U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others seek influence in congressional privacy discussion

The nation’s most prolific enablers of privacy violation continue debating how closely to emulate the European Union privacy law (GDPR), but maybe they’ll put off big decisions until 2020.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce submitted a 10-point plan which seeks, among other things, to limit consumer lawsuits for data breaches. The Chamber reasons that money spent on litigation drains businesses of funds that could be used to prevent data breaches. True enough, if only the savings were earmarked for that purpose.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that Google and AT&T want to craft federal law as a defense against California’s GDPR clone. This is a familiar strategy. Big companies doing business in thousands of U.S. jurisdictions prefer one strong, federal law to a patchwork of state laws, whether it’s about taxation or other regulatory schemes.

A very snarky DEF CON session this summer revealed the GDPR as a hybrid of conceptually sound consumer protections and a big bundle of expensive mandates for business. LPP wondered how the presenter expected to win cooperation from American business while portraying American business persons as greedy pigs.


Are you paranoid if you want to scan the women’s room for cameras?

When does your insistence on privacy move from a concern to an obsession? If you want to scan the public restroom for cameras, are you paranoid? That was the question earlier this year when spy cams were spotted in the bathroom at a Starbucks in an Atlanta suburb.

Debbie Currier at The Spy Shop in Reno, Nevada, says a defensive posture does not make you paranoid.  Currier demonstrated an $80 sweeping device called the Little Angle multi-detector.

“If you’re having a gut feeling, and you have a tool like this, and it gives you peace of mind, it’s worth $80,” said Currier, who carries a similar device when she travels,  because you never know what’s hidden in hotel rooms. Story continues below…


The CC308 Little Angle multi-detector photographed on a newspaper, for scale

The Little Angle measures slightly less than four inches. Besides detecting camera lenses, it identifies eavesdropping devices. It uses an active laser and a passive wireless method, according to its user manual. (Sure enough, the red window in the body of the device lights up when it’s pointed at the camera lens in a phone, and when it’s swept across a camera hidden in a piece of art on the shop’s wall.)

It’s hardly the most sophisticated detector of its kind. The Spy Shop also has a $400 model, used primarily by private investigators. The high-end devices are more sensitive, allowing a sweep to be completed more quickly.

“It’s a patience thing,” Currier said of sweeping with the entry level devices. “You have to take your time. You have to zero in. It’s a process of elimination.” She suggests moving the device over objects like lamps and door knobs, paying special attention to screws and crevices. But a tiny lens could be hidden anywhere.

David and Debbie Currier have operated The Spy Shop for 30 years. They also sell cameras, which Debbie acknowledges can be used for good or ill, but her hope is that parents and other caretakers use them to keep an eye on kids and the elderly.