Paul Ohm

Maybe I’m a Luddite for feeling uninterested in letting Instagram know where I took my last photo. Maybe I’m crazy for not geotagging my Facebook updates.

But here’s the thing: your electronic privacy is like handling a bad romantic relationship. If you give yourself away too easily, you might not be surprised if your partner — or in this case, your cell phone carrier — sells your personal information to make money and help other companies sell you more crap.

Case in point: Verizon, which is catching fire from privacy rights advocates for the way it handles (read: sells) its customers’ cellphone data. Amuurica, f**k yeah….

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If anyone still actually used MySpace, I think it would be news to a lot of people. That notwithstanding, the OG social networking site made headlines yesterday for settling with the FTC over some major alleged privacy problems.

It’s just more proof that by going on the internet, you are basically getting naked and showing everyone your family jewels. No one should be surprised by stuff like this anymore, but let’s see the details of the allegations, as well as what MySpace has to do now….

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Why is Bob smiling? Because police now need a warrant to check his email (joke stolen from Julian Sanchez).

Thanks to a huge decision out of the Sixth Circuit, your email and the Fourth Amendment just got better acquainted. The police need to get a warrant to take a peek at the contents of someone’s inbox, writes Judge Danny Boggs — once rumored to be on the SCOTUS shortlist — in the court’s opinion (PDF, via a thrilled EFF).

The court says that the 1986 Stored Communications Act, which grants law enforcement access to email older than 180 days old with a simple subpoena or court order, is unconstitutional, since it enables the police to conduct unreasonable searches.

“This is a very big deal,” writes law professor Paul Ohm. “[T]his is the opinion privacy activists and many legal scholars, myself included, have been waiting and calling for, for more than a decade. It may someday be seen as a watershed moment in the extension of our Constitutional rights to the Internet.”

The case that led to the decision dealt with extensions of a different variety. The defendant that challenged the po-po’s warrantless search of his email is Steven Warshak, the mastermind behind Enzyte, a questionable herbal supplement purported to increase the size of a man’s erection. Sometimes, new constitutional protections pop out of the strangest places…

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