One of the greatest of these threats to privacy is in the form of
Supermarket Discount Cards. But
in the past, big companies have been known to toss privacy out the window when there is
money to be made. Historically:
- A certain delivery company stated that it would never sell the database
of digitized signatures collected when it started using electronic pads — and
then, some years later, did exactly that.
- Companies with very rigorous privacy policies, having collected
significant amounts of personal customer data, have gone bankrupt, and the
files have been offered for sale.
- Intruders have broken into companies and stolen personal information from computerized
files — or even planted backdoors and logging/reporting software in their
Note: The material
about RFID chips has
been moved to another page.
6 Dangerous Electronics
& Apps Secretly Spying On You In Your Home. [#2] Smart TVs: While smart TVs allow you to connect to the
Internet directly, they can also be used to collect your data. For example, a new technology called TVision Insights
allows companies to monitor TV watchers' viewing habits. This means that they can literally watch you as you watch TV.
They even record data on where your eyes are looking, when you're distracted, and what emotions you're conveying. In
early 2015, Samsung warned its customers: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other
sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."
To see your gestures, the TV will have to watch you continuously.
Do you really want that?
of the TV remote could be nigh as scientists invent technology to change channel using gestures. The television
remote could become a thing of the past according to scientists who have developed a new technology that allows the device to
be controlled through gestures instead. Computer scientists at Lancaster University have come up with a system that
makes it possible interact with screens simply by using body movements, or waving objects. Requiring only a simple
webcam, the "Matchpoint" works by displaying moving targets that orbit a small circular "widget" in the corner of the screen.
recognition being used at conferences and events. Zenus a startup company based in Texas, claims their facial
recognition software can speed up check-ins at conferences and events. [...] Zenus CEO Panos Moutafis, claims people love
their product and claims that they don't identify anyone. "People loved the system," Moutafis says. "The
organizer told us that it was five times faster than typical scanning methods." "There is no personal information
transferred from the platform, just the 'face geometry' that distinguishes individuals Moutafis said." But is he
telling the truth?
Zenus Brings Facial Recognition Software to Event Check-Ins. For all the technological innovation on display at
the annual South By Southwest Interactive festival, registration and check-in is still largely done the old-fashioned
way. Similar to other large conventions, an attendee waits in line, hands over an ID to a registrar, gets a picture
taken for a badge, and then receives the usual conference swag bag. Now, a Houston startup called Zenus says it can use
imaging technology to automate steps in the process, reducing the time and effort required to check in. "The check-in
process is the first thing attendees experience at the venue; it's very important to get it right," says Panos Moutafis,
co-founder and CEO of Zenus.
Hackers can spy on you through
Amazon Echo. Smart home speakers equipped with microphones programmed to listen for everything you say may be turned into
devices that would spy on everything you say. Gadgets like Amazon Echo and Google Home are programmed to record your commands, but
they're also programmed to ignore everything you say unless you use a hot word to activate the assistants. But as it turns out,
someone with physical access to an Amazon Echo device could hack it to send everything it hears to a remote server.
is reinstating their plan to spy on you unless you pay extra. AT&T plans to reinstate their GigaPower pay-for-privacy
scheme, as revealed by AT&T VP Robert Quinn in a recent interview with C-SPAN. In 2014, AT&T started offering GigaPower
300 Mbps fiber internet in cities around the United States. Users signing up had the option of paying $29 more per
month to guarantee that AT&T doesn't snoop on your internet traffic and serve you advertisements and offers from their MITM
position on your internet.
These Forms Collect Your Data Even
If You Don't Hit "Submit". If you fill in a web form and hit "submit," you expect your data to get whisked off into the great ether, and probably from
there to be shared with third parties. But you probably don't expect your keystrokes — and form auto-fill fields — to be captured and
sent away as-entered, before you hit submit. And yet, a new report claims, that may be exactly what's happening. Gizmodo recently delved into a startup
you've never heard of that may be sharing data — even sensitive medical data — that you never even knew you were giving up, just based on how
you fill in fields on the web.
wants to spy on people through their smartphone camera and analyse the emotions on their face. Facebook has
been secretly developing creepy technology which spies on people and automatically analyses their facial expressions.
The social network applied for a patent to capture pictures of a user through their smartphone.
Already Bugged Your Own House Years Ago. Yesterday, Apple announced the HomePod, a smart speaker in the style
of the Google Home and Amazon Echo. Like those competing devices, it is voice-activated. Shout out "Hey Siri" and
it will respond. This is a cool bit of modern convenience. But, unavoidably, it also means that these machines
are listening. All the time. Apple insists its device is not transmitting any data unless you've said those magic
words. Google and Amazon promise pre-wake-word privacy as well. Even so, there's a certain reaction that bubbles
up every time a new one of these listening machines appears — you'd have to be crazy to put one in your home.
tech makes it official: There is no privacy anymore. Recent weeks have brought controversy over
electronic billboards in restaurants and shopping precincts that utilize advanced facial recognition techniques to not only
provide personalized advertisements but also measure and record the consumer and their response, ostensibly to enable
retailers to provide more targeted marketing and services. In Oslo, the restaurant Peppe's Pizza had its usage of such
billboards exposed due to a crashed digital advertisement that revealed the coding behind its facial recognition
system. The billboard includes a camera and facial recognition software that can register gender, whether the watcher
is young or an adult, facial expression, whether they wear glasses[,] and duration of time spent at the billboard.
The Editor says...
Hey, that's great news! This may be slightly off-topic, but if someone has "facial recognition software that can register gender," that would
settle a lot of "gender confusion" issues. Chromosomes can also help sort confused individuals into male or female — for
indeed those are the only two categories reflected in one's chromosomes. There is no such thing as "gender confusion" at that level.
Facebook angry they may no longer be able to sell your internet data without permission. Social media giants
Google and Facebook are actively trying to stop a proposed law that would force them to acquire consent from users before
collecting their personal information. The "Browser Act," introduced May 18 by Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of
Tennessee, mandates that people must explicitly give permission to internet service providers (ISPs) and websites wanting to
use their browsing history and other data for business purposes.
Virani: Top 9 Reasons to Stop Using Facebook... Now. [Scroll down] It sounds nuts when you put it
all together! [#1] Facebooks [sic] creates false endorsements for products from you to your friends — and they never reveal
this to you. [#2] When you see a like button on the web, Facebook is tracking that you're reading that page. It scans
the keywords on that page and associates them to you. It knows much time you spend on different sites and topics. [#3] They
read your private messages and the contents of the links you send privately. [#4] They've introduced features that turn your
phone's mic on without telling you. Based on their track-record changing privacy settings back without telling you, audio
surveillance is likely to start happening without your knowledge. [... #9] Facebook is demanding to track what you buy, and
your financial information like bank account and credit card numbers. You've already agreed to it in the new Terms Of
Service. It's already started sharing data with Mastercard.
Cloud Panopticon: Google, Cloud Computing and the Surveillance-Industrial-Complex. In June 2007, Privacy
International, a U.K.-based privacy rights watchdog, cited Google as the worst privacy offender among 23 online companies,
ranking the "Don't Be Evil" people below Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, eBay, LinkedIn, Facebook and AOL. According to the report,
no other company was "coming close to achieving [Google's] status as an endemic threat to privacy." What most disturbed the
authors was Google's "increasing ability to deep-drill into the minutiae of a user's life and lifestyle choices." The result:
"the most onerous privacy environment on the Internet." Indeed, Google now controls an estimated 70 percent of the online
search engine market, but its deep-drilling of user information — where we surf, whom we e-mail, what blogs we post, what
pictures we share, what maps we look at, what news we read — extends far beyond the search feature to encompass the kind
of "total information awareness" that privacy activists feared at the hands of the Bush Jr. administration's much-maligned
Total Information Awareness program.
You're All Idiots. Amazon has introduced
a "new" Echo device. Having convinced a number of people to allow them to stick an always on speaker and microphone in
their house with the data going to Amazon and whoever else they wish they have now upped the game with both a camera and
screen. [...] If I see one of these in your house I know for a fact that you're stupid — and I'm immediately
leaving, never to return.
