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Privacy Digest 8.23 12/28/99

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<font size=+2><b>PRIVACY Forum Archive Document</b></font><br>

<A href="/privacy"><h3>PRIVACY Forum Home Page</h3></A><p>
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PRIVACY Forum Digest     Tuesday, 28 December 1999     Volume 08 : Issue 23


            Moderated by Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com)         
              Vortex Technology, Woodland Hills, CA, U.S.A.
                       ===== PRIVACY FORUM =====              

                 The PRIVACY Forum is supported in part by
               the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)     
	         Committee on Computers and Public Policy,      
		 Cable &amp; Wireless USA, Cisco Systems, Inc., 
                           and Telos Systems.
                                 - - -
             These organizations do not operate or control the     
          PRIVACY Forum in any manner, and their support does not
           imply agreement on their part with nor responsibility   
        for any materials posted on or related to the PRIVACY Forum.

	PRIVACY: 1999 (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
	E-mail in Court--A Double-Edged Sword
	   (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
	Cell Phones to be Tracked for Traffic 
	   (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)

 *** Please include a RELEVANT "Subject:" line on all submissions! ***
            *** Submissions without them may be ignored! ***

The Internet PRIVACY Forum is a moderated digest for the discussion and
analysis of issues relating to the general topic of privacy (both personal
and collective) in the "information age" of the 1990's and beyond.  The
moderator will choose submissions for inclusion based on their relevance and
content.  Submissions will not be routinely acknowledged.

All submissions should be addressed to "privacy@vortex.com" and must have
RELEVANT "Subject:" lines; submissions without appropriate and relevant
"Subject:" lines may be ignored.  Excessive "signatures" on submissions are
subject to editing.  Subscriptions are via an automatic list server system;
for subscription information, please send a message consisting of the word
"help" (quotes not included) in the BODY of a message to:
"privacy-request@vortex.com".  Mailing list problems should be reported to

All messages included in this digest represent the views of their
individual authors and all messages submitted must be appropriate to be
distributable without limitations. 

The PRIVACY Forum archive, including all issues of the digest and all
related materials, is available via anonymous FTP from site "ftp.vortex.com",
in the "/privacy" directory.  Use the FTP login "ftp" or "anonymous", and
enter your e-mail address as the password.  The typical "README" and "INDEX"
files are available to guide you through the files available for FTP
access.  PRIVACY Forum materials may also be obtained automatically via
e-mail through the list server system.  Please follow the instructions above
for getting the list server  "help" information, which includes details
regarding the "index" and "get" list server commands, which are used to access
the PRIVACY Forum archive.  

All PRIVACY Forum materials are available through the Internet Gopher system
via a gopher server on site "gopher.vortex.com".  Access to PRIVACY Forum
materials is also available through the Internet World Wide Web (WWW) via
the Vortex Technology WWW server at the URL: "http://www.vortex.com";
full keyword searching of all PRIVACY Forum files is available via
WWW access.


     Quote for the day:

	"Either he's dead or my watch has stopped."

	      -- Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush (Groucho Marx)
	         "A Day at the Races" (MGM; 1937)

Date:    Mon, 27 Dec 99 21:34 PST
From:    lauren@vortex.com (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
Subject: PRIVACY: 1999

Greetings.  So, we reach the end of 1999 and the state of privacy issues
is... well, not very good. 

New problems relating to privacy topics, many of them technology-driven,
seem to pop up every day, and the basic legislation necessary to even start
laying the groundwork for reasonable solutions has yet to be created, at
least in the USA.  While the European community has moved much farther in
this regard, it's not clear that their precise approach would necessarily
transfer well across the pond, or that there aren't significant problems in
their own regulatory structure.  However, they've at least moved beyond the
starting line.

Perhaps the only bright spot in the picture is the sense that people in
general seem to have finally begun to realize how important privacy issues
can be to them personally.  Polls are starting to consistently show a
greater level of awareness regarding these matters, and this may be
translating into some potentially useful legislation down the line.  This
awareness can certainly be viewed as a modestly encouraging sign, though
it's far from being sufficient to really get us onto the path of balance we
need to be taking.

In any case, we'll all move forward into 2000, and the Y2K hypesters can be
depended upon to find something else to try panic us about, after the world
doesn't collapse on their predicted schedule.  There will be plenty to talk
about in the PRIVACY Forum starting at the dawn of next year, and PFIR
(People For Internet Responsibility) will be getting into full swing.  

