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Privacy in the digital age


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Privacy in the digital age

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  #101 (permalink)
 xplorer 
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I'm confident that the average American, probably even the majority of American's do not have a clue what GDPR is, even after getting 20 odd emails last week referencing it. I also believe that the average American has already shown they do not care in anyway about data privacy (or net neutrality) as long as their Facebook images load quickly. But maybe I'm cynical. TV news in this country isn't like news in Europe. It's nothing other than sensationalized local stories about toddlers losing their mothers in grocery stores, the occasional person getting shot, and any other potentially emotion generating story. Things like national events, never mind world events are ignored - unless of course there is a strong emotion generated which they can sensationalize.

Don't bother - it's a spammer - getting his post count up to 5 so he can spam. Reported already.

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xplorer View Post
Don't bother - it's a spammer - getting his post count up to 5 so he can spam. Reported already.

And gone.

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SMCJB View Post
I'm confident that the average American, probably even the majority of American's do not have a clue what GDPR is, even after getting 20 odd emails last week referencing it. I also believe that the average American has already shown they do not care in anyway about data privacy (or net neutrality) as long as their Facebook images load quickly. But maybe I'm cynical. TV news in this country isn't like news in Europe. It's nothing other than sensationalized local stories about toddlers losing their mothers in grocery stores, the occasional person getting shot, and any other potentially emotion generating story. Things like national events, never mind world events are ignored - unless of course there is a strong emotion generated which they can sensationalize.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs over here... you nailed it. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. What's the latest distraction?

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The biggest issue today is everything is done through feeling/emotion and it is no longer about the facts or distribution of the correct information. If groups feel something is correct all facts will be ignored just like facebook. Millions of people enjoy the feeling of connection even though the facts point to everything you do seems to be tracked in one way or the other...


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And the Facebook scandals just keep on coming. Last week an article was published in The New York Times which revealed the controversial social media monopoly “reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung — over the last decade”.

According to their company sources, it’s been reported that these data partnerships were established even before Facebook apps were placed on smartphones, raising further concerns about privacy protections and whether the company is in violation of a 2011 consent decree issued with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The most concerning data partnership, however, is Facebook’s ties with companies such as Huawei, the telecommunications giant with known ties to the communist government in China, which caused the FBI, CIA, and NSA to label them a national security threat earlier this year. These U.S. officials seem to believe Huawei’s products are being used as a “Trojan Horse” for the Chinese government to spy on international customers, yet Facebook continued the partnership regardless.

Revelations from the Snowden Documents detail how the NSA was fighting back against Huawei, mass-hacking that very same telecom-company during 2014, four years after the company signed their agreement with Facebook. Spiegel Online reports not only did the NSA manage to intercept company emails, they even managed to secure Huawei’s entire source code of products — giving the NSA free reign to scour the company from top to bottom.

“Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders,” explained The Times’ journalists Michael LaForgia, Nicholas Confessore and Gabriel J.X. Dance. “Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing.”


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Facebook has filed to patent a system that can remotely activate the microphone on someone’s phone using inaudible signals broadcast via a television.

The patent application describes a system where an audio fingerprint embedded in TV shows or ads, inaudible to human ears, would trigger the phone, tablet or long-rumoured smart speaker to turn on the microphone and start recording “ambient audio of the content item”. The recording could then be matched to a database of content to allow Facebook to identify what the individual was watching – like Shazam for TV, but without the individual choosing to activate the system.

Diagrams accompanying the patent application highlight how the technology would know which adult or child within a household was watching a particular broadcast.

The patent, first spotted by the New York Times, positions the technology as a way for broadcasters to know exactly who is watching their TV shows or ads and for how long. The same system could then be used to build viewing profiles of individual members of a household for better content recommendation and more targeted advertising.

Privacy experts are concerned about the intrusion into people’s homes, particularly as the ambient audio recording would likely catch snippets of people’s private conversations without their knowledge.

“It’s extremely disconcerting for privacy to have an inaudible beacon as it means they want to make it not obvious to the user that the device is listening,” said William Budington, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Such a system could also give Facebook a better understanding of people’s social connections as it would show the social network which people were meeting up in real life.

Facebook was quick to downplay the patent filing.

“It is common practice to file patents to prevent aggression from other companies. Because of this, patents tend to focus on future-looking technology that is often speculative in nature and could be commercialised by other companies,” said Facebook’s head of intellectual property, Allen Lo, in a statement.

“The technology in this patent has not been included in any of our products, and never will be.”

Facebook isn’t the first company to design a system that uses secretly broadcast audio signals to track people’s viewing habits. In 2015, a company called SilverPush developed ultrasonic audio “beacons” within TV commercials that could be identified by any device running apps that incorporated SilverPush’s software.

The system allows for far more accurate tracking of people’s viewing habits at an individual level.



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xplorer View Post
Facebook has filed to patent a system that can remotely activate the microphone on someone’s phone using inaudible signals broadcast via a television.

There is no innocent, non-abusive way to interpret this.

I'm starting to think it's time to break up Facebook.

Bob.

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Google has confirmed that private emails sent and received by Gmail users can sometimes be read by third-party app developers.

People who have connected third-party apps to their accounts may have unwittingly given external developers permission to read their messages.

One company told the Wall Street Journal that the practice was "common" and a "dirty secret".

Google indicated that the practice was not against its policies.

One security expert said it was "surprising" that Google allowed it.

Gmail is the world's most popular email service with 1.4 billion users.

Google lets people connect their account to third-party email management tools, or services such as travel planning and price comparisons.

When linking an account to an external service, people are asked to grant certain permissions - which often include the ability to "read, send, delete and manage your email".

According to the Wall Street Journal, this permission sometimes allows employees of third-party apps to read users' emails.




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Slightly different, but just as worrying loss of privacy....

NYTimes :- Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/business/china-surveillance-technology.html

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Slightly different, but just as worrying loss of privacy....

Thanks.

I watched this a couple of months ago. There are eerie parallels with your article.


Reality seems to compete with fiction.

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From Mashable:

Who would have thought getting in shape could be so risky.

Fitness apps help you track your runs, calories burned, and maybe even your heart rate. If you happen to be using a Polar device and its associated app, however, that information — in addition to small details like where you live — could end up in the wrong hands.

Approximately six months after researchers revealed that so-called Strava heatmaps allowed for the identification of secret overseas military bases, a joint effort from the Dutch De Correspondent and the open source investigative site Bellingcat discovered that another fitness app was making all kinds of user data public that, if it got into the wrong hands, could do serious harm.

Specifically, Bellingcat notes that Polar's Polar Flow app "is revealing the homes and lives of people exercising in secretive locations, such as intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world."

A big part of the problem appears to be that Polar allows users to view all the exercises of a particular individual if that person decided to share them publicly to Polar Flow's Explore map. So, for example, you can see the routes of a person jogging near an airport in Iraq that happens to be near a military base and also that the person in question likes to go for runs in the Netherlands. And you can see where those runs start and stop.

In a statement, the company stated it was suspending the Explore API but also denied there was any leak of information.

"We recently learned that public location data shared by customers via the Explore feature in Flow could provide insight into potentially sensitive locations," read the statement in part. "It is important to understand that Polar has not leaked any data, and there has been no breach of private data. Currently the vast majority of Polar customers maintain the default private profiles and private sessions data settings, and are not affected in any way by this case."

In other words, according to Polar, the "Airmen involved in the battle against the Islamic State" who Bellingcat researchers were able to identify and find their homes were the ones who messed up, not Polar.

Keep that in mind the next time you head out for a run. Oh, maybe also remember that you might not be the only one following along.

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^^ @Grantx. Reality is stranger than fiction.

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SMCJB View Post
Slightly different, but just as worrying loss of privacy....

This article freaked me out! Might be like that all over the world. Aren't they supposed to tell us that they use facial recognition in public?

