Posts Tagged ‘Personal privacy’

Is your iPhone spying on you for governments?

January 22nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo Is your iPhone spying on you for governments?Edward Snowden – the NSA whistleblower – is making some bold claims again, this time, saying that Apple’s iPhones have built-in spy software that can be used to track you. That’s some bad PR for Apple if it turns out to be true, eh?

Snowden’s lawyer says that this software can be activated without the user knowing, and remotely.

“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone,” says Anatoly Kucherena. “The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone.”

Of course, this is at odds with Apple’s recent campaigns to improve privacy for users. You may recall Apple saying that it would be nigh-on impossible for government officials to get personal data from those using iOS 8. Apple have also pushed for stronger privacy protection policies, along with a number of other big tech firms.

According to the Independent, the NSA have published documents that reveal how GCHQ (the British intelligent agency) used this software in the iPhone – known as its UDID – to keep tabs on some people. These documents don’t refer to specific spyware, but there might be more documents on the way.

Kucherena did note that, while Edward Snowden doesn’t use an iPhone, if you want to, no-one is stopping you. Very kind of him that.

instagram Instagram fix flaw that made your private photos, publicPeople who have private Instagram accounts are weirdos. They’re clearly hiding something at worst. At best, they’re paranoid tin-foil hat types that haven’t realised that the service is owned by Facebook, so your personal privacy is out of the window anyway.

To add to the peculiar notion of locked-down accounts, some of these people automatically send their photos to other services like Tumblr and Facebook, meaning everyone can see what they’re snapping regardless of the settings on the app.

Instagram, when questioned about it, said that this loophole was completely intentional, and not a cock-up on their part.

With that in mind, it interesting that they’ve now issued a patch which means that, unless you’ve had a friend request accepted by the private photographer, you won’t be able to see their photos anywhere.

“If you choose to share a specific piece of content from your account publicly, that link remains public but the account itself is still private,” said an Instagram spokesperson. Another IG bod added: “In response to feedback, we made an update so that if people change their profile from public to private, web links that are not shared on other services are only viewable to their followers on Instagram.”

So there you go. You can’t creep on hotties/cats/pictures of rainbows unless you befriend them through the app now.

Cameron wants increased spying powers on you!

January 13th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

david cameron government Cameron wants increased spying powers on you!Predictably and tediously, after the murders in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo HQ, David Cameron has announced that he’d like to spy on everyone, in a bid to make us all safer.

So what does that mean on a day-to-day basis? Cameron doesn’t like the fact that certain messaging apps are encrypted, which means your messages are private and the PM wants to be able to see inside them, y’know, just in case you’re a terrorist. So if you use Snapchat or WhatsApp, they could end up being blocked, nationwide.

Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime also have encrypted data, which is no good for a man who wants to increase surveillance and revive the Snoopers Charter, which helps the government to peer into your internet goings-on.

Cameron said: “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” The answer for most sensible people is ‘Yes, actually.’ Of course, there’s going to be some people saying ‘I don’t care – I’m not doing anything wrong so why should I be bothered that someone’s looking at my boring messages?’ To those, we admire your belief that government officials won’t end up losing all your private messages and them ending up online or, indeed, misreading some joke you made which sees you getting called in for questioning.

The short version is this: Are you happy with a Prime Minister who says that there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read”?

Of course, companies like WhatsApp are committed to keeping their services encrypted and unreadable by authorities, which is something that has become a real point of principle in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s claims about NSA surveillance.

Privacy groups are, as expected, angry at the idea of governments being able to snoop around your private correspondence, so this is a row that’s only going to get louder in the coming weeks. There’s an election afoot, so we’ll have to see how Cameron plays it.

Kim Dotcom is back!

December 31st, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Kim Dotcom 300x224 Kim Dotcom is back! After a troubling year, Kim Dotcom is back! What’s he up to this time? Well, he’s said that he’s preparing to release a fully-encrypted video calling and chat service. It’ll be able to protect your communications from snooping governments and surveillance.

“Mega will soon release a fully encrypted and browser-based video call and chat service including high-speed file transfers. Bye Bye Skype.” tweeted Dotcom.

“No U.S.-based online service provider can be trusted with your data,” added Kim Dotcom. “They must provide the U.S. government with backdoors.”

