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EU Privacy Directive — Coming To the US?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the enjoy-your-privacy-citizen-it's-the-law dept.

Privacy 180

An anonymous reader writes "An article over at ComputerWorld implies that the EU Privacy Directive, or something like it, will soon be signed into law here in the USA. The author seems to think this is a good thing, but I'm not so sure. From the article: 'We've finally come to realize that self-regulation by industry hasn't worked. The states have stepped in, creating the same situation of conflicting regulation that led to the creation of the EU privacy directive. The only question now is if the law that comes out of Congress will be a small step strictly focused on breaches, such as S.239, or whether we take the bigger step of forming a permanent committee under the FTC to monitor privacy as outlined by S.1178. Either way, the U.S. is finally moving away from the fractured environment of the past and toward a comprehensive privacy strategy.' Is it time for a national privacy law or 'Privacy Czar', or are we better off letting things be?"

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Is it just me (3, Insightful)

kensai (139597) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571763)

or has this whole "Czar" thing been way overused.

Re:Is it just me (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571777)

or has this whole "Czar" thing been way overused.
Yes. Yes it has.

I believe Czar is a Native American word meaning destined for failure.

Re:Is it just me (5, Funny)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572517)

I believe Czar is a Native American word meaning destined for failure.

Y'know, based on my knowledge of history, I'd have to guess it means the same thing in Russian.

Re:Is it just me (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572757)

I thought it was Russian for "he who sneezes whilst smoking Cuban imports".

Re:Is it just me (3, Interesting)

RedElf (249078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571851)

Hold up a second, they're just trying to be like Ceasar [wikipedia.org] (except with bad spelling) too bad they didn't read the history books to see what happened to him.

Re:Is it just me (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571997)

too bad they didn't read the history books to see what happened to him.
He had a salad named after him?

Re:Is it just me (1)

RedElf (249078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572057)

He had a salad named after him?
Among other, more dire things...

Re:Is it just me (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572099)

Among other, more dire things...
I don't know about you, but I can't think of too many things worse than having my legacy associated with a meal of the vegetarian variety.

Re:Is it just me (2, Funny)

RedElf (249078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572157)

I don't know about you, but I can't think of too many things worse than having my legacy associated with a meal of the vegetarian variety.
Real vegetarians won't eat a caesar salad [wikipedia.org] because of the eggs and sometimes chicken topings. Of course to have a legacy you would have to have offspring, and this is slashdot where leaving your mothers basement is not only strictly prohibited, it's highly discouraged.

Re:Is it just me (2, Informative)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572347)

Egg? "Real vegetarian" does not mean "Vegan".

----

As for worse things to be associated with than salads, try surgical procedures. Messy.

Re:Is it just me (1)

babblefrog (1013127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572563)

Doesn't real Caeser dressing have anchovies in it?

Re:Is it just me (1)

Guido von Guido (548827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573185)

Yes. "Chicken toppings" came later.

Re:Is it just me (2, Funny)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573909)

aren't fish vegetables?

Re:Is it just me (3, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572583)

What about the anchovy used in Cesar Salad (either directly or as an ingredient of Worcestershire sauce)? That should put it off the list of edible foods for vegetarians.

Re:Is it just me (2, Funny)

dosquatch (924618) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572849)

Silly poster, fish and chicken don't count* - only the cute animals.

Re:Is it just me (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572913)

Silly poster, fish and chicken don't count* - only the cute animals.
Texas Vegetarian == No beef (chicken isn't "meat" in TX).

Re:Is it just me (3, Insightful)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572613)

Czar is an English spelling of a Russian word meaning caesar - which means autocrat. So what they're saying when they label somebody a czar is that his a leader who's above the law and with absolute authority. Seems to me, that in the "free" West, terms like czar should avoided for so many reasons.

I mean what western leader thinks he's above the law... oh right.

Anyways, why not follow the British example and refer to everyone as a minister?

Czar means Caesar (1)

burndive (855848) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572645)

They are derived from exactly the same word, they just took different routes to get to English.

Re:Is it just me (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19571907)

...a permanent committee under the FTC to monitor privacy...

monitoring privacy seems a little oxymoronic to me...
signed,
privately anonymous coward

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Re:Is it just me (3, Informative)

capnez (873351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572787)

Incidentially, I just read my current issue of The Economist, and they have a leader (op-ed piece) about absurd titles. You can read it online at http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm? story_id=9339915 [economist.com] .

My favourite sentence from that piece: "What next? Führers, Caudillos, Duci, Gauleiters and Generalisimos must be due for a comeback."

