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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

FTC releases facial recognition technology guidelines

On October 22, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a staff report "Facing Facts: Best Practices for Common Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies" to provide guidance to the increasing number of companies using facial recognition technologies to help protect consumers’ privacy as they use the technologies to create innovative new commercial products and services.

Facial recognition technologies have been adopted in a variety of contexts, ranging from online social networks and mobile apps to digital signs, the FTC staff report states. They have a number of potential uses, such as determining an individual’s age range and gender in order to deliver targeted advertising; assessing viewers’ emotions to see if they are engaged in a video game or a movie; or matching faces and identifying anonymous individuals in images.

Facial recognition also has raised a variety of privacy concerns because – for example – it holds the prospect of identifying anonymous individuals in public, and because the data collected may be susceptible to security breaches and hacking.

The FTC staff report recommends that companies using facial recognition technologies:
  • design their services with consumer privacy in mind;
  • develop reasonable security protections for the information they collect, and sound methods for determining when to keep information and when to dispose of it;
  • consider the sensitivity of information when developing their facial recognition products and services – for example, digital signs using facial recognition technologies should not be set up in places where children congregate.
The staff report also recommends that companies take steps to make sure consumers are aware of facial recognition technologies when they come in contact with them, and that they have a choice as to whether data about them is collected. So, for example, if a company is using digital signs to determine the demographic features of passersby, such as age or gender, they should provide clear notice to consumers that the technology is in use before consumers come into contact with the signs.
In the 2002 film Minority Report, Steven Spielberg imagined a world in which companies use biometric technology to identify us and serve us targeted ads. Ten years later, that vision is coming closer to reality. Having overcome the high costs and poor accuracy that once stunted its growth, one form of biometric technology – facial recognition – is quickly moving out of the realm of science fiction and into the commercial marketplace. . . .
The recent technological advances in the field of facial recognition undoubtedly provide a variety of benefits to consumers in the form of interesting products and services. However, as we have seen with other technologies, technological advances and the attendant business models they create often move faster than consumers’ awareness or comfort. The best practices recommended in this report can guide companies as they develop new products and services and craft the processes and systems that will govern their operations. Moreover, because implementing these practices will promote consumer trust and ensure the continued growth of this industry, companies currently have incentives to engage in them. Fortunately, the commercial use of facial recognition technologies is still young. This creates a unique opportunity to ensure that as this industry grows, it does so in a way that respects the privacy interests of consumers while preserving the beneficial uses the technology has to offer. The FTC will continue to monitor this area and explore ways to work with industry, and educate and protect consumers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Study Finds 'Parasite' Porn Sites Reposted 88% Of Teens’ Sexual Pictures

Very scary stuff. Parents need to constantly remind their children (and themselves as well) that once they share something digitally they lose control over what happens it. This can have dangerous and and lifelong consequences.

Read more:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Motions Unlikely to Be Granted (Legal Humor)

Two funny motions that are unlikely to be granted:

  • Notice of Motion and Motion to Release the Hounds of Hell Upon Plaintiff and His Counsel

  • Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Claims Because Plaintiff Could Not Tell the Truth if His Life Depended on It

Source: Motions Unlikely to Be Granted — Bitter Lawyer

FTC Issues $50000 Challenge To Stop Illegal Robocalls

By: Jeffey B. LapinOn October 18, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will be launching ...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Computer Viruses Are "Rampant" on Medical Devices in Hospitals