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techie View Post
This article freaked me out! Might be like that all over the world. Aren't they supposed to tell us that they use facial recognition in public?

I really don't think it will be long until you walk into a store and the sales assistant immediately knows everything you've bought there before, and probably a bunch of other details. all because a camera recognizes your face!

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Two weeks ago, a Portland, Ore. couple’s Echo device mistakenly recorded their conversation and sent it to a Seattle resident who was on their contact list. Now, Amazon has offered clarification on the incident, citing an ‘unlikely string of events’ that prompted the device to record — and disseminate — the family’s private conversation.

The Seattle-based tech giant says Alexa, the virtual assistant that powers Amazon’s current suite of smart speakers, interpreted a recent background conversation regarding hardwood floors as confirmation to record and send the audio.

Amazon sent Digital Trends the following statement regarding the incident:

“Echo woke up due to a word in the background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa.’ Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud, ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, ‘[contact name], right?’ Alexa then interpreted background conversation as ‘right.’ As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

The couple’s home was equipped with a string of smart home devices, which were set up to control heating, lighting, and their home security system. “My husband and I would joke and say, ‘I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,'” Danielle, who declined to give her last name, told KIRO-TV.

The Portland residents only learned of the error when the person who received the voice message, her husband’s employee, called to alert them. “The person on the other line said, ‘Unplug your Alexa devices right now. You’re being hacked,'” Danielle said.



Full article on Digital Trends

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techie View Post
This article freaked me out! Might be like that all over the world. Aren't they supposed to tell us that they use facial recognition in public?

If you in a public space in the USA your aloud to be photographed and recorded without consent. If the confines of your home they would need consent but with your smart devices and phones your basically allowing them to do all this.


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xplorer View Post
Now, Amazon has offered clarification on the incident, citing an ‘unlikely string of events’ that prompted the device to record — and disseminate — the family’s private conversation.

I would say that this string of events is not so unlikely.

They say that the device "interpreted" this and "interpreted" that. I'm sure they are right, and I'm also sure that there was no ill intent by Amazon.

But it's close to certain that Echo is making these interpretations all the time, and I for one would not get one of these devices, which would make it certain that it was not interpreting anything in a way I didn't want it to. I suppose that the technology will eventually work OK, but I think this is another case of the problems with being an early adopter.

Also, the more we rely on voice-recognition devices, the more important it is that there are safeguards that are imposed on the providers of the services. There may ill intent someday, by someone. I like an open marketplace, but there also should be a cop somewhere, just in case.

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xplorer View Post
I watched this a couple of months ago. There are eerie parallels with your article.

Reality seems to compete with fiction.

I watched it ( Anon) this weekend. Must admit to being a big Clive Owen fan ever since his staring role as Stephen Crane in Chancer back in the 1990's. I really enjoyed it, but I'm also a big cyberpunk fan in general. It was almost like a lower budget Matrix. I think there was a " Black Mirror" episode with a similair concept of the eye recordings that was decent as well. Thanks @xplorer

Getting back on subject - I worry that things like this (Anon) are when and not if. There's already a lot of people who think we're becoming a police state.

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Getting back on subject - I worry that things like this (Anon) are when and not if. There's already a lot of people who think we're becoming a police state.

Well to me the film is a cautionary tale. Past history teaches us that whenever any weapon or technology has been developed, the very same artifact can be used against its creators. So the privileged (the police, in this case) are at risk of being put under surveillance just as much as anybody else.

I wonder how much this technology will be pushed forward and whether it will be pushed forward simply 'because we can'.

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 bobwest 
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Good article on facial recognition vs. our rights to not be recognized, basically:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/facial-recognition-threatens-our-fundamental-rights/2018/07/19/a102703a-8b64-11e8-8b20-60521f27434e_story.html?utm_term=.b4050d31a546&wpisrc=nl_ideas&wpmm=1

This article is good, but it partially misses a point. (But only partially.)

Yes, the technology is still not that accurate, which means many identifications of suspicious characters by the authorities will be false positives. Yes, we do have an expectation of privacy, and this is seriously infringed. And yes, as it does say, law enforcement has to have a reason to demand we identify ourselves, and this has the potential of relieving them of needing a reason. So it does hit all the points I would like to see made.

But the most important thing is that it shifts the burden of proof away from the authorities and onto us: we basically are assumed to be questionable, and have to prove otherwise. If all parties, including law enforcement, are of good intent, this is merely an unacceptable intrusion into our private business, which is bad enough. If the legal authorities are not of good intent (which happens), it is really dangerous.

I did not use to think so many advances in technology are as dangerous as they now are starting to appear. I was a little too naive, I guess.

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 Rrrracer 
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Guilty until proven innocent, under the false premise of it being for everyone's safety. Orwell's legacy is unfolding before our very eyes, in much greater detail than anyone could ever imagine, and the masses think it's great lol.

My sister wonders why I think "Elf on a Shelf" is a really bad idea lol... indoctrinate these youngsters with the idea that they are always being watched and it becomes status quo. I just looked it up, at least I'm not the only one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elf_on_the_Shelf

Or in other words (used with my own creative license) "so this is how freedom dies... with thunderous applause."

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bobwest View Post
I did not use to think so many advances in technology are as dangerous as they now are starting to appear. I was a little too naive, I guess.


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Orwell's legacy is unfolding before our very eyes, in much greater detail than anyone could ever imagine, and the masses think it's great lol.

It's a sad state of affairs when most people don't care, in fact I found this meme quite poignant


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bobwest View Post
But the most important thing is that it shifts the burden of proof away from the authorities and onto us: we basically are assumed to be questionable, and have to prove otherwise. If all parties, including law enforcement, are of good intent, this is merely an unacceptable intrusion into our private business, which is bad enough. If the legal authorities are not of good intent (which happens), it is really dangerous.

Not taking away from your point - because I think it's a good one and I agree - but this already happens. Police have almost limitless powers - which can mess your life up to no end - and there are zero repercussions - unless they commit a crime themselves - and even then good luck proving it.


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My sister wonders why I think "Elf on a Shelf" is a really bad idea lol... indoctrinate these youngsters with the idea that they are always being watched and it becomes status quo. I just looked it up, at least I'm not the only one:

With you that "Elf on a Shelf" is a really bad idea and no constructive.

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Yeah, I genuinely feel like it's borderline impossible to hide from cameras and listening devices, at least in major cities. It's even a little bit scary :/ I remember at the end of an NBA game somewhat recently, LeBron James covered his mouth and said something to Lonzo Ball... then the whole world freaked out and absolutely had to hear what he said! Someone found some audio from a camera and discovered what was said, and it was literally like: "Good game, you played hard". SO IMPORTANT. I wish we'd all calm down about knowing everything that's happening at all times. The Anon movie is scarily possible, but I feel like the scenarios laid out in The Circle book are definitely happening right now... this 'need to know everything' idea. I didn't use to think much about how monitored we are until I saw those films, books and news stories.

When it comes to online use, it's so hard to hide tracks, unless you use a VPN, right? And I'm not even sure how good that is. Not that I need to hide anything really, just don't like the notion of everything I search being stored away somewhere. I do what I can by going on 'private windows' and by deleting cookies and so on, but I don't think it is working that good. I still tend to see the same ads pop up on other sites I use, and especially on Skype.

It sounds like a complicated and long process, but what do you guys know about the 'Right to be Forgotten?' This is where I discovered it: https://www.ionos.co.uk/digitalguide/websites/digital-law/deleting-a-google-result-and-protecting-personal-data/
It's more or less a way to make it harder to find information on you on Google, especially when that info is wrong/outdated/slanderous and can impact your job or school in the future. Seems like it's only in the EU right now, but I'm wondering if it will spread to the whole world? I feel like it should, as I don't see the harm in it.

