Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Legal Affairs

Some of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s warrantless searches through the National Security Agency’s enormous troves of communications data violated the law and the Constitution, according to secret surveillance court rulings partially declassified on Tuesday. The bureau’s so-called backdoor searches, long regarded by civil libertarians as a government end-run around warrant requirements, were overly broad, the court found. They appear to have affected what a judge on the court called […]

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U.S. Justice Department Sets Rules for Using Genealogy Sites to Solve Crimes

Investigators have used genealogy sites to solve a string of cold cases in recent years, but the US hasn’t really had a firm stance on how and when to use those sites. There’s now a basic framework in place, however. The U.S. Justice Department has established interim rules that determine how this forensic genetic genealogy can be used to tackle unsolved violent crimes. Officials portray it as striking a balance […]

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Secret FBI Subpoenas Scoop Up Personal Data From Scores of Companies

The F.B.I. has used secret subpoenas to obtain personal data from far more companies than previously disclosed, newly released documents show. The requests, which the F.B.I. says are critical to its counterterrorism efforts, have raised privacy concerns for years but have been associated mainly with tech companies. Now, records show how far beyond Silicon Valley the practice extends — encompassing scores of banks, credit agencies, cellphone carriers and even universities. […]

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Utah Adds More Privacy to Family Information Submitted to Online Genealogy and DNA Web Sites

Utah is now a safe haven for digital privacy and a model for the rest of the country to emulate. In March, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law a first of its kind privacy bill, HB 57, which prevents law enforcement officials from obtaining user data from third-party providers such as genealogy sites, Google, or Facebook just by asking. The new law says anyone who sends personal electronic information […]

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Russia Carried Out a ‘Stunning’ Breach of FBI Communications System

Here is one more reason why we cannot trust the FBI or any other government agency or law enforcement agency with “back doors” to encrypted information: the information obtained and supposedly kept secret by these agencies won’t be secret for very long. One of many examples is the recent revelation that Russian agents have dramatically improved their ability to decrypt certain types of secure communications and successfully tracked devices used […]

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Judge Calls Facebook’s Views on Privacy ‘So Wrong’ As He Allows Lawsuit to Proceed

A federal judge said Monday that Facebook has a warped idea of privacy after he ordered the company to face a lawsuit seeking damages from allowing third-party sites to harvest users’ data. “Facebook’s motion to dismiss is littered with assumptions about the degree to which social media users can reasonably expect their personal information and communications to remain private,” Judge Chhabria wrote. “Facebook’s view is so wrong.” The story by […]

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Feds Order Apple and Google To Hand Over Names of 10,000+ Users of Gun Scope App

I bet this gets challenged in court: Own a rifle? Got a scope to go with it? The government might soon know who you are, where you live and how to reach you. That’s because Apple and Google have been ordered by the U.S. government to hand over names, phone numbers and other identifying data of at least 10,000 users of a single gun scope app, Forbes has discovered. It’s […]

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