Of course, this is in reference to all the leaks surrounding Edward Snowden. After he finished whistleblowing, a good number of people decided that 2014 would be the year they almost wholly wore tinfoil hats.

Dotcom hasn’t given a release date for this new service, but it does look like it’ll be called MegaChat. French speaking countries will no doubt have a laugh at that.

“I will tweet about beta invites to #MegaChat in the coming weeks. This is going to be THE END of NSA mass surveillance & YOU WILL LOVE IT!” tweeted Kim Dotcom.

marriott Marriot Hotels to protect you by blocking your WiFiMarriott, the hotel group, want to block your internet connection when you stay with them and they’ll block your personal or mobile WiFi hotspots to do so.

Why? They reckon that this is all for your own protection.

Marriott have signed a petition (which you can see here) before the FCC so they can clarify or tinker with the rules that cover interference for unlicensed spectrum bands. In plain language, they want to be able to jam the network on their premises.

You can assume that this means they’ll introduce their own hotspot, which they’ll charge customers for and, if you don’t want in, your devices won’t be able to pick up any signal. Of course, Marriott have previous, as they’ve already been fined for jamming those on their premises in Nashville.

Marriott have said in response: “We understand there have been concerns regarding our position on the FCC petition filing, perhaps due to a lack of clarity about the issue. To set the record straight it has never been nor will it ever be Marriott’s policy to limit our guests’ ability to access the Internet by all available means, including through the use of personal Mi-Fi and/or Wi-Fi devices. As a matter of fact, we invite and encourage our guests to use these Internet connectivity devices in our hotels. To be clear, this matter does not involve in any way Wi-Fi access in hotel guestrooms or lobby spaces.”

“The question at hand is what measures a network operator can take to detect and contain rogue and imposter Wi-Fi hotspots used in our meeting and conference spaces that pose a security threat to meeting or conference attendees or cause interference to the conference guest wireless network.”

“In light of the increased use of wireless technology to launch cyber-attacks and purposefully disrupt hotel networks, Marriott along with the American Hotel & Lodging Association on behalf of the entire hotel industry is seeking clarity from the FCC regarding what lawful measures a network operator can take to prevent such attacks from occurring. We feel this is extremely important as we are increasingly being asked what measures we take to protect our conference and meeting guests and the conference groups that are using Wi-Fi technology in our hotels.”

What do you make of that? On social media, there’s a lot of people calling bullshit on the whole thing, with Marriott cutting and pasting a link to the above statement.

Facebook develops AI to watch over you

December 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Facebook 300x300 Facebook develops AI to watch over youFacebook have said that they’re developing artificial intelligence, which is nice of them isn’t it? This AI will look over you and understand everything you do within the social network to help guide and control your behaviour.

You might think that is enough to chill the marrow in your bones, but Facebook have a different spin on it.

Yann LeCun, who heads up FAIR – that’s the creepy dystopian hell-name for Facebook’s AI division – said: “Imagine that you had an intelligent digital assistant which would mediate your interaction with your friends and also with content on Facebook.”

So how exactly will it guide you? Well, LeCun reckons that it’ll stop you from posting unflattering selfies. Imagine that – a program that is able to tell you if you look hanging or not. Of course, if you always looking minging, you might get a bit annoyed with some AI telling you all the sodding time.

Not only that, this artificial intelligence will take note of when you’re posting anything at all, whether you’ve been drinking, whether you’re in work or not and generally, it will try and gain context, draw a conclusion about it and then nag you. “Uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?” the digital neg would ask.

It might also say: ‘Really? You’ve downed half a bottle of Tesco Value you gin and you’re thinking about sending a message to your ex?’

LeCun says this will be achieved through ‘deep learning’, which is a complex clutch of algorithms that will try to process abstract concepts. Basically, Facebook are having a go at Fuzzy Logic.

Remember the Microsoft paper clip that used to ‘helpfully’ chip-in when you were doing something in Word? Well, Facebook wants to create one of those for your online life.

LeCun says that Facebook are in a good position to get this sorted too, because the company collect such vast amounts of your personal information. The social network is already analysing your behaviour (and sometimes messing with your emotions), so having this bleak cyber assistant shouldn’t be at all surprising.