Surveillance Is the New Office "Perk". Whether through "voluntary" corporate wellness programs, smart badges
that record voices and GPS locations, or surveillance apps in their mobile phones and personal computers, Americans are
offering up more and more personal data at work. Most of them don't have much idea of where that data goes, or how it
will be used — and there aren't that many limits on what employers can find out about their employees, or what
they can do with the data. The more people who opt in now, the harder it will be to opt out in the future. And
it's about to get much worse.
Microwave Can't Spy on You — But Plenty of Other Appliances Can. We are all constantly surrounded by
stuff that can spy on us. Microwaves are not on the list (yet), but televisions, as Conway mentions, certainly
are. As detailed in CIA documents recently released by Wikileaks, certain Samsung televisions were compromised by the
CIA such that they could remain on while appearing off, eavesdropping all the while. Smart TVs may need to be hacked
before they can listen to you, but other models have been known to spy on your watching habits right out of the box.
The Editor says...
If someone is bent on detecting activity in your house, the microwave oven would yield clues: The operation of your
microwave oven shows that you are awake and you're most likely in the kitchen, which someone outside the house may not have known.
Caught Spying on Customers Through Their TVs. We've been warned about bringing devices into our home that have
cameras, microphones or WiFi that are connected to the outside world. Why? Because any one of the devices has the
capability to collect data about us. And with advertisers and other organizations willing to pay for personal
information, it's tempting for device makers to try to earn extra profits. The consumer electronics hardware business
has become highly competitive with so many similar products that do much the same, so the manufacturers are trying to find
ways to increase their revenue through software subscriptions or by collecting data that they can sell to others.
Toys Don't Just Listen To Your Kid; They Send What They Hear To A Defense Contractor. Kids say a lot of random,
unsolicited, or just plain personal things to their toys while playing. When that toy is stuffed with just fluff and
beans, it doesn't matter what the kid says: their toy is a safe sounding board. When their playtime companion is an
internet-connected recording device that ships off audio files to a remote server without even notifying parents —
that's a whole other kind of problem. According to a coalition of consumer-interest organizations, the makers of two
"smart" kids toys — the My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot — are allegedly violating
laws in the U.S. and overseas by collecting this sort of voice data without obtaining consent.
New "Fun & Creative" Filter: a Frighteningly Powerful Facial Recognition Tool. Facebook recently purchased a facial recognition software company that
promises to "bring more fun effects to photos and videos" posted on the social media behemoth. The origins of the technology — named "FacioMetrics" — is
much more sinister, however, and is likely to be used in much less lighthearted ways. In its announcement of the acquisition, Facebook highlights FacioMetrics'
ability to "allow people to express themselves in fun and creative ways" and to "build even more engaging sharing experiences on Facebook." There isn't, however,
any mention of how, and more importantly why, FacioMetrics was created.
to block the ultrasonic signals you didn't know were tracking you. Dystopian corporate surveillance threats
today come at us from all directions. Companies offer always-on devices that listen for our voice commands, and
marketers follow us around the web to create personalized user profiles so they can (maybe) show us ads we'll actually
click. Now marketers have been experimenting with combining those web-based and audio approaches to track consumers in
another disturbingly science fictional way: with audio signals your phone can hear, but you can't. And though you
probably have no idea that dog whistle marketing is going on, researchers are already offering ways to protect yourself.
The technology, called ultrasonic cross-device tracking, embeds high-frequency tones that are inaudible to humans in
advertisements, web pages, and even physical locations like retail stores.
admits it knew about huge data breach in 2014, two years before it became public. After months of speculation,
Yahoo has finally admitted it knew about a massive data breach as far back as 2014. The tech company had previously
claimed it only "recently" found out about the leak of 500 million users accounts. Independent experts are now
investigating exactly how much was known and by whom, Yahoo said. They are looking at evidence that indicates a
"state-sponsored actor" breached Yahoo's system and could have gained user data by creating "cookies" that bypassed password
protection, the company said in a regulatory filing. Yahoo said it doesn't believe it is currently possible for the
attackers to forge valid Yahoo Mail cookies.
The Editor says...
One can create artificial, deceptive, functional cookies, but if they are forgeries, they are not valid.
"Google Home" designed to spy inside our homes? Google Home (GH) is always listening to everything that goes on
inside your home. It's like paying the NSA, sorry I meant Google, $129.00 to bug your home. Click [elsewhere] to
find out about Google's close relationship with the NSA. GH does more than listen to music, it can control your lights,
thermostats, radios, TV's, refrigerators, smart plugs and more. GH has partnered with Nest, Phillips, IFTTT and Samsung
who also make the 'family hub refrigerator'.
employee badge knows not only where you are, who you are talking to. Do you hog office conversations? Or
not talk enough? Does your voice squeal? Do you sit very still at your desk all day? Or do you fidget under
stress? Where do you go in the office? How much time do you spend there? To whom do you talk? An
employee badge can now measure all this and more all with the goal of giving employers better information to evaluate
performance. Think of it as biometrics meets the boss.
Bryant Park mines data about you from your
phone. While hundreds of aspiring yogis strike their best tree-poses on the Bryant Park grass Thursday evening,
the Bryant Park Corporation employs new technology to raid their cell phones for information about this crowd that travels to
the park for a group stretch. "It's just like what we do every day in the park," park brand relations manager Matt
Castellan said. "We take visitor counts every day with clickers." Except instead of the informal numbers and maybe
truthful answers to casual questions that Castellan and other employees gather from guests, the PlaceIQ system provides a far
more detailed snapshot of the 8 million annual visitors to the park.
personal data points that Facebook uses to target ads to you. The social network just revamped its ad
preference settings to make them significantly easier for users to understand. They've also launched a new ad education
portal, which explains, in general terms, how Facebook targets ads. "We want the ads people see on Facebook to be
interesting, useful and relevant," a Facebook spokesperson said. But it remains to be seen whether users are pleased or
frightened by the new information they suddenly have.
Big Brother, credit card companies etc., are using facial recognition. Everywhere you turn someone is using
facial recognition to identify you. Facial recognition is out of control and soon will be in use everywhere.
10 upgrade: Don't use Express settings if you value your privacy. When you're setting up a new or
existing PC with Windows 10, Microsoft will offer to install the operating system with "Express settings." Although
Windows 10 Express settings will get you up and running quickly, that convenience comes at a cost: By skipping over
custom settings, you're agreeing to all kinds of data collection and behavior tracking, much of which didn't apply in earlier
versions of Windows. Here's our advice: Instead of blindly enabling Express settings in Windows 10, take some
time to understand what you're agreeing to.
forced advertising creeps into Windows 10 Pro. If you were wondering whether Microsoft could inflict even more
damage to Windows' reputation, the answer is yes. When the Anniversary Update rolls out on Aug. 2, Windows 10 Pro
users will no longer be able to turn off certain kinds of advertising. That presents a real concern for admins, who will not
be able to keep Microsoft from pushing the likes of Candy Crush Soda Saga onto their domain-joined Pro machines. It's also a
frightening concern for anyone who paid for Pro's GPEdit feature.
Wants To Charge You Less For Broadband At The Expense Of Your Privacy. Would you be willing to pay less for
broadband if it means giving up more of your personal data? [...] Comcast wants to present lower tiered broadband options to
customers who have no problem with their data being mined and exposed to advertisers. This would create a luxury level
of broadband with more privacy options. At least, that's how Comcast is spinning it to the FCC. The FCC doesn't
appear to be having any of this nonsense.
Company Has Built a Profile on Every American Adult. For more than a decade, professional snoops have been able
to search troves of public and nonpublic records — known addresses, DMV records, photographs of a person's
car — and condense them into comprehensive reports costing as little as $10. [...] IDI, a year-old company in the
so-called data-fusion business, is the first to centralize and weaponize all that information for its customers. The Boca
Raton, Fla., company's database service, idiCORE, combines public records with purchasing, demographic, and behavioral data.
