Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘privacy’ Category

Didja Delete Your Facebook Yet?

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People around the globe are having a crisis of conscience.

Do I delete my Facebook account or do I not?

Even Hamlet didn’t have to contend with such an existential crisis.

Get a grip and some perspective, people.  Take a deep breath, and…one….hold…and two….

And then, if you’re really, really concerned about whether or not the privacy trade-off is worth keeping up with the virtual Joneses, Techpinions did some fast research of 1,000 Americans about their feelings and actions re: Facebook post-Cambridge Analytica;

The big takeaways:

  • 17% of respondents said they deleted the Facebook app from their phone over privacy concerns
  • 35% said they were using Facebook less than they used to over the privacy issue
  • 39% said they were “very aware” of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, while 37% said they were “somewhat aware.”
  • 9% reported deleting their Facebook account altogether

So, according to that report, nearly 1 in 10 have said “sayonara” to Facebook. 

For those who stayed, there’s the issue of perhaps exerting more usage of Facebook’s already-extensive privacy controls.  

Facebook VP of global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, spoke at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council in London, and indicated that “we have not seen wild changes in behavior with people saying I’m not going to share any data with Facebook anymore,” and that Facebook users largely haven’t changed their privacy settings in the past four weeks since the Cambridge story broke.

If you don’t want to break up with Facebook, but you’d like to exert more control of how your information is used there, check out this guidance from ZDNet.

It’s like getting your PhD in Facebook privacy!

Written by turbotodd

April 13, 2018 at 9:49 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, privacy

Tagged with , ,

You Thought You Had a Bad Tuesday

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You thought you had a bad Tuesday?

You weren’t sitting in front of a bunch of hot lights and a swarm of photographers before a joint session of the Commerce and Judiciary committees on Capitol Hill.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, was, and judging from coverage of his “performance,” he was a calm and cool customer, absorbing jibes, barbs, and other commentary and questions from a Senate with a wide range of perspectives (No report I’ve seen yet as to how many of the senators had taken campaign contributions from his inquisitors).

The Verge did a nice job of breaking down some of the key issues raised, and who raised them.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked about Facebook’s monopoly power (As in, IS Facebook one?). Zuckerberg: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”
  • Multiple senators raised the issue of whether Zuckerberg might consider a paid, ad-free version of Facebook. Zuckerberg said it was possible, but that there would always be a free version.
  • Leaning on AI to improve moderation on the platform: Zuckerberg “invoked the promise of AI to help Facebook quickly sort through hate speech and other problematic posts.”

In terms of actionability, Zuckerberg referred repeatedly to changes in the product that will better prevent data leakage and make privacy shortcuts easier to find, as well as restrict data shared with developers.

Will it be enough to keep regulation and/or legislation at bay? Doubtful. On the other hand, I hardly see a pro-regulatory government about to completely throw the book at one of the world’s most successful Internet companies.

So I’ll quote from that bastion of Congressional wisdom, SchoolHouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”:

I’m just a bill
Yes I’m only a bill,
And I got as far as Capitol Hill.
Well, now I’m stuck in committee
And I’ll sit here and wait 
While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate
Whether they should let me be a law.
How I hope and pray that they will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Written by turbotodd

April 11, 2018 at 8:58 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, legislation, privacy

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Grindr Reveals HIV Status, Location Data to Third Parties

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The privacy morasse plot thickens.

BuzzFeed reported yesterday via an independent data analysis by an outside research firm that show popular gay dating app is sharing its users’ HIV status with two outside companies.

The gay hookup app Grindr, which has more than 3.6 million daily active users across the world, has been providing its users’ HIV status to two other companies, BuzzFeed News has learned.

The two companies — Apptimize and Localytics, which help optimize apps — receive some of the information that Grindr users choose to include in their profiles, including their HIV status and “last tested date.”

Because the HIV information is sent together with users’ GPS data, phone ID, and email, it could identify specific users and their HIV status, according to Antoine Pultier, a researcher at the Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF, which first identified the issue.

If the Nixonian saying was “It’s not the cover up but the crime,” perhaps the 21st century privacy counterpart should be along the lines of, “It’s not the first use of the information, it’s the unintended third party use.”

As BuzzFeed’s article points out, Grindr is a unique place for openness about one’s HIV status, but to have that information shared with third parties that an individual was never notified about…that’s a safety risk, and one that should whose mitigation should best be left with the individual and not Grindr.

George Orwell’s not only spinning in his grave, he’s doing triple axels in multiples of three at a time.

Privacy may not be dead, but it sure has taken a beating in the first three months of 2018. 

