The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score

from NYTs A FEW YEARS AGO, Carol Kraemer, a longtime finance executive, took a new job. Her title, senior vice president, was impressive. The compensation was excellent: $200 an hour. But her first paychecks seemed low. Her new employer, which used extensive monitoring software on its all-remote workers, paid them only for the minutes when the system detected active work. Worse, Ms. Kraemer noticed that the software did not come close to capturing her labor. Offline work — doing math problems on paper, reading printouts, thinking — didn’t register and required approval as “manual time.” In managing the organization’s finances, […]

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Scanning Students’ Rooms During Remote Tests Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

from MindShift The remote-proctored exam that colleges began using widely during the pandemic saw a first big legal test of its own — one that concluded in a ruling applauded by digital privacy advocates. A federal judge this week sided with a student at Cleveland State University in Ohio, who alleged that a room scan taken before his online test as a proctoring measure was unconstitutional. Aaron Ogletree, a chemistry student, sat for a test during his spring semester last year. Before starting the exam, he was asked to show the virtual proctor his bedroom. He complied, and the recording […]

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How to Completely Disappear From the Internet

from pcmag Some might say the internet was built on anonymity, paving the way for a place where free speech reigns supreme. But after years of learning about who’s snooping into everything we do online, privacy on the web is hardly a given. It’s not just about government spying; it’s also about how much data big companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have collected in order to serve up targeted ads—not to mention how much of your personal data gets scooped up in all the breaches and hacks. There are always going to be good reasons for people to go online […]

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Time To Clip The Wings Of NSO And Its Pegasus Spyware

from The Observer What’s the most problematic tech company in the world? Facebook? Google? Palantir? Nope. It’s a small, privately held Israeli company called NSO that most people have never heard of. On its website, it describes itself as “a world leader in precision cyberintelligence solutions”. Its software, sold only to “licensed government intelligence and law-enforcement agencies”, naturally, helps them to “lawfully address the most dangerous issues in today’s world. NSO’s technology has helped prevent terrorism, break up criminal operations, find missing people and assist search and rescue teams.” So what is this magical stuff? It’s called Pegasus and it […]

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Venmo Gets More Private—but It’s Still Not Fully Safe

from Wired VENMO, THE POPULAR mobile payment service, has redesigned its app. That’s normally news you could safely ignore, but this announcement is worth a closer look. In addition to making some navigational tweaks and adding new purchase protections, the PayPal-owned platform is finally shutting down its global social feed, where the app published transactions from people around the world. It’s an important step toward resolving one of the most prominent privacy issues in the world of apps, but the work isn’t finished yet. Venmo’s global feed has for years been a font of voyeuristic insights into the financial habits […]

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Government Surveillance By Data

from NYTs This is the ultimate example of what’s broken in digital life: The locations of people who used apps to pray and hang their shelves wound up in U.S. military databases. Vice’s Motherboard publication this week reported that data on people’s movements collected by seemingly innocuous apps passed through multiple hands before being bought by U.S. defense contractors and military agencies. It’s not clear what the military is doing with the information. This isn’t an isolated case of government authorities buying commercially available databases containing the movements of millions of people. U.S. law enforcement agencies and the Internal Revenue […]

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The iOS COVID-19 App Ecosystem Has Become A Privacy Minefield

from ars technica When the notion of enlisting smartphones to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic first surfaced last spring, it sparked a months-long debate: should apps collect location data, which could help with contact tracing but potentially reveal sensitive information? Or should they take a more limited approach, only measuring Bluetooth-based proximity to other phones? Now, a broad survey of hundreds of COVID-19-related apps reveals that the answer is all of the above. And that has made the COVID-19 app ecosystem a kind of wild, sprawling landscape, full of potential privacy pitfalls. Late last month, Jonathan Albright, director of the Digital […]

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Study Shows Which Messengers Leak Your Data, Drain Your Battery, And More

from ars technica Link previews are a ubiquitous feature found in just about every chat and messaging app, and with good reason. They make online conversations easier by providing images and text associated with the file that’s being linked. Unfortunately, they can also leak our sensitive data, consume our limited bandwidth, drain our batteries, and, in one case, expose links in chats that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted. Among the worst offenders, according to research published on Monday, were messengers from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Line. More about that shortly. First a brief discussion of previews. More here.

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Taking Back Our Privacy

from The New Yorker Walking down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the retail strip in Venice, California, can feel like scrolling through Instagram. One afternoon this July, people sat at outdoor tables beneath drooping strings of fairy lights, sipping cocktails and spearing colorful, modestly dressed salads. The line for Salt & Straw, a venture-funded, “chef-driven” ice-cream shop, stretched up the block, and athleisure-clad twentysomethings photographed themselves eating waffle cones, fabric masks pulled down around their chins like turkey wattles. A month earlier, Abbot Kinney had become a central gathering place for protesters during the mass demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism. […]

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Now You Can Enforce Your Privacy Rights With A Single Browser Tick

from ars technica Anyone who remembers Do Not Track—the initiative that was supposed to allow browser users to reclaim their privacy on the Web—knows it was a failure. Not only did websites ignore it, using it arguably made people less private because it made them stick out. Now, privacy advocates are back with a new specification, and this time they’ve brought the lawyers. Under the hood, the specification, known as Global Privacy Control, works pretty much the same way Do Not Track did. A small HTTP header informs sites that a visitor doesn’t want their data sold. The big difference […]

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The Safest Ways to Log In to Your Computer

from Wired Whether your computer runs Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS, you have options for how you log in. And your choice doesn’t only affect how convenient it is for you to get into your laptop or desktop; it also affects how easily someone else can gain access. These are the different login options that are available and that you need to be aware of, so make sure you choose wisely. The right one for you will depend on how your computer is set up and just how cautious you’d like to be. More here.

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Some Shirts Hide You From Cameras—But Will Anyone Wear Them?

from ars technica Right now, you’re more than likely spending the vast majority of your time at home. Someday, however, we will all be able to leave the house once again and emerge, blinking, into society to work, travel, eat, play, and congregate in all of humanity’s many bustling crowds. The world, when we eventually enter it again, is waiting for us with millions of digital eyes—cameras, everywhere, owned by governments and private entities alike. Pretty much every state out there has some entity collecting license plate data from millions of cars—parked or on the road—every day. Meanwhile all kinds […]

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