Tale of the tape: Why Mark
Zuckerberg is smart to cover his webcam. Webcam security was thrust into the spotlight this week when a photo of Mark Zuckerberg
appeared to show the camera and microphone on his MacBook covered with tape. The photo, which was posted on Facebook to celebrate Instagram
hitting 500 million followers, sparked plenty of interest. While some worried about the broader effectiveness of Facebook's security,
many see the tape as a shrewd defense against potential hackers.
is using smartphones to listen to what people say, professor suggests. Facebook could be listening in on
people's conversations all of the time, an expert has claimed. The app might be using people's phones to gather data on
what they are talking about, it has been claimed. Facebook says that its app does listen to what's happening around it,
but only as a way of seeing what people are listening to or watching and suggesting that they post about it. The
feature has been available for a couple of years, but recent warnings from Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the
University of South Florida, have drawn attention to it.
you know that your Facebook mobile app has complete access to your phone's microphone? Recently, an expert has
come out to claim that Facebook may be listening in on your conversations. Kelli Burns, a mass communication professor
at the University of South Florida, believes the app might be using people's microphones to gather data on the content of
people's conversations. Facebook admits that the app is capable of listening to what's happening around it —
but claims the feature simply identifies what people are listening to or watching as means of conveniently posting about
it. Currently, the feature is only available in the U.S. and has been available for a couple of years according to
Facebook, although recent warnings from Burns have drawn renewed interest.
will now track you even if you're not a Facebook user. Facebook announced on Thursday evening [5/26/2016] that
it is changing the way its advertising works across the web. Facebook doesn't just serve ads on facebook.com and in its
mobile apps, the company also has a network of third-party websites and apps that it partners with to display ads. It's
called the Audience Network, and there has always been one big difference between the way Facebook's off-site ads work as
compared to Google: They were only shown to Facebook users. Now, that will no longer be the case. As The
Wall Street Journal noted on Friday morning, Facebook's off-site ads will now be shown to people who are not registered
Here's Why You Shouldn't Use
Facebook's Reactions Buttons. Belgian police are warning users not to use the Facebook Reactions feature to
respond to posts if they want to protect their privacy. In February, the series of six emoticons, allowing users to
express a range of emotions from anger to love, were added to the original thumbs-up option. They came in response to
calls for a 'Dislike' button. However, the new expressions are another big 'like' for Facebook and a 'dislike' for its
users — according to Belgian police who claim the site is using them as a way to collect information on people to
target advertising toward them.
Apple Music Now Finding and Removing Your Personal MP3s. Seriously, that really happens today, and there's
nothing you'll do about it. You signed away your right to sue, and what's worse you still buy products and services
from firm that do this sort of thing. Apple Music is a new "subscription" music service. But it has a
twist — when you sign up it will root around your hard drive (and, presumably, any network-attached drives) and
any music it "thinks" it has in the "cloud" that it deems to be the "same" was what you own it will remove from your
computer entirely. This [...] literally destroys your personal, private property.
Local Energy Companies Now Engaged in "Power-Shaming". How much you wanna bet that the following is the result
of a federally-funded program initiated by the rogue, lawless, and completely out-of-control Obama EPA? To wit:
here is a snip from my latest online energy bill.
The Market For Secrets. Alex Preston, writing
in The Guardian, rhetorically asked if privacy was dead. "Google knows what you're looking for. Facebook knows what you like," he writes. The NSA
may know what you've written too, which could be very important in a world where value increasingly consists of human intellect integrated over time. The 21st
century is a time when people are rewarded for what they know or, alternatively, punished for what they allow to be known, as General Petraeus and Hillary Clinton
have found. Yet in a "world without curtains" a person may not even have much custody over these things and find it all leaking away no sooner than set down.
A modern individual's life history may be digitally preserved more imperishably than the pyramids, but the paradox is that this history is not really his, and is not
even in his beneficial possession.
Phone Is Listening — Literally Listening — to Your TV. The TV is on in the background,
and you're replying to a quick email on your phone nearby. You don't know it, but the devices are communicating.
During a commercial, the TV emits an inaudible tone and your phone, which was listening for it, picks it up. Somewhere
far away, a server makes a note: Both devices probably belong to you. This information about which devices belong
to whom is immensely valuable to advertisers hoping to target ads specifically to you.
rule in favor of snooping by tech giants. Google, Facebook and other tech giants should remain free to spy on you,
regulators ruled on Friday [11/6/2015]. A petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission by the privacy group
Consumer Watchdog asked that such websites be forced to respect consumer requests not to have their online activity tracked.
The FCC dismissed the petition, stating that it has been "unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers."
3 gadgets that are
always listening and how to stop them. Personal digital assistants, such as Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Google's
Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana, are like something out of science fiction. A comparison is often made to the
helpful-turned-homicidal computer Hal 9000 from the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey." Of course, while today's personal digital
assistants aren't going to try to kill you (hopefully), they do have this in common with Hal: They're always listening.
Fortunately, also unlike Hal, stopping them from listening is simple.
Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic. The National Security Agency's ability to spy on vast
quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership
with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies
worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered
unique and especially productive. One document described it as "highly collaborative," while another lauded the company's
"extreme willingness to help."
Has Spent Two Years Trying to Hide a Big Security Flaw. Thousands of cars from a host of manufacturers have
spent years at risk of electronic car-hacking, according to expert research that Volkswagen has spent two years trying to
suppress in the courts. "Keyless" car theft, which sees hackers target vulnerabilities in electronic locks and
immobilizers, now accounts for 42 percent of stolen vehicles in London. BMWs and Range Rovers are particularly
at-risk, police say, and can be in the hands of a technically minded criminal within 60 seconds. Security
researchers have now discovered a similar vulnerability in keyless vehicles made by several carmakers.
RollJam device can steal your car keys, open your garage. [Scroll down] It's a
proven system that's secured tens of millions of cars and remote garage door openers for
years. And now it may be useless. White-hat hacker Samy Kamkar, who last week cracked
GM's OnStar smartphone app security and demonstrated his ability to illicitly unlock and start a car
over a cellular network, has developed a device made from $20 worth of parts that he calls the
RollJam, which does exactly what its name implies.
Monitors Your Private Messages and Photos For Criminal Activity, Reports them to Police. Facebook has a new
little known software that monitors your profile chat and pictures for criminal activity. The software will proceed
to alert an employee at the company who will then decide whether to call authorities or not. The software will monitor
individuals who have a 'loose' relationship on social media networks, according to an interview with Facebook Chief Security
Officer Joe Sullivan.
Your Webcam': Horrifying Malware Broadcasts You to the World. The Internet is flush
with webcam videos of people who clicked unwittingly on a malware link and opened their computer to
anonymous miscreants intent on mocking, blackmailing or simply spying on them, according to a report
being published Thursday [7/30/2015]. There's not enough being done about such little-known but
alarming invasions of privacy, the Digital Citizens Alliance says in its report on computer "slaving"
by programs known as Remote Access Trojans, or RATs. However, the organization says both
corporations and individuals can take steps to address the problem. "Tape your webcam," advises
Adam Benson, deputy executive director of the Digital Citizens Alliance. "I have tape on both my
work computer and home computer." He also suggests not clicking on links with uncertain destinations,
and keeping anti-virus software and device operating systems up to date.
the Internet Listen to Your Private Conversations? The Echo, a $180 cylindrical device
that began general shipping in July after months of public testing, is the latest advance in
voice-recognition technology that's enabling machines to record snippets of conversation that
are analyzed and stored by companies promising to make their customers' lives better.
man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy. Hillview Police say they
were called [7/26/2015] to the home of 47-year-old William H. Merideth after someone complained
about a firearm. When they arrived, police say Merideth told them he had shot down a drone that
was flying over his house. The drone was hit in mid-air and crashed in a field near Merideth's
home. Police say the owner of the drone claimed he was flying it to get pictures of a friend's
house — and that the cost of the drone was over $1,800.
gadget steals encryption keys out of the air, and it's nearly unstoppable. Just when
you thought you were safe, a new hacking toy comes along and rocks your world. Imagine a tool exists
that lets hackers pluck encryption keys from your laptop right out of the air. You can't stop it by
connecting to protected Wi-Fi networks or even disabling Wi-Fi completely. Turning off Bluetooth
also won't help you protect yourself. Why? Because the tiny device that can easily be hidden in
an object or taped to the underside of a table doesn't use conventional communications to pull off capers.
