Wednesday, October 26, 2005


No place to lay our head: Privacy vanishes in Bushco's America

ZDNet ate their Libertarian Wheaties® today: All U.S. passports will be implanted with remotely readable computer chips starting in October 2006, the Bush administration has announced....Over the last year, opposition to the idea of implanting RFID chips in passports has grown amidst worries that identity thieves could snatch personal information out of the air simply by aiming a high-powered antenna at a person or a vehicle carrying a passport. Out of the 2,335 comments on the plan that were received by the State Department this year, 98.5 percent were negative. They also linked the following from Techrepublic: Rules demanding that Internet providers and universities rewire their networks for FBI surveillance are being challenged in federal court. Europeans have better privacy than Americans Despite the vocal warnings of some privacy rights advocates, U.S. consumers have never pushed hard for national privacy laws. American companies have been free to exchange subscriber and customer lists with little public outcry. Europeans have viewed this information as the property of the individual. Europeans may "loan" their data for a specific purpose, but they still retain ownership. We Americans have been far more laissez-faire. More than 50 million Americans have had their personal information exposed so far this year. Is it any surprise to learn that identity theft has become the number one consumer complaint to the FTC? Like FEMA, the U.S. government's cybersecurity functions were centralized under the Department of Homeland Security during the vast reshuffling that cobbled together 22 federal agencies three years ago. Auditors had warned months before Hurricane Katrina that FEMA's internal procedures for handling people and equipment dispatched to disasters were lacking. In an unsettling parallel, government auditors have been saying that Homeland Security has failed to live up to its cybersecurity responsibilities and may be "unprepared" for emergencies.
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