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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Privacy Wrap

A couple of interesting stories caught my eye.

First, the Queen is working hard to use legal means to include privacy clauses in the employment contracts with palace employees, in an effort to prevent leaks and protect the privacy of the Royal Family.

The new contracts cover more than 300 staff from gardeners and cleaners to the lord chamberlain, but will also affect those working for other leading members of the royal family such as the Prince of Wales whose accounts are published separately.

The move forms part of a broader royal strategy, including the appointment of a director responsible for internal security and vetting, aimed at halting the spate of damaging leaks in recent years.

It is a sign of the times that the palace requires a Director for Internal Security to provide them with a modicum of privacy.

Meanwhile, in another sign of the times, US airlines and the US government are under fire for privacy breaches during background checks.

Four airlines — including Continental, Delta, America West and Frontier — and at least two reservation systems provided the information to the government or its contractors, the acting head of the Transportation Security Administration, David Stone, told a Senate committee. Some of the companies denied that.

The agency previously had said only two airlines had done so.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, top Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said the agency ”may have violated” the Privacy Act, which says the government must notify the public if it intends to collect records on people.

An agency spokeswoman, Yolanda Clark, said the Homeland Security Department’s privacy officer is investigating the agency’s involvement in the data-sharing from airlines. The information, known as passenger name records, includes credit card numbers, travel reservation details, address and telephone number. It also could mean meal requests, which can indicate a passenger’s religion or ethnicity.

The potential for abuse here seems clear, and I hope that firm action is taken to prevent a reoccurance.

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