1) I’m looking forward to reading this series of blog posts from the Freedom to Tinker blog at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy on what government datasets should look like to facilitate innovation, as the first one is incredibly clear and smart.
2) The NYTimes Bits blog recently interviewed Esther Dyson, “Health Tech Investor and Space Tourist” as the Times calls her, where she shares her thoughts on why ordinary people might want to track their own data and why we shouldn’t worry so much about privacy.
3) A commenter on the Bits interview with Esther Dyson referenced this new 501(c)(6) nonprofit, CLOUD: Consortium for Local Ownership and Use of Data. Their site says, “CLOUD has been formed to create standards to give people property rights in their personal information on the Web and in the cloud, including the right to decide how and when others might use personal information and whether others might be allowed to connect personal information with identifying information.”
We’ve been thinking about whether personal information could or should be viewed as personal property, as understood by the American legal system, for awhile now. I’m not quite sure it’s the best or most practical solution, but I’m curious to see where CLOUD goes.
4) The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the law requiring data retention for 6 months is unconstitutional. Previously, all phone and email records had to be kept for 6 months for law enforcement purposes. The court criticized the lack of data security and insufficient restrictions to access to the data.
Although Europe has more comprehensive and arguably “stricter” privacy laws, many countries also require data retention for law enforcement purposes. We in the U.S. might think the Fourth Amendment is going to protect our phone and email records from being poked into unnecessarily by law enforcement, but existing law is even less clear than in Europe. So much privacy law around telephone and email records is built around antiquated ideas of our “expectations,” with analogies to what’s “inside the envelope” and what’s “outside the envelope,” as if all our communications can be easily analogized to snail mail. All these issues are clearly simmering to a boil.
5) Google’s introduced a new version of Chrome with more privacy controls that allow you to determine how browser cookies, plug-ins, pop-ups and more are handled on a site-by-site basis. Of course, those controls won’t necessarily stop a publisher from selling your IP address to a third-party behavioral targeting company!