Things that caught our eye

Video: Lawrence Lessig interviews Edward Snowden

23 Oct, 2014   | by:

This past Monday, Professor Lawrence Lessig interviewed Edward Snowden on the issue of institutional corruption and the practices of the National Security Agency (NSA). A video of the interview is available below.




Source: YouTube/Harvard Law School.

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Things that caught our eye

We know that Big Brother is watching us. But did you know he was listening too?

14 Oct, 2014   | by:

According to the Guardian UK governments are already widely using “voiceprint” ID technology to identify people via their speech. A survey by the Associated Press showed that over 65 million voiceprints have already been saved by governments and companies to date. And the numbers are rising.

[Jay Stanley] added that use of voiceprints by companies to counter fraud had its benefits, but that it came with costs.

Is this another step towards mass surveillance? What does this mean for our privacy rights? Where do we draw the line when it comes to government duties? And what about our right to free speech? Can we no longer exercise it anonymously?

Several phone services rely on guaranteeing privacy to callers – crime hotlines run by police, counselling services, and numbers that people who have suffered domestic violence or other abuse are encouraged to call in the knowledge that their identities will not be compromised, for instance.

For companies “voiceprint” means more customer insight and less effort to gain the information their marketing department needs. But Stanley quite rightly says:

Biometrics are never 100% accurate [and] Are people going to be blacklisted by government institutions because their voice is mistaken for that of a fraudster?

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Things that caught our eye

Cyberbullying bill inches closer to law despite privacy concerns

14 Oct, 2014   | by:

On October 20th, the Canadian House of Commons will vote on the cyberbullying bill (C-13), which is widely seen as controversial because of its privacy implications. The C-13 makes it illegal to post an “intimate image” of another person without that person’s consent. It also gives the police easier access to metadata from online service providers and phone companies, the provision that Canada’s Privacy Commissioner was particularly concerned about. The Bill gives immunity to companies that hand over information. With the support from the majority Conservatives, the bill is expected to pass.

You can read more about it here: Cyberbullying bill inches closer to law despite privacy concerns – Politics – CBC News.

 

Photo of the Canadian Parliament Made By Maria Azzurra Mugnai

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Things that caught our eye

Floodwatch – Reverse Engineering Advertising Algorithms?

10 Oct, 2014   | by:

Criticism towards the online ad industry is abound. The lack of transparency in online tracking and targeted advertising is in fact a good reason for concern. Currently it seems that all the power of gathering personal data is in the hands of companies, which are only interested in leading us to click on more “consumption banners”.

Why not change the status quo by understanding how the ad industry works? Floodwatch just caught my eye today. As a Chrome extension it offers:

“tools to help you understand both the volume and the types of ads you’re being served during the course of normal browsing, with the goal of increasing awareness of how advertisers track your browsing behavior, build their version of your online identity, and target their ads to you as an individual.”

Floodwatch’s ultimate aim is to provide users with information about targeted ads to fight back against the tracking and targeting practices of the ad industry.

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The value of your personal data in a panoptic society

7 Oct, 2014   | by:

As the usage of Apps and other web-based services grows on a daily basis, using data as a currency has been the talk of the town – or more the globe. According to IBM which was quoted in an article written in 2013 by three consultants working for Deloitte: “Ninety percent of the data in the world today was created in the last two years” and Between now and 2020, the global volume of digital data is expected to multiply another 40 times or more”. More…

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2014- The Year the Internet may kill you

6 Oct, 2014   | by:

By the end of this year the Internet may kill you, and it won’t be due to heart failure from binge-watching Netflix shows. A recent report released by Europol has stated that 2014 will witness the first ‘cyber murder,’ or a murder committed through a hacked internet-connected device. As the Internet of Things grows, and items such as houses, cars, and health devices become “smart” and increasingly connected by the Internet, flaws in cyber security and the ever-present ingenuity of cyber hackers has become a real threat to personal security.

More…

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Can you shoot a drone?

6 Oct, 2014   | by:

Drones are in the news. Or more accurately, their pilots and the people annoyed by them. The French Local has a story about an Israeli tourist flying a drone over the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris:

“The 24-year-old tourist had launched the drone, equipped with a Go-Pro camera, above the famous Gothic church on Wednesday morning, and sent it hovering over the historic Hotel Dieu hospital and a police station, a police source told AFP.”

