Feb 252012

Another dose of quicklinks:

Jan 282012

Some items from the past week:

Jan 232012

This article in the Korea Times reports that several large online presences in Korea have stopped asking for users’ resident registration numbers when subscribing to their sites. They began to ask in 2007 as a means of ensuring compliance with the government’s requirement that users provide their real names. However, the government had no means to enforce that rule on foreign websites, and it has led to instances of identity theft.

Nexon recently had the private data of 13 million users hacked. Nate and Cyworld, its sister social networking service, had 35 million users’ details compromised after being hacked. After a series of private information leaks at large businesses like Nate, Nexon, Auction, and Hyundai Capital, now virtually all the resident registration numbers of Koreans are available.

As they hold the key to entering Internet sites, criminals can collect almost anyone’s details by collecting information from two or three websites, acquiring names, phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, office addresses, shopping records, bank account numbers and even blood types.

Some victims submitted a petition to the court last month, requesting they be allowed to change their registration number. “We are on the verge of suffering from more damage as we are forced to continuously use our leaked registration numbers with no countermeasures being taken so far,” the complainants said in their suit.

The Korea Communications Commission is now planning regulation preventing resident numbers from being held online.

Jan 212012

Various recent news:

Jan 142012

Other recent items of interest…

First, catch-up:

Continue reading »

Dec 172011

Other items of interest this past week:

Dec 142011

From the Los Angeles Times, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has filed a complaint with the FTC alleging deceptive and unfair trade practices by the Webkinz website.  The organization accuses the children’s site and its corporate parent Ganz of violating facets of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits the collecting and maintaining of children’s personal information about users by failing to link to its privacy policy from its home page, in violation of the act, and that the policy is written in “vague, confusing and contradictory” language.

According to the complaint, Webkinz asks children to provide their first name, date of birth, gender and state of residence during registration, urging the users “it is important to use real information.” As the child navigates the animated website, dubbed Webkinz World, Webkinz monitors the child’s activity by depositing software to track his or her movements through the site, the complaint said.

As the children play in Webkinz World — which is aimed at children ages 6 to 13 and enables users to play games and interact with other members — Ganz allows third parties to track their activities for behavioral advertising purposes, the advocacy group alleges.

Ganz says parents can “easily opt out” of having their children view ads, noting it is “committed to being highly responsible in our approach to advertising.” But ads continue to appear on the site, even after parents have opted out, according to the complaint. In fact, the complaint said, ads are incorporated into Webkinz games such as “Wheel of Wow,” which attracts some 4 million players a month.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood alleges that Ganz’s privacy policy is deceptive because it states that the information it gathers from children during the registration process could not be used to identify the child offline. It further alleges that the practice of using software — “cookies” and “web Beacons” — to track children’s activities and serve them targeted ads without parental consent “contravenes FTC guidance on behavioral advertising” and amounts to an unfair trade practice.

Dec 112011

During the 1987 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Robert Bork a Washington newspaper published his video rental history, which it had obtained from his local store.  Fearing what their records, if published, would also disclose, Congress passed the Video Privacy Protection Act, forbidding disclosure of such records without the customer’s consent.

Since then, however, video rental stores have given way to online rental and streaming services, as well as changes in privacy norms associated with social media.  While in the 1980s it may not have dawned on anyone to publicly share what movies they watched with anyone, today some people like to make such information known via social media.  Online video services would like to easily let them, but their ability to do so may be limited by this law.  Consequently Netflix, a large online video service, has been lobbying to amend it.  The open question is whether that amendment updates the law sufficiently to empower users to share when and how they want to, or whether the amendment, as currently proposed, has the effect of decimating its basic privacy protections. Continue reading »

Dec 112011

Other items of interest from this past week:

Dec 102011

From ZDNet, reports that the Dutch government is avoiding doing business with US cloud providers out of concern that the USA PATRIOT Act could make any data it stores subject to disclosure, in possible contravention of European data protection law.

Discussed by the European Parliament’s Privacy Platform earlier this month, the Patriot Act is being investigated by European authorities, after Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, exclusively told ZDNet that the Redmond-based company must comply with Patriot Act requests, and other companies with a U.S. presence must do also.

This contravenes European law, which states that organisations cannot pass on user data to a third-party outside the European zone without the users’ permission.

In a written answer to a parliamentary question, Dutch minister Ivo Opstelten asserted that, in response to previous questions (Dutch): “This basically means that companies from the United States in such bids and contracts are excluded.”