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Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

Respecting Privacy on the Web

Privacynotes Digest
Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

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July 25, 2002 Issue # 019

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// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //

"P3P Confusing" ~ Bob Chambers


"Privacy for the Poor" ~ Terri Robinson

"Privacy Fee?" ~ John Gabree ~ Frank Siraguso

"Privacy Advocacy" ~ Eric Norlin

// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

"The Latest in Privacy Issues"



SpywareInfo Articles, links, resources and other useful information to protect yourself from spyware or remove it if your computer is already infected.

Spychecker Check before you download: Spychecker is a database that indexes almost a thousand software titles using spyware or adware.

Bugnosis A free utility from the Privacy Foundation that detects "web bugs," code that can be attached to "invisible" web graphics on a web page and used to track your browsing activity.

Free Popup Killer Tools Reviews and free downloads for a wide range of pop-up killer tools.


// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //


From: Bob Chambers

I am very confused about P3P (Platform for Privacy Preferences) and how it works in practice.

Following is text from the Center for Democracy and Technology's site concerning P3P ( ):

"P3P is designed to provide Internet users with a clear understanding of how personal information will be used by a particular Web site. Web site operators will be able to use the P3P language to explain their privacy practices to visitors. Users will be able to configure their browsers or other software tools to provide notifications about whether Web site privacy policies match their preferences. Parents will also be able to set privacy rules that govern their children's activities online. Once Web sites and Internet users can better communicate about privacy, consumers will be able to make better judgments about which Web sites respect their privacy concerns.

On a P3P enabled Web site, a company's privacy policy is translated into a machine-readable format that a browser decodes in order to figure out what the policy says. That information can be relayed to the user and the user can then decide whether they would like to continue into the site or not. While this does not offer privacy protection, if implemented, it could greatly advance transparency and be used to support efforts to improve privacy protection."

Supposedly IE 6.0 can read P3P statements, but the only settings I can see on IE 6.0 are the "Advanced" settings under the "Privacy" tab which allows customization of cookie settings. I don't see anything that would provide the level of information specified on the P3P page of the World Wide Web Consortium's site (

"Nine aspects of online privacy are covered by P3P. Five topics detail the data being tracked by the site.

Who is collecting this data? Exactly what information is being collected? For what purposes? Which information is being shared with others? And who are these data recipients?

The remaining four topics explain the site's internal privacy policies.

Can users make changes in how their data is used? How are disputes resolved? What is the policy for retaining data? And finally, where can the detailed policies be found in 'human readable' form?"

Help! Is P3P still a work in progress? Should I do anything to develop a P3P statement now, or should I wait until the standard is further-developed?

Thanks for any information you can provide.

E-Commerce Manager Unitrin Direct Auto Insurance




From: Terri Robinson

Nancy Ryan said: >> Obviously the government and the corporate world will now be able to keep track of where you spend every cent of your food stamps, and most of your cash assistance. Do we want this? True, it's taxpayer money. But what about privacy? Dignity? You can't make me believe Citicorp won't be doing something with all the info they get. And what happens when the computer goes down? <<

The same people who get foodstamps and AFDC probably already have a bank account with a debit card, so the EBT won't be anything different in that respect. Their privacy is already "compromised" in today's high tech world.

From a taxpayer's point of view, the amount of savings from food stamps that are stolen and must be replaced, not to mention food stamp fraud, is in the millions of dollars. From the recipient's point of view, they will no longer have to worry about being mugged or robbed on the day they get their paper food stamps or paper check in the mail.

Most mom and pop stores accept ATM cards (in Phoenix, anyway), and they are surely not the best place to do grocery shopping pricewise!

The other "privacy" plus is that others standing in line behind those people who do need to use food stamps will have no idea that they are doing so.

It seems to me to be a win/win for everyone!

Best regards,

Hiring Broker - specializing in Sales and Marketing Executive search 602-233-8410 (direct line)



From: John Gabree

People already sacrifice their privacy for a "fee." Corporations don't have to offer cash. In exchange for convenience, consumers allow themselves to be tracked so that they can save the names of albums in their shopping carts until they next visit or be greeted by name when they return to countless news, retail and service sites. And then there is the information they offer up to get an astronomically long shot at that $11 million. And didn't those who participated in the paid-to-surf fad eons ago give up a whole lot of information about themselves to make pennies as they surfed? $5 a month? Seems steep.

John Gabree Reliability Affordability Functionality



From: Frank Siraguso

Eric Schwartzman said: >> According to tech consultancy Forrester Research, which published a report this week about online privacy, consumers would be willing to sacrifice their privacy for a fee. <<

Forrester's been wrong before. Seems like it ought to be "enhance" privacy for a fee. Jeez, we're all "sacrificing" it for free now! How much more can we give away?

Frank Siraguso Content Specialist Digital Evergreen



From: Eric Norlin

Mike Valentine said:

>> When you say that the idea of government "knowing everything doesn't bother me because they already do", does that mean that they already know everything about you or about all of us? If it's just you that government already knows everything about, was that just up to the point you ceased to work "in the world of intelligence" or do they continue to? <<

hey answer some of your questions:

1. i meant they know everything about me (not all of us) -- though i'm not sure to the extent to which they still track me, i'm sure that they do.