Re:Is it just me (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574021)

Yeah, all the tsars (tsarii?, tsaruses?) seem to be kinda stupid.

Still wouldn't mind being the "nipple tsar". I mean, somebody (apparently) has to do it.

Purge the conservatives first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19574247)

I say it's a good time to wait. With conservatives still in government, you just know they will do everything in their power to make sure anything which gets passed will be an assault on civil liberties. Conservatives are pro-police state and anti-citizen rights.

So if it doesn't involve letting the RIAA or the RNC write their own warrants and create their own police force, conservatives will never let it pass.

Like the rest of the world already knows, the USA just has to wait for Bush to leave office and the conservatives in Congress to get voted out before anything positive can be accomplished.

By the time this thing... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19571775)

...ever makes it into US law (if ever), it will be so watered down and ineffective that it might as well not even exist. The corporations who now run the USA will not stand for it.

Re:By the time this thing... (3, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572117)

"We've finally come to realize that self-regulation by industry hasn't worked."
This is some serious disinformation here. Self-regulation by the tech industry worked just fine until the government began allowing business and corporate interests to affect its subsidies, grants, and funding. It was in the transferral of the power to self regulate from the researchers who created the technology to the Wall Street entities which began government appointed overseers and distributors of the technology that the ability to self-regulate was lost.

There is no problem with self-regulation in the industry. The problem is that the industry is not allowed to self-regulate due to special interest groups and politicians' own greed and egos affecting the funding and legislative favoritism.

Re:By the time this thing... (0)

Vicissidude (878310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573397)

There is no problem with self-regulation in the industry. The problem is that the industry is not allowed to self-regulate due to special interest groups and politicians' own greed and egos affecting the funding and legislative favoritism.

Those two sentences are mutually exclusive. Pick one.

It is already "watered down..." (5, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572227)

if you read the bill, it's nothing like the EU privacy laws. The EU laws protect a person's privacy, requiring their permission to disclose personal information (among other things).

The US bill does nothing to prevent a corporation from deliberately disclosing whatever they want to whomever they want - it's focused exclusively on securing those transactions from third parties.

The law is summed up in this paragraph:

A covered entity shall develop, implement, maintain, and enforce a written program for the security of sensitive personal information the entity collects, maintains, sells, transfers, or disposes of, containing administrative, technical, and physical safeguards

I have a thing about my Social Security number - I only give it to those who require it to fulfill legal mandates. That includes my employer, who has decided (without my permission, and despite my express denial) to give it to a health care provider. This proposed law does nothing to prevent that.

I want them to be prevented from "selling or transferring" my confidential information, without my voluntary consent (no consent as a condition of employment, etc.).

That's not "watered down..." (3, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572315)

The US bill does nothing to prevent a corporation from deliberately disclosing whatever they want to whomever they want - it's focused exclusively on securing those transactions from third parties.
That is, as you point out, the whole purpose of the Act. It's not "watered down" -- it's specifically designed to enable exactly what you cite (letting corporations do whatever they damn well please with your personal data) without interference from annoying State privacy laws.

Re:It is already "watered down..." (4, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572443)

I've been asked for my SSN before on job applications and have told them, I'll put it on a W-4 when hired and you can't force me to give it to you because by law the only people I am required to give it out to is the Federal Government.

Maybe one reason why i had trouble finding a job right out of college.

Re:It is already "watered down..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573449)

I do the same thing, and have never had an issue, although I never apply for jobs that require background checks for security clearance...

Re:By the time this thing... (0, Troll)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572465)

reminds me of the famous pledge of allegiance:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Corporations of America and to the profits for which they stand, one nation under lobbyists with liberty and justice for a few."

Breaking privacy news: (-1, Redundant)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571819)

I just pooped my cute little pants. (P.S. Since my karma went down recently, I am unable to post as much. Thanks for your patience.)

Re:Breaking privacy news: (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572021)

I just pooped my cute little pants. (P.S. Since my karma went down recently, I am unable to post as much. Thanks for your patience.)
It's not your posting, but you pooping that's affecting your Karma. Just ask Earl ;-)

There's a big question here. (2, Interesting)

sehlat (180760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571825)

Given the history of regulatory agencies (see the history of the Interstate Commerce Commission for starters), just how long will it be before the new regulators end up captive to the industries they regulate?

There's a line in the movie "Absence of Malice" which sums up the problem of government regulators very neatly, even if it wasn't intended that way: "Have you given any thought to what you'll do after government service?"