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 xplorer 
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When it comes to online use, it's so hard to hide tracks, unless you use a VPN, right? And I'm not even sure how good that is. Not that I need to hide anything really, just don't like the notion of everything I search being stored away somewhere. I do what I can by going on 'private windows' and by deleting cookies and so on, but I don't think it is working that good. I still tend to see the same ads pop up on other sites I use, and especially on Skype.

There are techniques that one can use to minimize the ability of websites/ISP/Google, etc. to track you. How much to use them depends on one's activities as well as a certain degree of paranoia. But if you are a journalist reporting on human rights and working in a country with limited freedom, for example, certainly tools that use encryption and anonimity such as TOR, Telegram, etc. are a must.

Personally I tend to have all my cookies automatically erased once I finish with my browser so that there is no way websites can relate and attempt to serve me with related ads. It's just a matter of habit for people who tend to be privacy conscious I think.

It is true, on the one hand, that if one does not have anything to hide then they should not worry too much about this stuff but, on the other hand, I strongly believe that privacy is a human right, and the more I can do to stop prying eyes of corporations to glean a iota about me, the better.


Quoting 
It sounds like a complicated and long process, but what do you guys know about the 'Right to be Forgotten?' This is where I discovered it: https://www.ionos.co.uk/digitalguide/websites/digital-law/deleting-a-google-result-and-protecting-personal-data/
It's more or less a way to make it harder to find information on you on Google, especially when that info is wrong/outdated/slanderous and can impact your job or school in the future. Seems like it's only in the EU right now, but I'm wondering if it will spread to the whole world? I feel like it should, as I don't see the harm in it.

I am more and more convinced that EU regulations about privacy are far more superior to the US ones (does the US have any? Genuine question). I think the 'Right to be forgotten' is very good although, don't forget, you can still find stuff from the past by going to Internet Archive. It's a valuable resource IMO, especially for us traders.

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Google records users' locations even when they have asked it not to, a report from the Associated Press has suggested.

The issue could affect up to two billion Android and Apple devices which use Google for maps or search.

The study, verified by researchers at Princeton University, has angered US law-makers.

Google said in response that it provides clear descriptions of its tools and how to turn them off.

The study found that users' whereabouts are recorded even when location history has been disabled.

For example:
  • Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you open the Maps app
  • Automatic weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where a user is
  • Searches that have nothing to do with location pinpoint precise longitude and latitude of users

To illustrate the effect of these location markers, AP created a visual map showing the movements of Princeton researcher Gunes Acar who was using an Android phone with location history turned off.

The map showed his train commute around New York as well as visits to The High Line park, Chelsea Market, Hell's Kitchen, Central Park and Harlem. It also revealed his home address.

To stop Google saving these location markers, users have to turn off another setting called Web and App Activity, which is enabled by default and which does not mention location data.

Disabling this prevents Google storing information generated by searches and other activities which can limit the effectiveness of its digital assistant.


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For the past year, select Google advertisers have had access to a potent new tool to track whether the ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the U.S. That insight came thanks in part to a stockpile of Mastercard transactions that Google paid for.

But most of the two billion Mastercard holders aren’t aware of this behind-the-scenes tracking. That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Mastercard Inc. brokered a business partnership during about four years of negotiations, according to four people with knowledge of the deal, three of whom worked on it directly. The alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Amazon.com Inc. and others.

But the deal, which has not been previously reported, could raise broader privacy concerns about how much consumer data technology companies like Google quietly absorb.

"People don’t expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online,” said Christine Bannan, counsel with the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). "There’s just far too much burden that companies place on consumers and not enough responsibility being taken by companies to inform users what they’re doing and what rights they have.”

Google paid Mastercard millions of dollars for the data, according to two people who worked on the deal, and the companies discussed sharing a portion of the ad revenue, according to one of the people. The people asked not to be identified discussing private matters. A spokeswoman for Google said there is no revenue sharing agreement with its partners.



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Add “a phone number I never gave Facebook for targeted advertising” to the list of deceptive and invasive ways Facebook makes money off your personal information. Contrary to user expectations and Facebook representatives’ own previous statements, the company has been using contact information that users explicitly provided for security purposes—or that users never provided at all—for targeted advertising.

A group of academic researchers from Northeastern University and Princeton University, along with Gizmodo reporters, have used real-world tests to demonstrate how Facebook’s latest deceptive practice works. They found that Facebook harvests user phone numbers for targeted advertising in two disturbing ways: two-factor authentication (2FA) phone numbers, and “shadow” contact information.

First, when a user gives Facebook their number for security purposes—to set up 2FA, or to receive alerts about new logins to their account—that phone number can become fair game for advertisers within weeks. (This is not the first time Facebook has misused 2FA phone numbers.)

But the important message for users is: this is not a reason to turn off or avoid 2FA. The problem is not with two-factor authentication. It’s not even a problem with the inherent weaknesses of SMS-based 2FA in particular. Instead, this is a problem with how Facebook has handled users’ information and violated their reasonable security and privacy expectations.

There are many types of 2FA. SMS-based 2FA requires a phone number, so you can receive a text with a “second factor” code when you log in. Other types of 2FA—like authenticator apps and hardware tokens—do not require a phone number to work. However, until just four months ago, Facebook required users to enter a phone number to turn on any type of 2FA, even though it offers its authenticator as a more secure alternative. Other companies—Google notable among them—also still follow that outdated practice.

Even with the welcome move to no longer require phone numbers for 2FA, Facebook still has work to do here. This finding has not only validated users who are suspicious of Facebook's repeated claims that we have “complete control” over our own information, but has also seriously damaged users’ trust in a foundational security practice.

Until Facebook and other companies do better, users who need privacy and security most—especially those for whom using an authenticator app or hardware key is not feasible—will be forced into a corner.




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(CNN)Rights groups have denounced a new law in New Zealand under which travelers can be fined thousands of dollars if they refuse to allow border officials access to their phone.

Under the Customs and Excise Act 2018, which came into force this week, officials will be able to demand travelers unlock any electronic device so it can be searched. Anyone who refuses can face prosecution and a fine of up to $3,200 (5,000 NZD).

Officials can also retain devices and potentially confiscate them from travelers who refuse to allow a search at the border.

The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) described the new law as a "grave invasion of personal privacy of both the person who owns the device and the people they have communicated with."

"Modern smartphones contain a large amount of highly sensitive private information including emails, letters, medical records, personal photos, and very personal photos," the group's chairman Thomas Beagle said in a statement.

"The reality of this law is that it gives Customs the power to take and force the unlock of peoples smartphones without justification or appeal -- and this is exactly what Customs has always wanted."

Privacy Foundation New Zealand said members had expressed concern to the government during the consultation process about the retention of passwords by border officials and the safeguards on searches of devices.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand Customs said the change to the law was necessary as "the shift from paper-based systems to electronic systems has meant that the majority of prohibited material and documents are now stored electronically."




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"the shift from paper-based systems to electronic systems has meant that the majority of prohibited material and documents are now stored electronically."

Maybe I'm missing something but I don't get that explanation.

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A spokeswoman for New Zealand Customs said the change to the law was necessary as "the shift from paper-based systems to electronic systems has meant that the majority of prohibited material and documents are now stored electronically."


SMCJB View Post
Maybe I'm missing something but I don't get that explanation.

I was going to say the same thing. What in the world are "prohibited material and documents" anyway?

Bob.

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Maybe I'm missing something but I don't get that explanation.


bobwest View Post
I was going to say the same thing. What in the world are "prohibited material and documents" anyway?

Bob.

I think the bottom line is that this is a worrying trend. The fact that they provide unplausible justifications is perhaps even more unsettling.

I, for one, don't want to subscribe to a world view where governments know everything about me without my consent.

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Sadly, guilty until proven innocent is becoming the norm these days, and people just accept the bullshit.

Here's my thought on the subject...


I've really been chomping at the bit to visit NZ someday. If I did now, I'd just leave my Android phone at home, buy a cheap burner and sync up once I got into the country. So there

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Google is shutting down much of its social network, Google+, after user data was left exposed.