Written by turbotodd

April 3, 2018 at 9:33 am

Posted in 2018, data security, privacy

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Facebook to Limit 3rd Party Data

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Facebook is going to start to limit how much data it makes available to advertisers buying hyper-targeted ads on the social network, according to a report from Recode.

Specifically, Facebook has indicated it would stop using data from third-party data aggregators, including companies like Acxiom and Experian, both of which have extensive data stores of offline data such as purchasing activity which Facebook could use to supplement its own data set.

Recode recounts that Facebook previously let advertisers target people using data from a number of sources (beyond Experian and Acxiom), including:

  • Data from Facebook, which the company collects from user activity and profiles.
  • Data from the advertiser itself, like customer emails they’ve collected on their own.

Official confirmation of the move came from Graham Mudd, a product marketing manager at Facebook:

We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories,” Mudd said in the statement. “This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.

Recode notes, however, that even had the move been made earlier, this decision would not have impacted the outcome of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which that firm collected the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users without their permission.

In related news, Facebook has also introduced new, more centralized privacy controls that are “easier to find and use”:

We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps.

The new “Privacy Shortcuts” menu is just that, a menu where you can “control your data in just a few taps, with clearer expectations of how our controls work.”

As for all the various and sundry your data has been used by the company in the past, I guess we’ll just have to wait for Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

Be sure to share with all your friends. ; )

Written by turbotodd

March 29, 2018 at 9:57 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, privacy, social media

Tagged with , ,

Google To Scrub Out Private Medical Records

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Happy Friday.

Bloomberg is reporting that Google has “quietly decided to scrub an entire category of online content — personal medical records — from its search results.

On Thursday, the company added the line: “confidential, personal medical records of private people” to its policy page.

As Bloomberg observes, prior to that Google had only removed webpages with identifying financial information (credit card numbers) and content that violated copyright laws. Revenge porn was later added in 2015.

What led to the change?

According to Engadget, last December an Indian pathology lab mistakenly uploaded 43,000 patients’ blood tests, including their names and corresponding HIV test results.

Google indexed them all because, well, that’s what Google’s algorithm does.

Written by turbotodd

June 23, 2017 at 9:34 am

Get Your Popcorn (and Personal Data), Heah!

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If you’re not worried about the privacy of your ISP data, now might be a good time to start being concerned.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to make it easier for ISPs to share sensitive information about their customers, a first step in overturning landmark privacy rules for the digital age.

Those rules were passed by the Federal Communications Commission in Obama’s final months as president, and prohibited Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from selling customer data, including browsing history and location data, without first getting consent.

Those rules also compelled providers to let customers know about the data they collect, the purpose of that data collection, and to identify the types of third-party companies that might be given access to that data.

From The Verge:

“This resolution is a direct attack on consumer rights, on privacy, on rules that afford basic protection against intrusive and illegal interference with consumers’ use of social media sites and websites that often they talk for granted,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said in the Senate today ahead of the vote.
– via www.theverge.com

Your personal information will soon be available to the highest bidder, and you probably don’t even care.

Until you do.

Written by turbotodd

March 24, 2017 at 10:45 am

Posted in 2017, congress, ISPs, privacy

Droning On A Bad Santa

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Trying to get ready for the holidays?

You’re not the only ones.

United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp. are having a hard time keeping up with holiday shipping volumes that have “blown past expectations,” writes The Wall Street Journal. And the delayed delivery of millions of orders could rapidly become the Cyber Grinch that stole this Christmas.

Meanwhile, back at the Santa’s workshop located in Cambridge, U.K., Amazon has apparently made its first customer delivery by drone. It’s cargo? Some popcorn and — of course — a Fire TV video-streaming device.

Also according to the Journal, the drone made the trip in about 13 minutes, well ahead of the promised 30 minute windows for its “Prime Air” drone delivery service.

“But can it keep the pizza warm for that duration?” we ask.

If you’re tired of waiting for the drones to arrive, perhaps you’d like to learn more about our coming machine overlords?

The New York Times Magazine goes deep and long on the “Google Brain,” and the advances the company has made with its neural network capabilities for human language translation.

Before you get too excited about all these machines doing all this learning, however, you might want to take a second look at your vendor’s privacy policy.

As an example, Evernote is slated to announce a new policy on January 23, writes TechCrunch, one that is expected to “let its machine learning algorithms crunch your data” and also “let some of its employees read your notes so it can ensure that the machine learning is functioning properly.”

But worry not, Evernote responds, they’ve got someone watching the watchers: “Evernote claims that only a limited number of employees who have undergone background checks will be able to access user data and that users can encrypt notes they consider sensitive to prevent employees from reading them.”

How reassuring! If only I had my smart Amazon drone that I could hire out to keep an eye out on all those Evernote monitors?!!!

Written by turbotodd

December 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm

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