February 21, 2018

Archives for December 2013

The Politics of the EU Court Data Retention Opinion: End to Mass Surveillance?

The Wall Street Journal headlines: “EU Court Opinion: Data Retention Directive Incompatible With Fundamental Rights”. The Opinion is strong, but in fact not yet an outright victory to privacy and civil liberties. The jury is out: the Opinion is a non-binding, but influential advice to the E.U. Court, that will deliver its final judgment come next spring. Now is a perfect moment to analyze the Opinion, as well as the institutional politics of the E.U. Court — critical in understanding the two-tier approach to surveillance and fundamental rights in Europe. The two-tier approach converges, after 60 years, when the E.U. accedes to the European Convention of Human Rights anytime soon. Amidst the Snowden revelations, these are the fundamental legal developments that will ultimately answer the question whether European law can end mass surveillance.

[Read more…]

Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools

As reported today by the New York Times here, we are releasing our research study this morning on “Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools.”    Districts across the country are widely and rapidly adopting cloud services to fulfill educational objectives and take advantage of opportunities for cost savings and 24/7 services.  Disturbingly, privacy protection for the children’s data is essentially lost in the cloud.

Our study looked at all the cloud computing contracts, district policies and parent notices from a national sample of school districts.  We focused on K-12 public schools and examined how school districts addressed privacy when they transferred student information to cloud computing service providers.

The key findings are: [Read more…]

How to stop spies from piggybacking on commercial Web tracking

Tonight the Washington Post published a story about the NSA’s eavesdropping on the unique tracking cookies used by advertisers and analytics companies to identify their users. By capturing these unique identifiers the NSA was able to re-identify users whom it had seen earlier. In short, the NSA could piggyback on commercial tracking to track users itself.

The standard tracking methods used by companies today are vulnerable to this kind of surveillance—tracking causes your browser to transmit unique identifiers that can be used by an eavesdropper to identify and track you.

The easiest way to protect users against this threat is to refrain from tracking. But if sites are going to track users, this can be done in ways that avoid surveillance. In this post I’ll talk about how to do surveillance-proof tracking.
[Read more…]