Re:There's a big question here. (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571949)

This is precisely why, as much as I hate to say it, lawsuits have their place. Don't regulate our privacy - make it a civil offense to invade it and let the bloodsucking attorneys provide the penalties. Dollars are the blood of corporations - rightfully suing for the damage they do will either cause them to change their ways or at least compensate their victims. I'm not against using civil suits to inflict the necessary pain to limit corporate misbehavior.

Re:There's a big question here. (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573503)

Good luck trying to find an attorney to take the case of someone with the average income against a Microsoft-sized company. Even if they do take it, they're going to need a SHITLOAD of their own money to pay for the case out of pocket, as it will soon consume most of their time.

Re:There's a big question here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573203)

"There's a line in the movie "Absence of Malice" which sums up the problem of government regulators very neatly, even if it wasn't intended that way: "Have you given any thought to what you'll do after government service?""

This is in fact a problem with politicians. In Europe, were you to ask such a question to a civil servant he will answer to you with astonished eyes: "why? retirement, of course". In Europe public positions are almost always a live-long career.

Privacy Laws are a Good Thing (3, Funny)

ShadeTC (58886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571831)

I think in general privacy laws and government regulation of privacy is a good thing. The problem with self-regulation of privacy is that personal information is a lucrative commodity. It is hard to get companies to do what's right when most people don't even realize how much information they are giving up or what their rights are. I think well crafted legislation can provide a good framework for companies to better their privacy policies as well as provide redress for consumers who are adversely affected by bad policies. Good laws also provide a way for privacy advocacy groups to benchmark companies by providing a baseline as well as providing standards to hold companies to.

The key here will be that the laws need to be broad enough to deal with the rapidly changing business methods as well as provide room for companies to try different methods of achieving the results. At some point you can push companies far enough that they will then try to advertise on how great their privacy is versus some other company, so it's good to set the bar and allow companies to rise above it as well as just meeting it.

'Privacy Czar' Is The Peoples' Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19571841)


In the United Gulags Of America [whitehouse.org] .

Cheers,
W

DHS has a Privacy Committee. Nobody listens. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19571849)

The DHS's own Privacy Committee [schneier.com] has put out a couple of very sensible reports in response to Real ID and other issues. I don't see any action. What's the point if nobody's going to listen?

Depends (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571857)

Printer Friendly:
http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?com mand=printArticleBasic&articleId=9024784 [computerworld.com]

Anyways, it doesn't matter what the US signs into law if there is no meaningful oversight, penalties and enforcement.

I also can't imagine that the business lobby isn't going to scream and shout about the expense involved with implementing true EU style reforms.

One alternative to all these expensive-to-implement laws is to make it an opt-in industry. By the time they're done culling out all the people who don't want to be in the database (a one-time event), EU style privacy laws won't cost all that much to implement.

Re:Depends (2, Interesting)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572475)

Anyways, it doesn't matter what the US signs into law if there is no meaningful oversight, penalties and enforcement.

It can, actually. If the American people believe they have a legal right to privacy, and expect it, then eventually oversight, penalties, and enforcement will come around, even if they don't start out in place.

Sometimes we have to aim for gradual cultural shifts if we can't immediately obtain sweeping and effective legislation.

UK privacy? (-1, Flamebait)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571921)

How effective is that law in the UK at preventing the proliferation of surveillance cameras?

Re:UK privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572063)

I don't know about the UK. In Amsterdam we have plenty of cameras too, and they go to extensive lengths to prevent the cameras from seeing inside homes et all.

Re:UK privacy? (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572079)

Not at all, I would imagine, since their courts hold that one has no legal expectation of privacy in a public place.

Sort of like ours in the U.S., actually. And having recently moved from one of the most heavily-surveilled cities [wikipedia.org] per capita (thanks to these folks [wikipedia.org] ), I'm pretty familiar with the applicable laws, although your mileage may vary by state.

Of course, since the privacy law in question doesn't apply to surveillance cameras anyway, methinks you're just taking a cheap shot at our friends across the pond.

Re:UK privacy? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572411)

one has no legal expectation of privacy in a public place

I would like to quote a cleverer man than me:

anyone who cannot distinguish between "not private" and
"under constant surveilance" is a fucking idiot

Re:UK privacy? (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573295)

Indeed. The courts have been fucking idiots about this for some time now.

Re:UK privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19574083)

Ah! MI6 moded this guy down

Don't worry, every time their's a Czar... (1)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571985)

appointed, whatever program comes to a screeching failure. Think Drug Czar, Iraq War Czar, etc.

