Government // Cybersecurity
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1/24/2014
11:40 AM
Jeff Gould
Jeff Gould
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Google - EU Privacy Dispute May Affect US Law

A European Union dispute with Google over its privacy policy has US lawmakers considering even stricter privacy protections.

Imagine the following scenario: A powerful Chinese company acquires a 95% stake in the US market for search advertising. At the same time, it signs up millions of users for its free email service, a version of which is also adopted by many American schools.

The company then captures a commanding lead in the US smartphone market with an operating system that is free and ad-supported. Leveraging sophisticated data mining algorithms that monitor its users' online behavior, the Chinese company quickly builds a US business worth tens of billions of dollars per year, leaving its American competitors far behind. To support this business, the company builds several large datacenters in the US and hires thousands of local sales representatives. Thanks to a clever use of loopholes in US tax law, the company pays only a fraction of its US sales in corporate income tax.

Then one day the company announces a sweeping revision of its privacy policy, granting it the right to combine personal data collected from its user base to enable more accurate ad targeting. At this point, a small federal agency concerned with the enforcement of US privacy laws asks whether the Chinese Internet giant might temporarily delay the new privacy policy while the agency reviews its proposed policies. The agency makes clear that it is not challenging the Chinese company's right to pursue its profitable business model. It merely wants to ensure users have been properly informed and have consented to the public use of their data.

[A speech recognition tool raises new security and privacy questions. Read: Google Chrome Allows Eavesdropping, Researcher Claims.]

The company waves aside this request, and the agency is forced to initiate an investigation. After careful procedure and review, the federal agency concludes that the firm has violated US privacy laws. It fines the company $150,000 -- roughly what the giant earns every few minutes.

How does the Chinese Internet giant respond? It instructs its lawyers to inform the federal agency that American laws do not apply to it, because even though its datacenters are in the US, legally its services are provided from China by its parent company. The company decides it does not recognize US regulation standards.

You might think this scenario is implausible, especially in the US, but right now it is currently taking place in Europe. In fact, if we replace "Chinese company" and "US market" with "US company" and "European market," we can see a parallel scenario unfolding in the European Union's current dispute with Google over its privacy policy. 

European Commission Headquarters.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
European Commission Headquarters.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

For example, the French data protection authority recently fined Google €150,000 for its refusal to strengthen the user information and consent provisions in its privacy policy. Late last year, the Spanish data protection agency issued a €1 million fine on the same grounds. France and Spain are just two of six European countries that have been investigating Google's policy for the past two years. Further actions from these groups are likely in the weeks and months ahead.

It is easy to imagine that Europe's actions are little more than sour grapes over its inability to compete with American tech firms. However, the EU is not trying to stifle Google's success or that of any other US tech firm. On the contrary, European data protection regulators have stressed that their market is open to American firms -- even when these firms far outstrip their European rivals -- provided that they tell consumers candidly how their business models actually work.

Europe is trying to apply a set of basic privacy protections that it has carefully nurtured since the Second World War and that were inspired in part by the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment. We can be confident that EU data protection authorities will apply the same high level of scrutiny to Google's competitors. In fact, Facebook and Microsoft have already faced similar investigations, and Yahoo is likely not far behind. What's more, there are signs that Congress may emulate Europe's more rigorous approach to privacy. Senator Patrick Leahy's recently introduced Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, for example, is in many ways stricter than the EU's current laws.

There can be little doubt that Europe will ultimately prevail in its effort to persuade Google that it must recognize the continent's right to regulate its own market. But there is also little doubt that the innovative Internet industry pioneered by Google and its American rivals will go on dominating the European market for a long time to come. Google's leaders need only put a little water in their wine, as the French say, and learn that no company can be above the law.

Jeff Gould is CEO and director of research of Peerstone Research and a technology expert at SafeGov.org, an online IT forum dedicated to promoting trusted and secure cloud computing solutions for the public sector.

Private clouds are moving rapidly from concept to production. But some fears about expertise and integration still linger. Also in the Private Clouds Step Up issue of InformationWeek: The public cloud and the steam engine have more in common than you might think. (Free registration required.)

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WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
2/5/2014 | 2:54:49 PM
Re: Privacy Policy
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anon4339889043, sorry to hear what a frustrating experience you've had.  Your story is a perfect illustration for why the US Government and Congress need to do more to help Americans regain basic rights to their own public data, establish the mechanisms to review and correct incorrect data, and punish companies that abuse, or fail to fix, consumer's data.

 
anon4339889043
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anon4339889043,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2014 | 11:21:32 PM
Re: Privacy Policy
On the Privacy Policies,  this makes it worse on the consumers.  Due to the credit bureau's, they now have numbers that they will use for your so called " SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ".

On the Credit Reports that make no sense, to the numbers for your Social Security number.  The Credit Report response to my question of:  What is the social security number on this report, that I have ?

The Reply : "  Uh, "     I said " I want to know the number that you have which is suppose to be my social security number "...

The Reply:  " well, part of your social security number is in there "..  I said:  " where ?  there is no- way in any type of form, my social security number could be coded in your codes that you use to even come close to my real social security number that I have with the SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE."

The Reply:  " It is there " ...  I said  " I want to know what  you have for my social security number since you have someone else's DRIVERS LICENSE NUMBER ON ALL OF THE REPORTS YOU SEND ME AND ASSIGN TO MY NAME !

REPLY:  "That is your social security number"    I Said "you need to tell me what exactly that number is"....

