Microsoft has caused quite a stir regarding an updated product that hasn’t yet shipped. The new version of its Explorer web browser will be preset to reject tracking of a person’s online movements. The company’s Chief Privacy Officer, Brendon Lynch, confirmed in a blog post that Windows 8 (containing Explorer 10 web browser) will have Do Not Track (DNT) enabled as the default setting. DNT tells advertising and analytics companies that an individual does not want to have their information collected or used. Naturally, if your company’s business model relies of being able to track users, having the world’s most popular web browser (ostensibly) make that choice for its users, doesn’t sit well. By default, users would be opted-out of tracking. Opponents of Microsoft’s decision include the influential World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which had asked the company to make it an option rather than a preset. Others theorize that advertisers may simply ignore users’ preference arguing that Microsoft, not the individual consumer, chosen not be to tracked. This is topical and raises several very interesting privacy questions that may lead to legislative initiatives or legal challenges.
Category Archives: Cloud Computing
California’s top attorney, Kamala Harris, announced the launch of the Department of Justice’s Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit, being formed to guard the privacy of Californians by prosecuting violators of state and federal laws. The press release says “The Privacy Unit will police the privacy practices of individuals and organizations to hold accountable those who misuse technology to invade the privacy of others.” The new department, with six veteran prosecutors, will wield broad enforcement powers over cyber privacy, health privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, government records and data breaches. It will operate within the eCrime Unit that Harris created in 2011.
Welcome to Privacy Matters, a Nolo blog devoted to information privacy and data security issues as they relate to small businesses and consumers. Information privacy covers the rules that apply to the gathering and handling of “personal information” — in other words information that can be traced to a particular individual, like geolocation information, credit information, or health records.
Privacy law varies by industry, state, country, transaction and customer and is complicated. Through blog posts and an ongoing series of Nolo primer articles, I hope to provide general, useful information about fundamental privacy principles and best practices that Internet, technology and bricks and mortar businesses need to be aware of, as this area of law can be a field of landmines for the unknowing.
Class action lawsuits and Federal Trade Commission enforcement actions against tech titans like Facebook and Google, and high-profile data breaches jeopardizing that private data of millions of individuals and tarnishing the reputations of scores of companies like Sony, Heartland Payments Systems and RSA Security — have thrust privacy onto the front pages. It’s important for small business owners to recognize that the same rules that have gotten large companies into trouble apply to small businesses as well. When it comes to privacy, an once of prevention is, in fact, worth a pound of cure.