It said a bug in its software meant information that people believed was private had been accessible by third parties.

Google said up to 500,000 users had been affected.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the company knew about the issue in March but did not disclose it.

The WSJ quoted an internal Google memo that said doing so would draw "immediate regulatory interest".

In a statement, the firm said the issue was not serious enough to inform the public.

"Our Privacy and Data Protection Office reviewed this issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response.

"None of these thresholds were met here."

Failed venture

Google+ was launched in 2011, quickly becoming known as a failed attempt to compete with Facebook.

Now, after several years of speculation that it was going to be shut down, Google is bringing Google+ for consumers to an end.

Google said it would continue to offer private Google+ powered networks for businesses currently using the software.

"It has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps," wrote Ben Smith, Google's vice president of engineering, in a blog post on Monday.

In the past, the company had been reluctant to share data on how often Google+ was used, but now, facing the fall out of exposed data, the firm appears keen to play down its importance.

"The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."

Shares in Google's parent company Alphabet fell by 1.23%.


From BBC News

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A thought-provoking read. I saw the episode of Black Mirror they mention in the article.. pretty freaky (the whole series is quite good in this regard.. a modern day Twilight Zone, if you will.)



https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612257/digital-version-after-death/

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I saw the episode of Black Mirror they mention in the article.. pretty freaky (the whole series is quite good in this regard.. a modern day Twilight Zone, if you will.)

Good series in general, and that one is a good episode

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 sixtyseven 
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I was going to say the same thing. What in the world are "prohibited material and documents" anyway?

Bob.

Child porn for one.

To me, this seems like a case of 'nothing to see here'. 537 cases out of 14m. It's not really a risk, or an invasion of privacy, unless you are dodgy in the first place.

No doubt the power could be abused, but unless you are a prick to the custom officers, I'd suggest that risk is also too low to worry about.

In your case @Rrrracer leaving your phone at home seems a little irrational. But what you describe is no doubt what the majority of people that customs are trying to catch/exclude will do.

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No doubt the power could be abused, but unless you are a prick to the custom officers

Little known fact but in the US I believe it's actually immigration that mark your customs declaration that tells customs to search you.

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@sixtyseven, I agree wholeheartedly...



My post may have been a little coarse, but I wouldn't call leaving the phone behind irrational in my case; I go days without looking at the thing lol

My point was, the erosion of our basic right to privacy in the FUD-driven, false-premised world of "safety and security" is wearing quite thin to those of us who give a damn. Sadly these policies are shaped by the lowest common denominator instead of (un)common sense.

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@sixtyseven, I go days without looking at the thing lol

My point was, the erosion of our basic right to privacy in the FUD-driven, false-premised world of "safety and security" is wearing quite thin to those of us who give a damn. Sadly these policies are shaped by the lowest common denominator instead of (un)common sense.

Awesome. You get major points in my book. I still use a dumbphone.

I still don't see a basic erosion of privacy in this case. Everyone knows that they have to satisfy border control they don't pose some sort of threat, and the only way they can do that is via disclosing private information. Information from the mouth of the person in question may not always be truthful. Getting phone data would seem to be quite far down the track in the 'investigation' - as 537 out of 14m would seem to suggest. I also reckon more than 500 people a year would have their butt hole checked, which I'd feel was more of an invasion of privacy than looking at my phone. But then again, I don't have much on my phone.

With all that aside, if you get around to planning that trip to NZ, I'd be glad to offer some local perspective of things to see & do.



SMCJB View Post
Little known fact but in the US I believe it's actually immigration that mark your customs declaration that tells customs to search you.

It's not such a little known fact. They mark it up right in front of you. This gives the guilty some time to panic, sweat, and act more guilty as they generally struggle to contain the bodies physiological responses.

In NZ, and I'd suspect most countries the routine check of bags etc that the immigration guy ordered will get more personal the more you are a douche to the customs guy. A dog guy can also order a search. And the immigration guy can also take you to an interview room to question you, which will no doubt involve a search of more personal items if they fail to be satisfied. So, yeah, pays to be nice to all the border security people. And not be bad.

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... as 537 out of 14m would seem to suggest. I also reckon more than 500 people a year would have their butt hole checked, which I'd feel was more of an invasion of privacy than looking at my phone. But then again, I don't have much on my phone.

With all that aside, if you get around to planning that trip to NZ, I'd be glad to offer some local perspective of things to see & do.

LOL I'm not a fan of either Thanks for the offer, someday I hope to take you up on it provided I can get over my disdain for the TSA and scrap together enough dough to get over there!

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sixtyseven View Post
I still don't see a basic erosion of privacy in this case. Everyone knows that they have to satisfy border control they don't pose some sort of threat, and the only way they can do that is via disclosing private information. Information from the mouth of the person in question may not always be truthful. Getting phone data would seem to be quite far down the track in the 'investigation' - as 537 out of 14m would seem to suggest. I also reckon more than 500 people a year would have their butt hole checked, which I'd feel was more of an invasion of privacy than looking at my phone. But then again, I don't have much on my phone.

This is the typical argument that a government puts forward when being accused of overreach. In other words, 'you've nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong'.

There is a significant difference in asking you "what is the purpose of your visit here" and having unrestricted access to your digital, private, life.

And I don't buy the 537/14m ratio. This is not about how many or how few are checked. This is about whether it's right or wrong that a government is allowed to do invasive searches without probable cause. This is about civil liberties.

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would be great if there's a way to allow only information we want shared to be shared while companies trying to obtain stuff we want private will lead to legal ramifications.

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This is the typical argument that a government puts forward when being accused of overreach. In other words, 'you've nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong'.

There is a significant difference in asking you "what is the purpose of your visit here" and having unrestricted access to your digital, private, life.

And I don't buy the 537/14m ratio. This is not about how many or how few are checked. This is about whether it's right or wrong that a government is allowed to do invasive searches without probable cause. This is about civil liberties.

In the article you originally linked to they mentioned they only request phone access with probable cause (and the low number suggests that). It is not unrestricted access. They are not doing random searches here. If you don't buy that either, then I'd say it's a piss-poor method of data collection. It makes no logical sense for them to do random searches and undermine the tourist trade which is critical to the countries well-being.

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sixtyseven View Post
In the article you originally linked to they mentioned they only request phone access with probable cause (and the low number suggests that). It is not unrestricted access. They are not doing random searches here. If you don't buy that either, then I'd say it's a piss-poor method of data collection. It makes no logical sense for them to do random searches and undermine the tourist trade which is critical to the countries well-being.

Unless we're talking about a different article, this is taken from the one I linked (emphasis mine).


Quoting 
According to CCL, New Zealand Customs had originally demanded they be able to perform device searches without restrictions, but lawmakers required that they have "reasonable cause." However, the group added the restrictions fell short of those placed on the police and intelligence services, and did not require reasonable cause.


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Unless we're talking about a different article, this is taken from the one I linked (emphasis mine).

Isn't it interesting we can read the same article and take away different things from it. Our friend confirmation bias working away I guess.

The law states they must have reasonable cause vs a group advocating civil liberties saying they don't. I read that as mis-information from CCL.

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Isn't it interesting we can read the same article and take away different things from it. Our friend confirmation bias working away I guess.

The law states they must have reasonable cause vs a group advocating civil liberties saying they don't. I read that as mis-information from CCL.

It's a fair argument. The article states that the whole quote


Quoting 
According to CCL, New Zealand Customs had originally demanded they be able to perform device searches without restrictions, but lawmakers required that they have "reasonable cause." However, the group added the restrictions fell short of those placed on the police and intelligence services, and did not require reasonable cause.

is 'According to CCL', so it certainly could be argued that it is not impartial. Maybe the sticking point is understanding at which stage of the legislative process 'lawmakers required that they have "reasonable cause." ', i.e. was this an original requirement of the lawmakers that ended up not being translated into law, or did it become part of the law but CCL are saying it didn't?