I , AS A CONSUMER AM DONE DEALING WITH THE RUN-AROUND-IDIOTS-THAT ARE THE CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES WHO HAVE TOTALLY RAN DOWN THE UNITED STATES DUE TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE THEY WRONG ON THESE REPORTS REPEADILY.

  MOST OF THESE COMPANIES ARE OWNED AND OPERATED OUT OF THE COUNTRY SO THIS MEANS,  they not only have our personal information but,  they also control a whole lot of the UNITED STATES FINACIALS IN THEIR HANDS.  This shows through the credit world in housing which = CRASH,  credit where credit should be do (you have no credit),  and now these countries are doing better ?   SO I ASK" how and why:

These companies who are selling the Identity Theft/Fraud Insurance that us American's  Citizens so need are so the same companies that have taken our credibility from us here in the U.S.,  why you might ask-because they can.  How?  because people have fears and some fear of their lives being stolen and frauded by someone however, consumers beware... Look up, you will always see the lite  !
anon4339889043
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anon4339889043,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2014 | 10:32:08 PM
Privacy, paying for I.D. theft/fraud alerts
Everyone worries about the privacy on-line and the money you put out for it.  Well, listen up folks ! 

More than likely the way that your personal informaiton gets handed out is "WHO IS DOING THE HANDING OUT,   ASSIGNING INFORMATION FROM THE GOVERNMENT , YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION  ASSIGNED TO OTHER PERSONS to USE ?  Then  ASSIGNING YOU !  yes you , what ever they want to assign your name on a file wether or not it is true-they will hide this information from you ( and only you ) .  These reporting bureau's then turn around and share all of your made up, altered, names, social security number ( they will even assign you extra's. For myself they assigned me 3 yes THREE social security numbers, one belonging to a living person and the other 2 yes TWO belong to  DECEASED persons.  The informationt true or not true is for theworld and creditors for a loan/credit  to see.  

Assigning INFORMATION FROM THE GOVERNMENT ( YES THIS IS ILLEGAL!  BUT, THEY DO IT ANYWAY ) : 

The credit reporting companies assigned my social secutiy number to another person along with all of my personal informaiton, YES, THIS IS VERY SAD AND DAMAGING TO NOT ONLY MYSELF BUT THE NAMES FROM MY CREDIT REPORTS GO TO THE INTERNET AND THIS CREATES A WHOLE LOT OF NAMES AND A LOT OF ID THEFT/FRAUD and it all started with the credit report agency writers whom :   They make up and write your reports which come out to

1.  The math never adds up especiatially since they make these reports up and check with their other companies (which belong are these credit companies ) who call this type of reporting the "INVESTIGATIONS", that they do for you , the consumer.  This is ONLY ONE of the out of  the  MANY rediculous business practices they run...

2.  Now, they have repeated their actions on reports they say are mine now for 20+ years.  I have done every thing possible and even ch. 7 to make them quit...Things only get worse and they add more things.  They refuse to acknowledge wh I really am.  The credit reports all of these years still have another persons DRIVERS LICENSE NUMBER ON THE BOTTOM OF ALL THEIR REPORTS TO WHOM THEY CLAIM IS MY INFORMATION...

So again, while I actually bought a home many years ago have had high interest on every and any thing I have had to buy and to their stealing my identification and frauding my name to which they have assigned numerous added I.D. that belongs to other persons, they refuse to even put the right information that would be only mine, to a report that should be flawless.

On the phone, they are rude and make these ( HHHUUUUHHH) , like I am the piece of crap who can not  READ, WRITE, DO MATHMATICS,  OR COMPREHEND at a grammar school level !  kids are way smarter and can put out reports that make sense in grammar school so why is it that these companies hire such a low-grade of employee ?  These companies  are the one's who should be require college to even do a job at this type of company.
Then on the other hand you have the banks and loan officers who read these reports and DO NOT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THE NUMBERS NOT ADDING UP WITH THE YEARS, THE SOICIAL SECURITY NUMBERS THAT DO NOT BELONG TO THE LOAN APPLICATION, THE ADDRESS'S, NAMES, AND SO THE CYCLE OF STUPIDITY JUST KEEPS ON GIVING..  WHEN IS THIS GOING TO STOP ?  I HAVE THE ANSWER AND I AM WORKING ON THIS...

For the companies who make "STUPID" decisions...You should know bye now :  

When you do stupid things,     you have to pay...

You get caught doing something illegal,     you have to pay.

When you repeat crimminal activies for the 6th time,    YOU WILL NOW HAVE TO PAY !
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 1:08:33 AM
Re : Google - EU Privacy Dispute May Affect US Law
It is insane to think that some company is generating waterfall profits from a country but doesn't have to obey her laws. Whichever place in the world a company may be operating from, it should be brought into compliance with the laws of the land in which it is doing business and earning profits. EU countries are doing the right thing.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 1:08:31 AM
Re : Google - EU Privacy Dispute May Affect US Law
@ WKash, you are right, privacy concerns are coming way up the agenda. Governments are feeling pressurized by rising privacy concerns of users. Though it's ironic that governments had to wait for some revelations by disgruntled employees about privacy breaches to give attention to privacy issues, yet it is a welcome step and should be followed up by some concrete legislation.
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
1/24/2014 | 6:11:53 PM
Privacy Policy
It's interesting to note the White House Just Launched Big Data, Privacy Review.   The move was prompted primarily as a result of the President's recommendations last week on NSA surveillance reforms. But it's clear that privacy concerns have become a higher stakes issue at the White House, and likely to become more so on Capitol Hill.
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