New Privacy Study Challenges Industry Assertions on the Cost of Protecting Consumers' Privacy

Privacy is an elusive, value-laden concept, and it is hard to reach consensus on a definition. In recent, self-serving studies, the business community seized upon this lack of clarity to distort debates about the true costs of privacy - costs to individuals, society and to the business community itself. These studies have led to a mainly one-sided public discussion of privacy, overstating the costs to businesses, ignoring the costs consumers incur to protect their privacy, and understating the benefits that privacy offers to commerce and to society.

How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy with Free Software (Fosdick) (.pdf file)

Did you know that Windows secretly records all the web sites you've ever visited? And after you delete your Outlook emails and empty the Waste Basket, someone could still read your email?
And that Microsoft Word and Excel documents contain secret keys that uniquely identify you?

This guide explains these – and many other -- threats to your security and privacy when you use Windows computers. It describes these concerns in simple, non-technical terms. The goal is to provide information anyone can understand.

This guide also offers solutions: safe practices you can follow, and free programs you can install. Download links appear for the free programs as they are cited.

Privacy Rights of Employees Using Workplace Computers In California

Employers and employees are concerned about computers in the workplace.  Employers worry that employees waste time, such as by chatting or shopping on-line.[1]  Employers worry too that employees create liability by viewing and circulating pornographic, racist, or other improper material.

 Employees worry about their privacy.  Software, like Specter, SurfWatch, Eblaster, Telemate, Message Inspector, Silent Watch, Websense, Little Brother, and WinWhatWhere, allows the computer owner to monitor computer use. [2]  Some software allows the owner to check users' e-mail and Web destinations; some also allows viewing of entire e-mail messages, Web images, and word processing documents.  Moreover, most of this software can be installed without alerting the computer user. [3]

 The press has reported that employees have no privacy rights whatsoever when using their employers' computers and that employers can spy at will. [4]

Using Court Record Information for Marketing in the United States: It's Public Information, What's the Problem? (Gottlieb)

Your divorce was final last month and today you received a postcard from a local health club advertising a Ladies' Special membership. You have been thinking it is time for a "new you" and joining a health club would be a step in that direction. Is the postcard a coincidence, or good timing and smart marketing on the health club's part? It might not be a coincidence if you live in Ipswich, Massachusetts where the Probate and Family Court recently received a request from a local health club seeking the names and addresses of recently divorced women.

Why I stopped shopping at A reading expert sounds off... (Hochhauser)

I've shopped at for several years. But I decided to quit shopping there because of:

1) Their new privacy notice. The revised notice (not a "policy") states that they gather information about consumers every time they search for a product.  That means to me that they've developed a profile on me based not only on what I buy, but what I'm looking for. I don't want them to know that much about me....

Identity Theft: It Can Happen To You, But What's The Point of Reporting It? (Gladstone)

Crooks broke into our joint checking account and robbed us of approximately $1,500 last November. According to officials at the bank where we have our account, the debit card numbers on one of our bank cards was skimmed. What happens, they explained, is that thieves capture your information by attaching an electronic storage device to an automated teller machine (ATM) where your card is swiped.

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.

Why Patients Won't Understand Their HIPAA Privacy Notices (Hochhauser)

I downloaded and analyzed six HIPAA privacy notice examples and 31 HIPAA privacy notices. Using several readability tools, I found that they were written at 2nd-4th year college reading levels -- instead of in plain language as required by federal HIPAA regulations

Compliance vs. Communication: Readability of HIPAA Notices (Hochhauser)

In April 2003, patients in the US began receiving Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy notices from their doctors, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other "covered entities" that use their personal health information. As part of the HIPAA regulatory guidelines, privacy notices were to be written in "plain language." They are not.


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