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It's a fair argument. The article states that the whole quote



is 'According to CCL', so it certainly could be argued that it is not impartial. Maybe the sticking point is understanding at which stage of the legislative process 'lawmakers required that they have "reasonable cause." ', i.e. was this an original requirement of the lawmakers that ended up not being translated into law, or did it become part of the law but CCL are saying it didn't?

It did make it into law.

I'd have no doubt the application didn't have the requirement for reasonable cause, as from their point of view it's implied. IMO border security aren't there to get private personal information from innocent random people. They are there to stop bad buys. They want whatever makes their job easier.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/travellers-refusing-hand-over-phone-password-airport-now-face-5000-customs-fine

The CCL guy in the above article has been quoted as saying the below: -
"The new requirement for reasonable suspicion did not rein in the law at all, Mr Beagle said. "They don't have to tell you what the cause of that suspicion is, there's no way to challenge it.""

Which in the CNN article became "did not require reasonable cause".

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/10/customs-to-fine-travellers-who-dont-hand-over-device-passwords.html

Deleting incriminating evidence and then reloading from the cloud won't work unless you are very good at deception. From the above article below:-

"Before getting to the point of a digital search, the traveller would likely have aroused suspicion because of dog indications, previous travel or unsatisfactory responses to questions from border security agents.
In a preliminary search Customs officials would search files stored on the device, and would not investigate anything the person may have stored in the Cloud. However if they believe the person to be guilty they will commence a "forensic search" which would go more in-depth, including Cloud storage."

From my point of view this is CCL creating FUD to keep their names in the paper. The reality is it's so far away from scanning in data from their phone as they go through the metal detectors/bag scanning. This is the initial impression created when reading the headlines. Which is of course what the editors want.

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 xplorer 
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Thanks for providing the links. It looks like CNN either did not fact check this properly or, as you suggested, wanted to put a particular spin on the story. It is important to understand that officials do have to provide probable cause.

As for the remarks


sixtyseven View Post
I'd have no doubt the application didn't have the requirement for reasonable cause, as from their point of view it's implied. IMO border security aren't there to get private personal information from innocent random people. They are there to stop bad buys. They want whatever makes their job easier.

Of course, we all expect that the agencies born with a specific purpose carry out that purpose: police should catch the bad guys and only the bad guys. Prosecutors should incriminate the guilty and only the guilty. Border control agencies should keep malicious actors out and only them.

In an ideal world, all people working in the Public Order system are flawless and don't make mistakes. This includes all people working in border control agencies.

In reality it's not that simple: there are plenty of cases of miscarriage of justice worldwide. In industrialized nations the situation is better but is still far from perfect.

I agree that these laws should be intended for the bad guys to be intercepted and that for example border security aren't out to snoop on people's private lives. I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories suggesting organizations such as the NSA in the US, the GCHQ in the UK (equivalent to NSA) or other similar entities engage in global mass surveillance on purpose.

The point is a different one: any system without sufficient checks and balances is prone to abuse. The limitations of power are there to mitigate that abuse.

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https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612375/using-wi-fi-to-see-behind-closed-doors-is-easier-than-anyone-thought/

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New article: tracking your location

I get comfortable, I tell myself not to be paranoid, and then I get new reasons to get less comfortable....

It seems that many, many companies are in the business of physically tracking where your phone is (you're there too ), and then selling that information. Personal details are removed, they say, but there is still a lot of information that gets captured and sold.

It's obviously worthwhile information to companies who want to send you targeted ads, and you might say that as long as they don't record identifying information, your privacy is not being affected. But that does sit well with me. This article shows how easy it would be to identify you and way too much about you:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/10/business/location-data-privacy-apps.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

It's also creepy, even if all they do is send ads based on where I've been. Do I want anyone to be able to buy that data? I don't think I do.

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Many major companies, like Air Canada, Hollister and Expedia, are recording every tap and swipe you make on their iPhone apps. In most cases you won’t even realize it. And they don’t need to ask for permission.

You can assume that most apps are collecting data on you. Some even monetize your data without your knowledge. But TechCrunch has found several popular iPhone apps, from hoteliers, travel sites, airlines, cell phone carriers, banks and financiers, that don’t ask or make it clear — if at all — that they know exactly how you’re using their apps.

Worse, even though these apps are meant to mask certain fields, some inadvertently expose sensitive data.

Apps like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com and Singapore Airlines also use Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm, one of a handful of companies that allows developers to embed “session replay” technology into their apps. These session replays let app developers record the screen and play them back to see how its users interacted with the app to figure out if something didn’t work or if there was an error. Every tap, button push and keyboard entry is recorded — effectively screenshotted — and sent back to the app developers.

Or, as Glassbox said in a recent tweet: “Imagine if your website or mobile app could see exactly what your customers do in real time, and why they did it?”

The App Analyst, a mobile expert who writes about his analyses of popular apps on his eponymous blog, recently found Air Canada’s iPhone app wasn’t properly masking the session replays when they were sent, exposing passport numbers and credit card data in each replay session. Just weeks earlier, Air Canada said its app had a data breach, exposing 20,000 profiles.

“This lets Air Canada employees — and anyone else capable of accessing the screenshot database — see unencrypted credit card and password information,” he told TechCrunch.


In the case of Air Canada’s app, although the fields are masked, the masking didn’t always stick


We asked The App Analyst to look at a sample of apps that Glassbox had listed on its website as customers. Using Charles Proxy, a man-in-the-middle tool used to intercept the data sent from each app, the researcher could examine what data was going out of the device.

Not every app was leaking masked data; none of the apps we examined said they were recording a user’s screen — let alone sending them back to each company or directly to Glassbox’s cloud.

That could be a problem if any one of Glassbox’s customers aren’t properly masking data, he said in an email. “Since this data is often sent back to Glassbox servers I wouldn’t be shocked if they have already had instances of them capturing sensitive banking information and passwords,” he said.

The App Analyst said that while Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch sent their session replays to Glassbox, others like Expedia and Hotels.com opted to capture and send session replay data back to a server on their own domain. He said that the data was “mostly obfuscated,” but did see in some cases email addresses and postal codes. The researcher said Singapore Airlines also collected session replay data but sent it back to Glassbox’s cloud.

Without analyzing the data for each app, it’s impossible to know if an app is recording a user’s screens of how you’re using the app. We didn’t even find it in the small print of their privacy policies.

Apps that are submitted to Apple’s App Store must have a privacy policy, but none of the apps we reviewed make it clear in their policies that they record a user’s screen. Glassbox doesn’t require any special permission from Apple or from the user, so there’s no way a user would know.




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It sounds like in China if you jaywalk, face recognition picks you out and instantly debits the fine from your account

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-police-facial-recognition-technology-ai-jaywalkers-fines-text-wechat-weibo-cctv-a8279531.html

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I have a hanfdul of email addresses, across different providers. One such provider being Yahoo! which, every time I log onto its web client, reminds me "Don't get locked out!" and keeps prompting me to add my mobile phone number, which I invariably decline, for this very reason:


Another week, another Facebook privacy storm.

This time, the Silicon Valley giant has been caught red-handed using people's cellphone numbers, provided exclusively for two-factor authentication, for targeted advertising and search – after it previously insinuated it wouldn't do that.

Folks handing over their mobile numbers to protect their accounts from takeovers and hijackings thought the contact detail would be used for just that: security. Instead, Facebook is using the numbers to link netizens to other people, and target them with online ads.

For example, if someone you know – let's call her Sarah – has given her number to Facebook for two-factor authentication purposes, and you allow the Facebook app to access your smartphone's contacts book, and it sees Sarah's number in there, it will offer to connect you two up, even though Sarah thought her number was being used for security only, and not for search. This is not a particularly healthy scenario, for instance, if you and Sarah are no longer, or never were, friends in real life, and yet Facebook wants to wire you up anyway.

