Jan 282011
 January 28, 2011  Posted by  Misc, Surveillance

G.W. Schulz reports:

….  Digital rights advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been suing federal agencies for months under the Freedom of Information Act with help from the Samuelson Clinic at UC Berkeley’s School of Law. The goal was to force open policies that explain when social networking sites can be used for government surveillance, data collection and investigations.

Results made public so far by EFF are available below for more than a dozen sites in a chart built by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Old and new policies alike are posted next to the document year, so you can compare possible changes over time. EFF argues that the variety among them shows how “social networking sites have struggled to develop consistent, straightforward policies.”

The chart makes for an interesting read.

Schulz also notes:

Verizon testified to Congress four years ago that it faced tens of thousands of requests for customer data annually. Google’s “Transparency Report,” praised by observers as a leading example of openness, lists how many it receives from countries around the globe: nearly 4,300 in the United States alone during a six-month period last year.

Facebook recently told reporter Bob McMillan that it would be releasing some information in the future, but did not specify when or exactly how they would handle it. And just today we learned that Comcast had indicated in an affidavit that it had revealed information on 36,771 customers to law enforcement over the past four years.

Read Schulz’s full report on the Center for Investigative Reporting.  At the very least, consumers should be able to get clearer statements from some companies as to what their policies are about turning over information to law enforcement.  Otherwise, how can consumers make an informed decision as to whether they want to use a service or trust a company with their data?

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