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PRIVACYnotes Discussion List
Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

Respecting Privacy on the Web

--------------------------------------------- I-Privacy Digest Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

Published by: Mike Banks Valentine
April 18, 2002 Issue # 006

.....IN THIS DIGEST.....


"Security Backfire?" ~ Mike Banks Valentine

// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //

"Digital Databases" ~ Esther Dyson ~ Larry Ellison ~ Moderator Comment


"YAHOO! Yanks Privacy" ~ Katsuey ~ Jim Bader ~ Andrew Goodman ~ Karin Ascot ~ Harry Samuels ~ Robert Mendelson

// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

"The Latest in Privacy Issues"



The controversial advertising done by has caused an uproar with their invasive pop-up ads. Now their digital camera technology is threatening privacy in ways unforseen. Thousands of concerned parents have installed them as popular digital "Baby-Cams" to keep a watchful eye on baby in the next room, but now those good folks may be providing high tech pedophiles with a view into their home!

These same cameras are being used broadly in commercial settings as well - scanning stock rooms, employee lounges and even such vulnerable spots such as bank vaults, high-security equipment storage and supposedly secret government facilities.

Now it has become alarmingly clear that those cameras, connected to base-stations via wi-fi (low-frequency wireless) radio waves, are vulnerable to anyone with a $250 radio receiver purchased at Radio Shack connected to a laptop computer as they quietly drive through either your neighborhood street or the parking lot beside (supposedly) secure facilities.

The spy game just became inexpensive and accessible to casual snoopers, petty burglars, criminal masterminds and even suspicious spouses who exploit this new breach by peering into those same places we are seeking to protect using the very digital cameras we have installed to protect ourselves!

Who knows if crooks scanning those secure facilities on your company digital camera are using those images to monitor and determine the best time to rob the vault, read passwords, intercept security combinations . . . I hope you get the picture, so to speak.

Does anyone use these cameras within their homes or businesses? If so, do you intend to spend the extra money to make those cameras secure? If not, why not?

PS: I'm attending the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in San Francisco as you read this and look forward to reporting on that event to you next issue. If anyone from this list is attending, look for the 6'6" geek with the wire rim glasses (yours truly) and introduce yourself! Read about the conference at:

~ Mike Banks Valentine


// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //


From: Esther Dyson

"The moment McDonalds offers 20 cents off a hamburger, [consumers] are quite willing to give up data about themselves. Microsoft and other companies are talking about being digital data banks. These companies compare themselves to regular banks. Banks manage your money. It is still your money, but because of rules and laws that are set up, you can reasonably believe that they will not, for example, give your money to Enron without your approval Digital data banks say that they will keep your data. It will still be yours, but they will manage it. But there have to be rules about this. Its a concern that we need to [address]."

[ Moderator Comment ]: Ms. Dyson is not a Privacynotes list member. These comments were drawn from an interview in the online newsletter K@W (Knowledge@Wharton) Wharton School (of business) at the University of Pennsylvania. Free membership required to read stories -- so read the privacy policy.


From: Larry Ellison

"Today, every federal intelligence and law-enforcement agency and all manner of state and local bodies maintain their own separate databases on suspected criminals. Do we need more databases? No, just the opposite. The biggest problem today is that we have too many. The single thing we could do to make life tougher for terrorists would be to ensure that all the information in myriad government databases was integrated into a single national file."

[ Moderator Comment ]: Larry Ellison is not a member of this discussion list either, but boy would I love to get him involved. This comment goes to the heart of my comment last week where I said:

>> Now the scary issue is when someone finds a way to connect all the dots and bring those databases together and share information across all those differing lines of interest. <<

Mr. Ellison is making it his mission to do just that. Any thoughts on how that affects our lives for good or ill? (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)




From: Katsuey

Bob Cortez said:

>> I think this ranks up there as one of 'scummiest' of all time maneuvers by a major online player. Not only did they unilaterally decide to opt-in their members to a number of internal lists, they changed the default to "Yes" to share information with third parties... including PHYSICAL ADDRESSES and PHONE NUMBERS! <<

Add to this: Some of us never signed up for Yahoo but were incorporated to their scheme by being a member of egroups. We got floated into the Yahoo system without ever signing up and we have no way of going back in and changing anything because we have never been issued an individual Yahoo ID but we still are getting the "pleasure" of Yahoo's increased spam policy.

Brown Holdings LLC Group KatsueyDesignWorks,
Custom Web Design
Katsuey's Legal Gateway



From: Jim Bader

Yes, I am as upset as Bob! However, unlike the offline world there are rules and regulations that MUST be followed. In the cyber world businesses can do as they like without any thought to morality and integrity. I thank you for the information on how to jump out of their little revenue stream. Thats the only recourse us webbies have is sharing information that can make life a little easier for each other ... online anyway :)

Jim Bader Director of Search Engine Optimization CyberMark International



From: Andrew Goodman

Some may be wondering just who told Yahoo that it would be OK for them to play fast and loose with privacy in this manner. Did Seth Godin,

their former VP of Permission Marketing, ring them up and tell them it was OK to skip a step? No way! Godin's take (and mine) is summed up in my article: "Why Yahoo is No Longer Good."

I'd love to hear more feedback on this issue. Many of us go out of our way to defend Yahoo against unfair criticism, but you can't defend the indefensible!