Following online outcry over the weekend, a Facebook spokesperson told us today: "We appreciate the feedback we've received about these settings, and will take it into account."

Don't hold your breath.





Outrage over Facebook's phone-number slurping was sparked on Friday by Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge, who publicly criticized Mark Zuckerberg's information-harvesting operation for making users searchable via phone numbers submitted for the ostensible purpose of account security.

"For years Facebook claimed that adding a phone number for 2FA was only for security," he said via Twitter. "Now it can be searched and there's no way to disable that."

Facebook had partly disabled such phone-number searches in the past, preventing people from finding someone's profile directly from their number: in April 2018, the ad biz said it had switched off phone number search following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, citing abuse. "Until today, people could enter another person’s phone number or email address into Facebook search to help find them," said CTO Mike Schroepfer in a blog post at the time "So we have now disabled this feature."

What remains is that Facebook will use submitted phone numbers to suggest friend connections for those upload related contact information, even if that friend only provided the phone number for 2FA account security.



Full article on The Register

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xplorer View Post
This time, the Silicon Valley giant has been caught red-handed using people's cellphone numbers, provided exclusively for two-factor authentication, for targeted advertising and search – after it previously insinuated it wouldn't do that.

Folks handing over their mobile numbers to protect their accounts from takeovers and hijackings thought the contact detail would be used for just that: security. Instead, Facebook is using the numbers to link netizens to other people, and target them with online ads.

I saw the news of this yesterday and said, damn, there they go again.

I think everyone would be wise not to give them any more information than they have to, since they apparently will relentlessly monetize anything they get their hands on.

I do have a Facebook account, but there is absolutely nothing on it, and there never will be. It's a damn shame, because Facebook could be very useful to a lot of people, but they just can't be trusted. They also don't seem to have any real intention to ever change, although they always issue apologies and say they will do better. They've pretty well proven that they won't, and that none of this (whatever the current thing they get caught doing) is just an innocent mistake or something they didn't realize would cause a problem for anyone.

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bobwest View Post
I saw the news of this yesterday and said, damn, there they go again.

I think everyone would be wise not to give them any more information than they have to, since they apparently will relentlessly monetize anything they get their hands on.

I do have a Facebook account, but there is absolutely nothing on it, and there never will be. It's a damn shame, because Facebook could be very useful to a lot of people, but they just can't be trusted. They also don't seem to have any real intention to ever change, although they always issue apologies and say they will do better. They've pretty well proven that they won't, and that none of this (whatever the current thing they get caught doing) is just an innocent mistake or something they didn't realize would cause a problem for anyone.

Bob.

You're right. I keep going back to that infamous Zuckerberg's "they trust me with their data.... dumb f*ckers" comment which, regardless of its accuracy, did not stop him getting where he is now.

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Excerpt from Privacy International



Tuesday, March 5, 2019

In December 2018, we revealed how some of the most widely used apps in the Google Play Store automatically send personal data to Facebook the moment they are launched. That happens even if you don't have a Facebook account or are logged out of the Facebook platform ( watch our talk at the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) in Leipzig or read our full legal analysis here).

Today, we have some good news for you: we retested all the apps from our report and it seems as if we have made some impact. Two thirds of all apps we retested, including Spotify, Skyscanner and KAYAK, have updated their apps so that they no longer contact Facebook when you open the app.

Here’s the bad news: seven apps, including Yelp, the language-learning app Duolingo and the job search app Indeed, as well as the King James Bible app and two Muslim prayer apps, Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro, still send your personal data to Facebook before you can decide whether you want to consent or not. Keep in mind: these are apps with millions of installs.

Since we published our report, mobilsicher.de could also confirm that apps on iOS exhibit similar behaviour.

Why is this a problem?

This is hugely problematic, not just for privacy, but also for competition. The data that apps send to Facebook typically includes information such as the fact that a specific app, such as a Muslim prayer app, was opened or closed. This sounds fairly basic, but it really isn’t. Since the data is sent with a unique identifier, a user’s Google advertising ID, it would be easy to link this data into a profile and paint a fine-grained picture of someone’s interests, identities and daily routines. And since so many apps still send this kind of data to Facebook, this could give the company an extraordinary insight into a large share of the app ecosystem. We know how valuable such information is, because documents released by the UK parliament show how Facebook used its Onavo virtual private network (VPN) app to gather usage data on competitors.



Full article on Privacy International

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I read this article in the Times today and thought of this thread.

It's not about Big Brother or Big Facebook this time, it's about Big Anybody who can use Google.

At first I didn't even want to post it, because of the creepiness factor, but in the end I feel there's important information and personal advice in it, and things we need to know:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/08/opinion/google-privacy.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

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 xplorer 
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@bobwest

Thanks Bob, it's an insightful article.

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That's why I live out in the woods, pull the battery from my cellphone... wear a funny tinfoil hat and one of these when I go out in public


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That's why I live out in the woods, pull the battery from my cellphone... wear a funny tinfoil hat and one of these when I go out in public


Ah, but Google probably has something about that guy who lives in the woods with the funny hat and glasses....



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@ bobwest, you're gonna have to do better than that buddy








The guy on the top row all the way to the right is probably the closest... or maybe the one on the second row all the way to the right... LOL

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Interesting article on 15 Steps you can take to digitally disappear. It's not easy and it's expensive.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/technology/how-to-disappear-surveillance-state.html

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Leaving this here as placeholder



Thanks to @aquarian1 for providing the info.



I'll study this later.

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/millions-of-facebook-records-found-on-amazon-cloud-servers

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Thanks ratfink, yet another cautionary tale






Two concerning take aways for me


Quoting 
The public doesn’t realize yet that these high-level systems administrators and developers, the people that are custodians of this data, they are being either risky or lazy or cutting corners

and


Quoting 
Facebook for many years allowed anyone making an app on its site to obtain information on the people using the app, and those users’ friends. Once the data is out of Facebook’s hands, the developers can do whatever they want with it.


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I've seen several stories about this recently. This one is from Engadget


Quoting 

It's important for health apps to keep your data under lock and key, but it's not clear that's the case for some mental health apps. A study of 36 mental health apps (not named in the public release) has revealed that 29 of them were sharing data for advertising or analytics to Facebook or Google, but many of them weren't disclosing that to users. Only six out of 12 Facebook-linked apps told users what was happening, while 12 out of 28 Google-linked apps did the same. Out of the entire bunch, just 25 apps had policies detailing how they used data in any form, while 16 described secondary uses.

A handful of these apps (which revolved around issues like depression and quitting smoking) shared particularly sensitive data like health diaries and voluntary substance use reports. As the University of Toronto's Qunn Grundy (not involved in the study) told The Verge, this info could give outsiders a picture of your mental health that you might not want to share. You might see ads for health consultations or even addictive substances.

The immediate solution is a familiar one: verify that an app has a privacy policy, and check to see where your data is going before you use the app in earnest. Study co-author John Torous also suggested sticking to apps from more trustworthy sources like health care providers and the government. In the long term, though, there may need to be stricter requirements to ensure that your health information only goes where it's truly necessary.


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Break up Facebook?

An opinion piece in the New York Times by Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook and one of Zuckerberg's ex-college roommates.

I don't know if it's time to break it up or if something else needs to be done, but I do think something fairly radical does need to be done, and soon. Breaking it up may be that thing.

(Warning: it is incredibly long and I stopped reading. I wish he had been less in love with his own prose and more interested in making his point, but all of us verbose types have that failing. It's still an important topic, however long you are willing to keep reading it....)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/opinion/sunday/chris-hughes-facebook-zuckerberg.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage


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Break up Facebook?

An opinion piece in the New York Times by Chris Hughes

Thanks Bob.


Like you, I'm pressed for time today so I haven't read it fully. I want to quote a section however, which I think it's worthy of reflection


Quoting 
Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

Of course I knew this already, but reading it black on white changed my perception of it.

