Privacy news: Facebook, data brokers, Ford, Edward Snowden, NSA spying

We’re again putting on our privacy-shepherd hat:

• What else is going on in privacy-related news that isn’t about NSA spying? Well, we’re getting friendly reminders that it’s not just the government that collects our information.

For example, there’s Facebook. Some plaintiffs in a settlement of a suit against the social network over its Sponsored Stories ad program are seeking to throw out the deal, saying the company continues to use children’s images without permission, according to the Washington Post.

There are data brokers. A couple of Democratic senators on Wednesday introduced the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act, which among other things calls for data brokers — whose business is to gather and sell people’s personal information — to share with consumers the information that has been collected about them.

And there are automakers like Ford, which recently clarified to Congress how it collects and stores driver data after a company executive said last month that Ford knows a lot of information about its customers because it tracks drivers via GPS. The Detroit News reports that in response to questions from Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Ford wrote that it only collects driver location data with permission and for troubleshooting purposes; that it only keeps that data for a limited amount of time; and that it does not transmit that data.

• But back to NSA spying. Edward Snowden, the source of information that has led to revelations about the scope of government surveillance, looks to have tricked a co-worker into sharing a password that gave Snowden “even greater access to classified information,” according to NBC News, which got its hands on an agency memo. That person was stripped of his security clearance and has since resigned, the report says. NBC points out that Snowden has said he “never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers.”

• And in case you missed it, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has sued the Obama administration over NSA spying, invoking the Fourth Amendment and saying he hopes to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Politico mentions that Paul has been talking about the lawsuit for a while as he positions himself for a possible presidential bid in 2016. Paul and allies with ties to the Tea Party hope to get the suit classified as a class action, and CNN says asking for email addresses of possible plaintiffs could be an “effective way to increase a list of campaign supporters.”

The administration maintains that the phone-record collection by the NSA is legal, and on Wednesday released previously secret court documents that authorize the practice, according to Hillicon Valley.


Photo of Facebook logo from Reuters archives


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  • Ronny

    The collection and use of personal data/information needs to be seriously addressed. The use of our data to make a profit, when they pay us nothing….except the use of their social network, they should pay a percentage buck to the owner of it, and they should not be allowed to write mega length terms of use that no one reads, but are used to get us to sign over our rights. The “trawling for information age” needs some boundaries.
    Our information should remain ours at all times, regardless of terms of use policies, any use they want to make of it should be asked on each item at each time.
    As for Edward Snowden did this or that, no evidence has been shown that he did anything like steal or connive passwords etc, that memo if it exists, has no details to back anything up, and even if it did, we would not know if it was true or not, the government is so busy trying to wag a dog that it will wag any dog to get people to look elsewhere.