May 9, 2007
WaPo Had A Privacy Day Today [7:10 pm]
George Fitzgerald never imagined he would take on the nation’s largest financial services industry and win. But his upstart coalition of consumer and business groups did just that when they took up the cause of identity theft victims in Delaware, winning passage last September of a state law enabling residents to opt out of America’s instant-credit economy.
Delaware became the seventh state to enact a law enabling consumers to “freeze” their credit reports as a means of preventing identity thieves from establishing new, fraudulent lines of credit. Altogether, 33 states and the District of Columbia have secured such rights for their citizens, and more states are considering similar measures.
[...] The pro-business climate extends to the workings of government. Proceedings and debate on legislation in the Delaware House and Senate are closed to the public and media. Outsiders are allowed to participate by invitation only. [Ed note: Sounds like copyright!]
Fitzgerald’s story, retold through his eyes and others who witnessed the process, offers an insider’s look at the politics behind the identity fraud problem, which affects more than 10 million Americans each year at a cost of more than $50 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
In response to a string of high-profile data breaches at companies, universities and government agencies over the past three years, at least 35 states have enacted legislation requiring companies to notify consumers if they have a data breach or loss that jeopardizes consumers’ personal and financial information. Faced with the prospect of complying with all of these often disparate state data breach laws, business groups have been pressuring Congress to enact a federal data-breach bill that would unify and override corresponding statutes at the state level.
Among the many data breach notification measures currently being crafted in Congress, only one bill — a measure currently under consideration by the Senate Commerce Committee — contains a specific allowance for consumers to freeze their credit. Under the proposed “Identity Theft Prevention Act,” consumers would need to spend $30 to place a credit freeze on their files that covers all three major credit reporting bureaus. [...]
[T]he proposed rules to implement Real ID, critics warn, could open the door to privacy invasions by establishing a national database of personal data, accessible to state and federal law enforcement and other entities. The law would force states to foot a $23.1 billion bill over 10 years for what amounts to a national ID card, they say. And it would, they argue, increase risk of identity theft and fraud.
Canadians and the “Analog Hole” [7:42 am]
Hollywood is singing a new tune in its fight against movie theft: “Oh no, Canada.”
Piracy north of the border has exploded in the two years since Congress made it a crime to use video recording devices to copy movies in U.S. theaters, according to industry officials. But with piracy laws more relaxed in Canada, bootleggers can operate there almost risk free.
A frustrated Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. this week canceled all promotional public screenings in Canada, including any for its big summer movies “Ocean’s Thirteen” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” The studio estimates that 70% of its releases during the last 18 months have been illegally recorded in Canadian theaters.
[...] About 1 in 5 pirated movies worldwide originates in Canada, with pirates there on pace to illegally produce 150 films this year, more than double the country’s 2005 output, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
In fact, just last week the U.S. trade representative’s office put Canada on its 2007 “watch list” for protection of intellectual property, citing “continuing concern” over the country’s “failure to prohibit the unauthorized camcording of films in movie theaters.”