Are we now looking to Germany as the home of Privacy?
The German Supreme Court is skeptical about covert online searches
After the _hearing_ pertaining to the Constitutional Protection Act from the state of North Rhine/Westphalia (NRW), experts do not believe that the controversial regulation, which would allow IT systems to be searched online, stands much of a chance. In a number of critical questions, the Court's First Chamber indicated to the government of NRW that its Act was not clearly formulated, thus violating the requirement that regulations be clear. The Court's president Hans-Jürgen Papier also announced that a ruling would be handed down on the general constitutionality of covert online searches "far beyond" the current NRW case. He said that "basic issues of liberty and security" have to be weighed off against each other in light of the changing nature of recent terrorist threats.
Source - Heise
What... They thought they were immune?
Law Firm Suspects Federal Tampering Of Computer Files
The law firm of Gensburg, Atwell and Broderick, has discovered its computer files may have been compromised and it cannot assure client confidentiality.
A forensics expert has determined a "back door infection" which pumps out information by remote control has penetrated the system, David Sleigh, attorney for Robert Gensburg, said Thursday.
... Gensburg, who represents clients at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan, also believes his home and office phones are being tapped.
... Richard Saudek, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Vermont, said he has received calls from other people in the state who say they are having the same problem. These are people who make regular calls to the Mideast for legitimate reasons, Saudek said.
Source - The Caledonian-Record
[From the article: Gensburg, who represents clients at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan, also believes his home and office phones are being tapped.
“Yeah, we know what the law says, but we're the government – laws don't apply to us.”
World Privacy Forum files comments on CMS plan to allow release of patients' protected health information from Medicare database
The World Privacy Forum filed extensive pubic comments on the substantive changes to the Medicare database release policy that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed in a System of Records Notice. As it currently stands, CMS is planning to release the individually identifiable protected health information of patients in the Medicare database to third parties in some circumstances. CMS has not established strong enough checks and controls on its release policy, and it has not explained how it is able to do this under HIPAA. The comments state that CMS has an obligation to explain how each routine use in its new policy is consistent with the authority in the HIPAA privacy rule. If a routine use allows disclosures that are broader than those permitted by HIPAA, then the routine use must be narrowed so that it is consistent with HIPAA. The comments also note that nothing in the CMS notice discusses substance abuse rules and other legal restrictions of the protected health data. The World Privacy Forum asked CMS to specify that the qualifications of any data aggregators who may potentially receive the data exclude any entity that sells other consumer data for any general business, credit, identification, or marketing purpose.
Source - Comments [pdf]
One way to deal with a systems failure. Think the New York subway system would do this?
Systems glitch hits hundreds of Tokyo stations
Hundreds of thousands of commuters in Tokyo got a free ride when their contactless smart cards used to access the railways failed to work
By Martyn Williams, IDG News Service October 12, 2007
Hundreds of thousands of commuters in Tokyo got a free ride to work Friday morning after a systems glitch caused more than 7,000 ticket gates at 662 railway stations to fail.
The gates, which allow passengers with contactless smart cards to access the railway, failed to work when power was switched on at the start of Friday services and rail operators decided to allow passengers access at no charge. A large number of passengers use the contactless cards, and forcing them to buy paper tickets would have meant long queues and congestion at railway stations during the morning rush hour.
The problem occurred at stations operated by East Japan Railway, Tokyo Metro, and several private railway operators.
While the cause of the failure is not yet known, the fault appears to lie with the manufacturer of the ticket gates, Nippon Signal Co. Gates made by other companies operated without problem on Friday.
Local news reports said initial investigations point to a problem in communcation between the gates and a host computer. Nippon Signal was unavailable for immediate comment.
Tokyo has one of the most extensive railways networks of any city in the world. More than 60 railway companies operate several hundred railway lines that crisscross the capital and carry millions of people per day. The contactless smart card system interoperates between different companies and allows passengers the ability to travel on almost all trains, subways and buses in the city with a common card.
More than 27 million contactless travel cards have been issued in the Tokyo area to-date.
Interesting use of voice recognition. (A killer-app for the new gPhones?)
GOOG-411 graduates from Labs
10/12/2007 01:19:00 PM Posted by Jonathan Matus, Product Marketing Manager
... Many of you explored Google Labs and discovered a local business info service that's totally free. It's called GOOG-411 and it helps callers find and connect with local businesses just by dialing 1-800-GOOG-411. It's a voice-based local search service, which means it uses speech-recognition algorithms to recognize what a caller is saying and then finds the local business information he or she is looking for.
... And now we're happy to report that our local business info service has officially graduated from Labs. To mark the occasion, we're celebrating with a brand new website that includes this fun video: