Monday, March 21, 2011

Second Circuit Grants Standing to Challenge to FISA

New York (AP) -- A lawsuit challenging a law that lets the United States eavesdrop on overseas communications more widely and with less judicial oversight than in the past was reinstated Monday by a federal appeals court that said new rules regarding surveillance had put lawyers, journalists and human rights groups in a "lose-lose situation."

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it took no position on the merits of the lawsuit brought by those in jobs that require them to speak with people overseas, saying only that the plaintiffs had legal standing to bring it against the latest version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Google Fined by CNIL Over Street View

CNIL, the French data privacy agency, fined Google 100,000 for collecting personal information such as passwords and e-mails when taking images for its Street View project.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Supreme Court Rules Corporations Don't Have Personal Privacy Rights Under FOIA

The U.S. Supreme Court today held, 8-0, that corporations do not have "personal privacy" for the purposes of the exemption from disclosure of records under FOIA. Justice Roberts totally rejected the idea that because a corporation can be considered a "person" under the law, a federal agency can and should withhold records that might be an unwarranted invasion of the corporation's personal privacy. Citing the context of the FOIA exemption, Congress' intent, longstanding interpretation of the law, the dictionary, and general understanding of the term "personal" when used with the word "privacy," Roberts ruled that the exemption was meant to protect people, not entities. The case is FCC v. AT&T.

Companies can still protect their trade secrets and other confidential information, so what does this mean? This does not change existing law, but business may want to consider that what is disclosed to an agency (in this case, in the course of contractual dispute with the FCC) can be disclosed to a business' competitors (as in this case).