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Category archives for: Privacy

Florida Supreme Court Rejects Cell-Phone Tracking by Police, Citing Privacy Rights

| October 17, 2014

Justices, in a 5-2 decision, sided with a man who was arrested in 2007 in Broward County after a search of his vehicle uncovered a kilogram brick of cocaine hidden in a spare-tire well. Police tracked the man, Shawn Alvin Tracey, through location information given off when cell-phone calls are made.

FPL’s $13-a-Month Surcharge on Customers Who Refuse Smart Meters Draws Challenges

| October 1, 2014

The dispute involves only a fraction of FPL’s customers, but it is part of a broader controversy in which critics say they worry the new meter technology could pose threats to their privacy or health.

Nursing Home Surveillance: Should You Be Able to Spy On Your Grandma’s Caretakers?

| September 29, 2014

Illinois may be about to join at least four other states that have laws or regulations allowing residents to maintain cameras in nursing home patients’ rooms. Florida is not among them.

Domestic Spying: How Marketers’ Tracking of Your Web History Is Getting Creepier–Offline

| June 15, 2014

Online marketers are increasingly seeking to track users offline, as well, by collecting data about people’s offline habits—such as recent purchases, where you live, how many kids you have, and what kind of car you drive.

0-For-5: In latest Blow to Scott, U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal on Drug-Testing State Workers

| April 21, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case means that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stands: Drug tests can’t be justified constitutionally for many of the 85,000 workers who would have been subject to Scott’s policy. The two sides continue to carry out a painstaking process of looking at different categories of workers to determine whether some could be subject to drug testing — a process stemming from the appeals court ruling.

Abortion Restrictions May Tighten in Florida as “Viability” Bill Diminishing Women’s Rights Moves Forward

| April 8, 2014

Under current law, third-trimester abortions are allowed if they are necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life or preserve her health, The proposals would make that standard more restrictive, and would exclude a woman’s psychological health as a reason to perform an abortion.

Flagler Beach Police Launch Initiatives to Protect Residents and Property, But Public Records Expose Vulnerability

| January 31, 2014

Though the initiatives are very well-meaning, participating residents who want their house watched while they’re away or who live alone and need a daily check-in must fill out detailed applications that reveal a lot of personal information and details about their property. The documents are public records, and may potentially create vulnerabilities for the very residents police are aiming to protect.

In an Unusually Brutal Arrest, a Palm Coast Woman Is Charged With Child Abuse Over Minor Pot Possession

| January 29, 2014

Sophia Zhudro, 30, was parked on a quiet, residential street in Palm Coast’s B-Section when she was detained, then arrested and charged with child abuse because deputies found a small amount of marijuana in her car (near in in the child seat). Zhudro’s traumatized child was forced out of her arms by four deputies and turned over to DCF.

Gov. Scott Now 0-For-4 on Drug-Testing as Federal Judge Harshly Criticizes Violation of Welfare Recipients’ Rights

| January 2, 2014

In a harshly worded, 30-page opinion, the judge concluded that “there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”

Employers Would Be Barred From Using Applicants’ Credit Reports or Firing Pregnant Women

| December 10, 2013

The Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee gave support to both proposals on Monday, even though a number of senators expressed concern about limiting an employer’s ability to use a credit history when judging a potential new hire for a non-financial or non-managerial role.

Justices Skeptical of Red-Light Cameras as Supreme Court Hears Case Affecting Palm Coast

| November 7, 2013

With one insistent exception, Florida Supreme Court justices on Thursday strongly questioned the legality of city ordinances that permitted red-light traffic cameras that spread around Florida before 2010, when the state standardized those systems. Cities like Palm Coast may have to refund fines should the court rule against the local ordinances.

Should Cops Have Power to Track You in Real Time Through Cell Phones? Court Will Decide.

| October 7, 2013

Grappling with privacy rights amid fast-changing technology, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in a challenge to police using “real-time” cell-phone information to track a suspect in a drug case.

From Prohibition to Gag Order: Flagler Commissioners Told to Shut Up on Tobacco Policy

| September 10, 2013

Flagler county’s defensiveness regarding the new smoking policy underscores the shaky legal ground the local government stands on, and the likelihood of a legal and possibly costly challenge ahead.

Police Chiefs and Civil Liberties Lawyers Tangle Over Florida’s Drug-Monitoring Database

| August 28, 2013

Florida Department of Health officials say they want to tighten security on the state’s prescription-drug monitoring program, after the names and detailed prescription-drug histories of more than 3,000 people were released to defense attorneys after a drug sting in May.

In a First, Flagler County Will Prohibit Legal Tobacco Use On and Off the Job For New Hires

| August 23, 2013

It is the first time a local government has made new employment conditional on the prohibition of use of a legal substance, though numerous governments and private employers are increasingly taking the same approach, and Palm Cast and the school board may soon hop on board.

Data-Mining Goes Carnivore on Florida’s Public Records to Help Lobbyists and Candidates

| August 22, 2013

“Contributionlink,” the brainchild of lobbyist Brecht Heuchan, gives lobbyists and candidates an edge by mining a myriad of public databases, creating profiles of current and potential donors and showing clients how their money stacks up against the competition.

