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OpenMarket: Privacy and Cybersecurity

  • Target Breach -- Are Dodd-Frank "Swipe Fee" Price Controls to Blame?

    December 24, 2013
    Target wants  you to know it is oh-so-sorry for any inconvenience its data SNAFU (as OpenMarket is a family blog, please look up the acronym) has caused, and as a token of its concern, it offered customers a whooping 10 percent discount this weekend! In the meantime, who is cleaning up the mess from Target's breach that has affected as many as 40 million credit and debit card accounts? The nation's banks and credit unions -- big and small. In East Tennessee, for instance, Citizens National Bank canceled and reissued 1,000 credit and debit cards potentially affected, but took the step of calling each customer beforehand. This is just the latest incident in which banks and credit unions that...
  • Memo to Road Socialists: There Is Nothing Unlibertarian about Road Pricing

    November 5, 2013

    Virginia just elected Democrat Terry McAuliffe as governor, as had been predicted by every poll conducted during the past few months -- although at a much smaller margin than had been projected. During the twilight hours of the campaign, some of Republican Ken Cuccinelli's supporters began attacking Libertarian Robert Sarvis for various alleged ideological sins. One in particular involved Sarvis's expressed support for adopting a user-based funding model for Virginia's roads, specifically his mention of a mileage-based user fee as a possible replacement to fuel and non-user tax revenue.

    The claim is that this is necessarily a government surveillance scheme and that such a proposal is inherently unlibertarian. This is false and is based upon ignorance of how such systems actually operate. Furthermore, labeling a mileage-based user fee system as unlibertarian runs contrary to...

  • Stop Watching Us: End Suspicionless NSA Mass Surveillance

    October 23, 2013
    By now, pretty much everybody has heard that the U.S. National Security Agency is indiscriminately collecting private information about all Americans who use a major U.S. phone company -- including the phone numbers of both parties to any call involving a person in the United States. And the NSA is collecting buddy lists, monitoring email traffic, and gathering an untold-but-vast amount of other data from millions of people around the world. Stunning new revelations about this...
  • Gmail’s Targeted Advertising Accused of Being Wiretapping: Part 2

    October 16, 2013
    As I stated in my previous article, a federal court is currently hearing a lawsuit challenging Google’s “targeted advertising” practices. The plaintiffs claim the company violated the Wiretap Act, but Google insists that its conduct falls under exceptions within the Act. One such exception that likely applies to Google is the “ordinary course of business” clause:
    2(a)(i) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for an operator of a switchboard, or an officer, employee, or agent of a provider of wire or electronic communication service, whose facilities are used in the transmission of a wire or electronic communication, to intercept, disclose, or use that...
  • Gmail’s Targeted Advertising Accused of Being Wiretapping: Part 1

    October 9, 2013
    It has long been widely known that Google uses software that scans its users’ Gmail messages to generate targeted advertising. Recently, though, a lawsuit has been allowed to proceed in federal court in which the plaintiffs accuse Google of violating the Wiretap Act by scanning user emails. This controversy is nothing new for Google, which has faced numerous privacy challenges since launching Gmail in 2004. In the ongoing case, the plaintiffs base their complaint on the argument that Google’s email scanning violates the Wiretap Act, a federal law that prohibits the interception of wired and...
  • Mississippi Should Tell CFPB to "Stop Spying on Me"

    September 17, 2013
    The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is coming to Mississippi Wednesday and Thursday with a public forum on "access to information." A vital question for Mississippians to ask leaders of the bureaucracy at the venue, being held from 11 AM to 1 PM tomorrow at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, is why the CFPB wants so much access to their personal information. Here is the CFPB's meeting agenda for Mississippi. This Facebook page tells about the privacy violations and other problems with this uniquely unaccountable governmental entity. The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul to defend consumers in the credit card and mortgage markets, is building a database of sensitive individual financial information...
  • CEI Podcast for July 18, 2013: The NSA Gets Sued

    July 19, 2013
    In the wake of the NSA’s spying scandal, several groups are filing a lawsuit challenging the NSA’s actions as unconstitutional. Associate Director of Technology Studies Ryan Radia shares many of the suit’s criticisms of the NSA, and adds a few of his own.
  • DHS Secretary Napolitano Resigns, TSA Body Scanner Scandal Remains Unresolved

    July 12, 2013
    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resigning to become president of the University of California system. Republican politicians such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) quickly praised Napolitano when news of her resignation broke, with McCain saying she "served our nation with honor" and McCaul touting her as "someone who does not underestimate the threats against us." Fortunately, not all Republican members of Congress are as enthusiastic when it comes to America's bloated and malignant security state. “Secretary Napolitano’s departure comes not a minute too soon,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.). “Now is a good time for Congress to consider dismantling the monstrous Department of Homeland Security and replacing it with a smaller security focused entity that is realistically capable of connecting...
  • CEI Podcast for June 26, 2013: TSA Full-Body Scanner Transparency

    June 26, 2013
    Fellow in Land-use and Transportation Studies Marc Scribner discusses the TSA's lack of transparency and the scanners' ineffectiveness in deterring terrorism.
  • E-Verify: A Boon for Lawyers, Bad for Employers

    June 24, 2013
    I have written extensively about the threats to Americans’ civil liberties from E-Verify, the employment verification system contained within the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill.[i] I have also written a study outlining the costs of E-Verify to the economy—at least $8.5 billion per year.[ii] But the problems from E-Verify go far beyond what can be estimated in a simple study. Regulatory complications will ultimately make the system much more costly than anyone can predict now. The most recent evidence for this fact comes from a report by Immigration Daily (ILW.com), the largest immigration attorney website in the country. “The reaction of the large law firms is a little different than the conventional wisdom—apparently legalization is not where they see the opportunity,” its editors wrote this Friday. “The...

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