This is akin to a dictatorship who has the power to decide what people see or not see.


I'm not suggesting he is a dictator, but some of the implications are huge.


In other words, when one uses terms such as 'power', in today's digital age, you need not look further than Mark Zuckerberg.

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I liked this passage
A century later, in response to the rise of the oil, railroad and banking trusts of the Gilded Age, the Ohio Republican John Sherman said on the floor of Congress: “If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and sale of any of the necessities of life. If we would not submit to an emperor, we should not submit to an autocrat of trade with power to prevent competition and to fix the price of any commodity.” The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 outlawed monopolies.
I do think one of the biggest problems with capitalism today, is the rise of megacorporations, and the stifling of competition they bring. It seems like there are potentially very good cases for breaking up not only Facebook but Amazon, Google and Apple (because of the itunes store) as well. I'm also concerned about the dwindling of competition we are seeing in the communications space, and the media and TV spaces.

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It seems like there are potentially very good cases for breaking up not only Facebook but Amazon, Google and Apple (because of the itunes store) as well. I'm also concerned about the dwindling of competition we are seeing in the communications space, and the media and TV spaces.

The bigger problem IMO is we take it as a given whatever advances we get from the current system.

I just read our local mall here use to have 9 book stores in it. There was that much more competition because it was so incredibly inefficient.
All the stores would have cost way more with way less selection. Not to mention you would have had to go to the library and look at a card catalog just to know what existed on the subject book wise. I use to love going to Barnes and Noble but I haven't bought a book there in years because the prices are absurd in store vs Amazon and they never have what I want anyway.


People just project their boredom onto the current system and want to see some action.

People talk about the system being broke when we are so incredibly rich as a society there are actually fat homeless people with smart phones.

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NYTimes :- San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition Technology

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/facial-recognition-ban-san-francisco.html

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NYTimes :- San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition Technology

Yep.

Interesting that this is a first, coming from a place so close to Silicon Valley...

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You are being watched!

NYTimes :- Electronic Snoops in Email

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/technology/personaltech/foiling-electronic-snoops-in-email.html

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The State Department regulations say people will have to submit social media names and five years' worth of email addresses and phone numbers.

When proposed last year, authorities estimated the proposal would affect 14.7 million people annually.

Certain diplomatic and official visa applicants will be exempt from the stringent new measures.

However, people travelling to the US to work or to study will have to hand over their information.

"We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States," the department reportedly said.


Full article on BBC News

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The State Department regulations say people will have to submit social media names and five years' worth of email addresses and phone numbers.



When proposed last year, authorities estimated the proposal would affect 14.7 million people annually.



Certain diplomatic and official visa applicants will be exempt from the stringent new measures.



However, people travelling to the US to work or to study will have to hand over their information.



"We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States," the department reportedly said.





Full article on BBC News



Saw this on bbc and confirmed it on other sites. I can imagine that many tourists or commercial travelers will not visit the US not because they have anything to hide but simply don’t want to have everything about them monitored by big brother.
The ironic thing is that the type of people for which this regulation is being put in place (eg hardened criminals or terrorists) will know how to avoid it!



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Saw this on bbc and confirmed it on other sites. I can imagine that many tourists or commercial travelers will not visit the US not because they have anything to hide but simply don’t want to have everything about them monitored by big brother.

My understanding is that the article's content applies only to people applying for a visa. Tourists from certain countries normally do not fall under this category.

That's not to say it's guaranteed that at the US border tourists won't be asked for social media details but, in broad terms, this is not expected to happen for certain countries. I remember reading an article, for example, saying that the US confirmed that tourists from the UK would generally be exempt from such requests.


Quoting 
The ironic thing is that the type of people for which this regulation is being put in place (eg hardened criminals or terrorists) will know how to avoid it!

I agree.

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xplorer - I would think that if not currently, it will be expanded to all visitors. It’s not logical to only apply it to certain categories.
In any case I’m not objecting to the regulations per se. My point is just that the whole reason for China falling foul of the West are precisely these kind of practices.


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xplorer - I would think that if not currently, it will be expanded to all visitors. It’s not logical to only apply it to certain categories.
In any case I’m not objecting to the regulations per se. My point is just that the whole reason for China falling foul of the West are precisely these kind of practices.

I've been to the US several times prior to the introduction of these practices as I love visiting.

Should they affect me as a tourist in the future, I will probably consider going somewhere else.


We'll see.

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iq200 View Post
Saw this on bbc and confirmed it on other sites. I can imagine that many tourists or commercial travelers will not visit the US not because they have anything to hide but simply don’t want to have everything about them monitored by big brother.
The ironic thing is that the type of people for which this regulation is being put in place (eg hardened criminals or terrorists) will know how to avoid it!

If people really cared about these types of privacy issues they would delete things like Facebook off their phones, but they don't because it's more important to have Facebook. Sure some people might not come, but others still will. Anyway anybody remember the laptop ban that the US was going to implement on all flights coming to the US? How many people from the UK didn't come to the US because of that? Probably zero as people from the UK weren't affected. While I obviously am concerned with headline like this, and worry that we do move closer and closer to a police state, I honestly think that what companies like Google are doing is already far worse, but people don't care.

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Facial recognition advances.

Now some airlines are offering it (on a voluntary basis) for flight check-in. TSA is applying it for visa checks. Etc.

I think there is no way to stop this from moving forward. It's just too damn convenient. Who likes waiting in lines?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/06/10/your-face-is-now-your-boarding-pass-thats-problem/?utm_term=.fb06626da9ba&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

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Initially it may be a choice, short convenient line, or long slow line, but eventually TSA could (probably will) mandate it. Then your choice becomes to fly or not to fly!

On a similar subject once we do get autonomous cars, I think there success will be driven in a similar way. Do you want to be in the fast non-congested lane or do you want to sit in traffic forever!

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This is an excerpt from this months police chiefs community newsletter/email where I live.
The testing of a single Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) system has been working very well. The single ALPR has been found to be a very useful tool for our officers and detectives. The ALPR thus far, has identified stolen vehicles, stolen license plates, vehicles involved in other high-profile crimes and even a sex offender. At this weeks Police Commission meeting, the Commission voted that XXX should expand the testing by obtaining additional ALPR and expanding the size of the test. We will be presenting a request to the city councils over the next few weeks to consider a larger scale test of the technology (20 Units) to assist our officers and detectives even more. The use of ALPR technology works in the background, and only identifies and notifies law enforcement personnel of wanted vehicles that are already in both State and National Data bases. We hope that the expanded testing will further validate the usefulness of this type of equipment and make the Villages an even safer place to live.

The long-term goal is that once we have additional systems in place, and after further validation, that the XXX could allow additional ALPR’s (individual neighborhoods, associations, and streets) to obtain their own systems and link them to the XXX. This would help compliment what we call a “layered” public safety effect. Starting with individual home alarm and video systems, doorbell cameras, neighborhood ALPR’s and village ALPR’s. You combine these layers along with XXX programs such as house watches and no soliciting registrations, our proactive patrols and detective use of crime scene investigative best practices and we will have a very strong, upper hand against crime.. Please let me know your thoughts at XXX

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Thanks @SMCJB.

As you probably know, there is a similar system in the UK (ANPR which stands for Automatic Number Plate Recognition).

On one hand I can see how it makes life easier for law-enforcement. On the other, there's always potential for abuse.

As bobwest once said, it is up to the various communities to shape how in the future any such technology is used, and not misused.

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Think twice before buying your next smartphone.

A Motorola Solutions patent application published on July 4 lays out a method for tracking and identifying customers who frequently change their mobile devices. Why? Well, that would be because individuals who use more than an unspecified number of phones are "potential criminals" — at least according to Motorola.

The patent application, which was initially filed in 2016, is shocking in its level of presumption and, frankly, creepiness.