Re:Don't worry, every time their's a Czar... (1)

RedElf (249078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572213)

Your forgot to mention the pr0n Czar!

Re:Don't worry, every time their's a Czar... (1)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572401)

There's someone to help me find pr0n? Oh happy day!

Re:Don't worry, every time their's a Czar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572673)

Exactly... They say the porn czar was gang-banged in her office...

Re:Don't worry, every time their's a Czar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572725)

Wasn't the "war on poverty" a resounding success? There aren't any citizens living below the poverty level in the US, are there? ;-)

It seems appointing a "czar" is a way to avoid having the chief executive hold his employees to task for NOT doing their jobs, or a way for the legislative branch to pour some money into something they don't really want done, but need to pretend to in order to can get re-elected.

Worst use of the... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574181)

... title bar ever.

It's good enough.. (1)

tobe (62758) | more than 7 years ago | (#19571987)

In most countries there will hopefully be just enough people exercising their rights under this kind of legislation to compel all concerned to comply. That's mostly what this sort of thing is about. The OP is a fool.. this *is* 'a good thing'.

Yeah, right! (3, Funny)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572005)

And pigs can fly. Not a snowball's chance in hell that this could happen! Restricting business? How dare they! :)

What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572065)

The author seems to think this is a good thing, but I'm not so sure.
What exactly is the problem, AC? We don't need a government function actually serving the interests of the average consumer, instead of large corporations? It will become another bloated, ineffectual government bureaucracy that gets hijacked by industry, like the EPA and the FDA? This is a function that belongs on the state level, like the BBB?

I was going to start to argue *for* another contender on the side of the little guy, but I think I just talked myself out of it.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572173)

Nitpick- the BBB is not a state agency. Its a private agency, with corporations and buisnesses as voluntary members. It has no power, and really doesn't do jack shit- they put a little mark in a little file, occasionally ask someone to stop doing something, and give them a 50 dollar or so fine if they're one of the voluntary members. Maybe. They also happen to put out much harsher reports on non-members than dues paying members, but I'm sure thata a *total* coincidence.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573917)

The problem is that, given that this is the US, enforcing the privacy law will undoubtedly require the development of an enormous Federal bureaucracy, which, in order to ensure compliance, will be required to collect all private information in one central repository, so that it can be compared with the repository that stores all voice and data transmissions over the internet, to ensure that "privacy" is maintained.

All individuals and corporations will be required to deposit all their private information in the central repository, identify and log all private information they may have access to, and log all actual and potential communications containing private information...

Gaaah!! Go, go fist of death! (0)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572089)

No, I do not want the government monitoring my privacy. That is the exact opposite of privacy. lack of necessary logic resulting in core dump in 5... 4 .. 3.. 2 .. 1 Oh wait this is slashdot, logic not requited. End Sequence.

Re:Gaaah!! Go, go fist of death! (3, Insightful)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572295)

You may not want your government monitoring your privacy. They already do.

In the UK, I do not want companies invading my privacy and it is made difficult for them to do so.

So, who really worries you more? (4, Insightful)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572391)

On a daily basis, do you protect your valuables and confidential records because you're afraid of a public official confiscating them or some random private citizen busting in and stealing them? Strangely enough, the primary reason we have government in the first place is to guard against the latter (whether through policing, the courts or recognition of property rights in general). Yet, people are /far/ more careless with their information and property in the hands of other private interests over whom they have virtually no control than they are with their public counterparts over whom they have direct control.

This is puzzling.

Re:Gaaah!! Go, go fist of death! (1)

Marsell (16980) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572655)

> No, I do not want the government monitoring my privacy. That is the exact opposite of privacy.

By that reasoning the government has death-squads roaming the streets, and packs of government-sponsored gangs of rapists are having fun with anything that moves. Laws against it logically implies that they are doing it.

As we all know, "monitoring" really means that government inspectors who are supposedly ensuring compliance with privacy laws will actually be ninja spies sneaking into private institutions and copying customer databanks to truck back home to the NSA. Damn those oversight ninja spies.

I've seen some specious reasoning, but this sets new lows. The finishing touch is that someone actually thought it's "insightful".

> Oh wait this is slashdot, logic not requited.

Clearly.

Re:Gaaah!! Go, go fist of death! (5, Informative)

emm-tee (23371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572853)

No, I do not want the government monitoring my privacy. That is the exact opposite of privacy.
You don't understand (or maybe you are a troll). The government doesn't monitor the individual. This is a set of rules to limit what organisations can do with information about individuals.

