Prop. 8 Trial Recordings May Be Unsealed

There were proposals to have the Proposition 8 trial broadcast. The defenders of Prop. 8 objected, but the trial was recorded anyway. Now Judge Ware has ruled that the recordings should be unsealed. They haven’t been released yet, to give the opposition time to appeal; time to back up their assertion that their have a good reason to fear reprisals for what they said under oath.


USA PATRIOT: Privacy and Politics in the EU

The EU Data Protection Directive protects your privacy by limiting what companies can do with the data they store about you. The USA PATRIOT Act (legislation which is theoretically to be used to prevent terrorism) mandates that companies violate users’ privacy whenever the US government asks them to. What if the company in question is an EU subsidiary of a US company? Or an EU company which stores its data on servers in the USA? Or even an EU company which stores its data on servers in the EU which are owned or operated by a company based in the USA? Many US companies, notably Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, store a lot of data about their users. And one of the biggest providers of “cloud computing” is Amazon, which is also a US company (though one of its data centres is in Ireland).

Zach Whittaker at ZDNet has an excellent series on the privacy concerns raised by the USA PATRIOT Act in Canada and the EU.

Meanwhile, many websites now allow you to “like” them on Facebook. To achieve this, a small amount of code from Facebook is embedded into the website. This means that when you visit that site, your browser also fetches information from Facebook. So Facebook knows that you have visited that site. If you happen to be signed into Facebook at the time, Facebook will know that you, personally, have visited that site. This is a problem, especially if the site in question is based in the EU: they have arguably violated your privacy. On Stack Overflow, a programmer asks for workarounds for this problem.