privacy

Zuckerberg: “we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want.” Oh really?

Mark Zuckerberg has a comment up on the Facebook blog in response to the firestorm about their new terms of service:

Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they’ve asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn’t help people share that information.

He then goes through the simple scenario of a user sending messages and then deleting his or her account.  Should the messages disappear?  Mark says no, and notes that this is also how email works.   Of course this doesn’t have much to do with the reasons why people are upset — what about photos, for example?  What about Facebook reserving the right to sub-license, i.e. profit from, the content that’s been deleted?  Hmm.

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Facebook: all your content are belong to us. FOREVER! Protests ensue.

Facebook’s terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore.

Chris Walters in The Consumerist

And people aren’t happy about it.  Anne Kathrine Yojana Petterøe’s People Against the new Terms of Service (TOS) protest group had about 900 members when I joined at 7:30.  By the time I posted this at 9:30 it was over 1650, which puts the growth rate at an astonishing 35%+ per hour.  After inviting another 50+ people on Facebook and retweeting, I sent mail to some colleagues encouraging them to check it out:

If you haven’t been tracking social network activism campaigns, this could be an intersting one.  The “call to action” in the protest group is very crisp; and it’s a great example of a campaign crossing social networks.

A Twitter search for “TOS” is a good way to follow the discussion; the Twitter #facebook hashtag is hopping as well.  Both have been in the top 10 trending topics on Twitter all morning, with TOS currently at #2.

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Open for Questions at change.gov: What about privacy?

The Obama transition team’s Open for Questions pilot last week went extremely well for a first attempt.  Combined with all the other promising things Micah Sifry discusses in Kudos to the Change.gov New Media Team, it seems to me that the Obama administration is on track for some effective ways of leveraging cognitive diversity and “wisdom of the crowds” effects, cutting past the gatekeepers in the media, and getting Obama direct feedback from Americans.

At least for those Americans who are willing to give away their privacy as the price for interacting with their government.

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Creating the future: Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2009

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From conference co-chairs Cindy Southworth and Jay Stanley’s Call for presentations, tutorials, and workshops:

The 19th annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference is now accepting proposals for panels, workshop sessions, and other events.

CFP is the leading policy conference exploring the impact of the Internet, computers and communications technologies on society. It will be taking place in June 2009, just months into a brand new U.S. administration — an exciting moment in history, as we look into the future and ask, “Where do we go from here?” For more than a decade, CFP has anticipated policy trends and issues and has shaped the public debate on the future of privacy and freedom in an ever more technology-filled world. CFP focuses on topics such as freedom of speech, privacy, intellectual property, cybersecurity, telecommunications, electronic democracy, digital rights and responsibilities, and the future of technologies and their implications.

We are requesting proposals and ideas for panels, plenaries, debates, keynote speakers, and other sessions that will address these and related topics and how we can shape public policy and the public debate on these topics as we create the future.

More information, and a link to the submission form, here.  The submission deadline is December 19 January 23.

CFP has always been a meeting ground for different perspectives: academics, privacy advocates, corporate types, government, activists, and at times hackers and students.  The quality of presentations is high, and there’s a good mix between big names and “not the usual suspects”.   Washington DC, six months into a new administration that’s being described as “the first internet presidency”, with privacy and civil liberties issues on the table … it should be a particularly good year!

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Obama and privacy: some early disquieting signs

Sarah Lai Stirland discusses Barack Obama’s Privacy Challenge on Wired’s Threat Level, focusing on the question of what’s going to happen to the huge amount of information that Obama, the Democrats, and firms like Catalist collected from during the campaign from all kinds of sources — voter files, commercial databases, phone and canvassing information, etc.

What will the Obama campaign do with all this data? It’s not saying. A query to the Obama press office last week went unanswered. Catalist, the Democratic data firm profiled earlier this year in Wired magazine, declined to answer any questions. A spokeswoman referred all queries to the Obama campaign…..

The Obama campaign’s privacy policy states that it generally doesn’t make your personal information available to anyone other than its campaign staff and “agents,” but that it might share it with organizations that have similar political goals. That’s a pretty big loophole.

Ironically, the Obama campaign’s own technology policy platform (pdf) promises the electorate that an Obama administration will “safeguard our right to privacy.”

Ironic indeed, given the Obama transition teams’s highly-invasive vetting process for job applications … more on that below.

