Internet & Online Privacy - Legal Technology - Technologist
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Recently in Internet & Online Privacy Category

Four current and former University of California, Berkeley students are suing Google, alleging that the tech company scanned Cal students' university emails for more than four years -- all while claiming that academic emails were not processed by Google's advertising system. Google's privacy violations affected millions of college students across the U.S, according to the suit.

If that sounds familiar, it is. A similar class action lawsuit was rejected in 2014. But this time, the students think they have a viable workaround.

If you want to protect your data, privacy, and communications from corporations, government snoops, or hackers, end-to-end encryption is a great way to start. It's the type of encryption Apple and Google added to their mobile devices and smartphones over a year ago, leading to government claims that such encryption will be used to protect terrorists and kidnappers.

But according to a new report by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, end-to-end encryption and other data protection methods aren't enough to actually ensure that data is kept private, now and in the future. Here's why.

Last October, the European Union's Court of Justice ruled that European citizens' data isn't safe when stored in the U.S., cutting some 4,500 American companies off from the benefits of the E.U.'s "Safe Harbor" system. That meant that American businesses could be forced to comply with complicated restrictions on sending personal data out of Europe, limiting the transfer of everything from consumers' favorite websites to employees' birthdates.

That is, unless Europe and the United States could come to a compromise before the new restrictions came into effect. They couldn't. The deadline for reaching an agreement over data privacy came and went Sunday night, with neither side nearing a compromise.

Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked every year. They're smuggled across borders, forced into sex work, or used as unpaid labor. In all, there are nearly twice as many modern day slaves as there were at the height of the transatlantic slave trade 350 years ago.

While human trafficking is generally a low-tech industry, "big data" from some of the world's biggest financial institutions is being mined in order to identify and combat the crime -- part of what's been called a data war against human rights abuses.

ACLU Launches Pro-Privacy Bills in Tech Campaign

The ACLU just upped its geek factor (and possible cred points with the EFF) by launching a handful of pro-tech-privacy bills in just as many states across the nation.

The "TakeCTRL" campaign will impose various technology-privacy related limitations on mostly state actors. Take that, Big Brother!

In the good old days, a cyberattack meant the loss of data. Sure, a hack could be crippling, but its effects were largely confined to 1's and 0's. But now, as the digital sphere is melding more totally and seamlessly with the physical one, the reach of hackers has grown.

Today, a hack can do much more than steal your information or shut down your computer system. It can commandeer your car or send whole cities grinding to a halt. Here's a quick overview of how hacking has moved from the digital to the real world, turning everyday objects into potential security threats.

When the consumer electronics industry gathered for the International Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas two weeks ago, the mood was generally celebratory and the Internet of Things -- that interconnected network of web-enabled gadgets -- was at the center of much of it. Smart devices were everywhere, from watches to fridges to burglar alarms. Commentators on Forbes declared that CES 2016 was the year when the Internet of Things went "from smart to wicked intelligent."

But not everyone was on the bandwagon. Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez was on hand to pour some much needed rain on the IoT parade, warning that until the industry addressed privacy concerns, it would still face major challenges.

It's been less than two years since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of warrantless government surveillance, hopped on a plane, and made his new home in freedom-loving Mother Russia. Since then, several lawsuits have attempted to halt the National Security Agency's bulk telephone metadata collection program. A few of them were even initially successful.

The new year could see those cases dismissed as moot, though government surveillance lingers on.

It's a bit of a stretch to say that 2015 was the year of the data breach, but data security -- and insecurity -- has been on our minds and our blogs a lot lately. The continued growth of e-commerce, the switch to increasingly digital offices, and the dawn of the Internet of Things have all contributed to the spread of personal, private information. Throw in a few weak security systems and a bit of general incompetence and you've got the perfect recipe for a data breach.

Here are the 2015 data breaches that we think merit the most attention.

Washington avoided a seasonal budget showdown on Friday, when Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through next fall. Tucked within the 2200 pages of the omnibus spending bill was an unusual appropriations rider: the entire text of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act.

CISA is one of a handful of cybersecurity laws Congress has been considering for the past year. It seeks to bolster cybersecurity by increasing corporate information sharing with the government, but has been condemned as a cyber surveillance measure by privacy advocates. Here's what you need to know.