Ruling Endangers Privacy in Email and IP Addresses

The court appears to grasp this distinction, but, unfortunately, doesn't follow it to the correct conclusion. In a footnote, the court points out that capturing URLs of webpages visited "might be more constitutionally problematic" because "[a] URL, unlike an IP address, identifies the particular document within a website that a person views and thus reveals much more information about the person's Internet activity. However, an IP address can point to a particular website and can also be used to identify "much more information about the person's Internet activity." For instance, it can be combined with information about the size of a file downloaded from a particular IP to identify a particular page on a website.

On top of this casual, erroneous reasoning, the court oddly says almost nothing about how the surveillance actually occurred. Indeed, at one point the opinion says, "the government applied for and received court permission to install a pen register analogue on [defendant's] computer." Ordinarily, pen register surveillance takes place on the provider's system, not on the target's computer; so this statement, along with the fact that keylogging software was used, raised questions about whether the court approved physical entry or some kind of remote surveillance like the FBI's "Magic Lantern." EFF has confirmed with defense counsel that the surveillance in fact occurred at the provider's system, but these ambiguities only underscore the need for review of the opinion.

Web search groups to yield on privacy

Yahoo and Microsoft are preparing to announce concessions in their privacy policies in the next few weeks, as pressure mounts in Europe over the length of time internet search companies should be allowed to hold personal data.

The Article 29 Working Party, a group of national officials that advises the European Union on privacy policy, last month said it wanted to investigate how long companies such as Yahoo and Microsoft keep data on individuals who use their search engines.

Finally they are investigating other major search engine players and their policies as well. A level playing field and more privacy for the users is a good thing in general.

Full Story

Privacy Rules Don't Apply to Internet Messages, Court Says

In Friday's ruling, the court said computer users should know that they lose privacy protections with e-mail and Web site addresses when they are communicated to the company whose equipment carries the messages.
The ruling "further erodes our privacy," the attorney said. "The great political marketplace of ideas is the Internet, and the government has unbridled access to it."

The court case is a bit bogus, the guy was manufacturing Ecstasy, which I'm sure didn't help. Ingoring that detail, it is quite scary what the courts just said was allowable. They can watch where you go on the internet. The whole idea of 'they can't see what you are looking at' is bs. Any user can look at a URL visited and type it in themself to see what is there. The compare it to looking at the outside of a package. I can't just get another identical package and open it though, with the internet that is the case. So much data is also passed through the URL bar (anything with ?function=value after it is passing data (look at your google search page. Notice the Is it REALLY not invading my privacy? Remember the AOL case where the leaked millions of searches and people could be identified and their privacy was violated?

Google threatens to shutdown Google Mail in Germany

Legislation drafted by Germany's Federal Ministry of Justice is being considered by the German Parliament. If passed, it would require telecommunications providers to collect and keep private information on their German customers for six months, in an effort to help with criminal surveillance. ISPs and providers of e-mail service would be required to collect and store information on users' mailing and internet habits and to do so in such a way as to identify individual web users.

Big brother is watching... or will be soon in Germany.

Full Story