Privacy Blog

“By continuing the process of inflation, governments can confiscate secretly and unobserved an important part of the wealth of their citizens.” – John Maynard Keynes, writing about the effects of a seemingly small amount of inflation every year.

Offline Privacy & Security

GEDmatch Implements Required Opt-In for Law Enforcement Matching and Privacy Issues

GEDmatch is an open data personal genomics database and genealogy website founded in 2010 by Curtis Rogers and John Olson. Its main purpose is to help “amateur and professional researchers and genealogists,” including adoptees searching for birth parents. However, it recently has also become “the de facto DNA and genealogy database for all of law enforcement,” according to The Atlantic’s Sarah Zhang. GEDmatch recently gained a lot of publicity after […]

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Should Genealogy Websites be BANNED because they ‘Threaten the Anonymity of Sperm Donors?’

The world today is struggling with learning to use advancing technology and also with all sorts of issues dealing with personal privacy. Sometimes those new ideas are diametrically opposed. For instance, which is more important: the right to learn about your ancestry, especially when inherited medical issues are involved, or the right to personal privacy? <img class=”alignright size-full” src=”https://eogn.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/dna-behind-bars.png&#8221; width=”320″ height=”203″ />A bioethics expert at Ghent University in Belgium claims […]

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Probably the Best Laptop Security for use while Crossing Borders

Computer security expert Bruce Schneier has written about a supposedly fool-proof method of encrypting the entire hard drive of a laptop computer. That means that you can travel internationally without ever revealing the contents of your laptop to Customs or other officials anywhere you travel. Even you will be unable to access the information until some time after you arrive at your destination. Best of all, you can do this […]

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Google Location History Explained

Location History is a feature that Google introduced in 2009. It “saves where you go with your devices, even when you aren’t using a specific Google service.” That essentially means that tracking and recording of where you are occurs in the background, even when users don’t actively have a location app (like Google Maps) open on their phone. Each location is shown by a red dot. For instance, here is […]

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Fairfax County, Virginia Police can No Longer Maintain a Database of Photos of Vehicle License Plates because of Privacy Laws

A Fairfax County judge on Monday ordered the Fairfax County police to stop maintaining a database of photos of vehicle license plates, with the time and location where they were snapped, ruling that “passive use” of data from automated license plate readers on the back of patrol cars violates Virginia privacy law. Details may be found in an article by Tom Jackman in the Washington Post at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/crime-law/2019/04/02/judge-orders-fairfax-police-stop-collecting-data-license-plate-readers.

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Vigilant, Its Customers, Police, and the State of California Are Lying About ICE’s Access To License Plate Records

Can you believe that companies, police, and even state governments are lying to the public? What a concept. (Irony intended.) Everyone’s hooking up ICE with automatic license plate reader (ALPR) data. And everyone’s misleading the public about it, starting with ALPR manufacturer, Vigilant. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been investigating California law enforcement’s data sharing claims with relation to its Vigilant ALPRs and finding their public statements are directly contradicted […]

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