BLOGS: Privacy and Data Protection

Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 4:57 PM

The Privacy Bulletin - March 17, 2009

In the News

Google Announces Targeted Advertising Plan: On March 11, 2009, Google, Inc. (Google) announced a formal policy that it will use its internal surveillance of Internet surfing habits by consumers to individualize and target advertisements that are best suited to a particular consumer’s interests. Google’s announcement follows established policies by its competitors, Yahoo and Microsoft, which currently tie advertising to presumed consumer interests. Google's policy takes the premise of those policies one step further by tracking consumers' actual web behavior. A consumer opt-out is available in Google's Privacy Center.

Consumer Reporting Agency Settles FTC Charges For Unauthorized Sale of Data: On March 5, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that is has settled charges against a consumer reporting agency that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to properly screen prospective customers and, as a result, sold over 300 credit reports to identity thieves. Under the settlement, the agency agreed to submit to independent audits every other year for twenty years. A $500,000 penalty was suspended due to inability to pay.

DHS Head of Cyber Security Resigns: On March 5, 2009, Rod Beckstrom, head of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), resigned. Beckstrom submitted his resignation via a sharply worded letter criticizing the Bush administration for failing to make cybersecurity a top priority and placing the nation’s cybersecurity under the jurisdiction of DHS. Beckstrom asserts that cybersecurity should be handled by the National Security Agency. He has recommended deputy director Mary Ellen Seale to replace him.

Consumer Group Advocates “Use-and-Obligations” Model To Secure Personal Data: On March 12, 2009, the Business Forum For Consumer Policy, a consumer group comprised of consumer and business advocates, focused on fostering innovation in consumer privacy governance, released a white paper entitled "A New Approach to Protecting Privacy in the Evolving Digital Economy." The paper focuses on identifying the major issues and differences in state and federal privacy approaches with the goal of resolving them through comprehensive privacy legislation and industry self-regulatory principles. The paper advocates the adoption of a transparent "use-and-obligations" model, which focuses on the proposed use of personal data to drive the appropriate protections.

New Zealand Law Commission Releases 300 Page Issues Paper on Privacy: On March 6, 2009, the New Zealand Law Commission released an Issues Paper identifying gaps in the current common law tort of the invasion of privacy. The Law Commission does not yet have a view on whether, or how, these gaps should be filled by legislation; rather, the paper examines whether the common law tort of invasion of privacy should be allowed to develop incrementally, or placed in a statute with boundaries around it. The paper raises questions and options for discussion and comment. The closing date for comments or submissions to the Commission is May 29, 2009.

Obama Appoints Leibowitz as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission: On March 2, 2009, President Obama, through White House order, named Jon Leibowitz as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Leibowitz has served as a Commissioner at the FTC since 2004.

As the news is ever-changing, websites constantly update their content to reflect the most recent developments. Should any of these links expire, please feel free to contact Womble Carlyle for a PDF version of the article.

Upcoming Events

Wednesdays with Winston - A lunchtime series focused on the issues of online safety and privacy. Join the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and Womble Carlyle for our inaugural program, where we will receive a first-hand "View from the Hill." Attendees of this "brown bag" lunch program (Winston will provide the cookies and drinks) will learn what the new administration means for online safety and privacy, and what measures Congress may be considering for this space. 12:00-1:30pm, April 29, 2009 at Womble Carlyle's Washington, DC office. To register, click here.

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