Some are calling it Ubergate. Still others call it the reason they will no longer use the Uber service (fortunately there are alternatives to Uber, like Lyft in the U.S., and Hailo in the UK and Ireland). First there was Uber’s ‘Rides of Glory’ (i.e. rides of shame), then came the alleged threat of an “opposition research plan” against journalists to spend $1 million to dig up information on “your personal lives, your families.” And thus #Ubergate was born.
A recent rebroadcast on 60 Minutes about data brokers raises an interesting question: is dating site OK Cupid selling your answers to their questions, along with enough information to personally identify you, such as your IP address?
Yesterday we told you about how Microsoft is one of several companies who are encrypting their services and hardening their systems against the prying of nosy agencies like the NSA. Now Microsoft is fighting a Federal court order that they turn over the data for a user’s email account whose email data resides on a server outside of the U.S. (in Ireland, to be specific).
Verizon Wireless has announced that it will be adding cookies to the web browser of anyone who visits the Verizon Wireless website, and then Verizon will track you across the web, and sell the data it collects on you to marketers. What’s more, they are selling the data to marketers to whom they are giving marketing access to your Verizon Wireless device!
Turns out there is another reason for rejecting all those insidious game invitations from smartphone apps and their Facebook counterparts: the New York Times has revealed today that the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, are mining the data that your smartphone apps are generating, from location data, to contact lists, to phone logs and even the data embedded in images. Dubbed the “Mobile Surge” by the Brits, the intelligence community is giddy with glee over the trove of data served up by mobile apps.
In his speech regarding changes to the NSA’s Section 215 phone metadata collection and surveillance program, President Barack Obama stated outright, “I am ordering a transition that will end the section 215 bulk metadata program as it currently exists.” During his speech (full transcript below), President Obama also announced that the federal government will need to go to the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) every time that they want to search data, rather than relying on previous orders.
Today Google posted some news on their blog, along with the release of their Transparency Report, which shows increasing requests from the government for private user data. In fact, the report shows that, of all the governments in the world, the U.S. leads the pack in personal information requests.
Yesterday we mentioned that Facebook announced their new Graph Search, which is essentially a way to stalk your Facebook friends and family. In a fiery blog post, engineer and contributing Tech Crunch writer Steve Cheney went on to call it a con, saying that it is the equivalent of him yelling across an auditorium for a recommendation for a doctor to see for his cough.
#Boycottinstagram is trending on Twitter and with good reason. Now that Facebook officially owns Instagram, they can use your pictures to sell and use however they want, royalty-free, and short of deleting your Instagram account, you have waived your rights and can’t opt out. Facebook has proven time and time again that they care little about user privacy, but now they are blatantly stating that they can use your own content for revenue, and they don’t care a lick about paying royalties.
Google is going beyond Google Street View and rolling out the backpack cam operated Google Street View Trekker, a wilderness cam that offers a wilderness view of all the corners of the world that Google Street View has previously left untouched, namely woods views and forest views. The backpack cams can be carried by hikers and campers who are on foot and already headed to spots where cars and planes cannot easily go and Google is starting with the Grand Canyon.
Perhaps iOS 6’s Mapplegate was simply meant to be a great distraction from the fact that Apple is now covertly tracking users through IFA (or IDFA) tracking technology with the iOS 6 update. While Apple had disabled the tracking of iPhone users by advertisers by disallowing app developers from using the data from Apple devices through the unique serial number permanently assigned to each device, it seems that iOS 6 has brought tracking back.
Google is again blaming technical glitches for violating privacy policies and collecting personal data, this time from those using Apple’s Safari web browser. Google has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $22.5 million – the largest amount that the FTC has ever fined – because they sneakily undermined the privacy settings of millions of Safari users by using computer code to trick Safari into granting Google access to user activity through cookies.
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.
Bots generate at least 10% of all online traffic, according to data released today by Solve Media, a company that provides security authentication solutions through CAPTCHA-based advertising technology. Solve Media indicates that they have seen a 400% increase in what they term ‘aberrant’ traffic across web-based services such as commenting, voting, registration, contact and commenting.