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.: EU biometric RFID scheme unworkable, says EU tech report - 23rd Dec 2004

"European plans for biometric passports and visas have been derailed by, er, European plans for biometric passports and visas. A technical committee set up to report to the Council of Ministers on the implementation of a uniform visa format has concluded that collisions between contactless chips in a passport would make the current plans unworkable, reports Statewatch.

The basic problem was eminently predictable, and stems from plans for a standard form of biometric identification across a number of different documents, not all of which are entirely controlled by Europe. Notably, the common European passport format is not, if you think about it, entirely controlled by Europe. So how does that work (or not), then?..."
[The Register]

.: Wireless privacy, spyware bills lapse as U.S. Congress adjourns - 13th Dec 2004

"U.S. legislation aimed at protecting the privacy of mobile-telephone users and curbing 'spyware' computer programs will have to wait until next year after Congress adjourned without taking final action. The bills didn't come up for votes by the full Congress after passing in one chamber or in committee. Congress returned for a final 2004 session this week, mainly to approve a reorganization of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The adjournment may also set back an effort led by California Republican Representative Mary Bono to crack down on spyware programs that monitor computer users' Web surfing habits without their knowledge. "You can guarantee that she's going to be pushing this next year" said Kimberly Pencille, a spokeswoman for Bono, the chief sponsor of a bill that would fine purveyors of illegal spyware..."
[Boston Herald]

.: What Price Privacy? - 13th Dec 2004

"A huge spending bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday could create a new hot job-growth sector: chief privacy officers.

Every federal agency, regardless of size or function, will have to hire a chief privacy officer and employ an outside auditing firm biennially to ensure compliance with the nation's privacy laws, according to a little-noticed provision. Currently, only the Department of Homeland Security is required to have a chief privacy officer, though other agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, have had one for years..."

.: Is This Software On Your Hard Drive? - 11th Dec 2004

"How one of the Internet’s largest and most secretive adware companies really operates. With new regulations coming, will it really reform? We looked at the growing online presence of adware, software that sits on users’ hard drives and can slow down the desktop with resource-consuming pop-up ads. Adware companies like Claria, WhenU and 180solutions load their software onto hard drives by offering appealing free programs like games, updated weather reports and the like. The adware then serves pop-ups ads on the screen that are often related to the user’s Web activity.

Next year, Congress is likely to pass new legislation regulating the industry. It will require that adware companies obtain explicit permission from users before their programs are populated onto hard drives and to put their name at the top of each pop-up, so users know who’s responsible for it..."

.: Privacy pivotal to information age - 7th Dec 2004

"Privacy will become to the information age what environmental issues have been to the industrial age,” says Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (Epic).

Rotenberg made this comment to ITWeb at a break during the one-day African Electronic Privacy and Public Voice Symposium held in Cape Town yesterday. Epic is a public research interest centre in the US capital of Washington. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy and US constitutional values..."

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