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Privacy Digest 09.19

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PRIVACY Forum Digest     Saturday, 2 September 2000     Volume 09 : Issue 19

                (<A HREF="http://www.vortex.com/privacy/priv.09.19">http://www.vortex.com/privacy/priv.09.19</A>)

            Moderated by Lauren Weinstein (<A HREF="mailto:lauren@vortex.com">lauren@vortex.com</A>)         
              Vortex Technology, Woodland Hills, CA, U.S.A.
                         <A HREF="http://www.vortex.com">http://www.vortex.com</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.

        PFIR Statement on Internet Hoaxes and Misinformation
           (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
        The ":CueCat" -- Balancing Function and Privacy Can Be a Challenge
           (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
        Privacy2000 Press Release 9/1 (Sol Bermann)
        AG Reilly Praises Decision to Keep Toysmart From Selling 
           Consumers' Personal Information (Monty Solomon)
        Book Announcement: "Trust and Risk in Internet Commerce"
           (Jud Wolfskill)

 *** 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 "<A HREF="mailto:privacy@vortex.com">privacy@vortex.com</A>" 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:
"<A HREF="mailto:privacy-request@vortex.com">privacy-request@vortex.com</A>".  Mailing list problems should be reported to
"<A HREF="mailto:list-maint@vortex.com">list-maint@vortex.com</A>". 

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 <A HREF="ftp://ftp.vortex.com/">ftp.vortex.com</A>",
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 "<A HREF="http://gopher.vortex.com">gopher.vortex.com</A>/".  Access to PRIVACY Forum
materials is also available through the Internet World Wide Web (WWW) via
the Vortex Technology WWW server at the URL: "<A HREF="http://www.vortex.com">http://www.vortex.com</A>";
full keyword searching of all PRIVACY Forum files is available via
WWW access.


     Quote for the day:

        "Thing, you're a handful!"

                -- Morticia Addams (Anjelica Huston)
                   "The Addams Family" (Paramount; 1991)


Date:    Sat, 02 Sep 2000 16:24:12 PDT
From:    <A HREF="mailto:lauren@vortex.com">lauren@vortex.com</A> (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
Subject: PFIR Statement on Internet Hoaxes and Misinformation

Greetings.  A new People For Internet Responsibility statement,
on the topic of misinformation and hoaxes on the Internet,
is now available.  It also includes some initial discussion
(which will be elaborated in future statements) on the conflicting
complexities of "anonymity" in the Internet environment.

The statement is at:

  <A HREF="http://www.pfir.org/statements/hoaxes">http://www.pfir.org/statements/hoaxes</A>

Thanks very much.

Lauren Weinstein
<A HREF="mailto:lauren@pfir.org">lauren@pfir.org</A> or <A HREF="mailto:lauren@vortex.com">lauren@vortex.com</A> or <A HREF="mailto:lauren@privacyforum.org">lauren@privacyforum.org</A>
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - <A HREF="http://www.pfir.org">http://www.pfir.org</A>
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - <A HREF="http://www.vortex.com">http://www.vortex.com</A>
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy


Date:    Sat, 02 Sep 2000 12:25:01 PDT
From:    <A HREF="mailto:lauren@vortex.com">lauren@vortex.com</A> (Lauren Weinstein; PRIVACY Forum Moderator)
Subject: The ":CueCat" -- Balancing Function and Privacy Can Be a Challenge

Greetings.  As most regular readers of the PRIVACY Forum know, privacy issues
can be very complex, and attaining an appropriate balance between
functionality and related privacy concerns can be a tricky task.  Sometimes a
situation that looks like a major problem <B>may</B> turn out to be
less serious than might be initially anticipated, especially when the
developers of the associated systems are open to advice regarding these
matters.  Such is the case in today's Digest.

You've probably heard the phrase "There's no free lunch" -- meaning that you
very rarely ever get something of value for nothing.  So when a major
campaign, backed by major corporate enterprises, begins to distribute free
Web scanning hardware devices, promoted as enhancing users' Web browsing
experiences, it seems appropriate to be at least a little bit wary.  This
was the situation when I first heard about a new device called the ":CueCat,"
from developer Digital:Convergence Corp. of Texas 
(<A HREF="http://www.digitalconvergence.com">http://www.digitalconvergence.com</A>).

