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Politics & Privacy
20 Mar 2006 03:11 am
ChoicePoint Hires John Ashcroft to Lobby
Arianna Huffington’s new article highlighted something fascinating. Apparently privacy problem-child ChoicePoint has hired John Ashcroft’s new firm to lobby for the company.
The same John Ashcroft who awarded them a $67 Million no-bid citizen profiling contract when he was Attorney General.
According to Arianna:
ChoicePoint, a company that sells consumer data, recently hired Ashcroft to help it add to the mega-buck, war-on-terror-related contracts the firm had landed from the Justice Department while Ashcroft was still in charge. According to a ChoicePoint spokesman: “The Ashcroft Group contacted us and we initiated a relationship.” How cozy.
The quote comes from a New York Times article which notes:
One of Mr. Ashcroft’s newest clients is ChoicePoint, a broker of consumer data that is increasingly being used by the government to keep tabs on people within the United States. The company received millions of dollars in contracts from the Justice Department under Mr. Ashcroft as part of the war on terror and has now hired him to find more.
“The Ashcroft Group contacted us and we initiated a relationship,” said Chuck Jones, a ChoicePoint spokesman. “He’s got a lot of knowledge that could benefit ChoicePoint.”
It’s nice that Ashcroft has found work… he has to find some way to pay for all that Holy Oil with which he anoints himself before big occasions.
Google and ChoicePoint, redux
In yet another example of my devotion to recycling, I turned my April 12 blog entry about Google and ChoicePoint into a monthly column for eSecurity Planet.
ChoicePoint, Lexis-Nexis, and Kim Chee
On tonight’s David Lawrence Show, I talked about ChoicePoint’s new CPO, the news that the Lexis-Nexis privacy breach was much bigger than first thought, the RIAA suing file pirates on Internet2, the future of digital broadcasting, and even Steve Carrell’s return to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It’s another action-packed hour of The David Lawrence Show, which can be yours in .mp3 format for only 25¢!
A Study in Contrast: New Hires at Google and ChoicePoint
While surfing my usual news sources last night, I stumbled upon some exciting news. According to Technology Daily, Google has hired Alan Davidson to open their Washington DC lobbying and policy shop. This is the best news I’ve heard in ages! (more…)
Law & News & Culture & Privacy & Tech
28 Mar 2005 09:57 pm
ChoicePoint Helping the FBI and Other News
On tonight’s David Lawrence Show, I talked about the recent Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center which uncovered a sales pitch to the FBI by embattled data broker ChoicePoint. I also talked about tomorrow’s arguments in the US Supreme Court in MGM v. Grokster and the rising use of vehicle “black box” recorders.
I also made my Podcasting Debut — my ‘coming out’ if you will — on David’s Podcast for tonight. It’s a free download, only 9mb, and just a few minutes long, so listen in!
Meanwhile on the ChoicePoint issue, I traded some email today with CNET News.com’s Matt Hines who wrote about ChoicePoint and the FBI in his Security News.Blog:
Despite ChoicePoint’s claim of innocence, some privacy experts said they would not be surprised that the company, which has experienced a string of high-profile consumer data losses, would entertain such an approach to marketing itself to the FBI and others. In fact, Ray Everett-Church, an attorney who runs his own consulting company, PrivacyClue, said that ChoicePoint likely knew that the FBI might find such information particularly compelling.
Check out Matt’s blog entry for my very sassy commentary! ;-)
SPIM, ChoicePoint, and Paris Hilton
Federal investigators lured a teenage extortionist to Los Angeles, where they arrested him for threatening to send SPIM (Spam sent via Instant Message) users of MySpace.com. Also, the full scope of the ChoicePoint debacle is becoming clear. And Paris Hilton’s phonebook got hacked off T-Mobile’s servers. It’s another full plate of news for my usual hour of The David Lawrence Show.
News & Culture & Punditry
18 Apr 2006 03:37 pm
Tonight on The David Lawrence Show…
Privacy & Punditry
15 Nov 2005 07:20 pm
Tonight’s Radio News Items
Contractors Do What TSA Can’t
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the people who rifle through your unmentionables and make you take off your shoes at the airport, were told by Congress that they should not build an airline passenger database for use in profiling.
“Oh, no! Of course we won’t!” the agency is reported to have responded. But what TSA can’t do, apparently contractors can.
According to an AP news item cited at HuffPost, the TSA hired a contractor who, in turn, hired three data brokers to gather detailed dossiers on U.S. citizens. The details of the program, called Secure Flight, are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register later this week.
According to the wire service story, the TSA obtained names from the airlines and then turned them over to a contractor, EagleForce Associates, who then used data brokerage firms to scrape together a more complete profile on each passenger, including:
[F]irst, last and middle names, home address and phone number, birthdate, name suffix, second surname, spouse first name, gender, second address, third address, ZIP code and latitude and longitude of address.
This is not the first time I’ve written about government agencies using private companies to do what the agency is prohibited from doing. Back in March, I was even quoted in a News.com piece about the embattled data brokerage firm ChoicePoint pitching itself to the FBI as being able to do what the agency was prohibited from doing.
I learned long ago in law school that you can’t hire somebody to do what you’re prohibited by law from doing. When you hire an assassin, you’re just as culpable. How these agencies intend to escape responsibility is unclear. But rest assured, the more the world looks into the work of data brokerage firms like ChoicePoint — and the organizations who hire them — the more difficult it will be for anybody to defend their practices.
News & Culture & Privacy
10 Apr 2005 01:56 pm
Privacy Breaches Pay Off for Someone
According to an article in the April 5 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the newly hired Chief Privacy Officer at embattled data broker ChoicePoint will make a $500,000 annual salary, with guaranteed bonuses of nearly another half-million in the first year alone.
According to the article, the newly named CPO is Carol DiBattiste, formerly a deputy administrator for the Transportation Security Administration. Since the TSA has such a track record of competence, I’m sure ChoicePoint is on its way to curing all its past mistakes. :-S Of course it surely doesn’t hurt ChoicePoint that the TSA is a prime customer for its databases full of ill-gotten information about you. Revolving doors of government are nothing if not lucrative!
I have very mixed feelings about this news. On the one hand, having been the world’s first corporate Chief Privacy Officer, I am very proud that this position is being recognized for the kind of value it can bring to a company facing risk in the privacy arena. But at the same time, it’s a bit disconcerting that a company with such enormous problems would turn to a veteran of an agency that has distinguished itself as being befuddled, short-sighted, and singularly unimpressed with the privacy rights of the average citizen.
That said, I know nothing about Ms. DiBattiste and her career. For all I know, she could have been the only sane person in that whole organization and was single-handedly responsible for keeping TSA from being a bigger disaster area than it already is. I guess time will tell. So, for what it’s worth, congratulations to Carol DiBattiste! Great work if you can get it! :)