Selected quotes from the article, Computer Viruses Are "Rampant" on Medical Devices in Hospitals, by Technology Review:
Computerized hospital equipment is increasingly vulnerable to malware infections, according to participants in a recent government panel. These infections can clog patient-monitoring equipment and other software systems, at times rendering the devices temporarily inoperable.
"I find this mind-boggling," Kevin Fu [A leading expert on medical-device security and a computer scientist at the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst] says. "Conventional malware is rampant in hospitals because of medical devices using unpatched operating systems. There's little recourse for hospitals when a manufacturer refuses to allow OS updates or security patches."
In September, the Government Accountability Office issued a report warning that computerized medical devices could be vulnerable to hacking, posing a safety threat, and asked the FDA to address the issue. The GAO report focused mostly on the threat to two kinds of wireless implanted devices: implanted defibrillators and insulin pumps. The vulnerability of these devices has received widespread press attention (see "Personal Security" and "Keeping Pacemakers Safe from Hackers"), but no actual attacks on them have been reported.
Fu says that medical devices need to stop using insecure, unsupported operating systems. "More hospitals and manufacturers need to speak up about the importance of medical-device security," he said after the meeting. "Executives at a few leading manufacturers are beginning to commit engineering resources to get security right, but there are thousands of software-based medical devices out there."
This is very scary stuff.

Where in the world do most spam email messages come from?

According to a recent study by Sophos for July to September 2012 the top 3 countries and continents were:

By Country:
  1. India: 16.1%  
  2. Italy: 9.4%
  3. USA: 6.5%
By Continent:
  1. Asia: 48.7%
  2. Europe: 28.2%
  3. South America: 10.2%
Read more: India spews more spam than ever before, report finds

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Disabled Vet: Debt Collector Said ‘You Should Have Died’

By: Jeffrey LapinMichael Collier, a disabled Army veteran, and his wife, Kim, recently sued Gurstel Chargo, P.A., ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Under Pressure, Credit Card Upsells Disappearing

Many credit card holders are declining and terminating "extra" services offered by credit card companies such as debt protection, credit monitoring and identity theft protection. In addition, major banks are withdrawing these services, in part, because of recent enforcement actions by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Since July of 2012, the CFPB has reached multi-million dollar agreements with Capitol One, Discover and Bank of America regarding alleged violations of consumer protection law with regard to these types of "extras."

Good tips at the end of the article on considering whether to purchase the "extra" services offered by credit card companies:
  1. Shop around
  2. Ask for details
  3. Stay on them

Jeffrey Lapin of Lapin Law Offices has blogged about these prior CFPB enforcement actions:
Lapin Law Offices represents Nebraska consumers who rights have been violated by debt collectors, credit reporting companies and telemarketers.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Seat Belts Save Lives Even For Police Officers

Police officers already risk their lives everyday. Why do they increase their risk by not doing what the ticket us for? Police officers, like medical providers, should know the dangers and injuries that can result from a person not wearing a seatbelt during a motor vehicle collision.

Police officers should practice what they preach when it comes to seatbelt use.

Good article by the Washington Post: For police, not wearing seat belts can be fatal mistake

Friday, October 12, 2012

South Carolina Supreme Court finds reading someone's web-based email does not violate federal law

On October 10, 2012, the Supreme Court of South Carolina, in Jennings v. Jennings, held that it is not a violation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-12, to read someone's cloud based email, such as Yahoo! mail or Gmail, without their permission. 

The SCA prohibits the unauthorized accessing of an electronic communication while it is in "electronic storage." Another statute, 18 U.S.C. 2510(17), which is used by the SCA, defines "electronic storage" as: 
(A) any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof; and (B) any storage of such communication by an electronic communication service for purposes of backup protection of such communication. 
The South Carolina Supreme Court court unanimously ruled that Yahoo! mail does not fall within the SCA's definition of electronic storage and does not offer protection if the user's email is read without permission.

This South Carolina decision differs from a case decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Theofel v. Farey-Jones in 2004. In that case, the court held that a user's email that had been read and left on his ISP's (Internet Service Provider) server was protected by the SCA.

While there are differences between these two cases, ISP and cloud based messaging, it does show how technology has changed since the SCA was originally passed into law on October 21, 1986, and that the law has not caught up to technology. Unless Congress decides to make significant changes to the SCA and other provisions of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), ultimately, the United States Supreme Court may be called upon to decide how  these Acts apply to current technology, which was not even contemplated when some of these laws were enacted.

Source and reference information:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Illinois Man Suing Equifax

By: Jeffrey Lapin

Brian Bruce Sr,, from Illinois, has sued Equifax, one of the 3 major credit reporting agencies, for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other violations for sending his private credit and financial data to an identity thief.

