Privacy Today: A Review of Current Issues

The purpose of this report is to highlight and summarize key privacy issues affecting consumers today and tomorrow. Readers who want to explore issues in depth should visit the Web sites of government agencies, public interest groups, industry associations, and companies. A list of public interest groups that are working on these issues is provided at the end of the report.

The Privacy Implications of Cloud Computing

When users store their data with programs hosted on someone else's hardware, they lose a degree of control over their sensitive information. The responsibility for protecting that information from hackers and internal data breaches then falls into the hands of the hosting company rather than the individual user. Government investigators trying to subpoena information could approach that company without informing the data's owners. Some companies could even willingly share sensitive data with marketing firms. So there is a privacy risk in putting your data in someone else's hands. Obviously, the safest approach is to maintain your data under your own control.

Comments to the Los Angeles City Council: Public Policy Ramifications of Cloud Computing

I am writing to express concern about the proposal for the City of LA to implement Google Apps for its e-mail and office systems.

I am concerned about the propriety of a government entity using services that are “in the cloud,” so to speak, as repositories for sensitive personal and organizational information.

I question if enough is yet known about the privacy, security and confidentiality of personal information in a cloud environment.

Statement on Outsourcing and Privacy

We at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse commend Senator Figueroa and the two Senate Committees for conducting a hearing on outsourcing, and for considering not only the employment implications but also the potential risks to the privacy and security of records containing sensitive personal information. I restrict my comments to the issues of privacy and security.

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