The only explanation I can think of is that Yahoo management have been heavily into Nietzsche of late, i.e. they think they're "beyond good and evil."

Andrew Goodman Editor,



From: Karin Ascot

The fact that Yahoo is now giving out PHYSICAL addresses and phone numbers is truly outrageous. It is just plain wrong.

k. ascot



From: Harry Samuels

Once a company stoops to this level they are as good as insolvent, it's just a matter of time.

The act in and of itself is tantamount to an admission of insolvency - at least in as much as they obviously cannot find any other means of servicing their debts.

We have been in business for over 30 years and can read the signs like any good tracker.. we know that bears sh** in the woods and have learned to recognise the smell, the appearance and the colour.

When a company resorts to raping it's client data files it's a sure sign that the management is plundering the last remnants of the petty cash drawer before abandoning ship, the last desperate act of panic.

Harry Samuels The World's premier mobile phone boutique With Free SMS Messaging Service



From: Robert Mendelson

The other side to Yahoo's big move is that they are as a result ultimately shrinking their market share but hopefully increasing their revenue.

Obviously that's a decision they made and that they're comfortable with. Sure, they may lose some otherwise revenue-generating folks who are so ticked off they'll never say the word Yahoo! again, but think of the potential for all the ones who actually do go and opt-in now.

You may not like it, but from a pure business perspective, it makes sense. This is one way to get the real Yahoo! 'loyalists' to raise their hands.

Robert Mendelson Mendelson Marketing


// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

SAN JOSE, Calif. - It's the talk of Silicon Valley: How did someone break into the voice mail of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s chief financial officer, snag a sensitive message from his boss, Carly Fiorina, and leak it to the local newspaper? HP executives were shocked. But experts in phone systems and computer security say they're not surprised - largely because voice mail is digital and is stored on computers. "If you don't want it publicized, don't say it digitally," said Bruce Schneier, founder of Counterpane Internet Security Inc. "Don't put it in e-mail, don't record it in a voice mail, don't put it in a Power Point presentation. Basically, all of this stuff is vulnerable."

Leak of a private voice mail from (HP CEO Carly) Fiorina to (HP CFO Bob) Wayman, left March 17, two days before the shareholder vote on the Compaq merger. The voice mail, sent anonymously to the (San Jose) Mercury News earlier this week, details strategy for last-minute lobbying of two key shareholders by Fiorina and other executives. In his e-mail Thursday, Wayman told employees he felt "personally violated" by the voice mail leak, adding "it is illegal and damaging to the company and your fellow employees." Wayman said HP is "vigorously investigating" this breach along with others that have occurred in recent weeks. The perpetrators, he warned, will be prosecuted "to the fullest extent."

Jeffrey Rosen, law professor at George Washington University Law School, in his feature article for the New York Times Magazine, Sunday April 14, discusses in detail the connect-the-dots database concerns elicited in my comments from last week's list. Larry Ellison says, "Central databases already exist. Privacy is already gone." Rosen ends his lengthy article with a question to Ellison, "In 20 years, do you think the global database is going to exist, and will it be run by Oracle?"

"I do think it will exist, and I think it is going to be an Oracle database," he replied. "And we're going to track everything." (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Thousands of people who have installed a popular wireless video camera, intending to increase the security of their homes and offices, have instead unknowingly opened a window on their activities to anyone equipped with a cheap receiver. The wireless video camera, which is heavily advertised on the Internet, is intended to send its video signal to a nearby base station, allowing it to be viewed on a computer or a television. But its signal can be intercepted from more than a quarter-mile away by off-the-shelf electronic equipment costing less than $250. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Bye, Bye Yahoo. Opinion piece discussing YAHOO! Desperation Tactics.

A Greeting Steals Its Way Onto Your Hard Drive. Outlook owners, look out. Users of Microsoft popular e-mail program are the targets of a new computer virus, made by an artist, that arrives disguised as an electronic greeting card. When the card is opened, the virus spreads by randomly picking three images from the recipient's hard drive and sending them in a flickering message to everyone in the victim's Outlook address book. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Microsoft, I.B.M. and VeriSign plan to announce a new technical approach today that they hope will ensure greater security and thus stimulate commercial development of an emerging Internet technology called Web services. Web services is the term used to describe clever software that in theory could bring a new level of automation and greater productivity to all kinds of online transactions among companies, suppliers and consumers. Yet the new, unproven technology which uses the Web to find and share data in electronic databases of companies or individuals has stirred concerns about data security and personal privacy. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Microsoft has quietly shelved a consumer information service that was once planned as the centerpiece of the company's foray into the market for tightly linked Web services. The service, originally code-named Hailstorm and later renamed My Services, was to be the clearest example of the company's ambitious .Net strategy. It was intended to permit an individual to keep an online persona independent of his or her desktop computer, supposedly safely stored as part of a vast data repository where there could be easy access to it from any point on the Internet. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Seeking Profits, Internet Companies Alter Privacy Policy. Internet companies are increasingly selling access to their users' postal mail addresses and telephone numbers, in addition to flooding their e-mail boxes with junk mail. Yahoo, the vast Internet portal, just changed its privacy policy to make it clear that it has the right to send mail and make sales calls to tens of millions of its registered users. And it has given itself permission to send users e-mail marketing messages on behalf of its own growing family of services, even if those users had previously asked not to receive any marketing from Yahoo. (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!) 5318 E. 2nd St. #789 Long Beach, CA 90803