Firms bought secret personal data on staff – privacy chief

Major companies accused of colluding to ‘blacklist’ troublesome workers

Published by the, 6 March 2009, for fair use only
Wiki keywords: Privacy, Employment
Authors: Rob Evans and Phil Chamberlain

Construction site

Construction industry was supplied with secret data. Photograph: David Sillitoe

More than 40 major British companies face legal action for allegedly buying secret personal data about thousands of workers they wanted to vet before employing them.

The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, will today publish a list of the companies he believes may have broken data protection laws, after an investigation by his office that was sparked by fears that many workers were being unfairly “blacklisted”.

Rob Evans on the information commissioner’s action against companies buying secret data Link to this audio

The commissioner alleges that the firms, including Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine, Laing O’Rourke and Costain, have, for many years, covertly bought details of workers’ trade union activities and their conduct at work.

Thomas believes that workers have been unfairly denied employment because they have had no chance of challenging any inaccurate information, some of which has been stored for decades. Continue reading

Google Takes a Stand for Location Privacy, Along with Loopt « EFF

Posted at EFF, for fair use only
Author: Kevin Bankston

Wiki keywords: Privacy policy, Google
EFF Keywords: Cell TrackingPrivacy

Thanks in part to feedback from EFF, Google has chosen to take a strong and public stand on what legal privacy protections should apply if the government comes calling for the location data collected by Latitude, Google’s new cell phone-based friend-finding service. Google has decided to match the policy for dealing with law enforcement demands first adopted by its friend-finding competitor Loopt after consultation with EFF, a policy which relies on the strongest possible legal arguments for protecting users’ location privacy. The gist of the Latitude and Loopt policies? “Come back with a warrant.”

Like Loopt, Google’s Latitude doesn’t (currently) keep a historic log of its users’ locations; both companies overwrite the old data each time you report a new location. We think that’s the right move privacy-wise, and hope that between Loopt and Latitude, the we-don’t-keep-historic-logs policy will become the industry standard in the friend-finding space.

Being lawyers, though, we at EFF were just as concerned-if not more concerned-with legal policy: what would Google’s legal position be when a law enforcement agency tried to make it start logging a Latitude users’ location as part of an investigation? This is a particularly important question considering that when it comes to using the phone company’s cell tower data to track your location, the government’s position is that it doesn’t need to get a search warrant (though EFF’s been doing a good job of convincing the courts otherwise).
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Abuse of your privacy data collected on Internet

Author: Daniël Verhoeven
Wiki Keywords: Interactive Media, Privacy, Marketing, Advertising, Uberveillance, Contextual Advertising

When doing research on the use and abuse of privacy data on the Internet I bumped again on the case of the media corperation Advance. I pointed to it before and I was allowed to re-publish Karin Spaink’s article about it. Wondering how it had developed I discovered that there were no texts about it in English, and that is a pitty, because what Advance is doing is probably done by others on the Net, so I decided to cross the language barrier.

Advance Interactive Media is not only collecting privacy data, it does also hunt these data actively putting all kind of eliciting questionnaires on a range of sites (Je echte leeftijdVolgens mama, VerjaardagsAlarm). Also the questionnaires are often linked to TV-programs of SBS and RTL, both popular stations in The Netherlands. Ironically, Joop van den Ende’s investment trust owns 30% of Advance. Joop van den Ende was one of the owners of Endemol, the television production company that developed the format of ‘Big Brother’.

Advance says to have an ‘interactive relation’ with 2,2 million Dutch people (of about 15 million). Of 300,000 it possesses more than 100 personal characteristics. Of course Advance collects these data to sell them to other companies. One of the big pharmaceutical corporations who had a contract with Advance was Pfizer. The Dutch Privacy Commission CBP has started an inquiry following an article in the ‘Volkskrant’.

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Tradition culturelle européenne et nouvelles formes de production et circulation du savoir par Maurizio Lazzarato

Article publié dans la revue “Thesis”, Weimar, N. 3, hiver 1999,.décembre 1999.