My best wishes to you all for 2000--the last year of the current millennium,
and the final year of the 20th century.  Be seeing you!

Lauren Weinstein
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Co-Founder, PFIR: People for Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy


Date:    Wed, 22 Dec 99 10:01 PST
From:    lauren@vortex.com (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
Subject: E-mail in Court--A Double-Edged Sword

Greetings.  We've recently seen a dramatic upswing in the number of criminal
and civil cases where e-mail has been used as an important element in the
cases--usually against the defendants.  In some cases, e-mail is effectively
the *only* evidence--as in cases of threats made (either seriously or as
sick jokes) over the Internet.  E-mail has also played a dominant role in
the ongoing Microsoft antitrust case.  Some firms have now established
routine e-mail "destruction" policies in reaction to such events.

In all cases of e-mail evidence, an obvious issue is the extent to which the
material can be authenticated as genuine.  Unless the e-mail was
cryptographically signed, it of course might be subject to easy alteration
and manipulation.  This area presents a formidable challenge in the real
world.  Still, even though the vast majority of e-mail is not
cryptographically signed, it still has come to play a major role in the
criminal and civil justice systems.

But what happens when the authenticity of e-mail is apparently not under
dispute, but a defendant is still prevented from using it in his defense?
This situation was just explored by a New York State appeals court,
in overturning the conviction and 15 year sentence of a Columbia University
graduate student, who had so far served 20 months of his sentence for
"kidnapping and sexual torture" of a female college student he had met

While the details of this case will be disquieting to many, the implications
for the handling of e-mail seem pretty clear.  The defendant claimed that
the "S&amp;M" activities that took place had been completely consensual, that
the woman had come to his residence freely, and that she had been free to
leave at any time.  He said that he had e-mail communications with the
woman, from both prior to and after the event as evidence.  The defendant
was however prohibited by the trial court from introducing this e-mail as
evidence, due to what the appeals court ruled was an inappropriate
application of the state's rape shield law.  The appeals court determined
that as a result, the case against the defendant was "one-sided and
unbalanced" in nature.  While the rape shield law is designed to prevent the
introduction of materials concerning alleged victims' sexual conduct that
are not relevant to a case, the appeals court ruled that the e-mail in this
case was indeed relevant and should not have been excluded.

Regardless of the specific facts of this case, it's certainly true that
e-mail is rapidly becoming accepted as just another form of "physical"
evidence or adjunct to testimony.  Attempts to treat it differently, when
the authenticity of the e-mail messages is not in question, are probably
misguided and could have serious ramifications for prosecutors and
defendants alike.

Lauren Weinstein
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Co-Founder, PFIR: People for Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy


Date:    Thu, 23 Dec 99 22:39 PST
From:    lauren@vortex.com (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
Subject: Cell Phones to be Tracked for Traffic

Greetings.  Remember when we first heard about cell phone location
tracking?  It was originally supposed to only be used for 911 emergency
situations, but has rapidly expanded into a range of governmental
and commercial applications.  Some new generations of cell phones have been
proposed to actually include some GPS capabilities to provide the more
precise location tracking mandated by the ongoing FCC requirements in
some environments.

Now comes word of one of the more bizarre applications for cell phone
tracking--traffic studies.  Officials in Maryland and Virginia plan to use
data provided by equipment installed on cellular towers by U.S. Wireless,
to track cell phone users along a 15 mile segment of the Capital beltway
south of Washington.  Their hope is that enough people will be using their
phones at any given time, so that the data will provide a cost-effective
substitute for the installation of conventional road sensors typically used
for traffic monitoring.  If the plan works, word is that other
municipalities are standing poised to jump on the bandwagon.  Officials
emphasize that they will only be receiving "anonymous" location data, not

One fun part about this story, as you may already have guessed, is that
we're continually being told that it's a bad idea to be talking on a cell
phone while driving, and that having a hands-free set doesn't reduce the
risk.  There have actually been bans passed in some areas against the
general use of cell phones while driving.  While I am not in favor of such
blanket bans (for a variety of reasons), there is a delightful irony in the
building of traffic data systems that *depend* on such cell phone use to
operate, which would be rendered completely useless if drivers didn't make
or take those calls while at the wheel!  It seems almost worthy of Rowan and
Martin's old "Fickle Finger of Fate" award.  

We now return you to beautiful downtown Burbank...

Lauren Weinstein
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Co-Founder, PFIR: People for Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy


End of PRIVACY Forum Digest 08.23
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