Supreme Court to Hear Red-Light Camera Challenge in Case That Will Affect Palm Coast

| August 22, 2013

The $1.7 million Palm Cast reaped in red-light camera fines between 2008 and 2010 may be at stake if the Florida Supreme Court rules such systems illegal after it hears the much-anticipated case on Oct. 8, with ramifications for numerous cities and counties across the state.

Not So Fast Missy: How a Protester Exposed an Undercover Cop

| August 21, 2013

When the author first met her four years ago, she couldn’t have known that the small-framed woman with spiky brown hair and intense eyes was anything but a fellow activist showing up for a protest in Washington, D.C. She turned out to be an undercover cop ordered to secretly spy on peaceful protesters, violate their freedom of speech and assembly, and disregard their right to privacy.

Palm Coast Sours on Traffic Cameras, Calling Fines “Outrageous,” “Overkill” and “Unfriendly”

| June 25, 2013

In a surprising and radical shift, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon used harsh words to describe the city’s red-light camera program, saying that while the system makes intersections safer, its harsh punishments are out of proportion with the crime, and Palm Coast’s drivers–and the city’s image–are suffering as a result. But he is less clear on how to improve the system, which he does not want dismantled.

Morning-After Victory on Women’s Reproductive Rights, But Testosterone Policies Persist

| June 24, 2013

Reproductive rights advocates are celebrating the Obama administration’s surrender on the morning-after pill, empowering all women to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies. It’s about damn time, argues Kathleen Joyce, but she warns: don’t let your guard down just yet.

Selective Memory Surveillance: Obama, the NSA and September 11

| June 22, 2013

Those making the argument that the NSA’s domestic spying program would have stopped the 9/11 attacks had it been in place have ignored a key aspect of historical record, including the fact that USA intelligence already knew the identity of a hijacker long before the attack and could have found him.

Without Owner’s Consent, Code Enforcement Cleans Up a Property at Taxpayers’ Expense

| June 20, 2013

It was a costly, day-long project involving personnel from four city departments, including police, on a house already facing a $50,000 lien, but officials defended forcibly cleaning up the property on Deen Road at taxpayers’ expense, saying it was a matter of maintaining property values. The case shows the extent–and limits–of code enforcement’s growing authority.

Memo to the NSA: You Have One of 725 Domestic Steve Robinsons Spooked

| June 14, 2013

Our own Steve Robinson discovers not only that there are 724 other Steve Robinsons in the country, but that with the NSA tapping into every Tom, Dick and Harry’s computer histories, the pasts of shadier Robinsons, if not his own pot-luck history, could short-circuit his own.

NSA Black Holes: 5 Things We Still Don’t Know About Spy Agency’s Snooping

| June 11, 2013

The FBI and the National Security Agency have been collecting Americans’ phone records en masse and the agencies have access to data from nine tech companies. But secrecy around the programs has meant even basic questions are still unanswered. Here’s what we still don’t know:

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Scott’s Drug-Testing of State Workers as Too Broad

| May 29, 2013

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals declared an executive order by Riock Scott to drug-test 85,000 state employees and all job applicants as mostly unconstitutional, but left room for a lower court decision to be rewritten to allow for certain employees in certain categories to be drug tested–essentially restoring Florida’s drug-testing standard to what it was before the governor’s executive order.

Surveillance Drones Give Germans Bad Memories

| May 29, 2013

Railway operator Deutsche Bahn wants to police its rail yards with tiny drones to fight graffiti, triggering a debate in a country where clandestine surveillance is a strongly emotional issue. Florida banned police surveillance by drone this year, absent a warrant.

Red-Light Camera Fines May Go Up to $408 and Be Harder to Fight Under Newest Rules

| May 4, 2013

A new law awaiting Gov. Scott’s signature returns hearings to the control of local governments that have red-light cameras, such as Palm Coast, and allows them to impose an additional fee of $250 on top of $158 tickets, when contested, among other changes.

Anti-Abortion Bills Pass Through Angry Debate As Florida Creeps Closer to Embryo Rights

| April 19, 2013

After tense debate that included allegations of lying and large-scale eugenics, the House on Thursday passed a measure banning abortions meant to avoid having a baby of a particular gender or race and criminalized harm of the unborn in the act of harming or killing its mother.

Should Teachers Be Able to Spy on Students’ Study Habits?

| April 9, 2013

An electronic-textbook company called CourseSmart lets teachers track whether and how their students are reading assigned textbooks, allowing them to tack on “engagement index” scores to the students’ performance. It’s the latest form of intrusion in private habits driven more by marketing and gimmickry than good intentions.

Facebook Effect: For Workers On or Off the Job, Individual Rights Are Dead

| April 7, 2013

Employers’ presumptions on workers’ behavior on and off the job have more in common with the inquisition or police states than with the bill of rights. Transgressors are routinely humiliated, silenced, censured or fired over speech or behavior companies should have no right to police.

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