By Troy Wolverton, Updated: 04/21/2011 10:28:26 PM PDT
That iPhones and other Apple (AAPL) handheld gadgets keep track of their users’ movements may have been news to most users when it was publicly disclosed on Wednesday. But it wasn’t news to investigators who examine cellphones and other electronic devices for clues in criminal and other legal cases. Those investigators — and the software developers who make applications they use in their work — have known since at least last year that the iPhone has a hidden file on it that tracks its movements. Data gleaned from the file has been used in numerous investigations since forensics experts discovered it, those experts say.
Full text of the article via Investigators use iPhones to track owners’ movements – San Jose Mercury News.
- Investigators Admit To Using iPhone Location Data To Track Suspects (appadvice.com)
- iPhone location tracking draws fire, shrugs (macworld.com)
Congressional Research Service Report: Privacy Protections for Personal Information Online
Summary: There is no comprehensive federal privacy statute that protects personal information. Instead, a patchwork of federal laws and regulations govern the collection and disclosure of personal information and has been addressed by Congress on a sector-by-sector basis. Federal laws and regulations extend protection to consumer credit reports, electronic communications, federal agency records, education records, bank records, cable subscriber information, video rental records, motor vehicle records, health information, telecommunications subscriber information, children’s online information, and customer financial information. Some contend that this patchwork of laws and regulations is insufficient to meet the demands of today’s technology. Congress, the Obama Administration, businesses, public interest groups, and citizens are all involved in the discussion of privacy solutions. This report examines some of those efforts with respect to the protection of personal information. This report provides a brief overview of selected recent developments in the area of federal privacy law. This report does not cover workplace privacy laws or state privacy laws.
For a copy of this report, see CRS Report R41756, Privacy Protections for Personal Information Online, by Gina Stevens, April 6, 2011.
For information on access to electronic communications, see CRS Report R41733, Privacy: An Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, by Charles Doyle.
- “Kerry-McCain Senate Bill Introduced to Protect Consumer Internet Privacy” and related posts (mybanktracker.com)
- MySpace Sued Over Privacy Loophole (blogs.wsj.com)
- Privacy Protective Android App Developed (infosecurity.us)
- Well-Meaning “Privacy Bill of Rights” Wouldn’t Stop Online Tracking (eff.org)
- Privacy dispute tests Obama’s earlier promises (news.cnet.com)
- The FTC And The Future Of Privacy Enforcement In America (businessinsider.com)
- Schwartz On Security: Online Privacy Battles Advertising Profits (informationweek.com)
- Europe Moves to Give Consumers Control of Online Advertising (pcworld.com)
- Online Advertisers Pitch Self-Regulation Framework (informationweek.com)
We would like to invite you to read Geodata Policy’s first guest blog posting by Robert Gellman. This article is timely given the update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change, which highlights the sensitivety of “precise geolocation data” (p. 61). Robert Gellman is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, DC: http://www.bobgellman.com/.
Is Privacy in Public a Contradiction in Terms?
Robert Gellman, Privacy and Information Policy Consultant
February 21, 2011
Is there such a thing as privacy in a public space? When you walk down the street, anyone can observe you, make notes about your location, appearance, and companions, and even take your picture. If so, then it would seem that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
However, most people would be unhappy if they found themselves followed all day. For most of human existence, this type of surveillance was impractical because of the great expense of following someone around.
This is a good place to pause and say that this is a short essay and not a law journal article. The law of surveillance is complex, and the answers can be different if the person doing the surveillance is a government agent, an employer, or an average person, or if you’re taking pictures or recording conversations.
Is privacy in public a case of the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object? Should your location privacy deserve some protection even when you are in public?
These questions are much harder to answer today because of technology. It’s cheap to track people in public today. There’s no need to pay a private detective. Technology does it. First on the list are cell phones. Your cell phone broadcasts your location constantly to a cell phone tower, and your provider knows where you are. Cameras are everywhere, taking pictures in malls, parking lots, building corridors, on the street, at red lights, and on the highway. Facial recognition software is getting better all the time. Photos placed on the Internet can be scanned to identify individuals as well as the date and GPS coordinates where the photos were taken. Digital signage in stores and elsewhere can record behavior, approximate age, gender, and ethnicity, and can sometimes identify individuals using a variety of devices. I recommend a pioneering report on digital signage by my colleague Pam Dixon. It’s at the World Privacy Forum website.
Even though not all the technological and organizational links are yet in place, it’s not hard to envision the possibility that, in the near future, every action you take outside your home may be observed and recorded by someone. This is more or less what happens today online, where there is a good chance that some website or advertiser (and probably many more than one) records every site you visit, every page and ad you see, and every click you make.
Senator proposes mobile-privacy legislation
by Declan McCullagh, Privacy Inc, January 26, 2011
Federal law needs to be updated to halt the common police practice of tracking the whereabouts of Americans’ mobile devices without a search warrant, a Democratic senator said today. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said it was time for Congress to put an end to this privacy-intrusive practice, which the Obama Justice Department has sought to defend in court. Sen. Wyden (right) tells Cato Institute audience that tracking cell phones is as privacy-invasive as searching someone’s home. …
For full text of article via Senator proposes mobile-privacy legislation | Privacy Inc. – CNET News.
- Senator Wyden and mobile privacy (bigbrotherwatch.org.uk)
- Sen. Ron Wyden: Protecting mobile privacy (Q&A) (news.cnet.com)
- Senator proposes mobile-privacy legislation (news.cnet.com)
- Commerce Dept. suggests new privacy regulations (news.cnet.com)
- Location-Tracking Technology and Privacy (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Senator Wyden Proposing Legislation Requiring Warrants For Law Enforcement To Get Device Location Info (techdirt.com)
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Featuring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR); Julian Sanchez, Research Fellow, Cato Institute; and Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute.
The Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
As location-sensitive cell phones, GPS devices, and digital assistants become more integral to daily living, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are rushing to exploit their potential. Records of the geolocation data these devices generate can provide the kind of detailed portrait of a person’s movements and activities that once required costly, 24/7 surveillance. Applications range from tracking fugitives to reconstructing a suspect’s travels to analyzing the movements of whole populations in search of “suspicious” behavior patterns.
As courts wrestle with the Fourth-Amendment status of this new form of monitoring, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is drafting legislation to set standards for government access to geolocation data under both criminal law and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Senator Wyden will discuss his forthcoming proposal and Cato scholars Julian Sanchez and Jim Harper will comment, placing it in the context of the larger shifting legal and technological landscape. Join us for a discussion of geolocation data and the prospects for privacy protection in this emerging technological area.