Mar 122012
 March 12, 2012  Posted by  Breaches, Featured News, Laws

Did you know that eight states now require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound first?  From AllGov‘s Matt Bewig, they are:

Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Texas also requires the ultrasound technician to display and describe the resulting image, while similar laws in North Carolina and Oklahoma are currently unenforceable because they are being challenged in court.

 Our economy’s in the dumps, yet state legislators are busy trying to impose restrictions on women’s ability to access legal procedures.  When legislators are up for re-election, women should remember who thought so little of their privacy and rights that they would decide what medical procedures a woman must have.

At the same time that legislators are lawfully violating women’s privacy, a lone hacktivist, who described himself as part of Anonymous, hacked the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) last week.  His motive? He was unhappy that his sister and a friend had had abortions.  His intention? To dump the names of tens of thousands of women who had contacted the service.  Before that happened, though, he was arrested and has already pleaded guilty.  At the hearing, he stated he had changed his mind about dumping the data, and according to prosecutors, when he was arrested, he was in the process of wiping hard drives.  And so, part of the privacy breach (public disclosure) was averted.  But it was still a scary breach. If women must be fearful of even reaching out for information on healthcare issues, they will be less likely to make good use of resources.

After more than 24 hours of thundering silence, some individuals affiliated with Anonymous started speaking up on Twitter and saying that they disagreed with the hacker’s actions.  But such post-hoc disagreement does not prevent another hack of this kind that puts women’s privacy at risk on sensitive issues.

Entities retaining data must secure data adequately as there simply is no privacy without security.  BPAS’s security may have been good but it was breached.  What lesson will others hopefully learn from that?

Yet  even when entities do secure their data and even when women take reasonable precautions to protect their privacy, we are constantly under threat from those elected to state and federal office who want to impose their moral or religious views on the rest of us.

Shame on them all.

In the finest tradition of political cartoons, this week Doonesbury takes on the ultrasound law in Texas in his cartoon strip. Some papers have decided not to run it. Shame on them, too.

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