May 6, 2012
Browsing On A Sunday: The Princeton Review in Trouble, the DPLA, and Surveillance Backdoors
The Princeton Review, creator of an alternative law school rankings list, guides to law schools, and test prep materials, is being sued by the feds under the False Claims Act. The Review allegedly received reimbursements for services that never happened. The complaint alleges the Review charged the Department of Education for thousands of hours of tutoring underprivileged students in New York City between 2002 and 2010 that never happened. Employees falsified records that included a claim for teaching 74 students on New Year’s Day. It sounds pretty ugly for such a prominent company. More information is available at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Ars Technica is reporting on last week’s conference to help create the Digital Public Library of America. It’s an interesting idea, to put all of America’s library holdings online. I don’t think anyone has any illusions about how hard this can be. Manpower and organizational issues aside, I can’t imagine the copyright issues that confronted Google in its scanning project would be any different for the DPLA. The people who own content may be just as obstructionist when it comes to the DPLA. More on the ideas that were discussed at the conference is here.
Declan McCullagh reports from CNET that the FBI is seeking legislation (as of now not introduced) that would place mandatory surveillance back doors on social networks, VoIP, and web e-mail services. The Bureau is lobbying technology companies not to oppose the law when it eventually gets introduced. The proposed law would amend the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to extend coverage to companies beyond telecommunications providers. The Bureau sees this as a way to keep up with communications technology. McCullagh says that the FBI is seeking consensus in the government before it goes forward. The White House is not inclined to move on this, though there are members of the administration, such as Joe Biden, who have promoted similar legislation in the past. I can’t imagine any of the agencies charged with managing security would have any conceptual problems with the proposal. Levels of privacy only impede them. I expect movement on this after the election. Why should advertising companies have all the fun?
CRS has a number of reports on online privacy, including Privacy Protections for Personal Information Online (R41756, April 6, 2011), Privacy: An Overview of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping (98-326, December 3, 2009), Privacy: An Abridged Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (R41734, March 30, 2011), and a more complete version, Privacy: An Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (R41733, March 30, 2011). There is also Digital Surveillance: The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (RL30677, Updated June 8, 2007). [MG]