So there we have it – Facebook are creating an intelligent spy that inanely offers to nag at users, slowly gliding into an Arthur C. Clarke nightmare.

“Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye”

selfie Half the public worried about putting pics onlineMore than half of the public still use email to share photos as they’re concerned about online safety, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 British adults, conducted by Berland for private photo and video sharing platform KatchUp reckons 59% the 2000 British adults polled still claim to use email rather than share on social networks, when sharing personal photos.

82% said that keeping in touch with family was the most important thing to them, and almost two thirds (62%) won’t share any photos in any online capacity due to privacy worries.

Reasons such as the time it takes to filter the pics (49%), a fear of data being collected on social media (33%) and a dislike of adverts (17%).

KatchUp founder Katie Hobbs reckons she came up with the idea after a family dinner, saying: “I can’t believe that in the 40 years since it was invented, families still haven’t found a way of sharing that matches the safety and peace of mind that email gives us.”

“We’re hoping that KatchUp can give families the platform for sharing online that these special relationships deserve.”

Admittedly, email may have been invented in 1974 or something, but nobody did anything remotely useful on a computer, or even really knew what email was until around 1997.

KatchUp – two words in one with caps, very ’00s – allows users to create their own personal timeline of images, which they can then invite family and friends to view. We eagerly await the ‘KatchUp Photos Leaked By Hackers’ stories that’ll hit the press within 12 months.

Social media should be simpler

December 1st, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Social media should be simplerSocial media companies should simplify their conditions as no-one can understand them. That’s according to the government, sitting on the parliamentary science and technology committee.

Of course, last week, we saw just how little MPs understand social media as it is, leaving one Tory red-faced as everyone saw how much he liked dirty photos.

Anyway, the complicated terms and conditions that allow firms like Facebook access to a wealth of personal information and even control a user’s phone are drafted for use in American court rooms, according to the committee.

The committee would like a new set of guidelines that make sure websites explain themselves a bit clearer, and that laws should be in place should they not comply.

The committee has pointed to terms for Facebook Messenger’s mobile app, which is used by more than 200,000 million people a month.

Basically, Facebook can gain direct access to a user’s mobile or tablet, including to take pictures or make videos, at any time without explicit confirmation from the owner.

Committee chair Andrew Miller said: “Let’s face it, most people click yes to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand,”

Miller went on to say that he’s sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to new guidelines on “clear communication and informed consent” that the committee is asking the British government to draw up.

Twitter Logo1 Twitter to start spying on your apps (and how to turn it off)Twitter have unveiled their plans to start collecting information on the apps that users have upon their phones and tablet devices.

They reckon it would allow them to monitor and target Twitter users with specially tailored advertising. Sounds like spying and invading people’s privacy to us, but that’s the internet for you.

According to a post on Twitter’s help page, Twitter said it would target people who use its app on all mobile devices that run Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.

It continues: “To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in.”

The social network claim that they will only collect names of applications that users, um, use, rather than the contents and data from them, so the social media behemoth can help to build graph data to personalise each tweeter’s Twitter experience.

Twitter will automatically opt its users into the new data collection service, but if you’d like to turn it off, here’s how.

How to turn this feature off and remove my data from Twitter

If you use Twitter for Android:

Tap the overflow icon (the thing in the top right that looks like three dots)
Hit ‘Settings’
Tap the account you’d like to tinker with
Under ‘Other’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps

If you use Twitter for iOS:

From the Me tab, press the cog button
Hit ‘Settings’
Click on the account you’d like to edit
Under ‘Privacy’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps.

WhatsApp goes on lockdown!

November 19th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

whatsapp WhatsApp goes on lockdown!WhatsApp will now have encrypted messages from now, which is a boon for those who are concerned about personal privacy when chatting and sending photos of their junk to hook-ups. Of course, governments and spy-agencies won’t be at all happy about this, as they get jumpy and start shouting ‘TERRORISTS!’ as soon as anyone hides what they’re talking about.

WhatsApp said that this is the “largest deployment of end-to-end encryption ever.” What that means, in English, is that your messages are safe from people listening-in, unless of course, WhatsApp have a deal with someone where they’ll pass all that information on. Seeing as they’re owned by Facebook, you’d be daft to not indulge that in your thoughts.

