Privacy invasions

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Information about Privacy invasions

Published on February 6, 2008

Author: Quintilliano


Violations of Consumer Privacy IRE / May 31, 2002: Violations ofConsumer Privacy IRE / May 31, 2002 Jeff Fox, moderator Senior Projects Editor Consumer Reports E-mail: Dana Hawkins Senior Editor U.S. News E-mail: Lee Tien Senior Staff Attorney Electronic Frontier Foundation E-mail: Privacy? What’s that?: Privacy? What’s that? The right “to be let alone” ---- Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis Harvard Law Review 1890 Some privacy facts:: Some privacy facts: An explicit “right to privacy” isn’t in the Bill of Rights 4th Amendment protects against unreasonable government searches - but not against invasions by business or individuals 5th Amendment prohibits forced testimony against yourself The term privacy itself isn’t even mentioned in the entire U.S. Constitution Any Constitutional protection that does exist only applies to invasions by government More on privacy: More on privacy So, the only protections provided against invasions by businesses (including the press) are from specific laws that get passed. While there are lots of federal and state privacy laws on the books, bills often die in legislatures because vested business interests outgun privacy groups. Despite industry resistance, a privacy bill can sail through after somebody “important” has been offended: Example: U.S. Video Privacy Protection Act (1988) a.k.a. “The Bork Bill,” protects video rental records. Passed after Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental records were exposed. Meanwhile Internet privacy bills have languished in Congress for years. Who invades privacy?: Who invades privacy? The government (Federal, state, local) Companies you do business with Online, catalogs, retail stores, airlines, NFL (Super bowl) Companies you don’t do business with Employers Spouses Anyone else who wants to know about you Types of privacy invasions: Types of privacy invasions Medical (hospitals, doctors, insurance, drug companies) Financial (banks, credit cards) Political (law enforcement, profiling) Online (Web sites, spammers, software companies) Children’s privacy (Web sites, entertainment media, game makers, candy companies) Other: Appliance makers (e.g. Studios and broadcasters recently tried to force SonicBlue to collect viewing habits of its ReplayTV users) Possible consequences of privacy invasion: Possible consequences ofprivacy invasion Get fired or turned down for job Lose credit, mortgage Denied insurance Arrest Redlining and discrimination Social stigma / embarrassment Feel personally violated Difficulties reporting on privacy: Difficulties reportingon privacy Invasions often aren’t obvious - even victims may not know Victims can be hard to find, reluctant to go on the record Some invasions seem victimless (e.g. Web cookies) Records can be hard to locate/obtain - databases held by corporations & gov’t What you need for a report on business invasions : What you need for a report on business invasions 1. Tips 2. Victims 3. Victim-substitute (i.e. smoking gun) 4. Privacy advocates 5. Government officials 6. Trade and self-regulatory assns. Where to get ideas & tips: Where to get ideas & tips Privacy advocates and hotshots: Electronic Privacy Information Center ( Center for Democracy and Technology ( Electronic Frontier Foundation ( Privacy International ( and Junkbusters ( Richard M. Smith ( Privacy Forum ( - A moderated e-mail digest. Beth Givens ( Other advocates: The “privacy press”: Other advocates: The “privacy press” Robert Ellis Smith ( Evan Hendricks ( The Privacy Industry: The Privacy Industry Companies that sell privacy protection products and provide privacy-related services to consumers or business Zero Knowledge Systems ( “Freedom” (anonymous Web surfing) Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) More privacy industry: More privacy industry Lavasoft ( - Ad-Aware, free spyware removal tool Gibson Research Corporation ( - OptOut (discontinued) to be replaced by GRC Netfilter list of privacy software ( More sources for ideas (and contacts): More sources for ideas (and contacts) Conferences: Federal Trade Commission workshops - held periodically ( Computers Freedom and Privacy - every Spring ( Internation Assn. Of Privacy Officers ( - next annual Privacy Summit is 2/26/03 in D.C. In the midwest: Privacy2002 ( next is in Cleveland, 9/24/02 Where to find victims & smoking guns: Where to find victims & smoking guns Privacy Rights Clearinghouse ( San Diego based; accepts complaints from victims of privacy invasion National Assn. Of Attorneys General ( National Assn. Of Consumer Advocates ( - 600 attorneys and consumer advocates Government officials: Government officials Federal Trade Commission: The key Federal agency for privacy issues Who to work with: Bureau of Consumer Protection Current focus is on enforcing of existing privacy protections Recent privacy actions: January 2002: Eli Lilly settled FTC charges it violated privacy of visitors to February 2002: American Pop corn Company paid $10,000 fine for collecting info from kids on the Web FTC’s privacy Wed page: ( - News releases, laws, FTC reports Trade Associations and other creatures of industry: Trade Associations and other creatures of industry Marketers: Direct Marketing Association ( - the folks who send you junk snail mail Network Advertising Initiative ( - the folks who plant Web browser “cookies” on your hard drive Self-regulation: Keep in mind: These are not consumer protection agencies, but industry inventions designed to bolster consumer confidence. TrustE - Privacy seals on Web sites ( Its sponsors include major corporations like AOL & Microsoft Better business bureau - Privacy seals ( Experts who do privacy surveys paid for by industry: Privacy and American Business / Alan Westin ( Conducted 1999 poll sponsored by online marketer DoubleClick Online privacy investigations: Tools I use: Online privacy investigations: Tools I use Screen image Grabber: SnagIt E-mail investigations - “Catch all” Wiretap your own browser - Junkbuster Screen image grabber: Screen image grabber SnagIt 6.1 (MS Windows only) $39.95 Why do you need it? To document Web findings for sourcing To produce hi-res images suitable for publication What it does Will capture entire screen, just one window, scroll thru a long window with/without cursor. SnagIt (continued): SnagIt (continued) Can output to printer, file, clipboard Can set high-resolution (in dpi) for publishing - JPG, GIF, TIF formats Can capture when running dedicated programs like such as AOL, MSN, AIM Using SnagIt: Using SnagIt Using SnagIt to Document date/time: Using SnagIt toDocument date/time In Windows, put cursor over “time” in lower right hand corner. Date will appear for about 5 seconds. Quickly CTRL-Shift-P to capture entire screen, including date/time. E-mail investigations: E-mail investigations Problem: How to track the way your e-mail address gets used by Web sites Reason to do it: If a company uses your info in a way that violates its own privacy policy, it has violated the law Another reason: Track/document the unexpected uses to which sites put your address E-mail tracking: Overview: E-mail tracking: Overview Most flexible method: Set up a “catch all” e-mail account. This will forward to you all e-mail sent to that domain: e.g:,, etc. For each e-commerce site you register at, use a unique e-mail address that you never use anywhere else. E.g: at Amazon at EBay, etc. E-mail tracking (continued): E-mail tracking(continued) Also consider registering other addresses with online newsletters, health sites, finance sites Set up e-mail filters in your e-mail client to sort the incoming mail by address. Allow to simmer for a few weeks, maybe months, while checking your e-mail. What you need to do it: What you need to do it You can register your own domain for about $20. Example: Set up a Web-hosting account that includes “catch all” e-mail. Where I do it: I use “Bronze plan” for $24.95/month Total cost for 3 mos: $20+$75 = $95 Setting up your e-mail client: Setting upyour e-mail client Setting up a Eudora “filter” for mail from address used at Amazon: E-mail (continued) : E-mail (continued) Setting up Eudora “filter” for mail from address used at eBay: Wiretapping your own browser: Wiretapping your own browser Why? To monitor what information your computer actually sends to Web sites. How? Using something called a proxy-server, a software wiretap that logs every byte sent to and from the Web. Note: Setting up isn’t hard. But interpreting data requires expertise in “HTTP” protocols. Steps: Steps Download the “Junkbuster” from (MS Windows only) UnZip and run it in a DOS window Configure Junkbuster’s “ini” file so that entire dialog will be written to a “log” file Configure your browser to use Junkbuster Surf Web Configuring your browser: Configuring your browser Here’s an example using the Opera browser. It’s essentially the same for Internet Explorer and Netscape: Here’s the dialog between my PC and the Web: Here’s the dialog between my PC and the Web scan: Referer: crunch! scan: Cookie: id=80000012d836ae5 crunch! scan: Cookie2: $Version="1" junkbstr: GPC;sz=1x1;kw=;lang=XX;cat=stext;tan=0;ord=10875262? junkbstr: connect to: ... scan: HTTP/1.0 200 OK scan: Date: Sat, 25 May 2002 02:43:47 GMT scan: Server: DCLK Creative scan: Last-Modified: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 18:02:14 GMT scan: Content-Length: 9993 scan: Content-Type: image/gif scan: Date: Sat, 25 May 2002 02:43:47 GMT scan: Location: scan: Cache-Control: private, max-age=0, no-cache scan: Set-Cookie: test_cookie=CheckForPermission; path=/;; expires=Sat, 25 May 2002 02:58:47 GMT crunch! scan: P3P: CP="CURa ADMa DEVa PSAo PSDo OUR BUS UNI PUR INT DEM STA PRE COM NAV OTC NOI DSP COR" junkbstr: accept connection ... scan: GET /viewad/817-grey.gif HTTP/1.0 scan: User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows XP) Opera 6.01 [en] default scan: Host: What real story have I used this for?: What real story have I used this for? My June, 2000 report in Consumer Reports: “Big Browser is Watching You:” “Companies with an interest in knowing who's curious about them can use cookies to find out. For example, when we entered the term "Chrysler" in the search engine at web portal AltaVista, the site transmitted our information request to the automaker's computer, not just to the usual ad network. Thus, if we wanted to investigate whether a Chrysler product was subject to a class-action lawsuit, the company would be tipped off to the time and date of visits by anyone searching for related key words such as a vehicle model name, say, or a product recall.” The above finding was obtained and documented via the Junkbuster. Why this is a good time to investigate privacy: Why this is a good time to investigate privacy Zig while everyone else zags - security is now getting more play than privacy Consumers may feel more tolerance for government surveillance right now. But commercial surveillance has nothing to do with national security - it’s just for private profit. Online investigative ideas : Online investigative ideas Checking “leakage” by commercial Web sites (and e-newsletters) of personal info, including e-mail address. How much “spyware” gets planted on your PC when you download shareware? Which children’s sites are violating COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998) How to Contact Me: How to Contact Me Jeff Fox, Consumer Reports E-mail: This entire PowerPoint presentation can be viewed or downloaded from my site: Scroll to bottom of the page and use the link to “IRE Privacy Presentation”

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