The facts, as alleged by Bruce are:
  • Someone from New York had fraudulently incurred approximately $23,000.00 on his Capital One credit card. 
  • Bruce notified Equifax about the fraudulent charges and asked them to put a fraud alert and security freeze on his account. 
  • In his discussions with Equifax, a representative told him about its "Complete Premier Plan," which for $19.95 a month, provided "comprehensive credit monitoring and identity protection." 
  • Equifax, which had the identify thief's address in New York, asked that Bruce provide certain financial documents so they could change his address in their system to Illinois from New York, which is the address the identity thief had been using. 
  • Bruce sent the requested documents so his address could be corrected. 
  • Shortly after sending the documents Equifax mailed a copy of his complete credit report containing his full social security number, full birth date and information about all of his credit accounts to the identity thief's address in New York. 
  • After Bruce learned that Equifax had wrongfully sent the information to New York, he alleges that Equifax attempt to blame him for the mistake.

Equifax has not yet formally responded to the lawsuit or made any public remarks about Bruce's lawsuit.

For more information about this lawsuit: 

Lapin Law Offices represents consumers whose rights have been violated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Safety Advisory: NHTSA Alerting Consumers to Dangers of Counterfeit Air Bags | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a consumer safety advisory to alert vehicle owners and repair professionals to the dangers of counterfeit air bags. NHTSA has become aware of a problem involving the sale of counterfeit air bags for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash. . . . 
CONSUMERS THAT SHOULD NOT BE AT RISK:§  Consumers who purchased their vehicle new and have not had their air bags replaced§  Consumers who have full knowledge of the entire history of their used vehicle (including knowing whether the vehicle had been in a crash in the last three years and being certain that the air bag was replaced at a new car dealership) 
CONSUMERS THAT MAY BE AT RISK AND SHOULD CONTACT THE CALL CENTER ESTABLISHED BY THEIR AUTO MANUFACTURER:§  Consumers who have had air bags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership§  Consumers who have purchased a used car that may have sustained an air bag deployment before their purchase§  Consumers who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed§  Consumers who have purchased replacement air bags from eBay or other non-certified sources—especially if they were purchased at unusually low prices (i.e. less than $400)

    For more information: Safety Advisory: NHTSA Alerting Consumers to Dangers of Counterfeit Air Bags | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Judging the Judges: Nebraska's 2012 Judicial Evaluations

    By: Jeffrey LapinThe Nebraska State Bar Association (NSBA) released its biennial evaluation of Nebraska judges. Ne ...

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    FTC Halts Massive Tech Support Scams

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an international crackdown on tech support scams. The scammers pose as telemarketers for major computer companies and convince consumers that their computers have viruses, spyware and other malware. Then they charge hundreds of dollars to "fix" the computers.

    FTC Halts Massive Tech Support Scams

    FTC Case Results in $163 Million Judgment Against "Scareware" Marketer

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) obtains $163 million judgment against "Scareware" marketers (Innovative Marketing, Inc. and ByteHosting Internet Services, LLC, and individual directors of each corporation). FTC alleged these defendants conducted a massive “scareware” scheme that marketed a variety of computer security software via deceptive advertising by using computer “scareware” to trick consumers into thinking their computers were infected with malicious software, and then sold them software to “fix” their non-existent problem.

    FTC Case Results in $163 Million Judgment Against "Scareware" Marketer

    Teen Drinking and Driving Down Significantly

    From the CDC:

    The percentage of teens in high school who drink and drive has decreased by more than half since 1991, but more can be done. Nearly one million high school teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash. Drinking any alcohol greatly increases this risk for teens.
    Research has shown that factors that help to keep teens safe include parental involvement, minimum legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws, and graduated driver licensing systems. These proven steps can protect the lives of more young drivers and everyone who shares the road with them.

    CDC Vital Signs - Teen Drinking and Driving

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    American Express to Pay Millions in Refunds and Fines

    By: Jeffey B. LapinThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) along with other federal agencies announced on ...