Instead it reads radio waves emitted by your computer's processor, and there's really nothing you can do to
facial recognition a threat on Facebook and Google? Facebook is one of the leading
organizations in the world developing facial-recognition algorithms. Facebook software can now
identify people in photographs as well as people can. Facebook's DeepFace (no, I'm not
kidding — it's called DeepFace) can tell whether the subjects in two different
photographs are the same person with 97% accuracy. That's even better than the FBI's own Next
Generation Identification system. DeepFace achieves this amazing feat by analyzing faces, turning
them into 3D models, then making it possible to recognize the faces from angles and under lighting
conditions that are different from those in other photos of the same person. The technology uses
more than 120 million parameters, and a page on Facebook's research website explains that the company
"trained it on the largest facial dataset to-date, an identity labeled dataset of four million facial
images belonging to more than 4,000 identities."
eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission. Privacy campaigners and
open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable
of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer. First spotted by open source
developers, the Chromium browser — the open source basis for Google's Chrome —
began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.
worker sues company over 24-7 tracking app. Myrna Arias didn't like the GPS app on her phone that
constantly tracked her, so she uninstalled it. The problem: Arias' iPhone was issued by her employer,
which required her to run the app constantly, and after she removed it, the California woman was fired.
Now she's suing her former employer, money transfer service Intermex, for invasion of privacy, unfair business
practices, and retaliation, among other things, Ars Technica reports.
fired for disabling GPS app that tracked her 24 hours a day. A Central California woman claims she was fired after
uninstalling an app that her employer required her to run constantly on her company issued iPhone — an app that tracked
her every move 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Plaintiff Myrna Arias, a former Bakersfield sales executive for money
transfer service Intermex, claims in a state court lawsuit that her boss, John Stubits, fired her shortly after she uninstalled the
job-management Xora app that she and her colleagues were required to use.
The Editor says...
The way I understand it, if the company owns the phone, you have to leave it configured the way the company set it up.
The big question in this case is whether the company can compel you to lug the phone with you wherever you go.
If you don't want the company tracking your movements, all you have to do is wrap the phone in aluminum foil.
The GPS won't work, the cell phone sites won't see the phone, and the tracking apps will immediately stop working.
The phone won't be able to receive calls (of course) until you unwrap it, but if you're not "on call" 24/7, that's
not an issue.
in the clouds: 7 examples of compromised personal information. Each day millions of
people across the globe create backups of their files. These backups are supposed to offer
a measure of assurance that their files are safe, but that's not entirely true. In fact,
depending on how you've configured the device, your backups are freely available online to anyone
who knows what they're looking for.
What the Progressive Snapshot is to your car, this device is to your body.
co. wants to track you 24/7 for a discount. It's increasingly popular to wear a fitness
tracker that measures your footsteps, heart rate or body movements. Now, the life insurance company
John Hancock is offering deal if you'll wear one: 15% off in some cases. The company
unveiled its optional, new program Wednesday morning [4/8/2015]. John Hancock is partnering
with Vitality, which many people probably know as one of those work-related wellness programs.
The program is available in 30 states.
The Editor says...
The problem with this sort of idea is that if a high enough percentage of adults voluntarily
participate, the program will become mandatory for everyone else, because obviously the holdouts
don't know what's good for them.
Ask.com can hijack
your computer using Java updates. We learned this week that more than 317 million
computer viruses or other malicious programs were unleashed by hackers last year, according to the
Internet security firm Symantec. That's nearly a million new cyberthreats daily. But not all
attempts at messing with your computer are from sneaky, illegitimate sources. Some are from big-name
tech companies that don't seem to care what you think of them. Anyone whose computer has been
hijacked by the Ask.com toolbar knows exactly what I mean.
puts trillions of tweets up for sale to data miners. You are travelling by plane to
see your newborn grandchild. As you board the aircraft, the cabin crew address you by name and
congratulate you on the arrival of a bouncing baby boy. On your seat, you find a gift-wrapped blue
rattle with a note from the airline. In Twitter data strategy chief Chris Moody's vision of the
future, companies surprising their customers like this could become an everyday occurrence —
made possible because Twitter is listening.
The Editor says...
If someone read your mail and then congratulated you on an unpublicized event, you'd call them a busybody.
Companies who pretend to be helpful by reading your social media pages are really just nosy.
wants to track your smartphone to combat fraud. Visa will introduce a feature this
spring that will allow its cardholders to inform their banks where they are automatically, using the
location function found in nearly every smartphone. Having your bank and Visa know where you are
at all times may sound a little like Big Brother. But privacy experts are applauding the feature,
saying that, if used correctly, it could protect cardholders and cut down on credit card fraud.
Hang on, this Wi-Fi doll records
your child's voice? What could possibly go wrong? Mattel has unveiled a high-tech
Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing,
and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster's
conversations with the toy. If Samsung's spying smart TVs creeped you out, this doll may be
setting off alarm bells too — so we drilled into what's going on.
scramble to protect users from Superfish security flaw. Superfish, a little-known
Silicon Valley startup, is defending itself amid a firestorm of criticism for making software that
exposed Lenovo laptop users to hackers bent on stealing personal information. Researchers
revealed Thursday that a vulnerability in Superfish software, which came pre-loaded on many Lenovo
laptops, could let hackers impersonate shopping, banking and other websites and steal users' credit
card numbers and other personal data.
Superfish 'Malware' Works And What You Can Do To Kill It. Lenovo might have made one
of the biggest mistakes in its history. By pre-installing software called 'Superfish' to get ads on
screens it's peeved the entire privacy community, which has been aghast this morning on Twitter.
There are serious security concerns about Lenovo's move too as attackers could take Superfish and use it
to ensnare some unwitting web users. Here's what you need to know about Superfish and what you
can do to stop it chucking irksome ads on your browser and leaving you open to hackers.
caught installing adware on new computers. It looks like Lenovo has been installing
adware onto new consumer computers from the company that activates when taken out of the box for the
first time. The adware, named Superfish, is reportedly installed on a number of Lenovo's consumer
laptops out of the box. The software injects third-party ads on Google searches and websites without
the user's permission.
TV Is Snooping on You. Your Samsung smart TV is capturing your conversations.
aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information
will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."
Smart TVs Are Collecting And Storing Your Private Conversations. Compare Samsung's
wording... ["]Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive
information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party
through your use of Voice Recognition.["] with Orwell's: ["]The telescreen received and
transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low
whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision
which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no
way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment...["]
[Emphasis in original.]
Will Tag You in Photos with Creepy Recognition Software. Facebook is getting "aggressive" about
tagging people in photos posted on the social networking site. Its facial-recognition software, with the
creepy name DeepFace, is going through the massive archive of photos and identifying people. And the software
is good at it.
Not in front of the telly: Warning over
'listening' TV. Samsung is warning customers about discussing personal information in
front of their smart television set. The warning applies to TV viewers who control their Samsung
Smart TV using its voice activation feature. Such TV sets "listen" to some of what is said in
front of them and may share details they hear with Samsung or third parties, it said. Privacy
campaigners said the technology smacked of the telescreens, in George Orwell's 1984, which spied on
your TV eavesdropping on private conversations? Samsung reveals its smart sets can capture every
word. Smart TVs and high-end games consoles that 'listen' to voice commands are
becoming increasingly popular. But Samsung is today under fire for what it does with this audio
if their conversations contain 'personal or other sensitive information', this will be captured and
transmitted to an unidentified third party.
