California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on Sunday that would have required a search warrant in order to obtain location-based personal information obtained through cell towers from mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets, and also GPS systems. The veto came with the message that Brown felt that information based on a user’s location is important to the processes needed by law enforcement.
On Tuesday California Governor Jerry Brown passed Senate Bill 1298, legalizing robot-controlled cars, or self-driving cars (also known as ‘self-driven cars’, ‘robotic cars’ or ‘robot cars’), with high praise from Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who says that driverless cars will be a reality within 5 years.
It appears that rumors saying that Facebook has made private messages of millions of users’ public is just that – a rumor. The alleged privacy issue began with reports from the French newspaper Metro, and it spread like wildfire from there, and it wasn’t long before Facebook and the Twitter-sphere were abuzz with the rumor.
Twitter has been ordered to turn over the deleted tweets of Occupy Wall Street protestor, Malcolm Harris, after he was charged with disorderly conduct during an Occupy protest. In a controversial move, presiding Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. demanded that Twitter turn over Harris’ records for the period of time during the incident because, Sciarrino believes, there are tweets that could be relevant to the case.
Well, Facebook has finally done it, they’ve found a way to allow unscrupulous marketers to spam your Facebook account. Facebook will allow advertisers to target users based on personal information such as phone numbers, user IDs, and email addresses. In a confirmation to PCMag.com, Facebook relayed their new marketing program which will begin next week, targeting ads to their “existing customers.”
Are smart meters (or as some call them “smartmeters”) the next great energy saver, or are they a privacy risk for someone hacking your wifi, Internet, or electricity usage data? Maybe both. Some are calling them a great way to save energy and money on our monthly energy bills, some are saying they are a sign that big brother is tightening his grasp, but either way, smart meters are stirring up some serious controversy. From public meetings in Vermont, to gun-toting homeowners chasing utility company workers who are aiming to install smart meters off their property, these tiny little devices have not arrived quietly.
While Dropbox file-sharing service is intended to be a mostly consumer-based product, many companies use it as a means to share files between employees. The problem with using cloud-based services, such as Dropbox, for business purposes is that businesses don’t have proper controls over the data stored in the cloud. This was driven home this week when Dropbox announced that an employee’s password was stolen and the hackers made off with some sensitive information, including user email addresses which led to the spamming of Dropbox’s European user-base.
Skype has found themselves in a privacy PR nightmare as reports are slowly coming out that the online voice and video chat company may be cooperating with governing authorities to make private conversations more accessible. As those with privacy concerns fear that yet another communications company is selling out user privacy, Skype is quick to deny that anything is changing. They do acknowledge that they have made technical upgrades to the Skype systems, but are quick to assert that these upgrades have nothing to do with helping police spy on those who are possibly using Skype to discuss illegal activity.
Every once in a while our U.S. Congress does something that renews one’s faith in our elected officials at the top. And this is one of those times. Following the damning expose last month in the New York Times, You for Sale: Mapping, and Sharing, the Consumer Genome, in which Times journalist Natasha Singer moved a rock and shed light on the fact that data broker Acxiom, and others like them, are amassing, collating, correlating and selling far more personal data about you – yes, you – than you can possibly imagine, Congress has with lightening speed (literally a few weeks) demanded that Axciom, and others like them, including Experian, Epsilon, Equifax, Harte-Hanks, Intelius, Fair Isaac, Merkle, and Meredith Corp., respond to a demand for information about just what information they are gathering on pretty much every American, and just where they are getting it from, among other questions. The letter was signed by Congressmen Edward J. Markey, Henry Waxman, G.K. Butterfield, Bobby Rush, Joe Barton, Steve Chabot, Austin Scott and Jan Schakowsky.
YouTube now strongly encourages real names before leaving a comment. As the subject of cyber-bullying continues to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, theories have been swirling that people are more emboldened to make inflammatory comments online because they can hide behind anonymity. Now YouTube is proposing to counteract that by encouraging users to use their real names when leaving comments on YouTube videos.
Facebook is certainly no stranger to defending its practices, especially when those practices threaten the privacy of their users. Now they are finding themselves, yet again, in a position to have to do so. Facebook employees had to defend the social media giant’s facial recognition technology, which is used to help users tag people in their online Facebook photos. While Facebook maintains that its purpose is to provide a better consumer experience, some feel that it raises privacy issues.
It’s one of those things that you never think will happen to you. You’re going along in life, hunky-dory, then boom! There are fraudulent charges on your credit card, or an unknown credit card shows up on your credit report, or you get a call from a collection agency demanding payment on an account that you never even knew existed. Unfortunately, credit fraud and identity theft protection are not one of those things that you think about until it is too late. And if the person who stole your identity is a family member, such as your mother, father, sibling or even your own child, you also have an additional set of special circumstances to deal with.
Google has found themselves in hot water over privacy issues yet again. As we previously reported, it was discovered that the Google Street View vehicles were collecting data illegally, while taking street pictures in the US, Australia and Europe. In fact, they were doing it for three years, between 2007 and 2010, by harvesting personal data through open wifi routers as the Street View car drove by. This data included entire emails, site visit history, passwords, and other private information that the average citizen probably does not want floating around.