VPNs and Dark Patterns and a Website, Oh My! – Privacy on the ‘Net

Hi Folk,

Back to long posts—but I promise this one will be worth reading!

Event: General Body Meeting

I like to say, “privacy law will loom large in your work if you plan to practice law on anything more modern than a typewriter.” Frankly, if you plan to practice law on a typewriter, you will still need to know privacy regulations. (Compliant ribbon disposal methods, anyone? No? Just me?)

What technology has increased is exposure, and that exposure is nearly unavoidable. But while we’re being surveilled, we might as well have a snack! Come network with like-minded students, hear more about what the Privacy Law Association has to offer, and enjoy some free pizza—on us. As a bonus, feel free to corner me after the meeting for a lecture on how privacy law applies to antique technologies, and how you can update your magnetic tape archive to be CPRA compliant!

The event will run from 1pm to 2pm in room W402 on Thursday, February 16.

Save the Date: How-To with Kyle: Virtual Private Networks

Maybe you’ve heard of VPNs—maybe you’ve seen ads on YouTube for the more popular brands—or maybe it’s an alien term. Virtual Private Networks are a key element in connecting to the internet on your terms, and they can be used in ways that enhance both cybersecurity and privacy! The fun doesn’t end there, so join us to learn how VPNs work and what they can do, in a hands-on workshop that will get you connected. Bring a laptop!

This event is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 21, from 12:50pm to 1:50pm.

Extracurricular: Hello from the Dark Side: Dark Patterns in Privacy

From the ABA Science and Technology Law Section: Dark patterns are manipulative or deceptive practices built into user interfaces by developers that have the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of obscuring, subverting, or impairing consumer autonomy, decision-making, or choice.

Seems to me like the sort of thing users of user interfaces might want to know about! As might lawyers advising those developers. The SciTech section is a great resource, and membership is free to students; if you haven’t joined already, this ePrivacy committee webinar is a great place to start!

This event will run from 1pm to 2pm on Zoom next Tuesday, February 21. Register here

Hello from the Dark Side: Dark Patterns in Privacy Welcome to SciTech’s ePrivacy committee webinar on dark patterns in privacy. www.americanbar.org


We’ve made it big! If by “big” you mean, “installed on a router on top of my microwave.” And if you accept that definition, there are really quite a few things that have “made it big.”

In any case, the NYLS Privacy Law Association now has a bona fide web presence: our very own website! Come visit https://privacylawnyls.com/ for upcoming events, an archive of our newsletter, and available resources. It’s a work in progress, resources especially, but we look forward to seeing it grow with the PLA. And, of course, you can find links to our social media there as well.

Upcoming Events – NYLS Privacy Law Association The purpose of the Privacy Law Association (PLA) is to provide academic and professional support for New York Law School students interested in data privacy law and security. https://privacylawnyls.com

Privacy News

Every time I write one of these longer posts, I gather a selection of privacy news that seems interesting and relevant. Usually, a few jump out as noteworthy; sometimes, there’s only one, and I search a bit farther afield. This week, I have more than 10. In light of that, here are three. If you’d like to read more, check out https://news.google.com/search?q=privacy! Seriously, it’s been eventful. But take the announcements about Google’s Android toolkit with a heavy grain of salt. 🧂

Only as Secure as the Least Secure Link

Somehow, I missed this over the break—but if you live in Suffolk County, you’re entitled to free identity protection services! Why, you ask? Oh, because the county clerk’s office was brought down to pen, paper, and fax machines by a cyberattack that was discovered to have been active in the county’s computer system for more than a year! Plus, some illegal crytocurrency mining. Cryptocurrency and technological mayhem—they go together like off-shore accounts and tax evasion.

How Hackers Used One Software Flaw to Take Down a County Computer System An information technology director was put on leave for negligence after Suffolk County officials released the results of their investigation. www.nytimes.com

“They filmed me without my consent”

Honestly, I just can’t beat the Guardian’s title. Direct, to the point, and deeply troubling—all the privacy regulations in the world can only go so far if our fellow civilians are happy to sell our personal information and image to the highest (or just closest) bidder. There’s a lot to be said about the ongoing erosion of private life at the hands of strangers online and on the street, and about the feedback loop between corporate overreach and this growing obscenity of influencer entitlement. In lieu of that diatribe, however, just read the story here:

‘They filmed me without my consent’: the ugly side of #kindness videos Some social media users are building a following through ‘feelgood’ videos, in which, for instance, they give flowers to a stranger. The stranger then becomes their clickbait. Is there anything we can do to stop this? www.theguardian.com

Just When You Thought Advertisement Couldn’t Get More Annoying!

Out in California, the city of Los Angeles has approved bus stop shelters with ads that will allegedly track the location of travelers through their cell phones. It’s an interesting claim, although there’s not much corroboration… on the other hand, some researchers at the University of Washington did show back in 2017 that it’s entirely possible on a technical level.

The bus stops haven’t been built yet, but the complaints levied against them are reminiscent of others a little closer to home. Here in the City, activist group Rethink Link opposes (opposed?) the surveillance hazards posed by LinkNYC kiosks. They haven’t been terribly active in the past few years; perhaps that fight has just been lost. They seem to have formed in 2017, though… around the same time those researchers were figuring out how to track people via mobile advertising IDs.

City of LA Must Stop Approving Digital Ad Contracts That Violate Privacy Laws, says Consumer Watchog Today Consumer Watchdog called on the city’s new leadership to address a bus shelter contract approved by the City Council that tracks people’s location via digital ads on our public sidewalks. finance.yahoo.com
Anyone can buy online ads and track your location in real time Those popups are more than just an annoyance — they’re a privacy threat. mashable.com
Rethink LinkNYC / rethinklink.nyc

There’s something in the air this February 14th, all around us! 🎶 It’s written on the wind, it’s everywhere I go, it’s… privacy law! Happy Valentines’ Day, everyone. ❤️

Kyle Hunt
President, Privacy Law Association

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