The French police arrested him and made him spend the night in jail. The Israeli tourist was also given a hefty fine for “operating an aircraft non-compliant with safety laws.”

Another drone-story takes place not in a public space, but in the privacy of someone’s backyard. CBS Philadelphia reports about a New Jersey man being accused of shooting down his neighbor’s drone.

More…

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Things that caught our eye

MobileForceField: UK Startup Launches World’s First Child Cyberbullying Interception App

6 Oct, 2014   | by:

In search of tech solutions to behavioral problems, a group of fathers with an IT background from the UK developed an Android app that controls which apps children download on their smartphones, in an effort to prevent cyberbullying. Perhaps more controversially, the app filters out “inappropriate and offensive phrases” that a child might receive in text messages. Wondering about free speech and privacy implications? You can read more about it here.

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Things that caught our eye

Big Data and how humans learn…

2 Oct, 2014   | by:

This might be one of the most interesting videos I’ve seen lately – although it’s from 2011. But basically this TED Talk “The Birth of a Word” starts with the tracking of how a child learns how to talk and goes on to modelling the brain of society as a whole. More…

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Things that caught our eye

Privacy Online: From Access to Content, to Access to Meaning

1 Oct, 2014   | by:

danah boyd’s newest blog entry is – again – a very insightful read. She argues that privacy on the Internet is more complex than the mere control of access to personal information:

Achieving privacy requires a whole slew of skills, not just in the technological sense, but in the social sense. Knowing how to read people, how to navigate interpersonal conflict, how to make trust stick. This is far more complex than people realize, and yet we do this every day in our efforts to control the social situations around us.

(Many of) today’s teenagers know that they cannot control the access to their online information. So, they try to control their privacy via access to meaning. One tactic to do so is social steganography, i.e., to hide messages and meaning in plain sight. boyd and Marwick – in the longer, more academic version of the text – provide an example of social steganography:

Carmen, a 17-year-old Latina from Massachusetts, uses Facebook to talk to friends and family. She loves her mother’s involvement in her life, but feels that her mother has a tendency to jump in inappropriately and overreact unnecessarily online. Carmen gets frustrated when her mother comments on her Facebook posts “Because then it scares everyone away. Everyone kind of disappears after the mom post … And it’s just uncool having your mom all over your wall, that’s just lame.” When Carmen and her boyfriend broke up, she wanted sympathy and support from her friends. Her inclination was to post sappy song lyrics that reflected her sad state of mind, but she was afraid that her mother would overreact; it had happened before. Knowing that her Argentinean mother would not recognize references to 1970s British comedy, Carmen decided to post lyrics from a movie that she had recently watched with her geeky friends. When her mom saw the update, “Always look on the bright side of life,” she commented that it was great to see Carmen doing so well. Her friends, recognizing the lyric came from the Monty Python film Life of Brian where the main character is being crucified, immediately texted her.

However, exercising control over one’s privacy via access to meaning can be very difficult as well, since others can publish unwanted content and meanings, for example by tagging embarrassing pictures or commenting in undesired ways.

In a networked setting, teens cannot depend on single-handedly controlling how their information is distributed. What their peers share about them, and what they do with the information they receive cannot be regulated technically, but must be negotiated socially. […] no technical solution can provide complete reassurance. Instead, teenagers often rely on interpersonal relationship management to negotiate who shares what about them, who does what with their information, and how their reputations are treated.

 

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Giving data back to its users, MIT Media Lab creates the Personal Data Store

29 Sep, 2014   | by:

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a new program openPDS/SafeAnswers in which the starting point is that users collects their own data, and apps can only ask questions about this data, not get access to the data itself. A great way to protect privacy, if adopted generally.
More…

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How should/do Google & Co. carry out the “Right to be Forgotten”?

28 Sep, 2014   | by:

The CJEU’s decision in the Case of Google Spain, Google v. AEPD has caused a lot of discussion around the globe (See both Anna’s and Stefan’s blog about the decision). Search Engines, especially Google, have called for guidance on how to decide whether information connected to a person’s name is

inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing at issue carried out by the operator of the search engines”

and thus has to be deleted. More…

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What does celebrity surveillance mean for the rest of us?