Millions of these devices will be provided to users for free at Radio Shack
stores or will be available by mail for a shipping and handling charge.  The
units are small bar code scanners which can read the universal product codes
and other bar-type codes found on products, and which will also be printed in
magazine advertisements, catalogs, and other materials.  The devices
interface with personal computers via a keyboard cable in-line connection.
An array of major companies will apparently be aligning themselves with this
system, to allow users to simply scan a bar code and be taken directly to
the associated Web sites and often deeply-linked pages.  The cuteness factor
is assured by the device actually resembling a somewhat stylized feline.
(Since I'm a cat lover, this wins a few brownie points regardless of other

So far so good -- sounds pretty nifty doesn't it?  When you think about it
though, such a device can't work unless there is a linkage between the units
and a database that points to the appropriate Web pages.  That's in fact how
the :CueCat works.  Each unit has an individual ID (serial number).  When a
code is scanned, the unit interrogates a central server which returns
the appropriate Web page URL, which is then displayed by your normal

The transmitted unit serial number is linked to the data that you provide to
the system via a Web site when the unit is first initialized for use.  While
some of their earlier software apparently asked for a fairly wide variety of
demographic data, I've been told that the newer releases have dropped all
but the more basic of questions (name, e-mail address to return the
registration info, the serial number of the unit, age range, gender,
zipcode).  Obviously, users will make their own choices about whether or not
they wish to answer even those questions with accurate information.  Zipcode
data in particular is apparently used to return geographically relevant
pages when possible.  

Digital:Convergence strongly asserts that only aggregated statistical data
are made available to their clients, and that specific non-aggregated data
is never made available.  In fact, they have told me that as the data is
processed at intervals, the linkages to individual serial numbers are
discarded, making it impossible for retrospective links to be established
after that time, even internally.

There's another aspect to their system as well -- their ":CRQ" software which
supports the :CueCat environment.  A cable can be used to connect computers
with a television, radio, or virtually any other audio source, to pick up
special encrypted cue tone bursts ("See Our Cue"?) that will automatically
transfer Web browsers to particular Web pages as specified <B>within</B> the
program or broadcast, either immediately or on a delayed basis (e.g., if the
user is offline at the time).  No need to rely on those pesky users to
manually decide to enter a URL -- this system does it automatically and
apparently without the need for human interaction.  While this could have
significant positive applications (follow along with photos and details
during a newscast or other program, for example), the ramifications of this
sort of "remote control" over a user's computer are significant and
potentially far-reaching, even with the control mechanisms built into the
software.  This will be an area that will bear watching as it develops and
is deployed.

Digital:Convergence posts an extensive privacy policy on their associated
Web sites, addressing a variety of important issues.  However, perhaps my
greatest concern as I first looked into these products, was the question of
how many people would hook these devices into their computers without
realizing that they actually <B>do</B> feed certain data back to a central
system.  If history and human nature are any guide, the vast majority of
people will never even think to look at the :CueCat privacy policy at their
Web sites or bother to read any click-through license agreements.

I broached this issue with Digital:Convergence's chief technical officer
during a lengthy phone call.  In a rather stark contrast to the usual
defensive posture that many corporate executives take in such situations, he
instead immediately offered to implement my suggestion of an additional
pop-up box during the software installation process to make these
privacy-related points clearer, and in fact he composed the text and offered
several versions for my comments and suggestions during the course of our
call.  The new pop-up will apparently be implemented in the downloadable
version of their software very shortly, and in the units distributed through
stores (on CD-ROMS) as soon as possible.  

The :Cuecat system seems to be an excellent example of the many conflicting
elements that can come into play and that need to be brought into some sort
of harmony, when dealing with the integration of various technologies and the
Internet, especially when privacy concerns are in the mix.  There are far
more ways to do such things wrong than right, and the good intentions of the
developers of such systems, combined with a willingness to accept and <B>act</B>
upon outside input in the case of potential problems, can be paramount.

Proper, meaningful advance notification and realistic informed consent are
crucial in Web environments (and the physical world), both to avoid actual
abuses and the appearance of abuse.  While the :CueCat and :CRQ systems do
carry the potential for privacy problems, this does not necessarily mean
that such problems will actually come to pass.  In this case, and for now at
least, I believe that Digital:Convergence deserves the benefit of the doubt
with these products.  Time will tell, and I'll keep you informed.

Lauren Weinstein
<A HREF="mailto:lauren@pfir.org">lauren@pfir.org</A> or <A HREF="mailto:lauren@vortex.com">lauren@vortex.com</A> or <A HREF="mailto:lauren@privacyforum.org">lauren@privacyforum.org</A>
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - <A HREF="http://www.pfir.org">http://www.pfir.org</A>
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - <A HREF="http://www.vortex.com">http://www.vortex.com</A>
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy


Date:    Fri, 01 Sep 2000 09:11:50 EDT
From:    Sol Bermann &lt;<A HREF="mailto:bermann@osc.edu">bermann@osc.edu</A>&gt;
Subject: Privacy2000 Press Release 9/1

August 31, 2000

PRIVACY2000:  Are Privacy and the Free Flow of Information Incompatible?

