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01 Mar 2012 22:40


Tech: Three things you need to know about Google’s privacy policy changes

  • one Google consolidated its privacy policies from over 70+ to one; the change took effect today, covering services like Gmail, Google+, Google Docs and Picasa. It will also combine information from across all accounts.
  • two “We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day,” said Google’s blog. Creepy or not?
  • threeYou can remove your Google search history, but the company could still be “gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes.” It often gives users’ personal info to the government. source
  • » An advertising play: “We can provide more relevant ads too,” Google points out. “For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you.” More relevant for users, possibly, but more relevant for advertisers, too? It’ll be interesting to see what happens a few months down the line with this policy.

26 Feb 2012 10:35


U.S.: Ironic: The FBI’s having trouble finding and collecting its GPS devices

  • 3,000 invasive GPS devices turned off by the FBI source
  • » There’s one particularly amazing line in this story: “In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly — only in order to locate and retrieve them.” If you remember, the FBI had to stop using tracking devices as the result of a Supreme Court ruling that ruled that the practice was illegal without a warrant. So everyone, have a small chuckle at the fact that FBI can’t find some of its GPS devices.

15 Feb 2012 11:19


World: In Canada, politician uses classy tactic to push online surveillance bill

Regarding his Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, which would force ISPs to hand over personal info without warrants, MP Vic Toews fought off critics by saying people “can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.” Seriously. (ht papastain) source

01 Dec 2011 15:38


Tech: Carrier IQ CEO tries to tamp down privacy criticisms

  • Do you trust them? That’s sort of the principal question at the heart of the Carrier IQ debate, since it’s been revealed that the company’s eponymous software is pervasive (they claim to be running on 140,000,000 mobile devices), largely impossible to detect or disable, and equipped to record nearly everything you do on your device, down to logging keystrokes. Whether or not this software has the power to be used for gross invasions of privacy seems obvious enough — it definitely can. Carrier IQ’s argument, however, is that their data collection is at the behest of the client companies who run the software on their phones, and functions to help companies improve customer experience with the mobile devices in question. However, operating secretly with no security options or ability to easily turn it off, Carrier IQ is courting serious controversy. source

29 Sep 2011 18:12


Tech: Amazon Silk getting privacy complaints: Why this is pretty bunk

  • This makes Amazon like your ISP. Every site, everything you do online [through Silk] will go through Amazon. That’s a new role for someone like them, and I don’t think it’s at all clear that Amazon can step into that, or that it will be apparent to consumers.
  • Center for Democracy & Technology spokesperson Aaron Brauer-Rieke • Offering up this claim that Amazon will use Silk, which Amazon claims will help speed up Web sites on the Amazon Kindle Fire, as a tracking tool. To that, we say this: Are you guys familiar with this Web browser called Opera Mini? It’s not as common as it once was, but for people using old-school phones, it was a bit of a lifesaver. It made the Motorola Razr, for example, a far more usable phone for surfing the Web, due to the way it handles content — through the company’s own servers, which cleared out all the extra stuff and sped up the sites you were downloading. Sound familiar? It’s exactly what Amazon Silk claims to do. Not buying this whole privacy argument. source

20 Jul 2011 22:33


Tech: App lets iPhone users see all of your drunken mistakes

  • A new iPhone app allows you to view real-time video feeds from inside local bars, so you can, in the words of the creators, “see what a venue looks like, to get a head count.” Cool idea, but that means that if you’re in one of said bars, everything you do is being streamed online—whether you know it or not. Bars that opt-in to this aren’t required to tell patrons that they’re being filmed, and the footage is accessible from the company’s website, so it’s not just limited to iPhone users. The creators defend the app’s integrity, saying that “the point of the product is not to make a stalker utility.” Which is a vapid defense, of course, because the intent behind a product has no bearing on the manner in which it’s capable of being used. We suspect Apple might pull this one before too long. source

15 Jun 2011 11:17


Tech: Facebook’s growing war chest of former presidential aides

They didn’t get Robert Gibbs, but they did get Joe Lockhart (Clinton’s press secretary). And a bunch of Bush aides. Looks like someone’s prepping for a big legislative fight in DC. source

20 May 2011 17:08


Tech: Facebook for kids? Mark Zuckerberg wants to start ’em young

  • Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process. If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg • Explaining his frustrations with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which only allows children age 13 and older to use his service. He wants to make social media happen for children, too — for educational reasons. At this week’s NewSchools Summit in California, Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook had huge educational potential for young children. “Education is clearly the biggest thing that will drive how the economy improves over the long term,” he said. “We spend a lot of time talking about this.” Given the wariness that many already have towards Facebook as a social tool for kids, we don’t know how far Zuck’s pipe dream will go. But he is serious about education — last year, he gave $100 million to the troubled Newark school district. Let’s just say that he’ll have a lot of work ahead of him. source

27 Apr 2011 09:31


Tech: Apple responds: We’re not tracking your location, just your cell tower

  • The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.
  • A statement from Apple • Revealing exactly what we pointed out last week — that Apple isn’t tracking where you are, but trying to locate your cell tower quickly. The big thing, though, is that Apple will release a software update that addresses the part of this problem — which is the crux of what the whole issue was. The next major update will encrypt it. Non-story becomes non-story again. source

21 Apr 2011 10:01


Tech: Apple’s iPhone location-tracking fiasco: Not as bad as it looks

  • [Apple may] collect and transmit cell tower and Wi-Fi Access point information automatically [from your device]. This information is batched and then encrypted and transmitted to Apple over a secure Wi-Fi Internet connection every twelve hours.
  • A 2010 letter from Apple • Explaining why the whole “Apple spying on users” thing is a non-issue. Simply put: It’s not about you. It’s about cell towers. Want to read an explanation about what they’re doing? Read this letter they sent to Congressmen Ed Markey and Joe Barton way back in June of last year. PC World makes a good point about all this, though: “But the database on your computer is sitting there unencrypted in an easily discoverable location. This means the database is a potential target for malware or even law enforcement if the authorities should decide to seize and search your PC.” Even if Apple continues to do this (which you can turn off by snapping off “Location Services” on your phone’s settings), they should fix that part of the problem. source