Sees Weak Security in Cars' Wireless Systems. Serious gaps in security and customer
privacy affect nearly every vehicle that uses wireless technology, according to a report set to be
released on Monday [2/9/2015] by a senator's office. [...] The report found that large amounts of
data on driving histories are harvested, frequently without consumers being explicitly aware that
the information is being collected or how it will be used. At least nine automakers use third-party
companies to collect vehicle data, which can make consumers even more vulnerable, and some transmit
that data to third-party data centers too.
Retailers Ask For ZIP Code, And Lawsuits Follow. In the past two years, at least 25
retailers have been sued for more than $100 million for requesting ZIP code information from
Massachusetts customers. Most of the lawsuits have been settled or withdrawn, but the practice of
asking customers for their postal codes — bits of information with a marketing value of
perhaps 5 cents each — has cost retailers millions of dollars in settlements and attorneys' fees.
Uber Tracks Users' Sexual Liaisons. An Uber executive's suggestion that the company
should investigate the private lives of journalists has sparked a backlash against the popular car
service, offering a potent reminder that tech companies are amassing detailed — and
potentially embarrassing — records of users' communications, Internet traffic and even
Google knows about you (and how it knows it). According to Google, I am a woman
between the ages of 25 and 34 who speaks English as her primary language and has accumulated an
unwieldy 74,486 e-mails in her life. I like cooking, dictionaries and Washington, D.C. I own a Mac
computer that I last accessed at 10:04 p.m. last night, at which time I had 46 open Chrome tabs.
And of the thousands and thousands of YouTube videos I have watched in my lifetime, a truly embarrassing
number of them concern (a) funny pets or (b) Taylor Swift. I didn't tell Google any of these
things intentionally, of course — I didn't fill out a profile or enter a form. But
even as you search Google, it turns out, Google is also searching you.
chafe as Macs send sensitive docs to iCloud without warning. [Scroll down] But
it nonetheless came as a surprise to researcher Jeffrey Paul, who said he was alarmed to recently
discover a cache of in-progress files he intended to serve as "temporary Post-It notes" that had
been silently uploaded to his iCloud account even though he never intended or wished them to be.
"Apple has taken local files on my computer not stored in iCloud and silently and without my
permission uploaded them to their servers," Paul wrote in a recent blog post.
AT&T tracking their users with 'super-cookies'. Verizon and AT&T have been quietly
tracking the Internet activity of more than 100 million cellular customers with what critics have
dubbed "supercookies" — markers so powerful that it's difficult for even savvy users to
escape them. The technology has allowed the companies to monitor which sites their customers
visit, cataloging their tastes and interests. Consumers cannot erase these supercookies or evade
them by using browser settings, such as the "private" or "incognito" modes that are popular among
users wary of corporate or government surveillance.
They can probably see a lot more than your face right now,
but the pictures are intentionally fuzzied up.
Satellites Could Soon See Your Face from Space. Skybox's satellites cannot capture
details as small as license plate numbers or someone's face — yet. But DigitalGlobe's
might. At 25 centimeters, the images will be detailed enough to classify the make of a car.
If the restrictions relax further, the plate number or owner's face could come into clear view.
Every iPad and iPhone on
the planet has a secret back-door allowing unknown parties to take control. I wonder who could be behind this?
Backlash to Facebook's Ambient Sound Recording Feature. Seems not everybody is happy
with Facebook's gift of a built-in ambient sound recorder. An Australian news site reports that
"the feature has sparked an online backlash, with users mobilising [sic] in an effort to get the
social media giant to kill off the development." The petition has over half a million
signatures as of press time.
the young need to read 1984. Young people too willingly surrender their privacy to
Google and Facebook, a leading scientist warned yesterday [6/5/2014]. Noel Sharkey, a professor
of artificial intelligence and robotics at Sheffield University, said that older people were more
cautious with their personal data.
privacy threat: DNS logging and how to avoid it. With AT&T now turning your DNS logs
into a money-making proposition, it's time to look at alternatives.
not track'? : The browser privacy system is in tatters. In 2009, a few Internet
privacy advocates developed an idea that was supposed to give people a way to tell websites they
don't want to be monitored as they move from website to website. The mechanism, which would
eventually be built into all the major browsers, was called Do Not Track. With a single browser
setting, these advocates thought, users would be able to communicate a preference for their
privacy. It would be easier than downloading add-on software or creating a blacklist of specific
companies to block. Do Not Track, or DNT, would be the Web's version of the telemarketer Do Not
Call list. But today, DNT hangs by a thread, neutered by a failure among stakeholders to reach
develop formula that reveals home location based on tweets. IBM researches announced Friday [3/21/2014]
they successfully developed an algorithm to track down any Twitter user's home city based on metadata contained in
their last 200 tweets. The formula, which researchers said could benefit targeted advertising for marketers
or locating major news events for journalists, has an almost 70 percent rate of accuracy according to MIT
Technology Review, and is the latest research finding to highlight the possible danger to privacy and security
presented by metadata collection and analysis.
Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes,
workplaces. Credit card issuer Capital One isn't shy about getting into customers' faces. The company recently sent a contract
update to cardholders that makes clear it can drop by any time it pleases. The update specifies that "we may contact you in any manner we
choose" and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a "personal visit." As if that weren't creepy enough, Cap One
says these visits can be "at your home and at your place of employment." The police need a court order to pull off something like that.
It will soon be technically
impossible to be anonymous. Whether we like it or not (and often we do), we are getting ever more astonishingly accurate authentication links between
people and machines. It soon will be technically impossible to stay "anonymous". Data we emit as people as we do anything other than sit alone starving
in a cave will be collected and stored and processed as part of things working normally. That data will throw up patterns of behaviour that can be used for
both good and malign purposes, by both government agencies and private organisations.
Ford: 'We have GPS in your car, so
we know what you're doing'. A top Ford executive made a startling admission about the amount of data the auto maker tracks from
its customers at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show this week. "We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it," Ford
Vice-President Jim Farley told a crowd in Las Vegas during the show. "We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing."
The global marketing and sales division chief was trying to make a larger point about the amount of real-time data Ford has on drivers that
could be used in the future to alleviate problems like traffic congestion.
After Saying Ford Tracks Drivers. A Ford Motor executive who said the company tracks and collects data on how Ford customers drive
their vehicles said Thursday [1/9/2014] that he regrets making the comments. Jim Farley, executive vice president of marketing and sales
at Ford, said that he was wrong to suggest to customers that the automaker uses GPS devices in vehicles to collect data on how people drive.
Facebook 'snoops on your private inbox': Site sued
over claim it is scanning and selling details. Facebook is being sued over claims it has been scanning users' private messages for personal
information to sell to advertisers. The social networking site, is accused of monitoring messages and website links sent between users so they can
profile what people read online.
wants to move into your Home: Giant plans to fit microphones in ceilings. Google is already heavily criticised for trying to
know almost everything about us, and now the firm wants to get inside our homes, literally. Engineering director Scott Huffman told
The Independent that in his vision of the future Google users would have microphones fitted inside their homes.
2 million Facebook, Gmail and Twitter passwords stolen in massive
hack. Hackers have stolen usernames and passwords for nearly two million accounts at Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and others, according
to a report released this week. The massive data breach was a result of keylogging software maliciously installed on an untold number of computers
around the world, researchers at cybersecurity firm Trustwave said.
Memo to Workers: The Boss Is Watching. Blue-collar
workers have always been kept on a tight leash, but there is a new level of surveillance available to bosses these days. Thanks to mobile devices and
inexpensive monitoring software, managers can now know where workers are, eavesdrop on their phone calls, tell if a truck driver is wearing his seat belt and
intervene if he is tailgating.
Big brother is watching you in Vegas, except in hotel hallways.