I know almost nothing about the EU Privacy Directive, but I think the UK's Data Protection Act implements all or part of it, and I have a basic understanding of this. Please note my knowledge is very limited, there may be factual errors in my post, I'm not a lawyer.

The Data Protection Act restricts what an organisation can do with any personal data (such as your address), which it processes.

For example, the organisation:
  • can only use your data for the purposes stated when you gave them the data.
  • cannot keep much more data than is necessary for the purpose stated.
  • cannot pass your data on to a third party without your permission (this means that I get no junk post at all).
  • must ensure that any data they hold on you is accurate.
  • is not allowed to hold the information for longer than is necessary.
  • must keep the data secure.
  • may not export your data to a place where it is subject to less stringent privacy rules.
  • must provide you a copy of any data they have on you for a small fee (this is what allows people to request copies of closed-circuit television tapes they may appear in).


See http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/RightsAndResponsibilit ies/DG_10028507 [direct.gov.uk] for more information.

Re:Gaaah!! Go, go fist of death! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573409)

"For example, the organisation:"

The problem, even in Europe are -of course, corporations lobbying States, so the laws are not so-so on them.

"can only use your data for the purposes stated when you gave them the data."

But the law won't forbid putting the customer on such a position but to sign agreement for almost any purpouse (while there are quite a lot of laws about abusive clauses in contracts, I have yet to see one contract without the default "you agree on the cesion of your personal data for whatever purpouse we see fit" but I haven't heard yet about a sentence claiming such kind of clauses void and invalid).

"cannot keep much more data than is necessary for the purpose stated"

Well, you allowed us "any purpouse" so no problem here.

"cannot pass your data on to a third party without your permission"

Except companies belonging to the same holding group and those that need such data in order to properly making bussiness with us. That, bound to the fact that such databases only have to be registered by the "owner" makes them untraceable for any practical intent or purpouse.

"must ensure that any data they hold on you is accurate"

It is *you* the one with the burden to procure *them* accurate data both when you first give it to them but when it changes too.

"is not allowed to hold the information for longer than is necessary"

"Any purpouse", remember?

"must keep the data secure"

For the legal meaning of "secure", which for data other than faith, police records, sexual inclinations or direct bank accounting is laughable.

"may not export your data to a place where it is subject to less stringent privacy rules"

Unless you export it to a company part of your same holding.

"must provide you a copy of any data they have on you for a small fee"

Untrue. All they have to comply to is giving you the means to reach them to ask for your right to modify, decline or delete such data -as it is recorded on the public agency for privacy protection. Since all they have to put on record is ie. "a database of customer data including enough information to reach the customer by mail, phone, fax or e-mail", nothing like passing a database schema, number, location and access methods of servers, etc. that means that all you can do is asking them to delete your data and hope for the best since there's no real means to confirm that your data is, in fact, deleted; and that only for the owner of the data; if the owner lended it to a filial, there's simply no way to follow the tracks.

Re:Gaaah!! Go, go fist of death! (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573585)

In the US because of the way credit reporting works you would just get a form that says you authorize them to (a) send your information to various third parties as required and (b) allow these third parties to keep that information as long as necessary to validate future credit inquiries. This would be required for every purchase not paid for in cash or over some absurdly low amount, like $100.

Basically, you would be authorizing the collection and distribution that goes on today anyway. Except now there would be additional forms and paperwork required.

The other alternative is we just shut down the finance companies, most non-bank credit cards and credit reporting agencies. Tell everyone cash or check period. I know, that is how the rest of the world works today. But it isn't how the US economy has worked for 50 years.

Re:Gaaah!! Go, go fist of death! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574233)

No, I do not want the government monitoring my privacy. That is the exact opposite of privacy.
Don't worry. If you don't want the government monitoring your privacy, you can always leave it up to the free market! *rolls eyes*

Seriously though, they won't monitor you. They will monitor companies with access to your records, making sure they don't release them. Seriously, you've got to admit that that is better than "We will look after your private data! We promise!"