"During operation, a server continuously receives facial recognition data for individuals along with device IDs detected at the time the facial recognition data was obtained," reads the application. "Devices associated with the individual are determined. This process is repeated and a determination is made as to whether the devices associated with the individual have changed."

Just in case anyone was in any way confused, the application adds that "[an] individual that frequently changes devices will be identified as suspicious."

While it stands to reason that those up to no good might switch phones frequently in order to avoid being tracked, so might journalists, human rights workers, or members of various at-risk communities. Developing technology meant to track and identify those individuals raises numerous privacy questions this patent application makes no serious attempt at addressing.




Full article on Mashable

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This article is exactly what is disturbing about new uses of technology that mine individual information:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/07/fbi-ice-find-state-drivers-license-photos-are-gold-mine-facial-recognition-searches/?utm_term=.3356c0d27fa7&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

For anyone who can't access WaPo, here are the first few paragraphs:


Quoting 
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent, newly released documents show.

Thousands of facial-recognition requests, internal documents and emails over the past five years, obtained through public-records requests by researchers with Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology and provided to The Washington Post, reveal that federal investigators have turned state departments of motor vehicles databases into the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure.

Police have long had access to fingerprints, DNA and other “biometric data” taken from criminal suspects. But the DMV records contain the photos of a vast majority of a state’s residents, most of whom have never been charged with a crime.

Neither Congress nor state legislatures have authorized the development of such a system, and growing numbers of Democratic and Republican lawmakers are criticizing the technology as a dangerous, pervasive and error-prone surveillance tool.

From a tech point of view, this is entirely reasonable -- the fact that it can be done means it will be done. From the standpoint that personal data should belong to the person concerned (and this definitely includes what your face looks like in a stored photo), this is not reasonable at all.

There are some limits that need to be applied here.

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From a tech point of view, this is entirely reasonable -- the fact that it can be done means it will be done. From the standpoint that personal data should belong to the person concerned (and this definitely includes what your face looks like in a stored photo), this is not reasonable at all.

There are some limits that need to be applied here.

Bob.

Perhaps I'm biased but I have this eerie feeling that we are slowly but steadily sleepwalking into a global surveillance society.


There will be those who oppose it, surely, but it will be the minority.

Not talking conspiracy theories here, it's more, as you say, because it can be done, so it will be done.

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bobwest View Post
From a tech point of view, this is entirely reasonable -- the fact that it can be done means it will be done. From the standpoint that personal data should belong to the person concerned (and this definitely includes what your face looks like in a stored photo), this is not reasonable at all. There are some limits that need to be applied here.

If you have a passport then the Government already has your face and are already using it. If you've traveled internationally recently you'll know that the facial recognition is a required part of the process to get back into the country. I was in the Dominican Republic recently and facial photograph was a required part of the process to gain entry.

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Perhaps I'm biased but I have this eerie feeling that we are slowly but steadily sleepwalking into a global surveillance society.

There will be those who oppose it, surely, but it will be the minority.

Not talking conspiracy theories here, it's more, as you say, because it can be done, so it will be done.

I agree. Unfortunately it's difficult to oppose without reducing your own freedom. Don't have a driving license. Don't have a passport. Don't have a mobile phone. Don't use a computer. Like going back to the middle ages.

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I agree. Unfortunately it's difficult to oppose without reducing your own freedom. Don't have a driving license. Don't have a passport. Don't have a mobile phone. Don't use a computer. Like going back to the middle ages.

I certainly agree. There is a forward march in the direction of more use of our personal data, including our faces and other aspects of our identity, and there is not much that can be done about it, at least as an individual. Also, there's the usual question of "If you haven't done anything wrong, why are you worried?"

I don't see how we can go back in time to the age of paper documents in filing cabinets, and the basic unavailability of this kind of data. I don't even want to go back. I just want it to be hard for it to be used in ways that no one has agreed to, and that is not overseen by any effective regulation or the protection of laws.

In the meantime, we'll need to go along, since we do need driver's licenses and passports, and we can hope that things end up being done well, in the long run.

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Google is investigating how 1,000 conversations recorded by one of its smart speakers were leaked.

Belgian broadcaster VRT exposed the recordings made by Google Home devices in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The search giant said the recordings came from one of the human reviewers who helps to refine Home's linguistic abilities.

It said it took steps to protect the privacy of people whose recordings its reviewers sampled.

Critical review

VRT said the majority of the recordings it reviewed were short clips logged by the Google Home devices as owners used them.

However, it said, 153 were "conversations that should never have been recorded" because the wake phrase of "OK Google" was not given.

These unintentionally recorded exchanges included:
  • blazing rows
  • bedroom chatter
  • parents talking to their children
  • phone calls exposing confidential information


It said it believed the devices logged these conversations because users said a word or phrase that sounded similar to "OK Google" that triggered the device.

Responding in its blog to the VRT expose, Google said it shared recordings with experts who "understand the nuances and accents" of specific languages to make its speaker more accurate.

"This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology," it said, adding that the storing of recordings is turned off by default when people start using its Home devices.

It added that it was probing how one of its contractors had been able to give VRT access to the database of recorded chatter.

"Our security and privacy response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action," it wrote.




From BBC News

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Google is investigating how 1,000 conversations recorded by one of its smart speakers were leaked.

...

"This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology," it said, adding that the storing of recordings is turned off by default when people start using its Home devices.

It added that it was probing how one of its contractors had been able to give VRT access to the database of recorded chatter.

"Our security and privacy response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action," it wrote.

I do think it is cool to be able to talk to machines, since talking is the most natural way for humans to communicate.

However, I want other people to be the early adopters of this kind of new technology. I'll follow along later, once there are controls in place to make sure that the smart speaker (or facial recognition software, or whatever) is not going to be used in ways that I wouldn't want, if I knew what it was doing.

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I do think it is cool to be able to talk to machines, since talking is the most natural way for humans to communicate.



However, I want other people to be the early adopters of this kind of new technology. I'll follow along later, once there are controls in place to make sure that the smart speaker (or facial recognition software, or whatever) is not going to be used in ways that I wouldn't want, if I knew what it was doing.



Bob.



Don’t worry Bob I’ve got you covered. We have 8 of these devices scattered all over the place.....

I must say I love them and I could care less if someone is listening. I’m sure they would learn something if they were....lol....but nothing to hide here. They would be bored to tears most probably.

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We have 8 of these devices scattered all over the place.....

Careful Ron, with 8 devices the biggest risk is that they start talking to each other!


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This is very important. "I've found your data. It's for sale":

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/18/i-found-your-data-its-sale/?utm_term=.add0168cc14c

(Link edited to see if it works now.)

We need to take some care about the conveniences that are offered to us.

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This is very important. "I've found your data. It's for sale":

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/18/i-found-your-data-its-sale/?utm_term=.dd8b33b3d251&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

We need to take some care about the conveniences that are offered to us.

Bob.

For some reason all I see is a blank page.

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xplorer View Post
For some reason all I see is a blank page.

Odd.

Does this work? https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/18/i-found-your-data-its-sale/?utm_term=.add0168cc14c

I got to the same article through a different pathway at the Post. Maybe it will work for you.

Bob.

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bobwest View Post
Odd.

Does this work? https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/18/i-found-your-data-its-sale/?utm_term=.add0168cc14c

I got to the same article through a different pathway at the Post. Maybe it will work for you.

Bob.

Thanks Bob.

The problem was that I was using a browser that blocked cookies and Washington Post wouldn't let me in.


So to read an article about privacy I've had to let washingtonpost.com have access to my cookies. The irony....




The issues described in the article were first brought to light at the beginning of this thread, when I warned people that a service that purported itself to vet good and bad websites was actually in the business of selling the data of whom would use it.


That's not to say the article isn't shocking.

These extensions prey on the fact that almost nobody reads their lengthy and confusing terms, but there's abuse as well as this article explained very well.

I stopped using browsers extensions altogether, with the exception of NoScript.

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