Update: Facebook reponds, threatens legal action against employers who seek passwords

Yesterday evening I posted about one U.S. Senator’s response to the issue of employers asking job applicants for their Facebook usernames and passwords. Today, Facebook has responded, with Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan warning that employers who solicit Facebook passwords could open themselves up to legal action. Coverage can be found on the Globe and Mail online here, and the ACLU has a new posting here.

The ACLU’s update also contains more examples of employers that have asked for this information. They also applaud Facebook for taking this matter seriously, and hope that Congress takes notice. The Globe and Mail’s coverage contains an interesting remark from internet-privacy specialist Lori Andrews, who is a law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. She raises the point that even asking for applicants to volunteer the information is coercive, as there is a large amount of pressure on people who are seeking employment to land the job.

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Controversy over employers asking for Facebook passwords sparks response from U.S. Senator

Over the past week the ACLU has been following a growing news story in the U.S. surrounding employers purportedly asking job applicants for their Facebook usernames and passwords. The story has been discussed at length here in Canada too, with many social-media users upset by the idea. In their most recent update, the ALCU reports that in response to widespread objections, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has announced that he plans to table a federal bill to ban the practice altogether.

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Proposed Ontario legislation addresses student head injuries

A landmark bill was proposed in the Ontario legislature on Tuesday that would require school boards to implement brain injury prevention and management policies. Many jurisdictions in the U.S. have already passed concussion-related laws, but the issue has yet to be tackled in most Canadian provinces. A B.C. bill had it’s first reading last November, and this Ontario bill is thought to be unique because it will place the onus on schools to work to prevent head injuries and to meet the needs of students who sustain them. The bill would require schools to educate their staff and parents, and monitor injured students’ recoveries so they do not return to school or sport too soon.

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Study analyzing Twitter illustrates negativity towards Bill C-30

On behalf of the Financial Post,  Toronto-based Social Media Group Inc. has conducted an analysis of all mentions on Twitter of Bill C-30, also known as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. The bill would enable a vast expansion of police powers over internet surveillance, and has been heavily criticized since it was tabled on Valentine’s Day just under a month ago. The study analyzed the 2,226 mentions of the Act that were tweeted out during the month of February, with 79% of all mentions demonstrating a “clear negative sentiment.” The article about the study in the Financial Post can be viewed online here.

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UK court allows lawsuit to be served online through Facebook

Raphael Satter of the Associated Press has reported that a High Court judge in England has approved of the use of Facebook to serve legal claims. In a pretrial hearing Justice Nigel Teare approved of the unorthodox method of service in a case involving two investment managers bringing an action against a brokerage firm they claim was over-charging them. Another defendant that is alleged to have been involved in the scam is a former trader named Fabio De Biase, who is the defendant that has ended up with legal documents in his Facebook inbox.

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Ontario repeals infamous “secret law” used to expand police powers during the G20 summit

Yesterday at the Ontario Legislature, a bill was introduced that would repeal the notorious “secret law” which was used to give the police extra powers during the G20 summit in Toronto. The provincial government was heavily criticized for their use of the prehistoric Second World War law to give police the authority to arbitrarily stop and search people during the summit. This lead to the mass arrests of hundreds of protestors in the city.

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Ontario Provincial Police launch criminal investigation into the province’s air-ambulance service

The Globe and Mail has reported that the Ontario Provincial Police have been asked by the province’s Ministry of Health to investigate a series of transactions by the publicly-funded air-ambulance service Ornge. These moves include a loan to former CEO Chris Mazza and a number of private, for-profit entities that were created by the company. The call to the OPP was made after a team of forensic accountants with the Ministry of Finance combed through Ornge’s financial records.

Health Minister Deb Matthews has been the main target of criticism in the wake of these developments. Members of the opposition have called for her resignation, citing a “lack of oversight” and the fact that concerns were raised about Ornge upwards of 10 months ago by Tory MPP Frank Klees. Ms. Matthews has responded by stating she is not going anywhere and has lots of work ahead. She also stated that Ornge officials had been assuring her that no public money was being used in for-profit ventures.

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Twitter may begin censoring tweets on a country-by-country basis

Recently, Twitter made an announcement on their website here that discusses a change in their technology that will allow them to actively withhold content from individual countries. Twitter views this change as an upgrade, as previously they were only able to remove content globally when they received a complaint. Now, if they receive an isolated complaint they have the ability to withhold that content from the specific country while leaving it available for the rest of their global audience. But this move has understandably raised eyebrows and is being viewed by some as Twitter taking a step back from their commitment to free speech.

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The ACLU examines Google’s new privacy policy

Recently, Google announced a new universal privacy policy across most of their products that will take effect on March 1st. The amalgamation of their privacy policies will allow them to combine personal data shared by its users across almost all of its products and websites. There is no opting-out of the new features unless internet users use their websites without logging into their personal accounts.

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Ottawa law professor warns that SOPA-style laws could be on their way to Canada

Recently, both the SOPA and PIPA bills were halted indefinitely following a massive online protest by Wikipedia and other large websites. Despite this, the bills are expected to be revived in February, and following the abandonment the U.S. responded by shutting down the “cyber locker” storage website Megaupload.com.

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