Feds: “Oops”

Feds: Homeland Security project didn’t protect privacy

A Department of Homeland Security program that linked details on millions of air travelers with profiles drawn from commercial databases was plagued by “privacy missteps” that misled the public, a new government report concludes.

The Transportation Security Agency, operating under the auspices of Homeland Security, had publicly pledged two years ago–in official notices describing the Secure Flight program–that it “will not receive” or have access to dossiers on American travelers compiled by a Beltway contractor.

That promise turned out to be untrue, according to a report published Friday by DHS’ privacy office. The commercial data “made its way directly to TSA, contrary to the express statements in the fall privacy notices about the Secure Flight program,” the report says. (Click on “Secure Flight Report” to view a PDF version.)

A Few Notes From the NYTimes

A couple of news excerpts in this round-up article: Stuffing the Electronic Ballot Box

First, when the dollars get too tempting:

CNet News.com reported this week that Karim Yergaliyev, 19, one of the top 30 “diggers,” whose stories get the most diggs from fellow users, agreed to a barter transaction from a marketer, Nathan Schorr, the business development manager for JetNumbers. In exchange for free service, Mr. Yergaliyev acknowledged, he planted an article about JetNumbers, which provides “virtual” telephone numbers (news.com).

Next, a Santangelo update:

The music companies have dropped their lawsuit against her, though their lawyer, Richard Gabriel, wrote in court papers that they would probably have won. Instead, he wrote that the companies will “pursue defendant’s children.” The case against Ms. Santangelo’s daughter, 16, and son, 20, will continue (ecommercetimes.com).

Taking A Fight Online

Landis putting lab to the testpdf

Experts for Tour de France champion Floyd Landis, tapping a worldwide pool of scientific knowledge via the Internet, are marshaling a detailed rebuttal to charges that the cyclist took testosterone to fuel his comeback victory in last summer’s race.

Landis’ team has posted online the laboratory reports on which the charge is based. This step, unprecedented in an anti-doping case, has allowed independent scientists to study the evidence against Landis — 370 pages of technical documentation.

The result is a vigorous debate on Internet message forums and bulletin boards about the science underlying the charge and whether Landis, successor to Lance Armstrong as America’s leading competitive cyclist, has been unjustly accused.

[…] Landis’ defense team calls its decision to publicize the evidence against him the “wiki defense,” referring to an online application allowing members of the public to collaborate on encyclopedias, dictionaries, computer programs and other services.

The idea is to counteract the advantages that anti-doping agencies have in bringing cases against athletes. […]