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OpenMarket: Privacy and Cybersecurity

  • 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 (, 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...
  • E-Verify National ID System Threatens Americans’ Privacy

    June 18, 2013
    “I’m not a criminal, so there’s really no reason for me to be in a criminal database.” That was James Shepherd, a Kentucky native and a roofer, after he was stopped by police under “suspicion of trespassing” at a Florida hotel. The officer on the scene asked to take his picture and ran it through Florida’s facial recognition database. Finding no matches, he uploaded Shepherd’s photo with the label “suspicious person.” Florida is one of 26 states that use facial recognition software to verify identities of individuals who possess state ID photos or have their photos added by police, according a...
  • Sorry, Daily Beast: E-Verify Will Be National ID

    May 13, 2013
    Daily Beast blogger Justin Green, who blogs on columnist David Frum’s Daily Beast blog, has responded to Wired’s recent article “Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform.” Green thinks that there is no reason for concern, writing that “fortunately, Wired's assertion is false.” Unfortunately, he has been misled. First, Green claims that biometric information is being collected, but “those affected are unauthorized aliens, not American citizens.” But this is incorrect. The E-Verify database will affect every single U.S. citizen who is a potential worker. Given the fact that the database will include photographs, it is biometric. Green responds by quoting an anonymous Senate aide telling him...
  • Correcting Misconceptions about Autonomous Vehicles: Reason Magazine Edition

    May 10, 2013
    In the June issue of Reason, one of my favorite publications, Greg Beato has an article discussing the public policy implications of autonomous vehicles, such as Google's Self-Driving Car. While I appreciate libertarians (being one myself) taking this technology seriously, Beato makes a number of questionable assumptions and outright factual errors in the piece. Here's my quick attempt to address some of them. Beato begins with obligatory Google-bashing common among techies, who seem to either love Google or despise it. (This is probably too simplistic, but this is how it looks like to a Silicon Valley outsider.) The legal issues with respect to Google's collection of unprotected Wi-Fi data are complicated from a libertarian perspective, those related to Google's settlement with the FTC "for ...
  • Housing Nominee Watt Flunks Privacy And Transparency Tests

    May 1, 2013
    Two prerequisites for any nominee for government posts is dedication to transparency in government and a respect for the privacy of citizens. Before we get to any other issue about Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C.,  President Obama's expected nominee to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the government housing entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we must first get past his troubling record on two issues regarding these concerns in which he was on the opposite side of bipartisan good-government coalitions. During the debate leading up to the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul in 2o10, Watt supported nearly all of the legislation's costly mandates on the private sector. But he thought having the Federal Reserve go through a simple audit of its books by the Government Accountability Office, which nearly every other agency goes through, would place...
  • Separate Security Cameras and State

    April 22, 2013
    In his column today, The Wall Street Journal's Gordon Crovitz notes the significant help that video footage played in helping police identify the Boston Marathon bombers. However, he seems to miss what the Boston police's success actually implies -- that government-run security cameras are unnecessary for protecting public safety.
    Boston is one of the less-wired large cities when it comes to surveillance cameras, so authorities relied largely on footage from private parties, such as the Lord & Taylor department store near the scene. The most recent estimate, from 2010, is that Boston and surrounding towns have some 150 police surveillance cameras, plus 400 in the subway. This compares with more than 3,000 government and networked private cameras in New York City...
  • CEI Podcast For April 18, 2013: CISPA Is The Wrong Approach To Cybersecurity

    April 18, 2013
    Today, the House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA). Associate Director of Technology Studies Ryan Radia opposes the bill.
  • Americans Reject Actual E-Verify System

    April 9, 2013
    Imagine there was a free program that could guarantee for employers a legal workforce and eliminate illegal immigration. Would you favor such a system? Yes or no? This is essentially how all polls attempt to gauge the popularity of E-Verify, the electronic national identification system included in many immigration reform proposals. Then, the system’s proponents exclaim, “Americans demand E-Verify!” Last year, for example, when Rep. Lamar Smith proposed mandating E-Verify for all employers, the electronic national identification system used to catch unauthorized workers, he cited a Pulse Opinion Research poll that found that just 11 percent of Americans opposed a...
  • Labor's Loss: Secret Ballot Protection Advances In Virginia

    March 21, 2013
    This week Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell struck a little heralded -- but much needed -- blow for privacy rights in the Old Dominion by signing two key bills: House Bill 1385, the "Secret Ballot Protection Act," and House Bill 1931, the "KEEP Secure Act: Keep Employees Emails and Phones Secure Act." The "Secret Ballot Protection Act" will provide, according to legislation summary, that:
    [I]n any procedure providing for the designation, selection, or authorization of a labor organization to represent employees, the right of an individual employee to vote by secret ballot is a fundamental right that shall be guaranteed from infringement.
    A secret ballot is, of course, a cornerstone of the democratic process, and absolutely vital to ensuring elections free of intimidation and coercion -- which...


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