Big Data: The White House Is Thinking about It -- You Should Too.

The White House recently released a report on big data. While it was highly anticipated by people who closely follow data privacy issues, chances are that it wasn't on the radar of most individuals.  Even so, we believe it is an issue that everybody should start thinking about.  

Why is big data a significant privacy challenge?

As technology advances so does the ability to collect, combine, and analyze data.  This is relevant to individuals because, as the report states, "the volume of information that people create themselves…pales in comparison to the amount of digital information created about them each day."

Individuals often aren’t aware when information about them is collected and used. They may not know who has data associated with them, who that data may be shared with, and whether there are any choices or protections in place (in many instances there are not).

In addition, it is difficult to predict how this information may be used in a way that impacts someone’s life – for better or worse.

Five Things I Learned from Reading the Privacy Policy

This is the first in a series of alerts by PRC Outreach Coordinator, Morgan that will take a deeper look into privacy policies, revealing important information for consumers about the use and protection of their personal information.

While browsing the Apple App Store or Android Play Store, you can find tens of thousands of applications (known as “apps”) under the “Medical” category. These apps require users to register in order to create a personalized medical profile that can manage their prescriptions or help track vitals like blood pressure and glucose levels. With pharmacy coupons at your fingertips and pill reminders in your pocket, these apps are marketed to mobile users as convenient, helpful, and even reliable or secure. Sounds like a dream come true for the plugged-in, health-conscious consumer! This in mind, I decided to take a closer look at some of the highest-rated medical apps’ privacy policies to find out what wasn’t being talked about in the app stores…

Notify Web Site Owner about Need for Posted Privacy Policy

Sample letter: notify a web site owner about the need for a posted privacy policy.




Your Name
Mailing Address
City, State, Zip

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Eight Reasons to be Skeptical of a "Technology Fix" for Protecting Privacy

I'm going to begin by listing just a few of the many technology-based services that are available now or are soon to be launched. I will then list eight reasons why I am not convinced that these services are the entire answer to safeguarding consumer privacy.

Then, to close, I will discuss approaches that I believe are more likely to provide meaningful protection of our personal privacy.

Letter to County Tax Equalizer Director: You Do Not Have Permission to Post a Photo of Our Home on the Internet

We do not give permission to the county of Grand Forks, to the state of North Dakota,  to any government entity, or official, to take a picture of our home and place it on the internet.  Privacy concerns of the citizens of Grand Forks should be addressed, as well as public interests when placing property tax information on the internet.

Keep Your Internet Searches Private

Internet users were shocked to learn that the search queries of over 600,000 individuals were exposed online by AOL recently. Although the personal names of AOL users had been replaced with numbers, apparently for a research project, reporters and others were able to determine the identities of several people. Ixquick, a search engine based in the Netherlands, promises it will permanently delete all users’ personal search details from its log files.

Documents Reveal Serious Job Seeker Resume Privacy Violations

Submitting a resume on the Internet could result in a privacy nightmare for would-be job seekers. Online resume databases could be using and selling personal information in ways never imagined by applicants, according to Pam Dixon and the San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC).

PRC Rebutts Newspaper Editorial Lauding Full Disclosure of Personal Information of Campaign Contributors on

Your March 30th editorial on the website has it wrong. You tell people "there's no reason to fear" the fact that their name, home address, occupation, and campaign contribution information is on the Internet for all the world to see. But many individuals have very legitimate reasons to not want their home address posted on the Internet.

Spam E-mails Using PRC's Address

It has come to our attention that spammers have been using the email address to send fake emails (spam). These emails do NOT come from PRC. They are forgeries. They will show the sender as a fake person that is NOT affiliated with PRC. The address will appear as

Phishing: A Real-Life Experiment with Troubling Results

Last week I received a Bank of America phishing email. Nothing out of the ordinary in that. If I have a spare moment, I usually look to see if the phishing site is still up, then do a DNS lookup and blast off an email to let the site owner know of the scam.

Well, last week's phishing was particularly sophisticated.


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