BLOGS: Privacy and Data Protection

Thursday, April 16, 2009, 4:53 PM

The Privacy Bulletin - April 16, 2009

In the News

FCC Seeks Comment on Privacy Issues as it Develops National Broadband Plan: On April 8, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on the development of a national broadband plan. Privacy concerns were among the issues that will be considered as the FCC crafts its rules. Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on the use of third party behavioral advertising firms and software used to track consumer habits. Comments are due June 8, 2009 and Reply Comments are due July 7, 2009.

FTC Website Provides Guidance on Red Flag Compliance: On April 2, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a website aimed at assisting businesses to come into compliance with the Red Flag Rules by the May 1, 2009 deadline. The Red Flag Rules are designed to prevent identity theft and require "creditors" to implement an identity theft program. The website explains which entities are covered and tips for developing internal policies.

Physicians Press FTC For Exemption From Red Flag Compliance: The American Medical Association (AMA) has again asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to suspend application of the Red Flag Rules to physicians. The AMA first made such a request in September 2008, which the FTC rebuffed, finding no industry-wide exemptions to the Red Flag Rules. The AMA, in response to the FTC again requested an exemption in March 2009, claiming physicians did not have opportunity to review and comment on the rules.

European Commission Publishes Guidelines on Overseas Data Transfers: The Data Protection Unit of the Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security at the European Commission (EC) has recently prepared a set of questions and answers and other materials to educate businesses on the flow of data across international borders under the European Union’s Data Protection Directive. Under the Directive, companies have a duty to protect data and ensure it is not sent to countries with weak data protection systems in place.

EU Warns ISPs to Protect Consumer Privacy: On March 31, 2009, European Union (EU) Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva, issued a warning to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect their customer's privacy from services that track Internet usage and behavior for commercial purposes, such as targeted advertising campaigns. The warning comes in conjunction with an announcement from online advertising firm Phorm that it will press ahead with its plans to launch its services in Europe later this year.

Canadian Privacy Commissioner Launches Website to Examine Internet Monitoring Technologies: On April 4, 2009, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched a website to facilitate discussion and education on deep packet inspection, a technology that allows Internet Service Providers and other organizations to monitor Internet use. The website offers an overview of the technology and essays offering a broad range of opinions on the technology. While the Commissioner’s office does not have jurisdiction to regulate the Internet, the goal of the website is to "see whether research can develop any more insights into the issue."

Data of 18,000 Nashville Students Breached: On April 9, 2009, it was reported that 18,541 metro Nashville, Tennessee students’ personal information, including social security numbers, was breached and inadvertently posted on the Internet by Public Consulting Group, who had collected the student data pursuant to a contract with the school system. The breach was discovered when a parent used Google to search her daughter’s name and discovered it, along with her social security number, her own name, and similar information of thousands more. Public Consulting initially discovered the breach on March 5, 2009 and had taken steps to remedy the error but were not aware that Google’s search engine had already found the data. Parents of the students will receive official notice of the breach this week.

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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