25 Sep, 2014   | by:

The first celebrity photo hack has already received a great deal of attention, and the second hack has gotten only slightly less. Much has already been thoughtfully written about the first hack, the celebrity women exposed by the hack (forbes), and the legal, security, and privacy implications (Apple states no iCloud breach). Stefan might be poised to speak with the most authority about the legal defense of copyright, and I urge anyone curious about current research into Revenge Porn and copyright in the United States to check out the work of Levendowski on this topic (see here).
More…

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Which celebrity is taking a taxi where? And what gentlemen’s club are you visiting?

23 Sep, 2014   | by:

A dataset released by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is causing quite some uproar in the privacy community. The set contains details about every yellow cab ride in New York in 2013, including the pickup and drop off times, locations, fare and tip amounts, as well as anonymized (hashed) versions of the taxi’s license and medallion numbers. The dataset was not released voluntarily by the Commission, but was acquired through a Freedom of Information request.

More…

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Do you create apps from home? Prepare to give your home-address to the world

23 Sep, 2014   | by:

A couple of days ago Androidpolice reported that Google will institute a new policy, requiring all app developers who offer any app costing money (including those offering in-app purchases) to list their physical address. This information will then be published on the developers’ profiles. Many of these app developers are not big companies but rather hobbyists or the proverbial guy working from his (or his parents’) garage. For them this new policy means revealing their home-address to the world. While it allows developers to comply with current EU consumer legislation, the method to achieve this, which cannot be opted out from, places an unnecessary heavy privacy burden on the developers. More…

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Things that caught our eye

Apple states iOS 8 Update Keeps Your Data Private (Except iCloud-Data)

18 Sep, 2014   | by:

The New York Times this morning reported that Apple, perhaps in wake of the celebrity photo leak, it has increased the security measures in time for the launch of its newest iOS.

In relation to Government Information Requests Apple states on its www.apple.com/privacy page that (emphasis added):

On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.

However, there is one big caveat, which the NYTimes noted. If you want matters to be private, then you should not use iCloud services, because:

[t]he new security in iOS 8 protects information stored on the device itself, but not data stored on Apple’s cloud service. So Apple will still be able to hand over some customer information stored on iCloud in response to government requests.

This is interesting, because with launching iOS 8, these iOS devices heavily rely on you also enabling your iCloud account and storing as much information as possible on there. Many of the native apps on iOS are adept to this iCloud backup/storage and also many third-party apps. To again take the example of the leaked photos of celebrities recently, those were not from the devices themselves, but taken, most likely, from iCloud storage. Future incidents like this are not solved by making access to phones themselves more difficult, but perhaps might benefit from the newly introduced ‘two-step-verificiation‘ .

Thus, it might be a step in the right direction, but it in no way means that your data is private, especially when using iCloud. However, it does boost privacy for those instances in which law enforcement are allowed to access ones phone, as they will now have access to encrypted, and hence virtually useless, data (when it comes to messages and FaceTime. When it comes to the US, the June 25, 2014 decision of the Supreme Court in Riley v. California (PDF) has shown that for law enforcement to ‘search’ a phone the bar has been set much higher now.

Apple Says iOS 8 Update Keeps Data Private, Even From the Police – NYTimes.com.

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Things that caught our eye

A collection of the comments on ‘Big Data and Consumer Privacy in the Internet Economy’

15 Aug, 2014   | by:

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is part of the US Department of Commerce has kept note of most (if not all) the public commentary on the request posed by the NTIA in early June comments on ‘‘‘Big data’’ developments and how they impact the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights’. On 5 August the consultation closed and the NTIA has now published all the public commentary on its website. 44 People or organisations responded including Microsoft, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reed Elsevier Inc, ARTICLE 29 Data Protection Working Party and The Internet Association which represents among other Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Ebay & Paypal, Twitter, and Netflix.

Full list of all the commentary: See here.

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Google Spain v. AEPD: About the ‘right to be forgotten’ and the forgotten right of freedom of expression

15 May, 2014   | by:

 

On 13 May the CJEU accepted a partial ‘right to be forgotten’ in the Case of Google Spain, Google v. AEPDWhat is remarkable about this ruling, is the extent of privacy protection adopted.

The Facts of the Case

Some 16 years ago Mario Costeja González was going through a rough patch in his life and was unable to pay his social security debts. As a result, his house was sold via public auction. This auction was announced in a newspaper.  At a later date an electronic version of the newspaper was made available online by its publisher. Google indexed the link and if you ‘googled’ the name of Mr. González a link to the newspaper article showed up in the search results. More…

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