[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Privacy Issues (Long)
This document first appeared in the Whole Earth Review magazine.
It appears here with the permission ofthe author, Robert Luhn who
retains the copyright.
>From [email protected] Thu May 26 15:49:45 1994
>Sounds ok by me. A couple of things you must do, however:
>1. You must note that the article is:
Copyright 1993 Robert Luhn, All rights reserved
>2. That the article first appeared in Whole Earth Review, Fall 1993 issue
>3. And if anyone wants to contact me, they can do so at [email protected]
>If that's ok, lemme know and you can post away!
This is a "toolkit" of resources and informtion about privacy.
It is divided into reviews of:
----> Newsletters and Journals
----> Advocacy Groups
----> Online Resources for Computer Users
----> Other resources
THE WHOLE EARTH PRIVACY TOOLKIT
Copyright 1993 Robert Luhn
1022 Curtis St.
Albany, CA 94706
MCI Mail: 302-9347
Internet: [email protected]
America Online: PCW LUHN
"Privacy is the most comprehensive of all rights...the right to
one's personality," wrote Louis Brandeis for the <<Harvard Law
Review>>, back in the musty pre-fax 1890s. But Judge Thomas
Cooley, an obscure contemporary of Brandeis', probably put it
better: "Privacy is the right to be let alone."
Unfortunately, our clever founding fathers neglected to mention
privacy specifically in either the Constitution or the Bill of
Rights. The fourth amendment does secure you from "unreasonable
searches and seizures", but it doesn't prevent your boss from
bugging the company bathroom, a federal employer from demanding a
urine sample, or your nosy neighbor from tapping into your
cordless phone conversations with a police scanner.
In sum, your safeguards against government, corporate, and
freelance snoopers are pretty slim, dependent on a handful of
narrow federal and state laws and scattered court precedents.
California and a few other states embed broad privacy protections
right up front in their constitutions, but this is an exception,
not the rule.
So don't leave home without protection. If you want to protect
your credit rating, prevent your boss from rifling through your
email, or keep the government out of your bladder, peruse this
compendium of vital privacy resources that no one should be
without. There's something here for everyone, from the casual
reader to the privacy buff.
Your Right to Privacy
This omnibus pocket guide from the ACLU covers just about every
privacy issue under the sun, such as what an employer can
disclose from your personnel records, confidentiality of AIDS
tests, who can ask for your Social Security number, how to
correct government records, and how to deal with sneaky private
investigators. "If there's enough money, you can get anything"
boasts one anonymous PI in the book. "You have to find the weak
link in the chain and go for it!" The book doles out advice in an
accessible question and answer format, and includes just enough
history to give you the proper context. If you buy only one book,
buy this one.
<<Your Right to Privacy: A Basic Guide to Legal Rights in an
Evan Hendricks, et al, 1990; 208pp.
$7.95 from Southern Illinois University Press, P.O. Box 3697,
Carbondale, IL 62902-3697, or the ACLU.
Steal This Urine Test
If you've been asked to fill this cup, please, steal this book.
"Fighting Big Brother's Bladder Cops!" shouts the back cover, and
nothing could be truer. This classic 1987 volume by the late
rabble rouser Abbie Hoffman is still in print--a testament to the
growing acceptance of drug testing in America. Dear Abbie gives
you scoop on everything: the history of drugs and the
government's drug paranoia, the culture of employee surveillance,
the facts (pro and con) about drug use, the inaccuracy of drug
testing, and of course, how to <<beat>> a urine test, just in
<<Steal This Urine Test: Fighting the Drug Hysteria in America>>
Abbie Hoffman and Jonathan Silvers, 1987, 262pp.
$7.95 from Viking Penguin
Privacy for Sale
What happens to that "confidential" credit form you fill out? To
that workers compensation claim? <<Business Week>> reporter
Jeffrey Rothfeder knows, and it isn't pretty. Rothefeder's book
exposes the shadowy information underground--the marketplace
where credit agencies, the IRS, private investigators, direct
marketers, and other "data cowboys" legally and illegally acquire
and sell sensitive information on just about anyone. To
demonstrate the lax safeguards, the author easily nabs copies of
both Dan Quayle's and Dan Rather's credit reports. Rothfeder's
wry book is a cautionary tale of how our new electronic wild west
of private and governmental databases threaten personal privacy,
the economy, and more.
