Attend the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference


Computers, Freedom and Privacy in a Networked Society is currently taking place in San Jose, CA .  Privacy professionals as well as the general public have been invited to hear expert speakers, attend panel discussions and learn about the impact of emerging technologies on individual liberties and personal privacy.

In its twentieth year, CFP is the leading policy conference exploring the impact of the Internet, computers and communications technology on society.  This year offers an exceptionally strong program.  Speakers include consumer privacy experts such as PRC's own Beth Givens and other advocates, as well as industry representatives Google's David Drummond and Microsoft's Peter Cullen. 

Even if you aren't in San Jose, you can still take part in the conference. Visit www.cfp2010.org to watch live broadcasts of the events, follow along via Twitter using the #cfpconf hashtag, or visit the conference Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfpconf.

On Friday June 18th, partipants in the CFP Conference and online will be voting to adopt a Social Networking Bill of Rights. Contribute your ideas to the process via Twitter, Facebook and blog posts. Read more here: http://cfp.acm.org/wordpress/?p=341 and http://www.facebook.com/CFPBillOfRights.  Also contribute via Twitter using the #billofrights hashtag.

The Proliferation of Online Information Brokers and Reports of Abuses of Consumer Privacy


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) appreciates the opportunity to submit the following comments on the online information broker industry to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as part of the agency’s deliberations for the Privacy Roundtables series.

The online information broker industry has come to the forefront of consumer privacy issues in recent years. Information brokers are companies that compile information on individuals via public, semi-public and private records and offer this information via online “lookup” services, often with no questions asked. Some charge a fee while others provide their services at no charge. Consumers who are attempting to limit the availability of their personal information, due to concerns about privacy, safety or identity theft, have lodged numerous complaints against this industry with the PRC over the years.

Shred It, Don't Forget It!


With tax season ending, do you ever wonder what to do with your personal and financial records? Which ones do you need to save for tax or other purposes? While some people like to save things forever, others want to immediately toss out unnecessary clutter.

So what's the best way to decide whether to save or discard your records? Here are a few tips and information sources to help you decide which records you need to save, and how long you need to keep them.

Census Scams -- You Can Count on It


Now that the April 1st mail-in deadline has passed, Census employees are expected to make home visits to those individuals who did not return their Census forms.  Census workers will begin visiting private homes on May 1st.  Be careful. Scam artists posing as Census workers may engage in a number of tactics to collect personal information about you to commit fraud.  Typically, scammers will seek to obtain information such as your Social Security number or financial information.  Don’t fall for the trap!  At Census time and throughout the year, guard your personal information carefully. 

If you are not certain of the legitimacy of a request for information from the Census or any other organization, ask questions.  Do not provide any personal information until you have verified the identity of the requester. Read our tips so that you don’t fall prey to a scammer.

LifeLock Customers to Receive Refunds


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that customers of LifeLock's identity theft protection services will be receiving refunds as part of a settlement with the company. Since 2006, LifeLock has advertised that it could prevent identity theft for consumers willing to sign up for its $10-a-month service. However, the fraud alerts that LifeLock placed on its customers’ credit files protected only against certain forms of identity theft. Yesterday’s FTC announcement about LifeLock confirms that consumers should use caution and common sense before paying for identity theft monitoring services.

Scare Away Scammers


Most people are aware of the dangers posed by scams that claim to be originating from a business.  But what if you receive an e-mail, phone call, or letter claiming to come from a government agency?  Many consumers are likely to assume that such communications are legitimate because they appear to come from the government.

Unfortunately, these types of scams do occur.  Communications may claim to be from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, Medicare, your local Commissioner of Jurors, or other government agencies.  Learn about some of the recents scams and what you should do to avoid becoming a victim.

IRS Information Returns: An Identity Thief's Dream?


At this time of the year, you can expect to receive in your mail at least some IRS information returns that will contain your full Social Security number.  Your Social Security number is the key to identity theft.  For this reason, an information return (like a W-2) can be an identity thief’s dream come true.  In fact, some information returns may contain not only your full Social Security number, but your bank or other financial institution account number(s)—the perfect combination for identity theft.  Read our suggestions on what you can do to protect yourself.

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. 

 

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.

 

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