South by Southwest (“SXSW”) Interactive kicked off last week, and Covington was there once again to cover privacy. One panel of interest that we attended, entitled “Data (in)Security: MIT Scientists Tackle Privacy,” featured MIT professors Danny Weitzner, Ronald Rivest, and Sam Madden discussing their current research and related privacy issues. All
This week, the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (“MIFA”) released its 2014 Fifth Annual Study on Medical Identity Theft, finding that in the last year, medical identity theft incidents increased by 21.7% from 2013. The study is annually conducted to determine the pervasiveness of medical identity theft in the United States, how it affects the lives of victims, and what steps should be taken by consumers, healthcare providers, and governments to reduce the incidence of this crime. Medical identity theft is defined by the report as occuring “when someone uses an individual’s name and personal identity to fraudulently receive medical services, prescription drugs and/or goods, including attempts to commit fraudulent billing.” In this study, medical identity theft also is deemed to occur when an individual shares his or her health insurance credentials with others.
Continue Reading Study Shows Increase in Medical Identity Theft
By Randall Friedland
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris yesterday released the second annual California Data Breach Report. The report provided statistics and analysis related to data breaches that were reported to the Attorney General’s office in 2013. The report also outlined suggested best practices and provided recommendations on ways to improve data security.
The report documented a clear upward trend in both the number of data breaches and those affected by such breaches. For instance, in 2013, there were 167 data breaches reported in California, which is an increase of over 28 percent from the 131 data breaches reported in 2012. Additionally, the records containing personal information of over 18.5 million California residents were compromised in 2013—a 600 percent increase from the previous year. Even if the two largest data breaches involving retailers were excluded from this calculation, California still experienced a 35 percent increase in the number of records affected by data breaches. …
Continue Reading California Attorney General’s Second Annual Data Breach Report Finds Dramatic Increase in Number of Data Breaches
As we have previously reported, in less than two weeks the FTC will host its anticipated workshop on big data and discrimination. Today the FTC announced a full agenda and panelists for the September 15th event, “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” which will take place in Washington, D.C., at the Constitution Center. The workshop is open to the public, and registration begins at 8 a.m. The following provides a full schedule of speakers and panels.
Continue Reading Schedule of Panelists for FTC’s Upcoming Big Data & Discrimination Workshop
Last Friday, the FTC announced an agenda for its upcoming workshop, “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” which will take place on Monday, Sept. 15, starting at 8:00 a.m. As we’ve previously reported, the workshop will build on recent efforts by the FTC and other government agencies to understand how new technologies affect the economy, government, and society, and the implications on individual privacy. In particular, while there has been much recognition for the value of big data in revolutionizing consumer services and generally enabling “non‐obvious, unexpectedly powerful uses” of information, there has been parallel focus on the extent to which practices and outcomes facilitated by big-data analytics could have discriminatory effects on protected communities.
The workshop will explore the use of big data and its impact on consumers, including low-income and underserved consumers, and will host the following panel discussions:
- Assessing the Current Environment. Examine current uses of big data in various contexts and how these uses impact consumers.
- What’s on the Horizon with Big Data? Explore potential uses of big data and possible benefits and harms for particular populations of consumers.
- Surveying the Legal Landscape. Review anti-discrimination and consumer-protection laws and discuss how they may apply to the use of big data, and whether there may be gaps in the law.
- Mapping the Path Forward. Consider best practices for the use of big data to protect consumers.
The FTC hopes that the workshop will build on the dialogue raised in its Spring Privacy Seminar Series held from February through May, which addressed mobile-device tracking, data brokers and predictive scoring, and consumer generated and controlled health data. The workshop will convene academic experts, business representatives, industry leaders, and consumer advocates, and will be open to the general public. In advance of the workshop, the FTC has invited the public to file comments, reports, and original research on the proposed topics. The deadline to submit pre-workshop comments is August 15. Following the workshop on September 15, the comment period will remain open until October 15.
The workshop comes on the heels of the White House’s anticipated report on big data released in May, which outlined the administration’s priorities in protecting privacy and data security in an era of big data. With an entire section dedicated to “Big Data and Discrimination,” the report warned that big data “could enable new forms of discrimination and predatory practices.” Chiefly focusing on the use of information, the report showed concern about using data to discriminate against vulnerable groups. Specifically, the report stated that “the ability to segment the population and to stratify consumer experiences so seamlessly as to be almost undetectable demands greater review, especially when it comes to the practice of differential pricing and other potentially discriminatory practices.” …
Continue Reading The FTC’s Agenda to Tackle Big Data and Discrimination
In conjunction with the White House’s comprehensive review of big-data and privacy issues that resulted in a 79-page report, last week the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (“PCAST”) released a parallel big-data report. The White House report is more general and contains six major policy recommendations, whereas the PCAST report, authored by an outside panel of counselors, was designed to provide a technical evaluation by examining the practical specifics of how big data and related technologies are actually used. Many observations and recommendations in the PCAST report are consistent with those presented in the White House report. The PCAST report, however, has been praised for its candor and for appearing to be more clear, even bold, in advocating particular positions on key issues. For example, in recommending a transition away from “notice and consent” — described in the White House report as a “central pillar” of the U.S. privacy legal system — and towards a “use” framework, the PCAST report states: “Only in some fantasy world do users actually read these notices and understand their implications before clicking to indicate their consent.”…
Today the White House released its big data and privacy report, entitled “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values.” The report is the result of a three-month review, which was led by White House counselor John Podesta and was first announced as part of the President’s January speech on NSA reform. It primarily outlines the…
Yesterday, industry and government panelists participated in a conference sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee that included a panel discussion on “Plumbing the Policy Implications of Data Analytics and Defining Big Data,” The Year’s Most Overused Term.”
According to press reports, Federal Trade Commission Senior Policy Adviser and panelist Paul Ohm acknowledged that big data may have potential benefits to public health and research, but also noted that the benefits of big data “tend to get overblown.” Mr. Ohm stated that, “when there is an expense to privacy, I think we should have discussions about whether the benefits [of big data] outweigh the costs.”
Erik Jones, Deputy General Counsel of the Senate Commerce Committee, told participants that the Committee is investigating the collection of big data for use by companies to market to consumers. He pointed specifically to last year’s inquiry by Commerce Committee Chairman, John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) into the activities of nine data brokers. According to press reports, Mr. Jones stated that the Committee is “not suggesting that there’s something inherently wrong” with the use of big data for marketing purposes, but indicated that the Committee wants to learn more about what information is being collected and how that information is used.
Mr. Ohm also expressed concern generally about whether supposedly anonymous data can be linked to real people in a world of “big data.” …
The Federal Trade Commission has announced that it will host a public workshop on December 6 to discuss the privacy issues raised by the collection of data about consumers’ online activities by so-called large platform providers. According to the scheduling notice, the FTC seeks to explore the potential privacy issues raised by the collection of…