<<Privacy for Sale: How Computerization Has Made Everyone's
Private Life an Open Secret>>
Jeffrey Rothfeder, 1992, 224pp.
$22 from Simon & Schuster
Undercover: Police Surveillance in America
Gary Marx knows about undercover police first hand. When the
future MIT sociology professor was a student at UC Berkeley, his
student organization promoting racial equality was nearly
destroyed when the treasurer--a police agent--embezzled the
group's funds. But Marx's book looks beyond political policing
and tackles a tougher question: In the face of rising crime and
political corruption, when is undercover police surveillance
warranted? Marx examines this and many other uncomfortable
questions in this surprisingly readable and lively book for
academics and policy analysts, and arrives at a rather startling
conclusion: "In starting this book, I viewed undercover tactics
as an <<unnecessary evil.>> But, in the course of research I have
conluded, however reluctantly, that in the United States they are
a <<necessary evil>>." An extensively researched book that
specialists--and some general interest readers--will find
<<Undercover: Police Surveillance in America>>
Gary T. Marx, 1988, 284pp.
$11.95 from University of California Press
Privacy: How to Get It, How to Enjoy it
This book is a Mulligan's stew of privacy advice, philosophy,
resources, humor, and a little conspiracy paranoia thrown in for
good measure. But as you read story after story--the "little
Einstein" who hacked into 21 Canadian computer systems, banks
blithely (and illegally) sharing depositor information with just
about anyone--you begin to see the author's point of view.
<<Privacy>>'s pithy chapters identify key privacy abuses (from
credit card scams to the 24 federal agencies that gather
intelligence on Americans), offers pointed remedies, explains
obscure laws that help you keep a low profile, and suggests books
to read. Sometimes the advice is right on ("consider the use of
mail-drop services") and sometimes downright weird ("you and your
friends might try learning an obscure foreign language to promote
privacy"). Either way, it's a fascinating, eclectic read. Note:
Eden Press offers half a dozen other privacy books, from
<<Personal and Business Privacy>> to <<100 Ways to Disappear and
Live Free>>. For the privacy anarchist within.
<<Privacy: How to Get It, How to Enjoy it>>
Bill Kaysing, 1991, 128pp.
$18.95 from Eden Press, P.O. Box 8410, Fountain Valley, CA 92728
Privacy in America
David Linowes is one of the privacy experts that every writer
cites, and with good reason--his knowledge is encyclopedic.
Although this book mirrors <<Privacy for Sale>> in focusing on
the abuse of computerized personal data, Linowes' thoroughly
researched and chilling anecdotes will get your blood boiling.
The book embraces everything from genetic screening to electronic
fraud, showing time and again how privacy laws and other
safeguards are regularly flouted by government and business
alike. The book is light on advice, but its overwhelming
evidence, copious studies, surveys, and polls make it worth the
<<Privacy in America: Is Your Private Life in the Public Eye?>>
David Linowes, 1989, 192pp.
$19.95 from University of Illinois Press, 54 East Gregory Drive,
Champaign, IL 61820
How to Get Anything on Anybody
Want to learn how the pros tap a phone, surreptitiously videotape
someone, tail a bad guy, or crack into a "secure" computer? This
ultimate hardware catalog-cum-how-to-manual for professional
snoopers tells all, and even notes where you can buy neat-o spy
stuff. It's also a boon for less nosy folk, says author Lapin,
because "the first time someone kicks you right in the privacy
act" you'll be prepared. If nothing else says Lapin, remember
this: "law enforcement agencies are only the tip of the
electronic eavesdropping iceberg. Most bugs are planted by people
to spy on their spouses or to gain an advantage in business."
<<How to Get Anything on Anybody: The Encyclopedia of Personal
Lee Lapin, 1991, 224pp.