Author : Maurizio Lazzarato

Wiki keywords: Commodity, Culture, Knowledge, , Political economy

L’histoire de la culture européenne est en train de vivre un de ses plus grands bouleversements depuis, peut-être, l’invention de la l’imprimerie. Un véritable défi est lancé aux fondements même du concept de culture et de ses modes de production, de socialisation et d’appropriation. Je parle évidemment de son intégration au processus de la valorisation économique. Ce processus d’intégration s’est accéléré depuis le début des années 80 à travers, d’une part, la mondialisation et la financiarisation de l’économie, et d’autre part l’avènement de ce qu’on appelle les nouvelles technologies.

Plusieurs voix se sont depuis levées pour défendre la culture, surtont de la part d’intellectuels et d’artistes. Des oppositions plus fortes ayant trait à la subordination de la culture au champ économique se sont cristallisées au moment de la renégociation des rapports commerciaux qui concernent la production audiovisuelle, mais aussi les “droits d’auteurs” dont la définition même est mise en discussion par les nouveaux moyens de communication.

La stratégie de défense de la culture qui, en France au moins, semble se dégager de ces premières formes de mobilisation contre le monopole mondial des grandes entreprises de communication et de “divertissement” américaines, est celle qui désormais passe sous la définition de sauvegarde de l'”exception culturelle”.

Les artistes et les intellectuels, mais aussi les hommes politiques et les gouvernements qui revendiquent le droit à l'”exception culturelle” se veulent les héritiers de la tradition et de l’histoire de la culture européenne : autonomie et indépendance de l’art et des artistes par rapport au politique et à l’économique. La stratégie des tenants de l'”exception culturelle” semble vouloir utiliser et redéfinir positivement la séparation entre culture et économie. Continue reading

The Century of the Self – How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

“This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.” – Adam Curtis

The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

Part 1

Happiness Machines

Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

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Psychologists shed light on origins of morality

Posted at, for fair use only
Keywords used in Wikipedia: Morality, Human Evolution, Neuroscience, Neurosociology, Neuroeconomics

In everyday language, people sometimes say that immoral behaviours “leave a bad taste in your mouth”. But this may be more than a metaphor according to new scientific evidence from the University of Toronto that shows a link between moral disgust and more primitive forms of disgust related to poison and disease.

“Morality is often pointed to as the pinnacle of human evolution and development,” says lead author Hanah Chapman, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology. “However, disgust is an ancient and rather primitive emotion which played a key evolutionary role in survival. Our research shows the involvement of disgust in morality, suggesting that moral judgment may depend as much on simple emotional processes as on complex thought.” The research is being published in Science on February 27, 2009.

In the study, the scientists examined facial movements when participants tasted unpleasant liquids and looked at photographs of disgusting objects such as dirty toilets or injuries. They compared these to their facial movements when they were subjected to unfair treatment in a laboratory game. The U of T team found that people make similar facial movements in response to both primitive forms of disgust and moral disgust.

The research employed electromyography, a technique that uses small electrodes placed on the face to detect electrical activation that occurs when the facial muscles contract. In particular, they focused on movement of the levator labii muscle, which acts to raise the upper lip and wrinkle the nose, movements that are thought to be characteristic of the facial expression of disgust. Continue reading

Google and net neutrality

Author: Daniël Verhoeven, 22 feb 2009

Avant-propos: finding information on the web NOT using Google or any other search engine

A fortnight ago I planned to write an article about Google and contextual information search, the opposite of full text search (Google, Altavista, Yahoo search…). I started to collect information NOT using Google. I found out that one of my best friends in Belgium, Wim VDB – saw him on the birthday party of Francis – had made a small critical posting about Google privacy: ‘Zoekmachines en uw Privacy‘. When browsing his blog I stumbled on an article of Geert Lovink, I knew Geert a long time ago as a writer in Hactic… I wanted to reconnect. Using the tag, I found an article of him on Weizenbaum and Google search. Weizenbaum is a shared reference, one of the first well grounded critics of the information age. Since Weizenbauw was himself one of the architects of computer technology, he knows what he is talking about. Geert’s  article was a tribute to Weizenbaum and also a kind of Google bashing. This article linked to another article in Eurozine this one from Daniel Leisegan, Das Google-Imperium and to Siva Vaidhyanathan’s huge project:

The Googlization of Everything: 379 postings until now. Continue reading