Oct 312014
 October 31, 2014  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Surveillance, U.S.

Joseph Ax reports:

 New York City can finally begin to implement court-ordered reforms to its controversial stop-and-frisk police tactic, after a U.S. appeals court on Friday rejected a last-ditch challenge brought by several police unions.

The decision from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York came exactly one year after it put the reforms on hold while the city pursued an appeal of a U.S. judge’s finding that the practice amounted to a form of racial profiling.

Read more on Reuters.

Oct 312014
 October 31, 2014  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Surveillance, U.S.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will appear before a federal appeals court next week to argue the National Security Agency (NSA) should be barred from its mass collection of telephone records of million of Americans. The hearing in Klayman v. Obama is set for 9:30 am on Tuesday, Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C.

Appearing as an amicus, EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn will present oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which submitted a joint brief in the case.

Conservative activist and lawyer Larry Klayman filed the suit in the aftermath of the first Edward Snowden disclosure, in which The Guardian revealed how the NSA was collecting telephone records on a massive scale from the telecommunications company Verizon. In December, District Court Judge Richard Leon issued a preliminary injunction in the case, declaring that the mass surveillance program was
likely unconstitutional.

EFF argues that the call-records collection, which the NSA conducts with claimed authority under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, violates the Fourth Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Separately, EFF is counsel in two other lawsuits against the program—Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA—and is co-counsel with the ACLU in a third, Smith v. Obama.

What: Oral Argument in Klayman v. Obama

Who: EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn

When: 9:30 am (ET), Nov. 4, 2014

Where: E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse and William B. Bryant Annex
Courtroom 20
333 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

For background and legal documents:

The audio of the oral arguments is expected to be available on the court’s website sometime after the hearing:


Oct 312014
 October 31, 2014  Posted by  Breaches

Hamish McNeilly provides yet another example of how “small” breaches can cause great harm or distress for individuals:

A Dunedin man says he is living in fear after a Family Court privacy breach resulted in his address being sent to his brother, who had allegedly threatened to kill him.

The Family Court has apologised for the error.

Earlier this year, the man’s brother was convicted of criminal damage after smashing thousands of dollars worth of equipment in the man’s flat and urinating on his bed.

The man’s brother was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work and nine months’ supervision, with a requirement to undergo a domestic violence programme and a substance abuse assessment and any follow-up.

The man, who cannot be identified, took out a protection order, from which he asked the Family Court to remove his address, following alleged threats his brother would kill him.

Read more on Otago Daily Times.


Oct 312014
 October 31, 2014  Posted by  Featured News, Youth & Schools

Thanks to Margot Kaminski for making me aware of this article by Elana Zeide, “The Proverbial ‘Permanent Record’.”


The debate about student privacy is highly emotional and divisive. One prominent fear is that current and proposed information practices have created a proverbial “permanent record” that will tether students to their pasts and limit opportunities later in life. In popular imagination, a stern principal warns a student that his misdeeds will be recorded in his permanent record unless he behaves better. The idea of a dossier that captures bad behavior and follows students later in life cuts against the cultural norm that children should have the opportunity to experiment and move beyond youthful mistakes.

Stakeholders express concerns that the development of state longitudinal data systems (SLDSs) that link student information over time have created a modern day version of the “permanent record.” This discussion points to important places where current information practices conflict with traditional expectations about information flow in public education. However, it also reflects a considerable amount of conflation and misinformation.

Public education institutions and agencies have not created a “permanent record” where individuals can access students’ education histories at a keystroke. Critiques based on this myth suggest — inaccurately — that states collect sensitive student information in a consolidated database freely shared with entities like college admission boards, employers, and corporate profiteers.

This paper examines the concerns captured in the concept of the proverbial “permanent record,” how closely these fears match and diverge from information flow surrounding SLDSs, and the mechanisms in place to address these fears.

Worrying aspects of the mythical permanent record are only partly about “permanence” or “recording.” They also incorporate the sensitivity of information collected about students, the scope of actors who can access it, and the propriety of using information generated in educational environments to drive decontextualized decisionmaking.

Current legal, technological, and administrative measures address these concerns in part by de-identifying student information, segregating data systems, and limiting the disclosure of personally identifiable information to authorized recipients for specific purposes. This framework gives educational institutions and agencies the responsibility to establish appropriate data governance and make substantive decisions regarding student information.

This paper also notes where the permanent record myth points to issues that have yet to be addressed by policymakers, and recommends mechanisms to clarify the debate and better address stakeholder fears. These include the creation of comprehensive data inventories, increased transparency about information practices, implementation of a baseline privacy infrastructure, and ensuring the accountability of both public and private actors.

You can download the full article at SSRN.