Closed circuit cameras hidden behind plastic ceiling domes are omnipresent in pop culture portrayals of Sin City. [...] Yet the Associated Press found that 23 of the
27 major Strip casinos have no surveillance in hotel hallways or elevator landings.
Phone companies remain silent over legality of NSA data
collection. America's top telecommunications companies are refusing to say whether they accept that the bulk collection of their customers' phone
records by the National Security Agency is lawful. The phone companies are continuing to guard their silence over the controversial gathering of metadata
by the NSA, despite the increasingly open approach by those at the center of the bulk surveillance programme. On Tuesday [9/17/2013] the secretive foreign
intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court declassified its legal reasoning for approving the NSA telephone metadata program periodically over the past six years.
Google knows nearly every Wi-Fi password
in the world. If an Android device (phone or tablet) has ever logged on to a particular Wi-Fi network, then Google probably knows the
Wi-Fi password. Considering how many Android devices there are, it is likely that Google can access most Wi-Fi passwords worldwide.
data-mining on consumer credit cards challenged in heated House hearing. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officials are seeking
to monitor four out of every five U.S. consumer credit card transactions this year — up to 42 billion transactions —
through a controversial data-mining program, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.
Attention, Shoppers: Store Is Tracking
Your Cell. Like dozens of other brick-and-mortar retailers, Nordstrom wanted to learn more about its customers — how many
came through the doors, how many were repeat visitors — the kind of information that e-commerce sites like Amazon have in spades.
So last fall the company started testing new technology that allowed it to track customers' movements by following the Wi-Fi signals from their
Cookie Is Dying. Here's The Creepier Technology That Comes Next. Many Internet advertisers rely on cookies, digital code stored on
your browser. [...] The problem for marketers is that some users set their browsers to reject cookies or quickly extinguish them. And
and publishers are increasingly turning to something called fingerprinting.
Big Brother alert: Cameras in the cable box to
monitor TV viewers. New technology would allow cable companies to peer directly into television watchers' homes and monitor viewing habits and
reactions to product advertisements. The technology would come via the cable box, and at least one lawmaker on Capitol Hill is standing in opposition.
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano has introduced a bill, the We Are Watching You Act, to prohibit the technology on boxes and collection of
information absent consumer permission.
Thought You Had Privacy Before the NSA Leak? What About Facebook?. Your privacy has already been invaded by Facebook and
the other tech giants that collected the data in the first place. If the government is turning to Big Brother in an effort to
safeguard the homeland, then the tech companies are Rich Uncles, intent on getting ever richer.
Built Back Door In All Windows Software by 1999. In researching the stunning pervasiveness of spying by the government
(it's much more wide spread than you've heard even now), we ran across the fact that the FBI wants software programmers to install a
backdoor in all software. Digging a little further, we found a 1999 article by leading European computer publication
Heise which noted that the NSA had already built a backdoor into all Windows software.
New Xbox by NSA partner Microsoft
will watch you 24/7. One of the console's key features is the full integration of the Kinect, a motion sensing camera that
allows users to play games, scroll through menus, and generally operate the Xbox just using hand gestures. Microsoft has touted the
camera as the hallmark of a new era of interactivity in gaming. What Microsoft has not promoted, however, is the fact that you will
not be able to power on the console without first enabling the Kinect, designed to detect both heartbeats and eye movement[,] and
positioning yourself in front of it.
Big Data Turning Government Into 'Big Brother'? With every phone call they make and every Web excursion they take, people are leaving
a digital trail of revealing data that can be tracked by profit-seeking companies and terrorist-hunting government officials.
Your Computer is Bugging Your House.
The computer you are sitting at right now probably has a microphone. It probably also has a camera looking at you this moment.
Is it sending sound and pictures from inside your house to the PRISM program at NSA? Who knows? But one thing is for
sure — the technology is sitting there, on your desk. Welcome to Winston's world.
Bloomberg Admits Terminal Snooping.
Reporters at Bloomberg News were trained to use a function on the company's financial data terminals that allowed them to view
subscribers' contact information and, in some cases, monitor login activity in order to advance news coverage, more than half
a dozen former employees said.
Terminal Scandal Makes Bunga Bunga Parties Seem Quaint. When a billionaire mayor's news company uses his financial
company's products to spy on the nation's top bankers and officials, no line is left uncrossed.
The Internet is a surveillance state.
Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on
its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on
our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his
Internet use during one 36-hour period. Increasingly, what we do on the Internet is being combined with other data about us.
New Malware Attacks Smartphone,
Computer to Eavesdrop. A recently discovered new form of Android malware called DroidCleaner can not only infect your
smartphone, but also targets your PC to spy on you.
ad firm agrees to stop 'history sniffing' in Web browsers. A digital advertising company agreed Wednesday [12/5/2012] to end its
practice of "history sniffing," the practice of secretly tracking Internet users' activity through their Web browsers. Epic Marketplace Inc. and a
subsidiary were able to place a code in user's Web browsers allowing them to instantly see whether the unwitting users had visited any of the more than
50,000 websites that they were monitoring, including pages related to impotence, fertility issues and personal bankruptcy.
accused of massive 'data grab' with new service that automatically uploads your phone pictures. Facebook has been accused
of a massive 'data grab' after encouraging users to allow it to automatically synchronise photos from their mobile devices to the social
networks servers. The social network from Friday began asking users of its mobile apps to activate its new Photo Sync, which will
automatically upload each picture to a private album. Whether or not users decide share the photos on their public newsfeed,
Facebook itself will still have access.
Bionic Mannequins Spy on
Shoppers to Boost Luxury Sales. The EyeSee looks ordinary enough on the outside, with its slender polystyrene frame, blank face and
improbable pose. Inside, it's no dummy. A camera embedded in one eye feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by
police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by.
wants to know how many friends you've got in your living room. One of Microsoft's latest patent applications is a humdinger.
It proposes to turn the Kinect camera into a snitch for movie studios, reporting back just how many friends you've got in your living room and
what they're watching. Think that sounds alarmist? Here's what it actually says: "The users consuming the content on a display
device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken." It's that blatant — a
system to spy on private viewing habits.
Vast F.D.A. Effort Tracked E-Mails
of Its Scientists. [Scroll down] The software used to track the F.D.A. scientists, sold by SpectorSoft of Vero Beach, Fla.,
costs as little as $99.95 for individual use, or $2,875 to place the program on 25 computers. It is marketed mainly to employers to
monitor their workers and to parents to keep tabs on their children's computer activities. "Monitor everything they do," says SpectorSoft's
Web site. "Catch them red-handed by receiving instant alerts when keywords or phrases are typed or are contained in an e-mail, chat, instant
message or Web site."
Facebook Camera app
really, really wants to know your location. Facebook's slick new camera app goes on strike if you don't give it access to your
your TV watching you? Latest models raise concerns. Samsung's 2012 top-of-the-line plasmas and LED HDTVs offer new
features never before available within a television including a built-in, internally wired HD camera, twin microphones, face
tracking and speech recognition. While these features give you unprecedented control over an HDTV, the devices themselves,
more similar than ever to a personal computer, may allow hackers or even Samsung to see and hear you and your family, and
collect extremely personal data.
View cars grabbed locations of phones, PCs. Google's Street View cars collected the
locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other Wi-Fi devices around the world, a practice
that raises novel privacy concerns, CNET has confirmed. The cars were supposed to collect the
locations of Wi-Fi access points. But Google also recorded the street addresses and unique
identifiers of computers and other devices using those wireless networks and then made the data
publicly available through Google.com until a few weeks ago.
Why is Sprint installing junk apps on my
Android phone? A few days ago I noticed a strange app on my HTC Evo Android smartphone.
It's a demo version of a sci-fi shooter game called N.O.V.A. It wasn't preinstalled, I didn't download
it, and I can't uninstall it. I checked to see what it does on my phone and was shocked to see the
long list of permissions it has.