The article also includes suggestions from privacy advocates — like my co-author on Tales from the Net:

Deborah Pierce, founder of the non-profit group Privacy Activism, suggests that the Obama campaign adopt the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s fair information principles.*

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Berkman Center researcher publishes 1700 students’ Facebook data: “We did not consult w/ privacy experts on how to do this, but we did think long and hard ….”

facebook logoI think I’ll let others tell the story for me …

September 25:

In collaboration with Harvard sociology graduate students Kevin Lewis and Marco Gonzalez, and with UCLA professor Andreas Wimmer and Harvard professor Nicholas Christakis, Berkman Fellow Jason Kaufman has made available a first wave of Facebook.com data through the Dataverse Network Project.

The dataset comprises machine-readable files of virtually all the information posted on approximately 1,700 FB profiles by an entire cohort of students at an anonymous, northeastern American university.

Tastes, Ties, and Time: Facebook data release, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

September 29:

The “non-identifiability” of such a dataset is up for debate….  According to the authors, the collection of the dataset was approved by the IRB, Facebook and the individual college.  The dissemination of the dataset appears to be approved by the IRB.

Facebook Datasets and Private Chrome, Fred Stutzman, Unit Structures

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Ask Facebook to de-friend Ted Ullyot!

cross-posted at the Oxdown Gazette

Logo for anti-Ullyot Facebook groupThe L.A. Times’ Tech blog* is reporting that Ted Ullyot — a former chief of staff to former AG Alberto Gonzales, a former AOL in-house lawyer and a former Kirkland & Ellis partner — is moving to San Fran to take the top legal job at Facebook.

Facebook Sends Ted Ullyot a Friend Request, Dan Slater, Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

And just in case you were wondering:

As for his stint in the Bush administration, that was something he had long sought and something for which he remains grateful, Ullyot said. Despite the politically charged high drama, he said: “I have nothing but good to say about it.”

Facebook hires general counsel as it continues to grow, Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times Technology blog

Unsurprisingly, there’s a protest group: We demand that facebook fire Alberto Gonzales’ right-hand man, Ted Ullyot.  283 members and counting.

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Get FISA Right: A night of Facebook action

It’s been a wild few days with the Get FISA Right activism campaign. Our bare-bones media room is the best place to get a quick summary of all the stuff going on; here are a few hightlights: over 22,000 members in the myBO group, and 1700+ on Facebook; we delivered our response and our asks to Obama’s Senate office today (and of course have emailed them as well); and much much more.

We’ve gotten tons of coverage, including an article featuring me by Sarah Lai Stirland on Wired’s Threat Level blog, a call to action and video by Daniel Ellsberg on antiwar.com, and an article by Ari Melber in The Nation that puts this in the context of net movements in general. Will it be enough?

With the vote tomorrow, it’s time for a final push. Announcing: a night of Facebook action

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CFP08: trip report

Part 1 of a series

cfp logoComputers, Freedom, and Privacy 2008 ended with me presenting Dear Potus 08 and circulating the letter to the presidential candidates for signatures, and then a closing plenary by Clay Shirky (notes below). It was exhiliarating as always, and I’m now simultaneously exhausting, revved up, and suffering from jet lag. So I figured I’d blog about it.

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Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2008: showtime!

cfp logoCFP2008 traditionally starts off with a day of tutorials.

I was on a panel organized by Lillie Coney of EPIC on E-Deceptive Campaign Practices: “Elections 2.0″, which was extremely interesting; I discussed examples of, and responses to, e-deception based on my activism experiences this election season, much of which I’ve blogged about here already.

Tova Wang of Common Cause moderated, and the other panelists included John Phillips of Aristotle, Jenigh J. Garrett of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Ruchi Bhorwmik of Senator Barack Obama’s office, talking about the legislation he’s introduced banning certain deceptive campaign practices relating to knowingly and intentionally spreading false information about voting times and locations. The audience was extremely involved — and knowledgable — and the conversations during the breaks were great as well. Aldon Hynes already has an interesting followup post in Project VoteProtector on his blog Orient House.

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Asbestos underwear, fair information principles, and security

Tales from the Net co-author Deborah Pierce’s Into the Lion’s Den — a privacy advocate’s work is never done (on her tribe.net blog) talks about a panel she was just on at ere expo, “the nation’s leading recruiting conference.” She was there for a debate with the CEO of a company whose mission is “to map every business organization on the planet, contact by contact”:

The CEO started by asking how many in the audience had heard of Jigsaw or had used Jigsaw. About half of the people raised their hands. When my turn came, I asked how many people had heard of Fair Information Principles*. There were about a hundred people in the room and about three people raised their hands. With this crowd I wasn’t surprised.

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Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2008: call for proposals is up!