2. as for a SSO for gov systems, see this recent news item:

3. as for the us gov spying on its own citizens: there are (were?) very strict internal rules about this (against this, i should say), that were very very strictly enforced internally -- much to the disappointment of all of you x-filers out there. beyond that i can't say much....and i certainly have no knowledge of how the homeland security plan might be changing some of that.

4. LOTS of interesting stuff that at least *relates* to privacy came out of the Burton Group's Catalyst Conference -- release of the liberty spec 1.0, microsoft's announcement about SAML interop -- things that affect the adoption of identity technologies.

5. Not meaning to sound like i'm just here to talk about our site, but if you want more info, you can find it there (i'd lay it all out in this email, but i'm leaving on vacation in about 10 minutes) --

6. To that end, you left an event off -- Digital ID World Conference 2002 -- companies like Microsoft, Sun, Verifone, ActivCard, Visa; speakers from places like OASIS, the State of Utah and ICANN; a Venture Capital working group that will be exploring identity investment opportunities; just a damn interesting time.

tks much. ejn

Senior Editor, Digital ID World


// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

Moderator note: There are two ways to access previously listed privacy news stories. One is to visit Privacynotes archives, the other (simpler) way is to visit where I also keep a privacy news archive.

Michael Ramirez LA Times editorial cartoon on privacy from Sunday July 23. (free registration required)

Preserving a juries privacy. Letter to the editor from attorney, law professor at Stanford. (free registration required)

Banish Your Unbidden Spyware Some web sites and many seemingly innocent shareware programs install spyware on your computer, silently tracking your online movements. Here's how to find and eradicate these pernicious e-snoops. From time to time, I recommend sites or software that I later learn use some sort of spyware to keep tabs on people without first getting their permission. Spyware takes two forms: surveillance software, which tracks your behavior while you use your computer, and adware, which barrages you with advertisements when you least expect them.

The widespread fingerprinting of UK primary school children has been roundly condemned by watchdog Privacy International. The human rights watchdog today warned that tens of thousands of UK school children are being fingerprinted by schools, often without the knowledge or consent of their parents. This under-reported electronic finger printing is being conducted as part of a cost cutting "automation" of school libraries. Privacy International has condemned the procedure, branding it "dangerous, illegal and unnecessary".

With consumer-privacy efforts stalled in Congress, one expert is arguing that those who fear that intimate details of their private lives could be exposed already have plenty of protection through existing common law. More than one hundred years of civil lawsuits in courtrooms around the country have provided a broad understanding of privacy rights, allowing consumers to sue for damages and encouraging companies to refrain from invasive practices, said Jim Harper, editor of the conservative think tank

Bill Gates spams the world on Trustworthy Computing Today you will probably have already read that Bill Gates says that the famous Microsoft security review of this year took twice as long as expected, and cost £100 million. These are the obvious bullet points from an unsolicited email His Billness sent to large numbers of unsuspecting subscribers to Microsoft newsletters, but don't be to hard on the lad. This is a one-time mailing only, and if you don't ever want to hear from him again you can just do nothing. Otherwise, you need to go here if you want to hear from Bill and other execs in the future, so it's opt-in, right?

WHAT'S your age? Your salary? Online merchants who ask nosy questions like that on surveys at their Web sites have learned what usually honest visitors will do. Fib, most likely. People give false answers to protect their privacy. Then, because the data is so unreliable, companies can't use it to help them run their businesses.I.B.M. researchers have devised a data-mining program that would cloak individual truthful answers that people might enter once their trust was won but still recover important characteristics of the overall group. For instance, instead of recording the answer "41" to a nosy question like "How old are you?" the software automatically adds a random number of years within a specified range, say minus 30 to plus 30, to the answer. No record of initial answers is kept.

Jim Harris of Harris Technical Services says that 1996 or later GM cars and trucks contain another on-board computer that can't be read by normal diagnostic means. The Event Data Recorder (EDR) is analogous to a black-box data recorder found on commercial aircraft. Harris writes: "EDRs record specific data from various vehicle sensors. Things like vehicle speed, throttle position, brake status, driver seat belt status, and much more can be recorded for up to 5 seconds preceding a collision—in 1-second increments. In the event of a collision where the air bags deploy, this data is permanently written in EEPROM in the Service Diagnostic Module. You won't find the EDR on a parts list for the car. Your local dealer won't know it is there.,4149,367792,00.asp

Test runs of the Visionics (now Identix) magical face-recognition terrorist finder at Boston's Logan Airport have failed miserably, as expected. According to a story by the Boston Globe, the security firm which conducted the tests was unable to calibrate the equipment without running into one of two rather serious problems. When it's set to a sensitive level, it 'catches' world + dog. When it's set to a looser level, pretty much any idiot can escape detection by tilting his head or wearing eyeglasses. According to the outside reviewer, difficulties with the kit proved exasperating and literally exhausting for airport staff. Nevertheless, Identix CEO 'Doctor' Joseph Atick insists that his photographic Ouija board will defeat the Forces of Evil. 5318 E. 2nd St. #789 Long Beach, CA 90803