Oh wait this is slashdot, logic not requited.
Evidently not.

the lines in the privacy field need to be drawn (4, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572119)

in the past, as near as maybe 20-30 years ago, privacy was not a huge issue, because it wasn't so easy and cheap to amass data. of course, files on people have always existed, but they were specialized and compartmentalized, and not easy to correlate and analyse. nevertheless, some governments (mostly associated with ex-communist countries) are known to have excelled at collection, storage and retrieval of files on people, even if they only used paper. these files were very successfully used to make people behave in certain ways.

now, when there is the technology to collect, store and correlate all kinds of data about very many people by just about any entity with a minor budget, and there are no clear rules about what is okay and what is not, it is easy for the individual to be a target of abuse by a more powerful group (be that government, a large company, or some foundation), and it is almost impossible for the individual to counter-balance such groups, as data collection seems, in the absense of rules, quite legal, and, depending on the profile, the person may not be in a position to make a strong stand. so, it is pretty obvious that some levelling of the playing field is in order, and that it should be made a law, so that it has teeth.

to me the reasonable minimum would be the ability of a person to see the information an entity has amassed on them, and to be able to remove parts of their profile or (that being un-possible for some reason) the whole profile at any time, at least from a private organization. exceptions from that rule should be considered carefully, and introduced on a demonstrated need basis.

this will probably kill a few tabloid publications, and decrease the availability of movie star pictures on the internet though :(

Re:the lines in the privacy field need to be drawn (4, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573393)

this will probably kill a few tabloid publications, and decrease the availability of movie star pictures on the internet though :(
:)

Re:the lines in the privacy field need to be drawn (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573911)

Normally I'd be inclined to agree with you, but I think there will be some type of port incident in America around Aug-Sept-Oct 2007, causing the Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Program to be activated - necessitating the immediate completion of the NAFTA Superhighway, utilizing the Mexican ports (as the M.I.R.P. Act [DHS] invokes the closure of US ports) and Mexican trucking companies for transport - thus shutting out and destroying the Teamsters Union and the Longshoremens' Union - and of course, Bush will enact NSPD 51 to have absolute control over the USA and to forego the next presidential election. I could always be wrong, of course, but the way things are going......

You can fix this: Roman style (0, Troll)

hcgpragt (968424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572205)

Just let those big, overpaid, greedy top-managers screem a while. Then, publicly, pick out the loudest screamer and sack him. Something for public television and a president wanting to be popular again. (You can sack him roman style which is a bit too bloody for modern times. Oh wait you are Americans right? You still do that. Well That's ok then.) Anyways, his salary alone will compensate for those costs no problemo. With the added merit of the rest of those greedy bastards now wanting to scream too loud...

Preemption (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572265)

Like the (you) CAN-SPAM and the new (you can) SPY Acts, the main point of both bills is the preemption of (effective) State laws. By pulling all enforcement into a single Federal authority and removing private rights of action, it becomes much less important for the drafters to include explicit language neutering the nominally-beneficial provisions of the legislation.

Done right, these laws get the Legislature some headlines for the voters while effectively insulating the campaign contributors from the risk of being held liable for doing what the Act theoretically prohibits.

Thought experiment: what would either Act have done in the case of HP spying on private parties?

Maybe (0, Troll)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572335)

It's a good idea to have a privacy czar, assuming the other half of his job description isn't to implement EU-style data retention policies. This Orwellian definition of privacy I wouldn't put past the government to invent.

You trust this crap? (2, Insightful)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572371)

Just wait. This will be an attempt to stealthily pass a bunch of anti-privacy legislation, such as data-retention laws.

So today privacy is good, but last week.... (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572387)

Privacy laws were partly the cause of the VT shootings. That's simplfing it a bit, I know, but this is one of those things that I don't think can go both ways in my book. If we agree that privacy is a good thing, then sorry, events like VT could happen again because of the inability of sharing data. (And with the comming national ID cards and such, I really like the idea of having some strong privacy laws.)

Re:So today privacy is good, but last week.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572643)

f we agree that privacy is a good thing, then sorry, events like VT could happen again because of the inability of sharing data.

Give everyone privacy, allow the courts sufficient leeway to mandate treatment of the dangerously mentally ill, and allow law abiding citizens which have not been declared mentally ill by the courts to CARRY guns in case some nut starts going on a shooting spree. Do all of these, and VT could not have happened. And even in the event it did happen, it would have been stopped quickly.

It's not really that complicated.

Re:So today privacy is good, but last week.... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573569)

... and allow law abiding citizens which have not been declared mentally ill by the courts to CARRY guns in case some nut starts going on a shooting spree.

Having trouble with depression in your past doesn't necessarily mean you can't be trusted to responsibly own a firearm...

Re:So today privacy is good, but last week.... (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573461)

So, are we supposed to all fall prostrate before the spectacle of the Viginia Tech shooting? Should we abandon our principles in the face of the masses of innocent college students who would get gunned down because we wanted unconscionable things like human rights and basic liberties? How long are people going to wave the students bodies around on their own personal flagpole?

You may as well argue about terrorism and child porn. Personally, I'm tired of emotive arguments. Hearing one is a pretty sure fire acid test of whether the speaker cares about free society at all.

