Privacy Police

Privacy Police

Legal Hawk Cindy Cohn Takes the Helm of the EFF

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 12.13.50 PM

Back in 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was established on the bet that civil liberties would eventually become a significant issue in what was then a fledgeling digital world. As the Internet ate the planet and online privacy became one of the preeminent civil rights issues of our time, the EFF has grown from a handful of activists to 60 full time staffers and a membership of 24,000 concerned citizens to become the Internet’s own ACLU.

Yesterday, the EFF announced that Cindy Cohn, their legal director of 14 years, would be taking the helm as Executive Director. Read More

Privacy Police

If You’re Having an Affair, Probably Avoid Gmail

Erik Schmidt in search of his "I care" face (Photo: Flickr)

In a move that will likely make no difference to politicians embroiled in as-yet-unreported sex scandals, Google has pretty much flat-out stated that it has a right to go through your email.

A motion filed on July 13 by Google’s attorneys “says Gmail users should assume that any electronic correspondence that’s passed through Google’s servers can be accessed and sued for an array of options, such as selling ads to customers,” RT reports. Read More

Privacy Police

Creepy ‘Google for Spies’ Mines Your Social Networks to Predict What You’ll Do Next

(Photo: Tickle the Wire)

It was only a matter of time before some frighteningly powerful security firm decided to write a program that collects and analyzes all of the tiny wisps of ourselves we leave across the web every day. From tweets to Facebook likes to where you got your last cup of coffee on Foursquare, a new piece of software developed by one of the world’s biggest defense contractors knows exactly what you’ll do next, perhaps even before you do. Read More

Privacy Police

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes ECPA, Which Will Require Warrants For Messages and Emails

Sen. Patrick Leahy (

On Thursday the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), sponsored by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, was unanimously passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The ECPA has actually been around since 1986; the new version has been updated for the 21st Century. Now law enforcement will be required to have a search warrant if they want a peek at emails, private messages and data that’s been uploaded to the cloud.

As The Next Web reports, the ACLU is pretty happy the new version of the act has come this far: Read More

Privacy Police

If You Work for a Spy Agency, Maybe Don’t Brag About It on LinkedIn

This guy: prooooobably not a CIA assassin. (Photo: LinkedIn)

Sure, being a James Bond-level spy is a glamorous job, one that most people would love to humblebrag about online. But if you’re a secret agent working in international espionage, you might not want to let people know about that on LinkedIn.

Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard reports that a simple search for “State Security” on LinkedIn pulls up a crop of spies who have copped to their “secret” jobs on the social network. This is essentially the Belgian equivalent of listing your position as “Top Secret Spy at the CIA” on LinkedIn. Read More

Privacy Police

The NYPD Could Be Reading and Saving Your Call Logs Without a Court Order

(Photo: Getty)

Perhaps it’s time for a burner phone? The New York Times reports that the NYPD has begun quietly and methodically accumulating heaps of call logs and putting them into a searchable database called the Enterprise Case Management System.

It works like this: When someone has their cell phone stolen, the NYPD frequently subpoenas the call logs for that phone, hoping that if the thief used the phone, the recordings will provide evidence that can help track him or her down. But instead of deleting the logs after closing the case, they continue to exist in the NYPD’s database, and could “conceivably be used for any investigative purpose.” Read More

Privacy Police

Facebook’s Wonky Privacy Controls Now Outing LGBT Youth Without Their Consent

Lock it up. (Photo: Smedio)

Whenever Facebook is taken to task for its complicated yet miraculously ineffective privacy settings, its canned response typically amounts to, “We’re working to make our privacy settings as nuanced as possible.” But this statement, and the concept that Facebook cares about its users’ privacy, is almost antithetical to the actual business of Facebook–mainly, that it makes its money off of users using their real names and lax privacy settings.

As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “The company says its commitment to ‘real names’ makes the site safer for users. It is also at the core of the service they sell to advertisers, namely, access to the real you.” Read More

Privacy Police

Gmail, Facebook Messages Inch Toward Legal Protection

"How many times have I told you? Always call from an outside line!"

Those of you with a history of sketchy dealings lurking in your Facebook messages and/or Gmail archives are one step closer to search-and-seizure protection.

Last week, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced an amendment that would require the cops to show up with a warrant if they want access to personal data stored in the cloud. And earlier today, reports The Hill, that amendment was officially adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But don’t open up a Gchat conversation with your weed dealer just yet. Read More