The Federal Trade Commission and Commerce Department are both expected to issue recommendations soon about online privacy, but appear to be on different pages, according to published reports.
There's no question that the revelation that Google's Street View cars captured personal data from unsecured WiFi networks was somewhat unsettling -- especially given the vast array of other information about Web users the search giant has amassed, ranging from email contacts to photo albums to search history.
Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz told lawmakers this summer that the agency was considering proposing a do-not-track mechanism that would allow consumers to easily opt out of all behavioral advertising. Last month, FTC member Julie Brown also expressed support for such a mechanism. So a report today in The New York Times stating that the Federal Trade Commission is "exploring" a do-not-track system for online behavioral advertising shouldn't be a surprise. But, though the FTC is considering recommending such a system, the agency lacks the authority to mandate do-not-track.
Dawnmarie Souza isn't the first person to lose a job because of what she wrote on Facebook, but might well be the first one to draw the support of federal authorities. The emergency medical technician allegedly complained about her boss on the social networking service, apparently setting off a chain reaction of other criticisms by her co-workers. Her ex-employer, the American Medical Response of Connecticut ambulance service, then fired her for allegedly violating company policy that forbids discussing the company on social networking sites, according to The New York Times.
When The Wall Street Journal recently reported that some app developers on Facebook were sending advertisers referrer headers that potentially identified users, some observers criticized the newspaper for not also reporting that the same activity was occurring on corporate sibling MySpace.
The prospects for new net neutrality regulations seem somewhat dim these days, given the Federal Communications Commission's failure to move forward with a plan to reclassify broadband access as a telecommunications service.Nonetheless, neutrality advocates are continuing to push the FCC to forge ahead with new rules that would ban Internet service providers from degrading or prioritizing material.
File-sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset's third trial ended this week and, unfortunately for her, it went just about as well as the previous two. Yesterday evening, the jurors ordered Thomas-Rasset to pay $1.5 million for sharing 24 tracks on Kazaa.
Whatever else the defeat of Congress member Rick Boucher (D-Va.) by Republican Morgan Griffith signifies, it likely doesn't mean that online privacy legislation will be off lawmakers' agenda.
Former prosecutor Thomas DiBiase, who authors a blog about so-called "no body" murder cases, has joined the roster of Web site operators to fight back in court against copyright enforcement outfit Righthaven.
Nearly a dozen years after Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee warned that referrer headers could leak information about Web users, such headers have become the hottest privacy issue to hit the courts. In the last few weeks, Facebook, Zynga and Google have all been hit with potential class-action privacy lawsuits. In each case, Web users allege that information that could identify them was leaked via referrer headers.