$38 postpaid from ISECO Inc., 2228 S. El Camino Real #349, San
Mateo, CA 94403
Other books of interest:
<<Don't Bug Me: The Latest High-Tech Spy Methods>> (M.L. Shannon,
$23.95 postpaid, Paladin Press). A companion volume to Lee
Lapin's books, with emphasis on showing you how to protect
yourself from electronic eavesdropping.
<<The Law of Privacy in a Nutshell>> (Robert Ellis Smith, $14.50,
Privacy Journal). Not for casual readers, but if you have an
interest in the law and the historical underpinnings of privacy
rights (from torts to "fair information" practices), this book is
<<Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads & Police Repression in
Urban America>>. (Frank Donner, $34.95, UC Press)
An exhaustively researched book on repressive police tactics over
the last 30 years, with much coverage devoted to covert
surveillance, and the illegal compilation and distribution of
<<Cloak and Gavel: FBI Wiretaps, Bugs, Informers, and the
Supreme Court>> (Alexander Charns, $24.95, Univ. of Illinois
Press). You think you've got it bad? A gripping tale of how
Hoover's FBI bugged, harassed, and otherwise attempted to
manipulate the Supreme Court during the '50s and '60s.
<<Confidential Information Sources, Public and Private>>
(John Carroll, $45, Butterworth-Heinemann).
The skinny on private and public databases--who maintains what
data on whom and what rules (if any) regulate how that
information is disseminated. A slow read, but a valuable
<<The I.R.S. and the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts of
1974>> (Marcus Farbenblum, $32.50, McFarland & Company).
Although the subject's arcane, this readable guide details how
the IRS withholds records and obscures it own procedures--and how
you can make the IRS "tell you everything you have a right to
----> Newsletters and Journals
This indispensable 8 page monthly digest covers key privacy
stories, legislation, abuses, and trends in the U.S. and abroad,
with a special focus on computerized information and
telecommunications. Publisher and gadfly Robert Ellis Smith has
been puttin out <<PJ>> for nearly 20 years, frequently testifies
before Congress on privacy legislation, and is a constant thorn
in the side of credit bureaus. An accessible guide that will
inspire you to get mad. Note: <<PJ>> also publishes a number of
useful reference books and studies.
<<Privacy Journal>>, P.O. box 28577, Providence, RI 02908,
401/274-7861. Subscription: $109/year; Special <<WER>> discount:
This biweekly 10 page newsletter put out by Evan Hendricks is
more news oriented and more timely than <<Privacy Journal>>. If
you're a privacy maven, you'll appreciate the in-depth coverage
(such as why the Bush administration tried to shut down the FOIA
office), and the summaries of recent court rulings affecting
<<Privacy Times>>, P.O. Box 21501, Washington, DC 20009, 202/829-
3660, 202/829-3653 (fax). Subscription: $250/year for 26 issues
Worried about who's peeking in your genes? This bi-monthly
newsletter is a one-stop source for news about the social,
political, and ethical consequences of genetic engineering.
Topics range from how insurers use genetic testing to weed out
"bad" risks, to DNA identification, as well as non-privacy
<<geneWatch>>, Council for Responsible Genetics, 19 Garden St.,
Cambridge, MA 02138, 617/868-0870, 617/864-5164 (fax).
Subscription: $15-$30 for six issues
"If An Agent Knocks: Federal Investigators and Your
This bargain pamphlet is the ultimate how-to privacy guide. Using
a simple question and answer format, you learn what to do if a
federal agent tries to question you, the scoop on agencies that
gather political intelligence, how the feds infiltrate political
organizations, and much more. In English and Spanish.
$1 from the Center for Constitutional Rights, 666 Broadway, New
York, NY 10012, 212/614-6464
"How to Use Freedom of Information Statutes"
Curious about what Big Brother has on you? This informative guide
shows you how to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and
California Public Records Act to access files maintained on you
by the government. You learn what's open and what's exempt, and
how to make a request (sample letters are included); relevant
addresses and copies of the two acts in question are included.