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From the CFP2008 web page:

This election year will be the first to address US technology policy in the information age as part of our national debate. Candidates have put forth positions about technology policy and have recognized that it has its own set of economic, political, and social concerns. In the areas of privacy, intellectual property, cybersecurity, telecommunications, and freedom of speech, an increasing number of issues once confined to experts now penetrate public conversation. Our decisions about technology policy are being made at a time when the architectures of our information and communication technologies are still being built. Debate about these issues needs to be better-informed in order for us to make policy choices in the public interest.

This year, the 18th annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference will focus on what constitutes technology policy. CFP: Technology Policy ’08 is an opportunity to help shape public debate on those issues being made into laws and regulations and those technological infrastructures being developed. The direction of our technology policy impacts the choices we make about our national defense, our civil liberties during wartime, the future of American education, our national healthcare systems, and many other realms of policy discussed more prominently on the election trail. Policies ranging from data mining and wiretapping, to file-sharing and open access, and e-voting to electronic medical records will be addressed by expert panels of technologists, policymakers, business leaders, and advocates.

Updates:

CFP2008 is being held in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 20-23. Back in 2000 Elizabeth Weise called it “the most important computer conference you’ve never heard of”; I think of CFP as the most important conference — and network of people and organizations — focused on civil rights (and increasingly, human rights in general) in an electronic society. Lorrie Faith Cranor’s Ten Years of Computers, Freedom and Privacy gives the early history, where hackers, lawyers, law enforcement, and goverment representatives fought out “crypto wars” and internet censorship battles (ending with a defiant “we’ll be back” from the Clinton adminstration as the Clipper Chip went to its well-deserved fate).

The technology policy focus is extremely timely. The upcoming election will feature significant differences between the parties and candidates on issues like net neutrality, warrantless surveillance, immunity for corporations who may have collaborated with illegal government wiretapping programs, Real ID, the McCain bill to censor social networks, and privacy — now on the national agenda thanks to MoveOn’s stance against Facebook’s Beacon.

Over the last several years, CFP has steadily broadened its horizons to take a more global view and pay increasing attention to perspectives that are getting overlooked: digital divide issues, normalization of surveillance and censorship by governments and corporations, hactivism, the special challenges of communities like the Mohawk Nation (spread over multiple jurisdictions), high school students in a panel organized by danah boyd in Seattle in 2005. After a few (in my humble opinion) rather bland and corporate years, things have taken a more activist turn: a 2003 New York walking tour by the Surveillance Camera Players, a 2005 demo by the ACLU that led to the US State Department changing policy on encryption and passports (props to State Department official Frank Moss for being there and taking the message back), Patrick Ball accepting his EFF Pioneer Award by satellite from Sri Lanka, where he was working with the truth and reconciliation commission. Last year in Quebec, during the height of Stop Real ID Now! grassroots activist campaign, a half-dozen coalition members ranging from libertarians to labor activists were there (as well as some people from DHS and elsewhere who strongly disagreed with us but were still willing to have very honest discussions), and Bruce Schneier’s keynote on the Psychology of Security for people on both sides of the debate.

The call for presentations, tutorials, and workshops asks for proposals on panels, tutorials, speaker suggestions, and birds of a feather sessions through the CFP: Technology Policy ’08 submission page. The deadline for panels tutorials, and speakers is March 17, 2008, and the birds-of-a-feather deadline is April 21.The list of suggested topics is really broad (I’ll include it in a comment) and so as always there are likely to be a lot more high-quality submissions than can easily fit; the program committee often merges and suggests changes to sessions to help squeeze more in. The submission process can seem a bit intimidating (this is an ACM conference and so it has some academic overtones) but the guidelines are helpful and have links to some examples.

So if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, one or more speakers you think would be good, a presentation you’d like to give, a panel you’d like to organize, or a tutorial you’d like to attend (or provide), please think about submitting it. If you’re not sure whether it makes sense, feel free to give it a trial run in a comment here or just send me some mail.

If it seems like CFP means a lot to me, it does: I’ve been going there for over 10 years; my SO Deborah Pierce has been going even longer and chaired it in 2005. I’ve volunteered, asked questions, been on a panel, run a couple of BoFs, and taken photos of Deborah during the various sessions she’s appeared in or moderated, and this year I’m excited to be on the Program Committee. There are lots of friends and long-term acquaintances we only get to see in person at CFP — and every year we met a lot of new people. This year, with the two of us working together on Tales from the Net, and Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2008’s ambitious goal of “shaping public debate” on technology policy in an election year, I’m particularly looking forward to it!

jon

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