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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Signal Is Finally Bringing Its Secure Messaging to the Masses

from Wired Last month, the cryptographer and coder known as Moxie Marlinspike was getting settled on an airplane when his seatmate, a Midwestern-looking man in his sixties, asked for help. He couldn’t figure out how to enable airplane mode on his aging Android phone. But when Marlinspike saw the screen, he wondered for a moment if he was being trolled: Among just a handful of apps installed on the phone was Signal. Marlinspike launched Signal, widely considered the world’s most secure end-to-end encrypted messaging app, nearly five years ago, and today heads the nonprofit Signal Foundation that maintains it. But […]

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Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools

from NYTs Jim Shultz tried everything he could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public schools in Lockport, a small city 20 miles east of Niagara Falls. He posted about the issue in a Facebook group called Lockportians. He wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times. He filed a petition with the superintendent of the district, where his daughter is in high school. But a few weeks ago, he lost. The Lockport City School District turned on the technology to monitor who’s on the property at its eight schools, becoming the first known public school […]

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Facebook’s Oversight Board Bylaws: For Once, Moving Slowly

from Lawfare As America’s longest-serving member of Congress once said, “I’ll let you write the substance … and you let me write the procedure, and I’ll screw you every time.” This wisecrack explains why the newly released bylaws for Facebook’s Oversight Board are important. Facebook announced in 2018 that it would be setting up the board as an independent institution to review the company’s decisions about what is or is not allowed on its services. Last year, Facebook released its global consultation report and final charter for the board. As I wrote at the time, those documents were high level […]

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We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.

from NYTs Communities across the United States are starting to ban facial recognition technologies. In May of last year, San Francisco banned facial recognition; the neighboring city of Oakland soon followed, as did Somerville and Brookline in Massachusetts (a statewide banmay follow). In December, San Diego suspended a facial recognition program in advance of a new statewide law, which declared it illegal, coming into effect. Forty major music festivals pledged not to use the technology, and activists are calling for a nationwide ban. Many Democratic presidential candidates support at least a partial ban on the technology. These efforts are well […]

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Nothing Lasts Forever— Not Even On The Internet.

from NYTs Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for […]

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Building a World Where Data Privacy Exists Online

from NYTs Data is valuable — something that companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon realized far earlier than most consumers did. But computer scientists have been working on alternative models, even as the public has grown weary of having their data used and abused. Dawn Song, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the world’s foremost experts in computer security and trustworthy artificial intelligence, envisions a new paradigm in which people control their data and are compensated for its use by corporations. While there have been many proposals for such a system, Professor Song is one […]

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China’s TikTok Blazes New Ground. That Could Doom It.

from NYTs American leaders have effectively thrown Huawei and a handful of Chinese surveillance technology companies out of the country, warning darkly of the national security and privacy threats of installing Made-in-China products into sensitive parts of the nation’s electronic infrastructure. Now they have cast their fearful gaze on a new Chinese target: the dancing and singing teens and tweens of TikTok. A secretive federal panel with a national security focus is reviewing the purchase of TikTok two years ago by a Chinese company called Bytedance, The New York Times and othersreported last week. Three senators have asked the Trump […]

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China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide

from China Law Blog The Chinese government has been working for several years on a comprehensive Internet security/surveillance program.  This program is based on the Cybersecurity Law adopted on 2016. The plan is vast and includes a number of subsidiary laws and regulations. On December 1, 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced it will finally roll-out the full plan. The core of the plan is for China’s Ministry of Security to fully access the massive amounts of raw data transmitted across Chinese networks and housed on servers in China. Since raw data has little value, the key to […]

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The Ringification of Suburban Life

from Wired Across the US, consumers are canvassing their communities with a new type of device that’s changing civic life. Camera-equipped doorbells and other home surveillance devices, made by companies like Ring, are documenting facets of suburban existence that once went unnoticed. For years, citizens have used smartphones to monitor their neighborhoods, especially instances of police misconduct or abuse. But pointing a smartphone at authorities is an active choice. Homeowners use cameras and their ilk to passively monitor their neighborhoods and each other. Instead of capturing the moments citizens intentionally choose to record, Ring cameras log whatever may happen in […]

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Tiktok Is China’s Next Big Weapon

from Axios Chinese social media is largely impenetrable for most in the West — just check out their memes — but Sino tech giants have their eye on owning the U.S. market, evidenced by the rise of TikTok. Why it matters: While the video-based app simply seems like a benign platform for Gen Zers to make and share funny memes, it’s could become a Chinese vacuum for coveted American data. It has made its top creators into bona fide celebrities, as evidenced by a look at YouTube’s annual VidCon by The Atlantic’s Taylor Lorenz. Between the lines: TikTok’s “parent company, ByteDance, recently […]

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A Simple Way to Make It Harder for Mobile Ads to Track You

from Wired If you’re not careful, most of what you do online and in mobile apps will wind up fueling targeted advertising, all that data feeding into a composite profile of your likes, dislikes, and demographic information. But increasingly, even careful web users can’t avoid being swept up in the digital marketing dragnet. While it’s ridiculously difficult to get a handle on all this tracking, there is a simple step you can take right now to throw a tiny wrench in those industry-wide gears. Both Android and iOS force apps to use a special “ad ID” for tracking smartphones, which […]

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How Big Data Could Help Make It Easier For Landlords To Evict You

from Fast Company It’s easy to track prices of some things: Drive down any major street and you’ll only have to pass a few gas stations to know roughly how much gasoline costs in your area. Turn on the news during the workday, and you’ll quickly learn how the big stock market indexes are faring. Go shopping every week, and you’ll soon know how much bananas or eggs cost at your local supermarket. Real estate is more complicated, partly because so many uncertain factors go into determining prices. Buying or selling a house always involves a bit of gambling on […]

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