"A Review of State and Federal Privacy Laws": Testimony to the California Legislature Joint Task Force on Personal Information and Privacy


I will speak briefly about two related topics: First, I will give an overview of a code of privacy principles called the Fair Information Practices. These, in part or in full, form the basis of many privacy-related laws, as well as industry initiatives.

Second, I will talk about the approach taken at the federal and state levels to privacy laws, with a brief outline of some of those laws.

Social Security Administration Forum


The outcry that greeted the Social Security Administration's launch of the Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement on the Internet was a sign of the times. When many members of the public learned that information as sensitive as their annual wages and the amounts of their contributions to the SSA and Medicare would be available on the Internet, it brought up their concerns about control.

Who asked me?

Who else but me might be able to access that information?

What other uses can be made of that data that might harm me?

What safeguards are in place to ensure that this information does not get into the wrong hands?

What if I don't want my record on the Internet -- can I say 'no'?

Comments In Opposition to the Court Technnology Committee Draft Rule: Access to Electronic Records


The Draft Rule endorsed by the Court Technology Committee would require that all records a court makes available to the public also be made available electronically. This Draft Rule is actually the recommendation of only the minority of members of the Privacy and Access Subcommittee. The majority recommended an Alternate Draft Rule ("Alternate Rule") which would require electronic access only to specified index information in case files, exclusive of all non-public data and references to cases, courts or persons, other than the parties and their attorneys.

Federal Reserve Board "Credit Header" Comments


Recent amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, signed into law on September 30, 1996, directed the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board to conduct a study on the availability of sensitive identification information about consumers and the possible use of such information for financial fraud.

The comments provided herein by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse focus on "credit header" information as well as the widespread availability of Social Security numbers.

Medical Records Privacy: Fears and Expectations of Patients


The title of this talk is "Medical Records Privacy: Fears and Expectations of Patients". So you can get an understanding of my point of view, I want to start out by talking about our project, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and then make several points about the topic.

Public Records in a Computerized Network Environment: Privacy Implications


The burgeoning information industry is acquiring data from both public and private sector sources, merging and repackaging them and then selling them on the marketplace. CDB Infotek is one of those companies, headquartered in Santa Ana -- another is Information Resources in Fullerton. Look in the Yellow Pages under 'investigators' and you'll see dozens of small companies that subscribe to the information services provided by these larger information clearinghouses.

 

Privacy Rights of the Homeless


In the United States, the importance of protecting an individual's social services records has not been recognized. Even where laws exist to protect such information, they are often ill-applied or unenforced. Compounding this problem is a substantial lack of awareness among both social services clients and program administrators concerning what types of information may or may not be protected.

For instance, does the right to privacy allow a homeless person to hide the fact that she is homeless from potential landlords or employers? Do low-income social services recipients have the right to inspect the agency's records concerning them and to have errors corrected? What restrictions are placed on the disclosure of public and private social services records?

Third Privacy Roundtable - Comments Submitted to Federal Trade Commission on Sensitive Personal Information


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) respectfully submits the following comments to the Federal Trade Commission for its consideration in the third Privacy Roundtable, to be held March 17, 2010. 

In addressing the FTC’s question regarding what information is considered sensitive, we draw primarily from the PRC’s records of consumer complaints. Two general observations are:

  • The type of information consumers consider to be sensitive varies widely.
  • Even directory information – names, addresses, and phone numbers – is considered to be extremely sensitive to a significant number of individuals.

 

The Privacy Problems Inherent in the Smart Grid


The infrastructure that will support the Smart Grid will be capable of informing consumers of their day-to-day energy use, right down to the appliance level.  This sophisticated infrastructure has the potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce consumers’ energy bills.  However, it introduces the possibility of collecting detailed information on individual energy consumption usage and patterns within consumers’ homes, traditionally the most private of places.  Industry and regulators must take great care not to sacrifice consumer privacy in the process of developing and implementing the Smart Grid. 

 

Comments to California Department of Insurance Concerning Privacy of Personal Financial and Medical Record Information


We are pleased to see that the proposed regulations, as revised, include a number of changes that will benefit individual privacy interests. We commend the staff of the Department for efforts to balance multiple interests and their willingness to consider our concerns about loss of personal privacy.

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