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Privacy should arm the many, not just shield the few

Jill E. Adams, executive director, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, Berkeley Law | June 24, 2015

When it comes to our most intimate experiences and decisions, the right to privacy should arm the many, not just shield the few who can afford to pay for it. We’ve learned in the years since Griswold v. Connecticut that privacy is not a panacea for the fulfillment of all people’s sexual and reproductive rights. … Continue reading »

Privacy vs. privacy

Lisa Ho, campus privacy officer | February 27, 2015

It’s common to see privacy pitted against security in the form of the question: “How much privacy are we willing to give up for security?” Some call the security vs. privacy debate a false choice, and suggest the debate is actually liberty vs. security, or liberty vs. control, or privacy vs. cooperation. At UC Berkeley, … Continue reading »

With its HeLa genome agreement, NIH embraces an expansive definition of familial consent in genetics

Michael Eisen, Professor of molecular and cell biology | August 26, 2013

I wrote before about the controversy involving the release earlier this year of a genome sequence of the HeLa cell line, which was taken without consent from Henrietta Lacks as she lay dying of ovarian cancer in 1950s Baltimore. Now, the NIH has announced an agreement with Lacks’ descendants to obtain their consent for access … Continue reading »

Is Google reading your bMail?

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | May 20, 2013

Both users of bMail and the campus itself have never received a clear answer to a simple question: Is Google subjecting data in Google Apps for Education to data analysis or mining for purposes unnecessary for technical rendition of service? A recently-filed lawsuit suggests that Google is indeed applying analysis to our messages, but masking … Continue reading »

The good, not so good, and long view on Bmail

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | March 6, 2013

Many campuses have decided to outsource email and other services to “cloud” providers.  Berkeley has joined in by migrating student and faculty to bMail, operated by Google.  In doing so, it has raised some anxiety about privacy and autonomy in communications.  In this post, I outline some advantages of our outsourcing to Google, some disadvantages, … Continue reading »

The Internet and global justice 2.0

Camille Crittenden, Deputy Director, CITRIS | July 23, 2012

Recent developments in technology — and a UN Human Rights Council Resolution — highlight the growing potential of social media’s role in international justice. Tools for citizens to report or document serious crimes are increasingly available and easy for non-specialists to deploy. The seminal crowdsourcing platform Ushahidi, created during the post-election violence in Kenya in … Continue reading »

Stumbling in the dark

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | November 28, 2011

I recently turned to one of the central sources of information about social trends in America, The Statistical Abstract of the United States, described on its web page as “since 1878, the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.” Also on the web page was … Continue reading »

My zip code is none of your business!

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | February 10, 2011

The California Supreme Court held today in Pineda v. Williams Sonoma that a zip code is personal information, meaning that California retailers who ask for it when you pay with a credit card violate the State’s Song-Beverly Act of 1971. That law prohibits retailers from: Request[ing]…the cardholder to write any personal identification information upon the … Continue reading »

Free: The dismal deal

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | April 26, 2010

The Journal recently reported that popular social networking site Ning is ending their free account services. Rumors are circulating that major newspapers, including the New York Times, are going to erect a pay-wall. These developments have not deterred the “free” evangelists. For instance, in Chris Anderson’s provocative new book, Free: The Future of a Radical … Continue reading »

Our Products, Ourselves

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | April 21, 2010

If you’ve ever wrestled with Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, there is good news for you: MTV and VH1’s market research group has produced a cheat sheet. It describes “Gen Mix,” a group of young people who have confused products with personality and exist to buy stuff from celebrities. Debord’s academicalism is no longer … Continue reading »

Age & Aspirations for Privacy

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | April 15, 2010

Media reports teem with stories of young people posting salacious photos online, writing about alcohol-fueled misdeeds on social networking sites, and publicizing other ill-considered escapades that may haunt them in the future. These anecdotes are interpreted as representing a generation-wide shift in attitude toward information privacy. Many commentators therefore claim that young people “are less … Continue reading »

Conservatives and the Census

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | April 5, 2010

Naftali Bendavid reports today in the Journal on a problem facing conservatives: how should they assure their supporters, many of whom are suspicious of government activity, to participate in the US Census? After all, the Census sounds suspiciously like something Tiberius would like. But Moses was a fan too. And now Karl Rove is pitching … Continue reading »

GBS: Total Patron Awareness

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | November 28, 2009

“It is the librarian’s obligation to treat as confidential any private information obtained through contact with library patrons.” -Article 11, 1939 Code of Ethics for Librarians, American Library Association. The town crier couldn’t monitor what you heard and paid attention to. Things are different with GBS. In my scholarship, I’ve pointed out that private entities … Continue reading »

Unintentional Revelation of Sexuality

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | October 26, 2009

Under 13 USC § 9(a)(2), the Department of Commerce is prohibited from “mak[ing] any publication whereby the [Census] data furnished by any particular establishment or individual under this title can be identified”  Thus, the Census Bureau must protect the identities of those who participate in the enumeration. Modern techniques of “reidentification” are making compliance with … Continue reading »