Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!
We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).
The piece profiles new tools from companies like Abine that deliver everything from self-destructing e-mail messages to the 21st century's equivalent of Kleenex: one-off "throwaway" online identities to keep advertisers, merchants and government snoops at bay. Privacy experts, however, doubt that the new tools will tip the scales of online privacy in favor of consumers and away from governments and advertisers. "Consumers really don't have a fighting chance," says Andrea Matwyshyn of Princeton University. "Technology moves entirely too fast."
She and others see the need for both bigger fixes and the level of Internet infrastructure and law. "As a consumer protection matter, there needs to be a floor," she said. "Just as there are laws protecting renters from substandard housing, or car buyers from 'lemons,' there need to be regulations that create a buffer between consumers and companies."
The controversy over government surveillance has put the ball in the government's court, said Michael Brown, RSA's Global Public Sector Vice President. "They need to articulate what amount of access to private information is 'appropriate and legal' for law enforcement and the government," Brown said. "It's not just about 'when, where, and how.' They also need to clearly articulate 'why' – for example: this is a matter of public safety and this is the only way we can get this information."
Also on the to-do list, say executives: a re-writing of the 80s-era Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and a federal data breach notification law that creates a consistent, national standard. Currently, 48 states have passed such laws, creating a compliance mess for private firms that discover they have leaked customer data.
ACLU lawyer Nathan Wessler says, "What is most egregious about this is that, in order for local police to use and purchase stingrays, they have to get approval from the FBI, then the FBI knows that dozens of police departments are using them around the country. And yet when members of the press or the public seek basic information about how people in local communities are being surveilled, the FBI invokes these very serious national security concerns to try to keep that information private."