Federal lawmakers have introduced HR 4978, the Online Privacy Act (OPA), which is intended to bring the U.S. in line with the rest of the Internet-connected world. It would also establish the Federal Digital Privacy Agency (DPA).
We’ve been telling readers for years that you need to be very careful about what you say and post on social media, whether Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or other sites. It can be used against you in divorce proceedings, in lawsuits and criminal trials, and, of course, in the court of popular opinion. Now add another place it can be used against you to the list: during the background check for your Federal security clearance. (Full text of directive below.)
If you don’t have kids who use children’s apps, you may not be aware of the lawsuits against Apple, Google, and Amazon for allowing children to make unauthorized (because unauthenticated by password) purchases in apps that are geared towards children.
As we recently reported, the FBI (and so the Federal government) is trying to force Apple to assist them in unlocking the iPhone that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. A Federal court ordered Apple to do so, and so far Apple has resisted. Part of the heart of the FBI’s argument is that this will affect only one phone, while Apple has insisted that it’s much larger than that – that an order to help unlock one phone will lead to a dangerous precedent of being ordered to help unlock any number of phones. The Feds have steadfastly insisted it is “just this one.” However, recent court filings have revealed that in fact there are as many as a dozen iPhones in other cases just waiting for Apple to be ordered to unlock them.
Yesterday we told you about how Microsoft is one of several companies who are encrypting their services and hardening their systems against the prying of nosy agencies like the NSA. Now Microsoft is fighting a Federal court order that they turn over the data for a user’s email account whose email data resides on a server outside of the U.S. (in Ireland, to be specific).
Microsoft has disclosed that it has sought permission from the U.S. government to disclose to the public how it handles requests from the Federal government for user data. Microsoft says “We believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us.”
SOPA Activist and RSS author Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit, has been found dead in his Brooklyn, NY apartment, from a hanging suicide. The 26 year-old was facing Federal prosecution for allegedly stealing 4.8 million documents from MIT’s computer networks, as well as from JSTOR, or Journal Storage, a nonprofit organization that offers journals and scholarly books to subsidized institutions. The death came as a shock to Swartz’s parents and girlfriend, who never expected him to hang himself, and they contend that the suicide was as a result of a “criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
15-year-old Texas teen Andrea Hernandez has launched a fight against the Northside Independent School District to avoid wearing the electronic tracking RFID chips embedded in her high school ID. Hernandez, from a deeply evangelical religion, believes that the ID is “the mark of the beast,” as talked about in the Book of Revelation. But even without the religious aspect, this is an important issue, and the religious nature of her objection helps to provide a more solid basis over which to object to the microchipped school I.D.
Myspace (yes, they are still around, believe it or not) has settle charges with the Federal Trade Commission over Myspace’s alleged misleading of their users as to how Myspace was handling user personal information. Put plainly, Myspace was sharing the personal information of their users with advertisers, but misleading users about how they were using their personal information.
Facebook is being sued over its using its ability to track Facebook users’ Internet browsing history even while they are logged out of Facebook. The Facebook lawsuit, filed in Federal court in Mississippi on October 12th against Facebook, Brooke Rutledge claims that, among other things Facebook is in direct violation of U.S. Wiretapping laws. But perhaps more to the point, it is in violation of treating its users with common decency, following them with Facebook super cookies and the like. The complaint also seeks to turn the lawsuit into a class action, so others can join the law suit.
There’s been a lot of talk this week about the announcement of President Obama’s planned “Internet ID”, but very little of it actually contains any substance about how such an Internet identity plan would actually work. That’s because nobody really knows. There really is no plan yet; as far as anybody can tell at this point it’s all just a proposal to plan to have a plan to create a national Cyber ID, although that proposed plan does have a name, the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace”, and is said to be being drafted as we speak. Really, the most important part of the announcement of the national cyber identity plan is that it names the U.S. Commerce Department as having authority over any such plan, rather than Homeland Security or the NSA.
According to government officials and insiders, the Federal government is seeking broad authority and discretion to monitor all Internet communications, including communications on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, instant messaging systems, and even (or hey, perhaps especially) encrypted emails.
Move over, Match.com, eHarmony and PlentyOfFish.com – the Federal government is getting into the online dating and relationship space, with their very own online dating site called TwoOfUs.org. The Two of Us.org site includes advice on dating, relationships, and marriage. Perhaps once the Feds are able to bring their own relationships with the opposite sects more into harmony, and stop the acrimony and one-night stands in their own house (and senate), then we will be able to take a Federal dating advice site more seriously.