People have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy when it comes to their genetic material, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues in an amicus brief filed this week with the Supreme Court of the United States.
EFF is asking the Supreme Court to hear arguments in Raynor v. State of Maryland, a case that examines whether police should be allowed to collect and analyze "inadvertently shed" DNA without a warrant or consent, such as swabbing cells from a drinking glass or a chair. EFF argues that genetic material contains a vast amount of personal information that should receive the full protection of the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.
With the Databox concept, scientists at British universities have begun an attempt to win back control of information about us. In a paper by computer scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Cambridge University, the Databox concept is described as a piece of software that collects personal data and then manages how that information is made available to third parties. In essence, it’s “a networked service that collates personal information from all of your devices and can also make that data available to organisations that the owner allows”.
This week the White House announced plans to release a new legislative proposal aimed at providing notice to victims of corporate data breaches. The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act is expected to look similar to the Administration’s 2011 proposal, including a provision that would preempt stronger state laws. Additionally, the president also promised draft legislation implementing the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, as well as separate draft legislation increasing protections for student data. While these proposals show the White House’s prioritizing data security, it is not yet clear that Personal Data Notification and Protection Act will actually lead to improved security or provide adequate protection for users’ privacy.
German officials on Wednesday ordered Google to limit the collection of personal data, in the US Internet giant's latest run-in with authorities in the European Union.
The data protection office in the city of Hamburg said it had told Google to make "the necessary changes" so that the use of its German users' data is on a "permissible legal basis".
The Romanian Secret Service (SRI) is granted European funding in order to acquire software and hardware for “increasing eGovernment system usage”. However, as the technical specifications of the project show, one of its declared purposes is to design a Big Brother system that will, among others, intercept Internet traffic from instant messaging apps or other similar electronic communications programmes.
Entitled SII Analytics, the project aims at aggregating data sets from all major public institutions and at allowing advanced search in order to permit inquiring any type of information about any citizen or resident. Moreover, the project includes a chapter on behaviour analysis, which will allow to correlate information from databases as well as other public information (such as Facebook account information) and create individual profiles. Additionally, the system will have facial recognition features and it will include a database of approximately 50-60 million images (passport or identity card photos) to which SRI will have unlimited access.
As the project flagrantly violates Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, namely the rights to privacy and to personal data protection, several NGOs sent a letter to Romanian and European officials urging for the public procurement to be annulled.
Since 2002, European citizens’ freedom of communication, the security of our communications devices, and the protection of our personal data in the online world have been safeguarded by the so-called e-Privacy Directive. This Directive is now up for renewal.