Cunningham Levy Partner Bryan Cunningham discusses warrantless cell phone searches by the police on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” Watch now
by Bryan Cunningham
I’m sitting at sunset in a Starbucks in the shadow of the Disney water tower. Observing the students, writers, producers, software designers, musicians, actors and salespeople nearby, it occurs to me, not for the first time, that we’re not here for the $6 coffee. Whether to study, work, take a meeting or kill time between auditions, many of us are here also, or exclusively, for the free WiFi.
Like electricity, broadband Internet access has become indispensable to modern life: doing homework, job hunting, working, shopping, locating government services, social networking, communicating with family, all are enabled through Internet access. Starbucks recognized this before almost anyone else. They built free WiFi, and we came, those of us able and willing to buy $6 coffee in the bargain.
But what about Angelenos who can’t pay, or can’t easily get to a Starbucks or other business with free WiFi, or feel intimidated or out of place there? How will they get the “electricity” to fully participate in modern life? Is this a question of fundamental fairness and equal opportunity?
The city of Los Angeles thinks so. Earlier this month, the city issued a “request For information” (RFI) detailing its plans to seek private sector partners to build free, or very cheap, “broadband wired and wireless infrastructure across Los Angeles.” A supporting city study previously found: “The Digital Divide in Los Angeles is real and the need to provide more affordable and accessible broadband to all parts of Los Angeles is a necessity to improve Economic Development, increase student graduate rates, and provide critical services and employment opportunities.”
A worthy goal, but there’s no such thing as “free” broadband, with estimates for the project reaching $5 billion. How to pay? The RFI suggests that private companies foot the bill, possibly in return for lucrative city cellphone or other contracts or being able to charge a premium for high-speed access while providing free basic service. One option not in the current RFI should be of great concern to all Angelenos: allowing providers to mine users’ data for targeted advertising or other profit.
Privacy threats from “free” email, web searching and the like are well known. Beyond the millions who have lost personal data to security breaches and the now infamous Target mailing of diaper ads to a teenager whose father was unaware of her pregnancy are recent reports of the grieving father who received a marketing offer tagged “daughter killed in car crash” and the data brokers pitching products to groups labeled “ethnic second-city strugglers.”
In pursuing the worthy goal of broadband access for all Angelenos, the city should take the necessary steps to protect their privacy. They should reject private enterprise partners with weak privacy track records and ensure that selected providers implement strong security measures to protect the confidentiality of users’ information. More importantly, the city should prohibit providers from data-mining the content of users’ communications.
Fortunately, L.A. knows how to do this. A recent request for proposal for the city’s own email services required providers to “warrant that all … capabilities to conduct data mining … have been either removed from its cloud service or disabled entirely.” This same requirement should be a non-negotiable part of the broadband RFP as well.
Narrowing our city’s digital divide without creating an unfair and potentially dangerous “privacy divide” is a significant challenge.
In doing so, the city should ensure that all Angelenos have the same privacy protections it rightfully demands for its own email.
Bryan Cunningham is a Los Angeles-based data security and privacy lawyer with Cunningham Levy LLP, and a senior adviser at The Chertoff Group, a global strategic advisory and risk management firm that that consults clients on cybersecurity, including information technology and the cloud.
View the original commentary at the Los Angeles Daily News
Experts looking for files purged a month before missing Malaysia Airlines flight took off. CNN’s Pamela Brown reports. Watch now
Cunningham Levy Partner Joshua Levy is quoted in an article at Government Executive on how federal employees at large might view the threat of a contempt of Congress citation against a former tax official involved in the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of Tea Party groups.
I think the good news is that, with properly deployed and used
technology, there can be a much better ability than in the past to
actually track everything the government’s doing with data: what
they’re pulling together, what they’re connecting, what they’re
distributing, and to better be able to understand where the line
might be crossed requiring a warrant or other Fourth Amendment
May 2 (Bloomberg) — Bryan Cunningham, a partner at Cunningham Levy LLP and a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, talks about the role of technology in helping the U.S. find and kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He speaks with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Robert Muse will be working the case with Joshua Levy … Levy has developed an expertise in representing corporations and individuals during congressional committee inquiries and investigations.
Read more here > http://wapo.st/1q5dpnH
Ms. Myers said her firm was enlisted by Ms. Broadwell’s lawyers, Robert F. Muse and Joshua A. Levy, to “help Paula and her legal team navigate a crowded media environment, manage incoming requests and ensure that her story is accurately told. It’s really impossible for anyone in Paula’s situation to manage the daily avalanche of interview requests, let alone try to fact-check the stories that are out there. So it makes sense to get some help.”
Read more here > http://nyti.ms/1pCD2P5
There is a powerful reason why cloud services and other data-mining companies aggregate data across multiple accounts and services: the results are extremely valuable. Partner Bryan Cunningham explains:
H. BRYAN CUNNINGHAM
UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
On the subject of
“STRENGTHENING FISA: DOES THE PROTECT AMERICA ACT PROTECT AMERICANS’ CIVIL LIBERTIES AND ENHANCE SECURITY?”
September 25, 2007