On the Web, Children
Face Intensive Tracking. A Wall Street Journal investigation into online privacy has found that
popular children's websites install more tracking technologies on personal computers than do the top websites
aimed at adults. The Journal examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what
tracking tools they installed on a test computer. As a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons"
and other pieces of tracking technology.
Is Your Detergent Stalking You?
Unilever's Omo detergent is adding an unusual ingredient to its two-pound detergent box in Brazil: a
GPS device that allows its promotions agency Bullet to track shoppers and follow them to their front doors.
Backdoor found in Energizer Duo USB battery
charger. Software that can be downloaded for use with the Energizer Duo USB battery charger
contains a backdoor that could allow an attacker to remotely take control of a Windows-based PC, Energizer
and US-CERT is warning.
backs mandatory vehicle 'black boxes'. General Motors Co. supports legislation to require
so-called "black boxes" in vehicles, to collect crash data, and it is willing to support additional
"reasonable" auto safety legislation. In a roundtable interview with reporters today, GM's new
vice president for government relations, Robert E. Ferguson, said the company backs legislation
in the works from Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, to mandate event data recorders.
Software Turns Your Cell Phone
Against You. Malicious software for cell phones could pose a greater risk for consumer's personal and
financial well-being than computer viruses, say scientists from Rutgers University. The scientists have made a
particularly resilient malware, known as a rootkit, that can turn a cell phone's microphone, GPS and battery against
the phone's owner.
The Editor says...
That's odd. Up until now, anyone who developed a rootkit was called a hacker by the mainstream
news media. Why, in this case, are they being called scientists?
Windows 7 Update "Phones Home" to Microsoft
Every 90 Days. The release of Windows 7 "Update for Microsoft Windows (KB971033)" will
change the current activation and anti-piracy behavior of Windows 7 by triggering automatic "phone
home" operations over the Internet to Microsoft servers, typically for now at intervals of around
90 days. The purpose? To verify that you're not running a pirated copy of Windows...
data miners are digging up about you: Databases know more about you than you realise. A
Carnegie Mellon University study recently showed that simply by knowing gender, birth date and postal zip code,
87% of people in the United States could be pinpointed by name. Websites can collect huge amounts of data from
users. Retailers, for example, can track our every click, what we buy, how much we spend, which advertisements
we see — even which ones we linger over with our mouse.
The Coolest (or
Creepiest) Thing on Facebook. Facebook likes to talk about privacy, but, let's be honest:
If you've spent any time on the social networking behemoth, you know the site is all about revealing yourself.
A new app, however, may take Facebook's hey-look-at-me culture one step too far.
with disk drives could be used for ID theft. Consumers are bombarded with warnings
about identity theft. Publicized threats range from mailbox thieves and lost laptops to the
higher-tech methods of e-mail scams and corporate data invasions. Now, experts are warning
that photocopiers could be a culprit as well.
Neighbor's data shows up in my browser.
There seems to be some way that my next-door-neighbor's information got into my PC. They always have their
wireless internet on, but my wireless reception is usually disabled. I really don't know how this could
have happened. Of course, since the problem showed up while I was doing my taxes, I am even more paranoid
about what information of mine might have been swapped between households.
data found hidden in iTunes tracks. Fresh privacy fears have been sparked after it emerged that
Apple has embedded personal information into music files bought from its iTunes online music store.
Technology websites examining iTunes products discovered that personal data, including the name and e-mail
addresses of purchasers, are embedded into the AAC files that Apple uses to distribute music tracks.
Adi Shamir's bug attack: One
(possibly hidden and intentional) bug in any high-level microprocessor as used in any modern configuration can
possibly leak secret keys used by Public-Key Infrastructures.
How easy is it to verify that such a single
multiplication bug does not exist in a modern microprocessor, when its exact design is kept as a trade secret?
McCain loan could violate donor privacy.
When John McCain's presidential campaign all but went broke, it borrowed money from its bank using its fundraising
information. That seems to put the Republican senator's campaign in a pickle; either it pledged to its
bank proceeds from something it can't sell, or it offered to violate its own promise to donors.
AT&T's Internet Monitoring Plans: News
stories are now appearing widely about an AT&T plan to try block pirated content at the network
To actually pick out particular content from those streams would imply the need to actually
examine and characterize the payload of files to locate and block potentially offending music and/or video
takes effect Friday [6/23/2006]. The changes are significant because they appear to give the telecom
giant more latitude when it comes to sharing customers' personal data with government officials. The
new policy says that AT&T — not customers — owns customers' confidential info and can
use it "to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."
This is apparently related to the issue
of Domestic spying.
This is an original
compilation, Copyright © 2015 by Andrew K. Dart
RIAA Still Feels Entitled To Scour Everyone's
Hard Drives. Ever since the RIAA started taking on file sharing, it's always acted as if it were
entitled to all sorts of things it isn't: access to the names associated with IP addresses without filing
lawsuits, private info on the people they're suing and even the aid of the FBI in what's clearly a civil, not
Lawsuits mounting over massive customer data
breach at TJX. The TJX Cos. Inc. faces federal lawsuits in five additional states over a data theft
that exposed at least 45 million credit and debit cards to potential fraud, according to a regulatory
filing Thursday [6/7/2007] by the owner of stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
Printer steganography: Many
color printers (Xerox, HP, etc.) add barely visible yellow dots that encode printer serial numbers and
time stamps, down to the minute. Intended primarily to combat counterfeiters, the purportedly
"secret" steganographic code in color printer copies has now
been decoded by
four people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. There are of course various
slippery-slope privacy issues.
Crack Tracking Code Discovered in Color Printers. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but
it isn't. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be
used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government.
Your Printer is a Government Spy. The government conspired with manufacturers to hide a
secret code on every page generated by a color printer or copier.
Printer dots raise privacy
concerns. The affordability and growing popularity of color laser printers is raising concerns among civil
liberties advocates that your privacy may not be worth the paper you're printing on. More manufacturers are
outfitting greater numbers of laser printers with technology that leaves microscopic yellow dots on each printed page to
identify the printer's serial number — and ultimately, you, says the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation,
one of the leading watchdogs of electronic privacy.
EFF's "Yellow Dots of
Mystery" on Instructables. Since late 2004, EFF has been warning the public about "printer
dots" — tiny yellow dots that appear on documents produced by many color laser printers and copiers.
These yellow dots form a coded pattern on every page the printer produces and can be used to identify
specific details about a document; for example, the brand, model, and serial number of the device that
printed it and when it was printed. In short, the printer dots are a surveillance tool that can
link each printed page to the printer that printed it.
Keep Your Grubby Mitts Off My Hard
Drive. Amazon's new UnBox video service turns out to have some traits that are even
more annoying than the impenetrable cellophane stickers they put on DVD cases. … To be allowed
the privilege of purchasing a video that I can't burn to DVD and can't watch on my iPod, I have to
allow a program to hijack my start-up and force me to login to uninstall it? No way."
Brother Is Tracking You. Many new cell phones come equipped with tracking devices that
can pinpoint the location of the phone to within 30 feet. The feature offers lots of
possibilities both to users and law enforcement.
Even the simplest phones now have enhanced
911 capability mandated by federal law, which can detect a caller's location within a broad area
through triangulated radio signals sent to cell towers.
inspectors suspended over GPS. The Massachusetts public safety commissioner
yesterday [7/10/2006] suspended 20 state building and engineering inspectors for refusing to accept
cellphones equipped with global positioning systems.
Camera With Pitt-Jolie Photos Is
Seized. Local police, accompanied by state police and Secret Service officers, went to the
Westfield home of William Keys on Tuesday to recover a digital camera's memory stick after three photos that
appeared on the Internet were tracked to Keys.
The Editor says...
[How did they track the photos to a specific camera? Sounds like I need to do some research.]
Cell Service Lets Parents Track
Kids by GPS. Up until now, parents had to deal with a separate company or buy special equipment
to track their children through their cell phones. Sprint Nextel Corp. becomes the first U.S. wireless
provider to sell its own product when the Family Locator Service rolls out Thursday [4/13/2006].
