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Invasions of Privacy In The Cyber Sphere: Who’s Watching And What They Know About You

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare—millions of Americans, including myself, depend on these cyber sites as their gateway to information and communication in the outside world. What we may not realize, or choose to ignore for convenience’s sake, is that this gateway lies on a two-way street. The information that we seek using websites such as Google and what we communicate on Facebook and Twitter provide companies with vital data to better market their products to us. This use of information is referred to as “data mining. “

An example of data mining can be seen in the advertisements that pop up on the side of your Facebook home page. Such ads are often relevant to the information posted on your “Profile” page, such as advertisements promoting products from your college alma mater.

At the outset, data mining seems like a win-win situation for both the consumer and the seller—the consumer is marketed with a product in which they are seemingly interested and the company has utilized its advertising budget in an informed, cost-effective manner. At the same time, however, the threat of an invasion of privacy is real and has the attention of members of Congress and federal officials to create legislation regulating the way in which, and the extent to which, our personal information is shared with third parties.

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Want to Receive Cyberinquirer by Email? Its Easy! Here’s How.

Are you a Member of the Cyberinquirer community? If so, do you receive the Cyberinquirer RSS feeds by email?

We’ve received reports from a number of Cyberinquirer Members lamenting that they do not receive the Cyberinquirer feeds and do not know when a new article is posted. If you’d like to receive these notifications, you need to sign up in the “Subscribe” box to the right of this post. Joining as a Member, while laudatory, isn’t enough if you want the feeds.

As to those of you who read our blog but haven’t signed up as a Member, well, what are you waiting for? Please join us and feel free to publish constructive substantive comments in the Members’ Forum or with respect to a particular posting. Or, even better, submit your own cyber articles for publication. The more people who get involved, the better for all of us. This is a community blog, not just mine. Let’s make good use of it! To those of you who already participate, thank you kindly and cheers.

Rick

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Concurrent CGL and E&O Coverage for “Spyware?” Yes, Says the Eighth Circuit

On July 23, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an important decision in Eyeblaster, Inc. v. Federal Ins. Co., 2010, U.S. App. LEXIS 15152, No. Civ. A. 08-3640, finding concurrent coverage under both a General Liability (“CGL”) insurance policy and a separate Information and Network Technology Errors and Omissions Liability (“E&O”) policy in circumstances where an online marketing company installed software on a consumer’s computer system, allegedly corrupting the computer’s software operating system.

Eyeblaster Inc. (“Eyeblaster”), the policyholder, is a company that creates, delivers and manages online interactive advertising. For the period December 5, 2006, to December 5, 2007, it was insured under two concurrent policies issued by Federal Insurance Company (“Federal”): (1) a CGL policy covering occurrences which cause damage to tangible property, and (2) an E&O policy which covered claims for financial loss caused by a wrongful act in connection with a product’s failure to perform its intended function or serve its intended purpose, resulting in damage to intangible property. As to the latter policy, intangible property included software, data and other electronic information. Both policies were “duty to defend” forms.

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Identity Theft: Our Children At Risk

Interviewing for your first job as a teenager is as exciting as it is intimidating. Thoughts of what to do with your first paycheck consume your mind as you rehearse your best “do-you-want-fries-with-that” smile. The interview proceeds flawlessly and you start to count the dollar signs as you await the job offer. But imagine your surprise when you are informed that you did not get the job because your background check revealed that you are over $75,000 in debt and five years behind in your child support payments for your eleven year old child…a terrifying thought considering you are only 16 years old.

Adults aren’t the only victims of identity theft. Child identity theft is an increasing and understated crime. A child’s Social Security Number (“SSN”) is the perfect target, as the theft typically goes undetected until years after the crime has taken place. Indeed, the crime might not be discovered until the rightful owner/victim uses his or her SSN for the first time years later. This revelation often occurs when the victim applies for his or her first job or financial aid before college.

The scheme works as follows: businesses are using various techniques to search the Internet for dormant SSNs. These numbers often belong to long-term inmates, dead people or children. Obtaining them is not as difficult as one may think, as SSNs are distributed systematically depending on age, geographical location and when the number is issued. Once it has been determined that no one is actively using the number to obtain credit, the numbers are offered for sale.

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