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In The News:
USA Today 8/3/98 AP wire report on EFF cracking the DES 56 bit encryption key.. it (is)perfectly clear that somebody could be and could have been doing this for a number of years,'' said Whitfield Diffie, a cryptography expert and scientist at Sun Microsystems Inc. ''The costs are not very high. Government kept insisting this was...
>NBC's Datline program - Sunday 7/19/98 aired an item on DNA Databases being compiled by police and it's First Amendment implications. It seems some departments are copying British practices of doing sweeps of the local populace. aj
>others refs: The Use of DNA in Identification.
>The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that frees Internet service providers such as America Online from legal liability for information one subscriber circulates to millions of others. The appeals court said that federal law "plainly immunizes computer service providers like AOL from liability for information that originates with third parties." The case is Zeran vs. America Online, 97-1488. (San Jose Mercury News 22 Jun 98)
>"On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog." MSNBC 7/14
Think again, Fido. An evolving story out of Canada proves just how vulnerable anonymous speech on the Internet really is and threatens to chill vigorous online speech.

...Philip sought and was granted a court order demanding that several Internet service providers unmask the identities of the anonymous posters. ...

[in a sidebar]‘This case may underscore for a lot of people that what they think of as their anonymity online is pretty fragile and easy to pierce.’ - MIKE GODWIN Staff Cousel, Electronic Frontier Foundation
See Also:
Privacy - Attempt versus Succeed by Carl Ellison


Plan for Medical ID Numbers Spurs Privacy Worries
The government on Monday began hearings on how to assign every American a lifetime health-care ID number — much like a Social Security number — that critics say will demolish privacy by opening medical histories to insurers, employers and others. - July 21, 1998 FOX News (AP)

And Now PRIVACY and word from our sponsor -
The European Union Data Directive

Visit EU HQ


Personally I have to wonder who's 'ox' is being gored? Will Europe's desires rule us? Is their 'Euro-dollar' worth government mandate?

Excerpts from:

Berlin, Germany
15 November 1996
Alan F. Westin

American Institute for Contemporary German Studies
The Johns Hopkins University

"...National surveys of the American public, conducted by Louis Harris and Associates (with Dr. Westin as academic advisor) show that eighty-five percent of Americans say they are concerned today about threats to their personal privacy, and eighty-one percent feel that consumers have "lost all control" over the way businesses collect and use their personal information.

Based on more than 1,000 questions drawn from fifteen U.S. national surveys since 1978 on aspects of privacy, Dr. Westin divided the American public into three groups regarding attitudes towards privacy:

- "Fundamentalists," about twenty-five percent of the American public, who rate privacy as an extremely high value, are loathe to trade this for promised benefits to them or to society, and generally favor legislative standards and government regulation.

- At the opposite pole are the "privacy unconcerned," about twenty percent of the American public, who are generally ready to give personal information about themselves in order to get consumer benefits and support government programs, and are not at all worried about intrusiveness.

- This leaves the "privacy pragmatists," fifty-five percent of the American public and clearly the "swing group" in setting public norms. The pragmatists are willing to listen to possible benefits to them or to society from disclosing their personal information and weigh those values against the important privacy interests involved If they feel the benefits are meaningful, they next look for meaningful safeguards basically, the fair information practices elements and decide whether they trust these to be provided by private standards or whether they feel laws are needed. Whether private standards are accepted generally depends on the trust the public has in particular industries or government agencies to handle their information in a responsible way.

The Harris privacy surveys have found that the two driving factors behind people's privacy attitudes are their level of distrust of institutions (both public and private) and their fears about misuse of information technologies.

...Dr. Simitis's central point, echoed throughout the day by other European participants, emphasized that Europeans see privacy as a fundamental human right, and data protection as an essential means to protect that right through a coherent and enforceable legal regime. Europeans "have understood that the technology and the use of personal data have direct implications a) for the position of the individual in society, and b) for the structure of society." The European data protection laws grew out of this fundamental human rights outlook. ... [emphasis added - aj]

letter from Birmingham City Jail - MLK, Jr.

AS THE CYBER-WORLD TURNS: The European Union's Data Protection Directive and Trans-border Flows of Personal Data

Susan E. Gindin - January 24, 1998

"Among the Directive's requirements are that the member country statutes provide individuals with the right to advance notice of a data collector's intent to collect and use their personal data, the right to access and correct data collected about them, and the right to object to certain data transfers. The Directive further requires that the statutes require that data collectors process personal data only for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes; that data collectors maintain the security and confidentiality of personal data; and that statutes provide judicial remedies for violations.

.(there are exceptions - see her complete work)

"Moreover, because the EU takes such an all-encompassing approach to data protection, the Directive would also seem to affect entities with Internet Web sites which collect personal data from Web site visitors, even if the entity does not actually transact business with anyone in the EU. In its Assessing Adequacy policy paper, the Commission indicated that it regards "transfers involving the collection of data in a particularly covert or clandestine manner (e.g. Internet cookies)" as transfers which "pose particular risks to privacy" requiring particular scrutiny in terms of "adequate protection."

... (plus a lot more..)
"Susan E. Gindin is an attorney in Colorado who is particularly interested in electronic privacy and information security issues. Her article, Lost and Found in Cyberspace: Informational Privacy in the Age of the Internet, is published in 34 SAN DIEGO LAW REVIEW (Aug.-Sept. 1997), and is available online at

line break

Lawyer Library: Guide to Cyberspace Law

Thanks to Sara Long (c.201104)

A Resource on Internet Privacy Law

No Freedom of Information By Malcom Howard - Wired magazine, Apr 1997

"The capabilities and efficiency of information technology - often touted as the harbingers of democratic enlightenment - are ironically being used to justify an even greater clampdown on public access to government records."

Jim Warren, "the Internet is a potent grass-roots political action tool."

Mr. Warren successfully [almost alone] lobbied the California legislature to put all proceedings on the Internet. "Any free society must have...access to adequate information on which to base sound decisions..."

The first ones that came out of the woodwork saying "we don't want to do that" were the people who run the legislative data center saying "Well,--" and it took a while for them to say this, but the substance was they were selling this information for five hundred thousand dollars a year!

And then there's the IP Address Monopoly issue....

And from Stanford University: Databases in Cyberspace: Maintaining Individual Privacy Rights
Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community, by Judith Donath of MIT

Names, addresses, phone #'s of know spammers. For Bull's Eye: Calif.: Christopher Knight

Encryption Issues
A Mind Field