The Editor says...
The expression "Track Kids by GPS" is misleading. GPS is a one-way (receive only) service using weak signals that are unreliable inside
houses and cars, and completely useless in tunnels and underground parking garages. Nextel is most likely comparing the arrival time of PCS signals
at several different sites, and using simple calculations to figure out where the phone is. (That would be possible without GPS technology, but you'd need an
atomic clock at every cell phone site, so it wouldn't be economically feasible.) What it boils down to is simply this: Cell phone signals
travel about one foot in one nanosecond. If every cell phone site has a clock that is accurate to 10 nanoseconds, you can figure out where a
PCS phone is within 10 feet by comparing the arrival time of its signals at various (precisely known) locations around town.
The Choice Point
Syndrome. An extensive list of breaches of sensitive personal
information, disclosed just since January 2005.
you might not want to have Wachovia. More than
48,000 customers of Wachovia Corp. and 600,000 of Bank of America
Corp. have been notified that their financial records may have been stolen
by bank employees and sold to collection agencies.
loan company's personal data 'lost'. Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp. has announced the loss
of the names and Social Security numbers of 1.3 million customers.
Breach Could Expose 40 Million to Fraud. A computer hacker may have
accessed more than 40 million credit card accounts in what could be the largest
in a series of recent security breaches involving consumer data, officials said.
says 68,000 Customers are at High Risk. Credit card users, don't fret. Only
a small fraction of the 13.9 million credit cards accounts at MasterCard exposed to
possible fraud were considered at high risk, the company said Saturday [6/18/2005].
May Have Had Earlier Breach. A LexisNexis executive said
Wednesday [4/13/2005] there may have been an earlier breach of consumers' personal
data that was never reported to the public. The disclosure at a Senate hearing
came a day after London-based Reed Elsevier, which owns LexisNexis, revealed that
criminals may have breached computer files containing the personal information
of 310,000 people since January 2003.
Evidence From Black
Boxes in Cars Turns Up in Courts. An estimated 25 million automobiles
in the United States now have so-called event data recorders, a scaled-down version
of the devices that monitor cockpit activity in airplanes. Like aviation recorders,
automobile black boxes mainly receive attention after an accident. What the devices
record increasingly finds its way into courtrooms as evidence in criminal and civil
cases, leading some privacy advocates to question how the recorders came to be
installed so widely with so little public notice or debate.
Experts Shun Black Boxes. Some safety and privacy experts
are reacting with apprehension, others with all out condemnation over
a recent ruling by the National Transportation Safety Board to require
electronic data recorders or "black boxes" in all new cars manufactured
in the United States. "I take offense that this personal property of
individuals is now being designed by the federal government," said Jim
Harper, privacy attorney and editor
knows your every move: Worklenz tracks workers — what
they do, when they do it, and how long it takes.
job listing an ID theft scam: "Background check"
was used to steal full slate of personal info.
ugly truth about privacy: Issues involving our personal privacy
affect our day-to-day lives much more than you might think.
Survival Guide: How to Take Control of Your Personal Information.
Caller ID Page: Privacy aspects of Caller ID
Cookie Page: Privacy aspects of browser cookies
Brother rides shotgun: Rental-car company
uses GPS to track customer, fines him $450 for speeding.
let Big Brother in to get a break. In two new tests, car owners will be able to
let insurance companies monitor their driving via new technology in exchange for lower
rates. The technology will track some combination of when, where, how far and how
fast they drive, giving insurers a way to reward low-risk driving. Now just
experiments, the technology might be a glimpse of the future of car insurance. [Or
the future of law enforcement. Or tax collection.]
to Build Privacy Into Customer Authentication. Reports of worsening identity
theft are pressuring companies to adopt stronger methods of making sure they know the identity
of their customers. Most customers will find this additional layer of security
comforting. But the more invasive authentication methods — biometrics,
especially — have people worried that they'll lose their privacy in the process. How
can businesses authenticate their customers without scaring them away? By putting
the consumer in control throughout the authentication process.
Internet Security: Two types of bad things can happen to an
Internet-connected home computer: The first involves a miscreant duping a user
into running harmful software-a worm, virus, Trojan Horse, or some form of spyware
that reports back some aspect of the user's activities or configuration. The
second bad thing involves a miscreant taking direct control of the computer
and running arbitrary software-either the user's own or the miscreant's. Of
course, many type-1 Trojan Horses give attackers type-2 control, but
the type-1 exploit isn't the only path to type-2 control.
system: Promises and potholes. General Motors plans to
begin installing new sensors and communications systems into vehicles
next year in a move that could save lives but that also raises
on In-Store Camera: If you can't shop anonymously at your local
retail giant, then privacy as we know it is dead.
Raining Privacy Notices: American consumers
are being leafleted this spring with privacy notices from financial institutions
that invite them to say "no thanks" to having their personal information shared
with third parties. But some privacy advocates say the notices fail to
communicate to consumers, in clear English, their right under federal law to
opt out of data sharing.
Technology Erodes Privacy: A group that is
an advocate for our right to
privacy, The Privacy Foundation, has
discovered that TiVo, a system that allows us to record TV shows onto a hard drive, has
been routinely selling information about viewers' habits to advertisers and
the television networks. In other words, TiVo has been sharing its customers'
viewing practices via the phone lines hooked to their recording devices
without viewers' consent or even knowledge.
Navigator Browser Snoops On Web Searches: AOL Time
Warner's Netscape unit is snooping on searches
performed by users of its latest Navigator browser at Google
and other search sites. According to a network traffic analysis
performed by Newsbytes, Netscape is capturing Navigator 6 users' search
terms, along with their Internet protocol (IP) address, the date Navigator
was installed and a unique identification number.
The World's Most Privacy-Conscious
Browser. Most browsers offer the option of removing potentially privacy-shattering content saved
on the user's PC, such as searches performed and visited websites. Enter Browzar — the browser which
specialises in doing so to the extent that all of the user's browsing activity is automatically removed once
the application has been closed.
No More On AOL: Warning to anonymous critics on Internet chat
boards trying to sink stocks: We may soon know who you are.
for Online Privacy: The ruling against the world's largest
ISP goes to the heart of the question of anonymity on the Internet, and marks
a new stage in the evolution of privacy laws as they pertain to the Internet and
identities of Web surfers, privacy experts said.
of U.S. Online Workforce under Internet/E-Mail Surveillance: This
study is the first attempt to estimate the extent of workplace monitoring
based on self-reported user-base ("seats") and revenue figures from publicly-traded
companies that sell e-mail and Internet monitoring software. The report focuses
strictly on continuous, systematic monitoring of employees, rather than
groups take aim at Microsoft Passport: Thirteen organizations, headed
by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, supported an updated complaint with
the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Microsoft is in violation of
Section 5 of the FTC Act because of its data collection, sharing and security
practices with Passport.
Watching You in Your Hotel Room?: Next
time you check into a hotel, you may want to
consider asking if there are any hidden cameras in
your assigned room. There could be cameras hidden in
mirrors, television sets, lamps and even the radio
alarm clock on your nightstand.
Cue Cat: It is now obsolete, but the Cue Cat was a trojan horse.
All That Data, All
tracks Web browsing of its 1 million Internet subscribers: The
nation's third-largest cable company has begun tracking the
Web browsing activities of its 1 million high-speed Internet
subscribers without notifying them.
Laws: Not Gonna Happen. Privacy
legislation may not be going public anytime soon. Conventional
wisdom in the nation's capital says that the prospect of Congress
enacting Internet privacy laws is extraordinarily likely, and
perhaps even inevitable.
at Work? Be Serious. If you feel
your privacy at work has been eroding lately, it's probably more
than just your imagination. Experts say companies are under
increasing pressure to monitor employees electronically, and
workers should assume they are being watched.
Privacy: If you want privacy, don't count on email. Here's why.
Insurer's patent targets driver's every move.
Microsoft denies secret accord with NSA, but doubts persist.
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