To make sure (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572449)

Disclosing information should not be considered a crime, unless of course you are bound by contract not to disclose it. Similarly, grabbing information should not be considered a crime, unless of course you invade someone's property by doing it (breaking in one's house, trash, computer etc)

New World Order (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19572573)

It's about setting a precedent, so that the EU can push future initiatives over American national sovereignty. I guess the Constitution means nothing anymore to the Republocrats and Demopublicans. We need an external body to set the laws of the land.

Privacy Czar? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572603)

You mean a single point of contact that helps reduce the privacy of the common man, but makes damned sure the elected officials have it?

No thanks.

Privacy (1)

l0rd.47hl0n (1099499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572667)

I believe a Privacy Czar, though not necessarily using that term, is a step in the right direction.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573737)

How about 'Privacy Poobah'?

The fallacy is that compliance = privacy (3, Interesting)

Allnighterking (74212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572721)

All too often laws are enacted with the best of intentions only to show that compliance with the law is a hollow shell of the desired objective. Case in point is something like the CanSpam directive. By giving you a link to a page that had all the correct bells and whistles to appear to allow you to de-list yourself, when it actually de-listed you from one list and listed you on 40 others, is the probable end result.

How many times have you had a company ask for ridiculously invasive information for your protection . Similar results will be incurred here. Currently asking information is at best spotty in legality and because of this you have a certain level of push back available to you when they request it. (No I will not give my sons grade school his SSN) however once a law like this goes into play it creates an aura of safety that once an organization appears to comply with it, the loss of your personal data no longer is a high level of liability for them. As a result your privacy is reduced to a level of cookie cutter actions that never get questioned because, 'everyone knows it meets legal requirements'.

What's in your... errrr, the Offshore guys wallet? (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572833)

These laws don't make sense unless the countries/regions also want to deal with how the data is disseminated.

I just got off the phone dealing with someone from my phone company's customer service centre... in India. He was very helpful, so don't get me wrong but... It was disconcerting to know he could check my credit card number. I am sure many/most offshore call centre's employees are honest, but I have to wonder about how this privacy crap matters when we allow corporations to send our private information to servers around the world.

For example there are many Canadians in British Columbia who bitch and moan and disparage the U.S. about homeland security and privacy issues (probably about as many as do the same in the U.S. :-) )... but at the same time don't complain when the British Columbia outsources their health care information billing system to a U.S. company who now have all their citizens financial and medical information. And which is subject to search etc. by the U.S. government now since the data is stored on American servers.

Another thought: What happens if we have a dispute with China and they have centres there with access to our personal and corporate information. They have leverage to influence in ways that might not be good... tell us to leave them alone or they destroy or corrupt the information on the servers under their control?

Re:What's in your... errrr, the Offshore guys wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573641)

The EU Directive specifically covers this. No EU company can send personal data to another country if they don't have privacy laws that the EU deems good enough. This applies both between companies and within the same company. Canada had to enact legislation (PIPEDA) while the US got away with telling the EU to trust them.

Opt In only (0, Flamebait)

tomkost (944194) | more than 7 years ago | (#19572869)

As mentioned before, it would be fairly easy to fix with Opt In only privacy law. No one should be able to use my private info for anything without my express permission. Additionally, it should be illegal to require permission to be granted to use a businesses services. More specifically, they should only be able to keep the minimum amount of info, and only use it for the minimum purpose required to provide service to you. In no case should be they be allowed to trade or sell that info to others without your permission and perhaps compensation. If they can make money off of it, then you should have a right to charge them for it if you want to. They have a done some work with health info, but this privacy needs to be expanded to all personal info, and further enhanced across the board.

Ok, I know this is unlikely given our current culture and government, but it's what SHOULD be.

Re:Opt In only (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573535)

Given the way credit is handled in the US, that would be a very, very large change. You would essentially be dismantling the credit reporting and credit agency organizations. This isn't just Experian and the like - this would include the smaller regional credit service bureaus.

We're probably talking about a few billion in revenue here, so it isn't a small change. It would also affect (if not eliminate) the concept of a "finance company". Add a few more billion to this.

What would you do? Require a new government department? Abolish credit except through banks? Make the borrower pay for some new investigation service?

The problem is that in the US almost everything is financed in some way. This is far different from how it is in other parts of the world. You want to buy a desk and someone tells you they have a 90-days-same-as-cash plan. What this is in fact is selling your purchase to a finance company who then pays the store some percentage immediately. The store thinks it is worth it because they get more sales. The finance company thinks it is great because most people take longer than the free period to pay it off, so they get interest above and beyond what they paid the store. They approve people based on credit reports - saved information that is maintained and sold to the finance company so they have some idea who they are dealing with.

