Tag Archives: Digital privacy

Are ‘you’ just inside your skin or is your smartphone part of you?

By Karina Vold – Most democratic constitutions shield us from unwanted intrusions into our brains and bodies. They also enshrine our entitlement to freedom of thought and mental privacy. That’s why neurochemical drugs that interfere with cognitive functioning can’t be administered against a person’s will unless there’s a clear medical justification. Similarly, according to scholarly opinion, law-enforcement officials can’t compel someone to take a lie-detector test, because that would be an invasion of privacy and a violation of the right to remain silent.

But in the present era of ubiquitous technology, philosophers are beginning to ask whether biological anatomy really captures the entirety of who we are. Given the role they play in our lives, do our devices deserve the same protections as our brains and bodies?

After all, your smartphone is much more than just a phone. It can tell a more intimate story about you than your best friend. No other piece of hardware in history, not even your brain, contains the quality or quantity of information held on your phone: it ‘knows’ whom you speak to, when you speak to them, what you said, where you have been, your purchases, photos, biometric data, even your notes to yourself – and all this dating back years.

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court used this observation to justify the decision that police must obtain a warrant before rummaging through our smartphones. more>

Sending a strong signal on global internet freedom

By Stuart N. Brotman – The growing restrictions on internet freedom around the world are easy to document; less so any visible American strategy that would reverse the ominous trends at hand.

According to its most recent annual report in this area, Freedom on the Net 2016, two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under government censorship. Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.

The types of blocked content include political communication aimed at promoting democratic values, such as online petitions and calls for public protests. Even satire can be punished severely: a 22-year old in Egypt was imprisoned for three years after photo-shopping Mickey Mouse ears on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Unfortunately, this type of criminal penalty is hardly unique.

Overall, Freedom House deemed only 17 surveyed countries to have real internet freedom; 28 were partly free and 20 were characterized as not free. The leading bad state actors should not be surprising: China, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan and Cuba (North Korea was not included in the survey, alas).

The U.S. would be hurt if the marketplace of ideas and the online commercial marketplace that thrive here are diminished overseas.

However, there has been radio silence to date about this issue from the White House and the Department of State. more> https://goo.gl/msTcLz

Cybersecurity Bill Passes House After Obama Veto Threat

By Chris Strohm – The U.S. House passed cybersecurity legislation backed by companies including Boeing Co. (BA) and AT&T Inc. (T), defying a veto threat by President Barack Obama‘e2’80’99s administration over what it called inadequate privacy protections.par
The bill doesn’e2’80’99t require companies ‘e2’80’9cto take reasonable steps’e2’80’9d to remove personal information when sharing cybersecurity data with the government or other companies, the White House said April 16 in a statement on the veto threat. more> http://tinyurl.com/bproon9par

4 Internet privacy laws you should know about

By Brandon Butler – Below are four legislation that are either actively being debated, or could come up for consideration soon.par
1. Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)par
ECPA allows the government to obtain access to digital communications — including email, Facebook messages, information sitting in your public cloud provider’s databases, and a variety of other files — with only a subpoena and not a warrant once those items are 180 days old.par
2. Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA)par
At a basic level, CISPA dictates how companies share information about cyberthreats with the federal government. Opponents to the legislation, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (read an FAQ about CISPA from the EFF here), are worried about what they call inadequate privacy protections given the broad definitions of cyberthreat.par
3. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)par
Generally speaking, CFAA makes it a federal crime to access and share protected information. Organizations like the EFF have called for CFAA reforms for years.par
4. Trans Pacific-Partnership Agreement (TPP)par
The U.S. Trade Office on its website discusses the benefits of TPP, particularly as they relate to trade agreements between the countries, but says little about the technology impacts of the TPP. more> http://tinyurl.com/b2u6kdlpar