The Almanac

An eclectic collection of research and resources.

Camera Phones

Today's camera phones could be used for corporate espionage or privacy violations. Here are Gartner Inc.'s recommendations for a corporate policy:

  1. Establish a clear policy but not an outright ban.
  2. Create clearly marked secure zones, where all photography is forbidden.
  3. Ban photography of items that are confidential to the company.
  4. Prohibit taking pictures of other people without their permission.
  5. Insist that no photographs be taken in places where personal privacy is expected.

Research Roundup

• Among federal government agencies, the U.S. Postal Service gets the highest "privacy trust score" from the general public, according to a study by Ponemon Institute LLC and the CIO Institute. The CIA and the Department of Justice got low marks in the survey of 6,000 Americans.

• "Current IP telephony products and implementations demonstrate an alarming lack of protective security measures, leaving the enterprise open to privacy violation, fraud and malicious attacks," warns Meta Group Inc.

• In a survey of 948 people who were recently hospitalized, 63% of the respondents said they support the idea of having a complete, computerized medical record that could be accessed anywhere in the hospital. But 58% said they're concerned about the privacy of their records. The survey was commissioned by Siemens Medical Solutions in Malvern, Pa.

Bell Labs Software Hides Wireless Users

Camera phones: Corporate privacy threat?

Camera phones: Corporate privacy threat?

Image Credit: AP Photo / Richard Drew

People who don't want their wireless carriers to keep track of their whereabouts and send unsolicited messages can gain greater control over their privacy with new software from Bell Labs. The technology allows mobile phone users to specify what location information they wish to share, when, with whom and under what criteria, according to researchers at Bell Labs, a division of Lucent Technologies Inc.

Many European and U.S. carriers already offer a range of location-based services, enabling them to track customers and send them relevant local information about, say, restaurants, movie theaters and retail stores. While some users appreciate such services, others prefer not to expose themselves to constant surveillance.

The Bell Labs system is analogous to querying a database. The request is checked against the user's preferences and filtered through a rules engine, known internally at Bell Labs as "Houdini," before action is taken. This entire process takes only a few milliseconds.

The technology could appeal to users in the corporate sector, researchers say. Equipment vendors, for instance, may want to know the location of their technicians during regular working hours, but in the evening, the technicians may prefer to disable location-sharing with their bosses.

— John Blau, IDG News Service

FTC Nets Penalties For COPPA Charges

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently settled with two Web site operators charged with violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), netting the agency's largest civil penalty yet under the law.

Bonzi Software Inc. and UMG Recordings Inc. were accused of collecting personal information from children online without their parents' consent and settled for penalties of $75,000 and $400,000, respectively.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based UMG Recordings operates music-related Web sites and was charged with collecting birth-date information from children through its online registration process, the FTC said.

San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based Bonzi Software, which distributes a free software download called BonziBuddy, was the first company charged for privacy violations over a download, the FTC said.

— Scarlet Pruitt, IDG News Service


Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference April 20-23, Berkeley, Calif.

IT Compliance World May 17-19, Boston

National Global HR Privacy Conference May 26-27, Washington

Privacy & American Business' Annual National Conference June 22-24, Washington


Privacy Policy Road Map

Here’s a guide to crafting a privacy policy as the first step in enterprise privacy management. Remember, a privacy policy is no good if customers don’t know about it, employees can’t implement it and the company doesn’t enforce it.

Privacy Policy Road Map
Source: Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn., July 2003

Special Report

Compliance Headaches

Stories in this report:


Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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