Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Privacy Lawyer: Privacy Policies And The Patriot Act

Parry Aftab's November 8, 2004 column in Information Week is an interesting week. She dicusses the challenges now faced by organizations if they are served with a Patriot Act "National Security Letter" to hand over customer information. Because the validity of these instruments are in question, an organization can be stuck between a rock and a hard place if they are legally restricted from handing over the info or if they have promised not to in their privacy policies, subject to a lawful request.
The Privacy Lawyer: Privacy Policies And The Patriot Act "...In the meantime, businesses are well advised to review all governmental requests and their reaction to such requests. Once again, if your privacy policy (especially those of telecommunications or Internet-related providers) provides that you will not share personal information about subscribers except through valid legal process (for which they will receive notice, except to the extent prohibited by law) or otherwise in accordance with your privacy policy, the law prohibiting your informing them of any inquiry is key. If the decision is not overturned, you may not be able to rely on the Patriot Act to protect you if you don't inform your subscribers of a governmental inquiry. Make sure your counsel understands the laws and your policies and can guide you when government or anyone else comes knocking."

All organizations that are presented with an official looking document need to consult counsel because the document may be flawed or it may be based on unconstitutional legislation. Simply believing it is valid might not cut it.

Libraries should read the related posting in the LibraryLawBlog.

1 comment:

Parry Aftab said...

David, it's about time we wrote something together. :-)

I read your blog regularly and learn something from you every week.

Parry Aftab