Blog of Rights

Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (6/19/2012)

By Anna Salem, ACLU of Northern California at 4:15pm

In the digital age that we live in today, we are constantly exposing our personal information online. From using cell phones and GPS devices to online shopping and sending e-mail, the things we do and say online leave behind ever-growing trails of personal information. The ACLU believes that Americans shouldn’t have to choose between using new technology and keeping control of your private information. Each week, we feature some of the most interesting news related to technology and civil liberties that we’ve spotted from the previous week.

The FBI’s Secret Surveillance Letters to Tech Companies [Wall Street Journal – Jennifer Valentino-DeVries]

"Just what kind of information can the government get with a so-called 'national security letter' – the tool that allows investigators to seek financial, phone and Internet data without a judge’s approval? It’s a secret."

Supreme Court Disappoints Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga and Yahoo [Forbes – Kashmir Hill]

"This caught the attention of the tech company illuminati. Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga, and Yahoo joined forces to file a brief [pdf] in the case urging the Supreme Court not to allow people to sue them for breaking federal laws when those people suffered no actual injury."

Your FTC Privacy Watchdogs: Low-Tech, Defensive, Toothless [Wired – Peter Maas]

"The FTC is the lead agency in the government’s effort to ensure that companies do not cross the still-hazy border between acceptable and unacceptable data collection. But the agency’s ambitions are clipped by a lack of both funding and legal authority, reflecting a broader uncertainty about the role government should play in what is arguably America’s most promising new industry."

Your E-Book Is Reading You [Wall Street Journal – Alexandra Alter]

"Publishers are only just beginning to mull over the potential uses for e-reading data…Some privacy watchdogs argue that e-book users should be protected from having their digital reading habits recorded."

Mobile Carriers Gladly Give Your Data to the Cops, But Not to You [Wired – David Kravets]

"The nation’s major mobile carriers have amassed a treasure trove of sensitive data on their customers that they share with police and advertisers — but keep hidden from the consumers themselves."

State AGs affix target to online privacy issues [ZDNET – John Fontana]

"Maryland attorney general Douglas Gansler declared digital privacy as his calling card last week after being elected to lead the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG)."

Orbitz Controversy: Tip Of Big Data Iceberg [Information Week – Doug Henschen]

"When The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Orbitz shows Mac users costlier travel options than those shown to Windows PC users, it caused a stir, spawning hundreds of follow-on stories, including a video segment on ABC's 'Good Morning America.'"

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