Legislators support internet privacy, but question how to do it

Lawmakers examining the Federal Trade Commission’s recommendation for a “do not track” mechanism to restrict the monitoring of internet users said that they supported stricter safeguards for consumer privacy, but raised questions on how the system would work, reports the New York Times. Many also expressed concern that it would undermine one of the main pillars of the Internet’s growth–the development of free, advertising-supported content. Even within the F.T.C. itself, there is not unanimous support for a do-not-track effort. William E. Kovacic, a Republican commissioner who was the agency’s chairman during the last year of the Bush administration, concurred with the decision to release the F.T.C. report on Wednesday. But he added that he believed the do-not-track recommendation was “premature,” and that the commission needed to present “greater support for the proposition that consumer expectations of privacy are largely going unmet.”

Some Democrats in the House and the Senate, however, have already embraced the idea of a do-not-track mechanism. On Thursday, Representative Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he would introduce a bill that would put in place such a system to prevent the tracking of children using the internet…

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F.B.I. seeks wider wiretap law for web

Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, traveled to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to meet with top executives of several technology firms about a proposal to make it easier to wiretap internet users, reports the New York Times. Mr. Mueller and the F.B.I.’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, were scheduled to meet with senior managers of several major companies, including Google and Facebook, according to several people familiar with the discussions. How Mr. Mueller’s proposal was received was not clear.

“I can confirm that F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller is visiting Facebook during his trip to Silicon Valley,” said Andrew Noyes, Facebook’s public policy manager. Michael Kortan, an F.B.I. spokesman, acknowledged the meetings but did not elaborate.

Mr. Mueller wants to expand a 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, to impose regulations on Internet companies……Read More

Rutgers student kills self after sex act broadcast online

Students convicted in the invasion-of-privacy case could face five years in prison. (Courtesy phisigmasigma.org)
Rutgers students charged in the invasion-of-privacy case could face five years in prison. (Photo courtesy phisigmasigma.org)

A Rutgers University student jumped to his death off a bridge a day after authorities say two classmates surreptitiously recorded him having sex with a man in his dorm room and broadcast it over the internet.

Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge last week, said his family’s attorney, Paul Mainardi. Police recovered a man’s body on Sept. 29 in the Hudson River just north of the bridge, and authorities were trying to determine if it was Clementi’s.

ABC News and the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., reported that Clementi left on his Facebook page on Sept. 22 a note that read: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” On Sept. 29, his Facebook page was accessible only to friends.…Read More

Facebook faces flak over privacy changes

Facebook's updated privacy policy has attracted national attention.
Facebook's updated privacy policy has attracted national attention.

A Washington, D.C.-based privacy advocacy group and nine other organizations have filed a complaint against Facebook over the online social network’s latest privacy changes.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said it has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into the changes Facebook has made to its users’ privacy settings and to force Facebook to restore its old privacy safeguards. The changes, unveiled last week, include treating users’ names, profile photo, friends list, gender, and other data as publicly available information.

The complaint says the changes diminish user privacy by disclosing personal information to the public that was previously restricted. (See “How to protect your privacy on Facebook.”)…Read More

How to protect your privacy on Facebook

Keeping information private on Facebook is easy if you follow several steps.
Keeping information private on Facebook is possible if you follow several steps.

Over the past week, Facebook has been nudging its users to review and update their privacy settings. The site has given users many granular controls over their privacy, more than what’s available on other major social networks. Still, in updating their privacy settings, several users might have made more information about themselves public than what they had intended.

If you want to stay out of people’s view, but still want to be on Facebook, here are some things to look out for as you take another look at your settings. (See “Facebook faces flak over privacy changes.”)

1. Some of your information is viewable by everyone.…Read More