I believe the situation in Europe is a lot closer to you go to the store and they want cash. Period. No finance company. No credit reporting. No information being collected. Stores just sell less stuff.

Any change like "you own your information and it cannot be sold" or "no information collected and saved by third parties" would require changing all of this. This wouldn't be a trivial change and would have far reaching effects. Further than most people would guess.

No Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573155)

The United States of America is a voluntary union comprising of many independent states. These states have the right to self-governance and popular sovereignty; the Constitution does not allow for any such federal restrictions.

Re:No Thanks (1)

aeschenkarnos (517917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573239)

That assertion was put to rest under the administration of the last good Republican president. That guy with the top hat and beard.

Re:No Thanks (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573273)

Where have *you* been the past 140 years?

Re:No Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573425)

The unconstitutional power-grab undertaken by all of the presidents since World War I does not make our constitution any less valuable. We must defend the supreme law of the land and work to reverse the damage that's been done.

Privacy Czar is a great idea! (1)

macboygrey (828059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573375)

Once we submit all our information to the new government body, we'll be a lot better off!

I have lived in the EU - This is a *GOOD* thing (1)

SD NFN STM (759426) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573419)

At least in the EU when you get some brain-dead corporation spamming you, or sending you annoying SMS messages you can fight back with "Stop, or I will report you to the Information Commissioner". This gets their attention very quickly, because if they don't then large fines are handed out.

Re:I have lived in the EU - This is a *GOOD* thing (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573437)

You can do that now in the US. And the US Information Commissioner does the same thing when the spammer can be traced to a whole bunch of compromised Windows boxes in California or some rented server it Korea.

No matter what laws are passed, unless there is cooperation from both the ISPs and foreign governments spam isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

I'm so confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19573631)

You mean I can't talk about it if I'm not a citizen but I can't tell someone not to talk about it but wait how would I know because I don't even know whats secret in my own country much less every other country in the plant but... oh whatever I'm moving into a cave.

BTW - if NATIONAL ID CARDS and this strategy are related some how, does than mean once national ids are introduced then new identity kiosks will appear in all quickie marts that will allow you to instantly register a new ID with the government if necessary?

can we civvies keep our identies and laws least please?

Try PIPEDA (1)

telso (924323) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573659)

As I've said before [slashdot.org] , feel free to steal any of our PIPEDA [wikipedia.org] when drafting new privacy laws. I'll let Wikipedia do the talking for me:

The law gives individuals the right to
  • know why an organization collects, uses or discloses your personal information
  • expect an organization to collect, use or disclose your personal information reasonably and appropriately, and not use the information for any purpose other than that to which you have consented
  • know who in the organization is responsible for protecting your personal information
  • expect an organization to protect your personal information by taking appropriate security measures
  • expect the personal information an organization holds about you to be accurate, complete and up-to-date
  • obtain access to your personal information and ask for corrections if necessary
  • and complain about how an organization handles your personal information if you feel your privacy rights have not been respected.
The law requires organizations to
  • obtain consent when they collect, use or disclose your personal information
  • supply an individual with a product or a service even if you refuse consent for the collection, use or disclosure of your personal information unless that information is essential to the transaction
  • collect information by fair and lawful means
  • and have personal information policies that are clear, understandable and readily available.
And since there are so many multinationals who do some business in the US, it'd be really nice if you guys got on this. Like, this century. Thanks, from your friends up north.

I propose a better law (0)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19573663)

Make ALL personal information your personal property, the use of which is revocable at will, like the RIAA does with copying music. Anyone you aren't doing business with (say, Choicepoint, Lexis/Nexis, USSEARCH.COM etc.), who is trying to share your personal information around, has to ask for permission and pay royalties for transactions. Just like with the RIAA.

If someone posts their phone number or picture online and removes it tomorrow with a notice not to copy, you have to remove it. Period. The RIAA has that right, why can't we?

Enforce it with DMCA-level punishments. Infringers pay attorney costs as well as the judgement, just like copyright violations.

Oh wait, I know why you're about to disagree with this... the RIAA is a multi billion dollar corporation and personal information pertains to worthless little peons, right?

Now quickly! (1)

OzPhIsH (560038) | more than 7 years ago | (#19574139)

"Hand all over your private information over to us, the Government, so we may protect it for you!"
just wait wait for it..
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