$12 from the Freedom of Information Project, 102 Banks St.
San Francisco, CA 94110, 415/641-0651
"Your Right to Privacy"
This special report written for the <<Congressional Quarterly>>
is an excellent introduction to personal and workplace privacy.
Plusses: a summary of federal privacy laws, a table detailing
privacy laws by state, and tips on how to protect yourself. $7,
January 20, 1989 Editorial Research Report,
Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1414 22nd St. NW, Washington, D.C.,
"Genetic Monitoring and Screening in the Workplace" (S/N 052-003-
01217-1) and "Medical Monitoring and Screening in the Workplace"
(S/N to come)
For privacy and medical buffs. These two reports from the Office
of Technology Assessment aren't exactly light reading, but they
contain a wealth of information about the state of genetic
testing; the ethical, political and privacy implications; surveys
on use and attitudes; and copious references.
$12 each from the Superintendent of Documents, Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 20402-9325, 202/783-3238
"Privacy Law in the United Sates: Failing to Make the Grade"
This 32 page report by the US Privacy Council and the Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) spotlights the
huge gaps in American privacy laws, lax enforcement by federal
agencies, and argues persuasively for the creation of a national
data protection board. Somewhat technical, but a good source.
$10 from CPSR, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94301, 415/322-3778,
Internet: [email protected]
"Protecting Electronic Messaging: A Guide to the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act of 1986"
Is an email message as protected as the U.S. Mail? A phone call?
A conversation in the company cafeteria? This pricey and somewhat
technical guide clarifies this and other questions, helps
employers interpret federal law, and if nothing else, will
motivate your boss to adopt strict guidelines on email privacy.
$195 ($55 for members), Electronic Mail Assocation, 1555 Wilson
Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington, VA, 22209-2405, 703/875-8620.
----> Advocacy Groups
American Civil Liberties Union
There's no national 911 for privacy emergencies, but the ACLU is
the next best thing. This granddaddy of all privacy organizations
lobbies, educates, and sues on just about every privacy front.
Your local ACLU chapter is a resource for cheap reports covering
many privacy concerns (from student rights to FOIA access), can
offer legal referrals, and in certain cases, represent you in
Membership: $20/year. ACLU, 122 Maryland Ave. NE, Washington, DC
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The EFF was co-founded by <<1-2-3>> creator and former Lotus
Development chairman Mitch Kapor to "promote privacy services for
network users and examine the interaction of computers and
society." In short, EFF advocates electronic democracy in all its
forms, and is a force in ensuring that new communications
technologies are open to everyone and receive proper
Constitutional protection. The group lobbies Congress and various
federal agencies, defends users wrongly accused of computer
crimes, educates and publishes reports, sponsors various
conferences, provides legal referrals and counseling, and
sometimes sues federal agencies under the FOIA. <<EFFector
Online>>, the EFF's newsletter packed with tips, information, and
recent testimony, is posted on popular online services and
electronic bulletin boards.
Membership: $20/year (students); $40 (regular); $100 (corporate).
Electronic Frontier Foundation, 155 Second Street #35, Cambridge,
MA 02141, 617/864-0665, 617/864-0866 (fax)
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Like the EFF, CPSR is concerned about civil liberties, computing,
and telecommunications. The well-regarded group has testified at
more than a dozen Congressional hearings, led the campaign to
stop the FBI's wiretap proposal earlier this year, and recently
recommended privacy guidelines for national computer networks.
Current CPSR priorities include medical record privacy, curbing
the misuse of Social Security numbers, and promoting privacy for
Membership: $40/year (basic); $75/year (regular). CPSR, P.O. Box
717, Palo Alto, CA 94301, 415/322-3778.
National Consumers League
For activist consumers and workers, NCL is the party to join. The
group tackles everything from food irradiation to workplace
safety to telemarketing fraud. But the NCL has a special place in
its heart for privacy issues, and recently commissioned a
national survey on workplace privacy. The bimonthly <<NCL
Bulletin>> reports on these and other issues.