COLUMBUS, Ohio: As a flood of personal data is collected over the Internet,
privacy has become a critical topic of discussion for businesses, consumers,
advocates and the government. The Technology Policy Group and OSC will host
Privacy2000, October 31-November 1 in Columbus, Ohio to address the needs of
these groups.  

PRIVACY2000 draws from all sides of the privacy debate and allows participants
the opportunity to interact with experts, learn best practices, and form their
own privacy solutions.

Whether discussing business planning, policy making or advocacy, Privacy2000
will have experts on hand to help participants achieve their privacy goals. 
But not all experts will agree on the best solution.

Businesses can gain consumer trust by adopting privacy measures even as they
improve the customer's shopping experience through effective personalization. 
In the hyper-competitive world of the Internet, the added convenience created
by personalization can be a key differentiator, said Jeff Harbison, CEO of
Elity Systems and a member of the Personalization Consortium.

However, Ari Schwartz, senior policy analyst for the Center for Democracy and
Technology, warns that "Privacy on the Internet can only be insured through
work in three areas: baseline legislation incorporating fair information
practices; self-regulatory models that encourage responsible industry
practices and promote public education; and privacy enhancing technologies
that will help users turn the tide on privacy invasive technologies."

The issue of privacy will be one of the most controversial areas of public and
private policy over the next decade.

Some have asked, "If you have nothing to hide, why be so concerned about
privacy? said George Trubow, Director of the Center for Information Technology
&amp; Privacy Law, John Marshall Law School.  I answer, "it's not that I have
something to hide, it's that I have something to protect, which is my own
persona and personal dignity --that's what privacy is about.

Numerous speakers will join Mr. Harbison, Mr. Schwartz, and Mr. Trubow in
sharing their views on privacy during the two-day PRIVACY2000 conference.

October 31 is designed for business leaders and policy makers who need to
know the privacy playing field, and will offer a hands-on approach to
learning about and coping with the legal, technological and practical issues
related to the protection of personal data and the free flow of
information.  The day will conclude with a televised roundtable, followed by
a networking reception. 

November 1 is designed for decision makers on the front lines of implementing
policy and technology solutions, and will offer a unique, highly informative
and interactive workshop, which will go from "soup to nuts" on how to create
and implement a privacy policy. 

PRIVACY2000 is held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Columbus, Ohio.

For more information about PRIVACY2000, contact Sol Bermann, Legal Project
Manager, Technology Policy Group, at (614) 688-4578, or <A HREF="mailto:bermann@osc.edu">bermann@osc.edu</A> or go
to <A HREF="http://www.privacy2000.org">www.privacy2000.org</A>/.


Date:    Sun, 20 Aug 2000 20:38:24 EDT
From:    Monty Solomon &lt;<A HREF="mailto:monty@roscom.com">monty@roscom.com</A>&gt;
Subject: AG Reilly Praises Decision to Keep Toysmart 
         From Selling Consumers' Personal Information

<A HREF="http://www.ago.state.ma.us/toystoys.asp">http://www.ago.state.ma.us/toystoys.asp</A>

Office of Attorney General Tom Reilly

AUGUST 17, 2000

(617) 727-2543 


BOSTON -- Attorney General Tom Reilly praised the fact that a decision by a
federal bankruptcy judge will keep a bankrupt online toy store from selling
consumers' personal information for now.

United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Carol Kenner today denied a motion by
Toysmart.com to approve a settlement it had reached with the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) to sell its customer list as an asset to a third party.
Toysmart.com is an educational on-line toy store based in Waltham. Judge
Kenner put off a final decision on whether the customer list can be sold in
the future and, if so, whether restrictions will be imposed. The list cannot
be sold as long as there is no buyer, which means that the rights of
Toysmart's customers remain protected. 

"This decision is a victory for consumers and everyone interested in
Internet privacy," said AG Reilly. "For now, the Attorneys General have
achieved their goal by preserving the privacy rights of Toysmart's

"When this issue comes up again, and we expect that it could in this case,
we will continue to fight for the highest standard when it comes to
protecting the personal information consumers give over the internet," AG
Reilly added. "I am proud that Massachusetts led this effort to protect the
privacy rights of unsuspecting consumers and to keep their very personal
information out of the hands of the highest bidder." 

