against various telecommunications carriers. At stake is whether the courts can judge the legality and constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) bulk interception of Americans’ phone calls and emails, accomplished through back-door access to AT&T’s domestic telecom network and its databases of communications records.

“The scope and legality of the NSA program has been the subject of widespread reporting and debate for half a decade — it is hardly a secret. And Congress long ago crafted balanced and comprehensive security procedures to govern courts’ handling of secret evidence about electronic surveillance to ensure that the Judicial Branch is always able to watch over Executive Branch spying while preserving national security,” said Bankston. “Yet the government still claims that any judicial scrutiny of the NSA program would disclose ‘state secrets’ and harm national security. It’s time for these lawsuits to proceed and for the courts to be allowed to do their job and determine the legality of the NSA program.”

EFF also argued that the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) — the 2008 legislation aimed at getting telecoms participating in the NSA program off the hook for breaking the law — violates the Constitutional separation of powers.

“The FAA effectively allows the President to grant favored companies a ‘get out of jail free’ card even though the law prohibits telecoms from violating their customers’ privacy,” said Cohn. “We can’t allow the government to stack the deck against ordinary Americans. We need to protect against officials who overstep limits on their power.”

More than five years ago, EFF filed Hepting v AT&T, the first lawsuit against a telecom aimed at stopping the government’s dragnet domestic wiretapping. In 2008, when Congress passed legislation that threatened to end the Hepting case, EFF filed Jewel v. NSA — a case directly against the government and government officials.

For more on NSA spying:

Aug 312011
 August 31, 2011  Posted by  Breaches, Court, Featured News, Non-U.S.

On August 5, 2011, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court announced its decision in what is reported to be the largest criminal case to date involving the misuse of personal information in Beijing, China.  The Court based its ruling on Article 7 of the Seventh Amendment to the Criminal Law, which applies to three types of criminal activities: (1) illegalsale of citizens’ personal information, (2) illegal provision of citizens’ personal information, and (3) illegal access to citizens’ personal information.

Overview of the Charges

According to Chinese news reports, a total of 23 defendants were accused of having taken various actions which ultimately resulted in the illegal purchase, sale or provision of personal information between March and December of 2009.


Read more on Hunton & Williams Privacy and Information Security Law Blog

Aug 312011
 August 31, 2011  Posted by  Breaches, Business, Court, Surveillance

Dan Levine reports:

Microsoft allegedly tracks the location of its mobile customers even after users request that tracking software be turned off, according to a new lawsuit.

The proposed class action, filed in a Seattle federal court on Wednesday in the US, says Microsoft intentionally designed camera software on the Windows Phone 7 operating system to ignore customer requests that they not be tracked.

Read more on The Age

Aug 312011
 August 31, 2011  Posted by  Misc

Steven Rosen reports:

People have long romanticized the 1950s — Marilyn Monroe’s windswept dress, Sun rockabilly 45s, beatnik coffeehouse gatherings, Madison Avenue martini lunches.Larken Design in Cincinnati is selling artwork and notebooks with police mug shots from the 1950s, raising concerns about the privacy rights of individuals and the disposal of public records.

But old, forgotten mug shots? What is appealing about that?


But as the business grows, it raises questions with no clear answers about the legality and propriety of distributing government property like mug shots, which are increasingly popular enticements to Web sites like The Smoking Gun.

Should there be privacy protection for the subjects, as well as safeguards to the way public agencies dispose of potentially embarrassing “hard copies” of records, in an age known for using digital technology to recycle found images into art? And, even when it is not the intent, does finding a new use for material like an old mug shot amount to profiting off someone else’s ancient misfortune?

Read more in the New York Times.