Membership: $20/yr. National Consumers League, 815 15th Street
NW, Suite 928-N, Washington, DC 20005. 202/639-8140
Like Amnesty International, Privacy International is a global
organization dedicated to fostering human rights--in this case,
privacy rights. Only 2 years old, PI's first task is to sound the
alarm over privacy abuses throughout the world and to push for
the adoption of practices that "guard against malicious or
dangerous use of technology". PI raises awareness internationally
about privacy assaults, repressive surveillance practices,
coordinates privacy advocates around the world, and like Amnesty
International, monitors and reports on abuses country by country.
Members also receive the <<International Privacy Bulletin>>, a
quarterly newsletter with privacy reports from around the world,
legislative updates, and news on related civil liberties issues.
Membership: $50. Privacy International, c/o CPSR, 666
Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003.
----> Online Resources for Computer Users
CompuServe is the Macy's of online services--there's something
for everyone. Privacy buffs should check out the Electronic
Frontier Foundation (GO EFFSIG), whose rallying cry is "Civilize
Cyberspace!". EFFSIG offers online conferences, Q&A with EFF
staff, and a well-stocked library that includes back issues of
<<EFFector Online>>, essays on privacy issues, online cyberpunk
magazines, and more. Other relevant special interest groups
(SIGs): "The Journalism Forum" (GO JFORUM), which focuses on
privacy, ethics and journalism; "The Legal Forum" (GO LAWSIG),
which includes chitchat and papers about privacy and
telecommunications law; and the "Legal Research Center" (GO
LEGALRC), an online legal search service that includes indexes
for over 750 law journals, studies, publications, plus access to
a handful of legal databases.
Membership: $39.95 one-time fee, plus $7.95/month. CompuServe,
5000 Arlington Centre Blvd., P.O. Box 20212, Columbus, OH 43220,
This laid-back online service is <<the>> online privacy resource.
Put out by the same people who, gosh, put out <<Whole Earth
Review>>, the WELL offers a cornucopia of databases, online
conferences, electronic mail, access to USENET "newsgroups"
(including privacy groups), and much more. Three forums are
largely dedicated to privacy issues: EFF (Electronic Frontier
Foundation), CPSR (Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility), and CFP (Computers, Freedom & Privacy). You get
online privacy experts, conferences, updates on legislation, the
status of court cases, and a chance to truly interact with
privacy professionals. The WELL's interface is a little clunky,
but you won't find more privacy resources online anywhere.
Subscription: $15/month, $2/hr of connect time. The WELL, 27 Gate
Five Road, Sausalito, CA 94965-1401, 415/332-4335 (voice),
----> Other resources:
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Hotline
10am to 3pm, M-F
Unlike other informational phone lines that play back canned
tapes, the Clearinghouse is staffed by live, savvy privacy
advocates who can answer questions on a range of privacy issues
affecting Californians. Funded by the Public Utility Commission
and provided by the Center for Public Interest Law at the
University of San Diego, the Hotline can answer questions,
provide referrals (such as an insider's phone number at a credit
bureau), and send you privacy fact sheets on everything from
workplace privacy to using cordless phones. Lucid, sharp advice--
and its free!
"The Privacy Project: Personal Privacy in the Information Age"
This engaging 13 part series, originally produced for Western
Public Radio, is now available on cassette. The half hour
episodes combine humor, hard-nosed advice, and interviews with
privacy experts. An excellent introduction to privacy issues,
from Caller ID to credit bureaus. The company also sells audio
tapes of recent Computers, Freedom & Privacy conferences.
$11/tape, $75 for all 13. Pacifica Radio Archive, 3729 Cahuenga
Blvd. West, North Hollywood, CA 91604, 800/735-0230
"The Complete Video Library of Computers, Freedom & Privacy"
This video collection from various CFP conferences captures
legal, computer, privacy, and ethics experts debating key privacy
issues. See Lawrence Tribe on "The Constitution in Cyberspace",
the Secret Service on law enforcement problems, Gary Marx on
computer surveillance, the FBI on phone tapping, and more.