AG Reilly led 43 other states and two territories, and the District of
Columbia in objecting to the settlement, saying it did not go far enough to
adequately protect the privacy rights of consumers, and urging that the
customer list should not be sold without consumers first agreeing. 

Toysmart had posted on its website a policy pledging that the company would
never share its customers' personal information with third parties.

However, after financial problems forced Toysmart to file for bankruptcy,
the company did seek permission to sell the customer list that contained
consumers' names, addresses, billing information, credit card numbers and
browsing and purchasing histories as part of its assets. This effort was
opposed by the states and initially by the FTC.

Recently, the FTC settled its concerns with Toysmart, and filed the
stipulation in Bankruptcy Court that required Judge Kenner's approval. 

The other states and territories joining Attorney General Reilly in the case
are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,
Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina,
North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont,
Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming,
and the District of Columbia.

Assistant Attorney General Pamela Kogut of AG Reilly's Consumer Protection
and Antitrust Division handled the case.

Click here to read the Bankruptcy Court filing...

<A HREF="http://www.ago.state.ma.us/oppositi.pdf">http://www.ago.state.ma.us/oppositi.pdf</A> 

        [ Amazon.com (<A HREF="http://www.amazon.com">http://www.amazon.com</A>) has recently changed their
          privacy policy to explicitly state that they consider customer
          data to be an asset subject to being bought or sold:

            "As we continue to develop our business, we might sell or buy
             stores or assets.  In such transactions, customer information
             generally is one of the transferred business assets. Also, in
             the unlikely event that Amazon.com, Inc., or substantially all
             of its assets are acquired, customer information will of course
             be one of the transferred assets."

          Since for many businesses (Internet-based or "stone and mortar"),
          their customer data may be among their most valuable assets
          (sometimes their only real assets), this whole area is very much an
          open question worthy of rigorous study and debate.

          By the way, the Amazon.com privacy policy also acknowledges that
          they often attempt to determine when you open e-mail sent to you
          from Amazon.com.  That is, they apparently are using an e-mail/Web
          server "bug" technique (such as "invisible" images) within at 
          least some of their html-based e-mail.

                -- PRIVACY Forum Moderator ]


Date:    Mon, 24 Jul 2000 16:35:51 EDT
From:    Jud Wolfskill &lt;<A HREF="mailto:wolfskil@MIT.EDU">wolfskil@MIT.EDU</A>&gt;
Subject: Book Announcement: "Trust and Risk in Internet Commerce"

The following is a book which readers of this list might find of
interest.  For more information please visit
<A HREF="http://mitpress.mit.edu/promotions/books/CAMTHF99">http://mitpress.mit.edu/promotions/books/CAMTHF99</A>

Trust and Risk in Internet Commerce

L. Jean Camp

As Internet-based commerce becomes commonplace, it is important that we
examine the systems used for these financial transactions. Underlying
each system is a set of assumptions, particularly about trust and risk.
To evaluate systems, and thus to determine one's own risks, requires an
understanding of the dimensions of trust: security, privacy, and

In this book Jean Camp focuses on two major yet frequently overlooked
issues in the design of Internet commerce systems--trust and risk.
Trust and risk are closely linked. The level of risk can be determined
by looking at who trusts whom in Internet commerce transactions. Who
will pay, in terms of money and data, if trust is misplaced? When the
inevitable early failures occur, who will be at risk? Who is "liable"
when there is a trusted third party? Why is it necessary to trust this
party? What exactly is this party trusted to do? To answer such
questions requires an understanding of security, record-keeping,
privacy, and reliability.

The author's goal is twofold: first, to provide information on trust
and risk to businesses that are developing electronic commerce systems;
and second, to help consumers understand the risks in using the
Internet for purchases and show them how to protect themselves. Rather
than propose a single model of an Internet commerce system, the author
provides the information and insights needed by merchants and consumers
as they develop the Internet for commerce.

L. Jean Camp is Assistant Professor at Harvard University's Kennedy
School of Government.

6 x 9, 292 pp., 25 illus., cloth ISBN 0-262-03271-6


  Jud Wolfskill                       
  Associate Publicist                 Phone:  (617) 253-2079
  MIT Press                           Fax:    (617) 253-1709
  Five Cambridge Center               E-mail: <A HREF="mailto:wolfskil@mit.edu">wolfskil@mit.edu</A> 
  Cambridge, MA  02142-1493          

<A HREF="http://mitpress.mit.edu">http://mitpress.mit.edu</A>


End of PRIVACY Forum Digest 09.19

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