Careful Communication and Proper Use of Computers

Class Action Against Media Empire for Phone Hacking

The West Australian reports that “more than 60 people have filed court papers alleging their phones were hacked by the News of the World”. Reportedly, a test case with a handful of the plaintiffs involved will commence in the Australian High Court in January, to determine “whether hacking took place and whether victims should receive compensation, laying out a framework for how scores of other lawsuits will be settled”.
The West Australian: News Corp faces class action over hacking (7 October 2011)
(Source: The West Australian)

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam
Asia Pacific

The Age reports that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has received a record number of complaints about unsolicited advertising communications since the Spam Act 2003 No. 129 (Cth) took effect. The ACMA reportedly received 30,728 complaints in 2010-2011, compared with 5,929 in the previous financial year. ACMA deputy chair Richard Bean reportedly suggested that the rise could be partly attributed to “greater awareness of the ACMA’s role in spam regulation, the success of our Spam SMS service and the streamlining of methods for reporting spam to the ACMA”.
The Age: Email, SMS spam complaints rise six-fold (13 October 2011)
(Source: The Age; Lawlex Legislative Alert & Premium Research)

Sites Expose Data

Computerworld reports that Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society researchers have found many popular websites share visitors’ personal information without their knowledge. In particular, websites were reportedly found to include usernames, real names, and email addresses in URLs that are directed to third party advertisers. Stanford graduate student Jonathan Mayer reportedly expressed concern that commonly-shared identifiers are associated with past and future web browsing. The study also reportedly found that sites often fail to disclose to users that their information is forwarded in this manner, or make “what would appear to be incorrect, or at minimum misleading, representations” about such practices.

NetChoice executive director Steve DelBianco reportedly said that companies must be more transparent about their information sharing practices, but proposed that the US Federal Trade Commission should take enforcement action for “unfair and deceptive trade practices”.
Computerworld: Many websites ‘leaking’ personal info to other firms (11 October 2011)

Related news item:
The Los Angeles Times: Websites share user data more often than previously thought (12 October 2011)
(Source: Computerworld; The Los Angeles Times)

Former CME Group Engineer Accused of Stealing Trade Secrets

A former CME Group Inc. (CME) employee, Chunlai Yang, has been accused of stealing the source code for the company’s electronic trading platform. Yang allegedly downloaded more than 1,000 files of the source code to a flash drive and then copied the files over to his home computer. Yang allegedly then negotiated to give the source code to a Chinese electronic trading exchange. According to his attorney, Yang will plead not guilty and “was not involved in downloading any documents other than for work use.” Yang could face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Ex-CME Software Engineer Indicted for Theft of Trade Secrets (28 September 2011)
(Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Investigation into Sony Hacking Breach Concludes

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released the Own Motion Investigation Report: Sony PlayStation Network / Qriocity (September 2011), regarding the major data breach that affected the Sony PlayStation Network in April 2011. Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has concluded that no breach of the Privacy Act 1988 No. 119 (Cth) occurred, as Sony had taken “reasonable steps to protect its customers’ personal information”. However, Mr Pilgrim expressed concern at the delay in informing customers of the breach, noting that timely advice can “allow individuals to take steps to mitigate the risks that arise from their information being compromised”.

Mr Pilgrim also observed that the international aspects of the case demonstrated some of the challenges posed for data protection regulators, as multiple jurisdictions may be involved.
OAIC’s media release (29 September 2011)
(Source: OAIC; Lawlex Legislative Alert & Premium Research)