$55/tape; $385-$480 for complete sets. Sweet Pea Communications,
Computers, Freedom & Privacy Video Project, P.O. Box 912,
Topanga, CA 90290, 800/235-4922.
<<Robert Luhn writes about the politics of technology and is co-
author of "The Green PC," a syndicated column about the
environmental impact of personal computing. You can reach him
online via MCI Mail (302-9347) or American Online (PCW LUHN).>>
"Personal Stealth: Ten Things You Can Do to Protect Your Own
1. Minimize data collection. Only give out information that
<<you>> believe is really essential. And be careful: data is
often gathered automatically without your knowledge or
2. Check for accuracy when data is collected for credit,
medical, and personnel records. Check the information
periodically for accuracy and to see who else has accessed these
3. Exercise your right to opt out. If you feel like it, write
to the Direct Marketing Association's mail and telephone
preference services, to be removed from list exchanges. [Write
to: Direct Marketing Association, 11 West 42nd St., P.O. Box
3861, New York, NY 10163-3861.] Unlist your name and address from
the phone book. Use call blocking when you don't want to identify
yourself over the phone. If you don't want your information
shared, say so.
4. Follow privacy issues. You'll find ongoing coverage in the
<<Wall Street Journal>> and in newsletters such as <<Privacy
Journal>> and <<Privacy Times>>. Look for them in your library,
along with books and other materials on privacy. Educate others
about what you've learned about privacy. Share your insights with
family, friends, and co-workers.
5. Advocate changes in law and public policy. Let your views be
known to your state and federal lawmakers. Write to your public
utilities commission about telephone privacy issues. Write
letters to the editor; let them know your views about privacy and
that you'd like to see more coverage.
6. Advocate from within. In the organizations where you have
the needs of all stakeholders.
7. Read the fine print. Ask hard questions. Support businesses
that respect your privacy; avoid those that don't.
8. Defend and respect the privacy of others.
9. Beware of wireless conversations. People do hear your
cordless, cellular, mobile, and ship-to-shore communications. If
you don't want to be overhead by your boss, your employees, the
police, reporters, or two-bit criminals, don't broadcast it. And
remember: the person on the other end of the conversation may use
a cordless phone. If this is a problem for you, scramble your
communications with encryption. The same goes for electronic mail
and voice mail. Change your passwords frequently and don't trust
any service 100%, even if it's encrypted.
10. Be alert, but not overly paranoid. If you follow steps 1
through 9, you're doing all you can.
<<From: "The Privacy Project: Personal Privacy in the Information
Age", a radio series produced by Pacific Multimedia for Western
"Marc Rotenberg's Privacy Shelf"
Marc Rotenberg is the director of the Washington office of the
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, chair of the
ACM Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights, and
something of an expert on privacy and telecommunications. In an
informal electronic interview conducted over Internet, Rotenberg
shared some of the resources he thinks every privacy buff should
The Handbook of Personal Data Protection
(Wayne Madsen, 1992, $170 from Stockton Press)
"Outstanding and comprehensive. The bible of international
Regulating Privacy: Data Protection in Europe and the United
(Colin Bennet, 1992, $16.95 from Cornell University Press, )
"The first comparative study of privacy protection law. Well
written and informative."
Uneasy Access: Privacy for Women in a Free Society,
(Anita Allen, 1988, $21 list, $24 post-paid from University Press
"Explores the role of gender in privacy. An important book by a
leading privacy scholar."
Privacy Laws & Business
"An excellent [British] publication that's timely and
comprehensive. A little expensive, but invaluable for people who
are interested in following closely privacy developments around
the world." Subscription: 240 pounds/year, 4 issues. Call 081-
"The Right to Privacy"
(Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, 1890, in the <<Harvard Law
"For history buffs and privacy experts, this 1890 article is the
starting point for privacy law. Considered one of the most
important law review articles of all times (it essentially
created the legal right of privacy in the U.S.), it is still a
valuable resource for understanding the right of privacy."
From owner-cypherpunks Thu May 26 15:55:52 1994