Thus far, it’ll only work on Android and is limited to one-on-one text-only chats. So group chats and photos are not as locked down.

Whisper Systems – the company behind the software which is being used to encrypt your WhatsApp messages – have said: ”We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are fully supported, but we are moving quickly towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end encryption by default.”

It does look like chat-apps are all working toward utilising this kind of encryption, which is a headache for the NSA and GCHQ. In their eyes, the only people who should have encrypted messages are government officials and people like the FBI.

Hard cheese.

Facebook get blunt about privacy

November 14th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook get blunt about privacyWe all know that Facebook have a troubling time of it when it comes to user-privacy. With that, they’ve decided to tell everyone about their terms in plain English. And the rub of it is that they’re selling you as a person to advertisers.

Also: pope confirms religious preference.

If you want to see Facebook’s new “privacy basics”, then they’ve set up a little thing online. It’s reasonably patronising, so if you want something that’s aimed at adults who can read, then check this.

So, in the ‘plain English’ version, Facebook say: “We want our advertising to be as relevant and interesting as the other information you find on our services. With this in mind, we use all of the information we have about you to show you relevant ads.”

That doesn’t sound to bad does it? If you read the same thing in the ‘adult version’, it sounds a bit more grim: “You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you.”

Facebook want users to give them feedback on all this, which you can do here. That is providing, of course, you have any faith in Facebook actually listening to you. You’ve got until November 20th to get your feelings on Facebook’s privacy rules in.

Government snooping on your Facebook

November 5th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Government snooping on your FacebookGovernment requests for access to your Facebook data have gone up by 24% in the first six months of 2014.

Governments made 34,946 requests for data, Facebook said in its latest transparency report, which was up 24% from the second half of 2013.

The Government are allowed to see what you’ve been having a say about, should they fancy it, and can do something about it should they wish, and you’ll be none the wiser. Chances are they won’t because you’ve probably spent half your time using it to organise nights out or to flirt with someone who isn’t interested in you at all.

Facebook was also forced to restrict access to about 19% more content than it had before thanks to local laws, due to content having some form of untoward activity featured in it.

Someone with quite a bit of time on their hands, compiled the requests by country, and the U.S. was responsible for 15,433 of them – covering 23,667 users and/or accounts. Most of those requests were search warrants (7,676) and subpoenas (6,088) – of which 84% and 80% were granted, respectively.

A nameless drone from Facebook, clearly unaware of the irony, said “As we’ve said before, we scrutinize every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests.”

That’d be the company that makes you feel miserable for experiments and nearly forced drag queens to use their real names on the site. That’s how much they care.

So a handy tip here would be “don’t be a dick on Facebook”. If Facebook could follow the same advice, that would be lovely.

Snappening: Snapchat leak is real

October 13th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

snapchat 300x300 Snappening: Snapchat leak is realThe Snapchat nudes leak is a real thing, now dubbed ‘The Snappening’ after the iCloud leak was referred to as ‘The Fappening’.

Videos and images of around 200,000 people, which were stored on a third party website, have been put online. This time, it doesn’t just focus on celebrities.

It appears the third party site in question is Snapsaved.com, which allows users to grab a screenshot of the Snapchat images that usually expire after a few seconds.

Snapsaved appears to have saved not only the images, but also, the users’ login details so that, in the torrent that stores all the images, you can search for images under people’s usernames. This third party is not to be confused with Snapsave, which only stores images on the phone of the user.

4chan, as ever, were the ones to announce the 13 gigabytes of images, but one of the problems here is that much of the content could be from underage users, meaning that anyone who distributes the photos or hosts them, could be in legal trouble for hosting child porn or sexual images of minors.

In a statement, Snapchat said that: “We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimised by their use of third party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we explicitly prohibit in our terms of use precisely because they compromise our users’ security.”

Snapchat hacked: Prepare the n00dz

October 10th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

snapchat 300x300 Snapchat hacked: Prepare the n00dzAfter the huge celebrity leak of photos, dubbed ‘The Fappening’, looks like we’re due ‘The Snappening’ as rumours abound that hackers have got a load of Snapchat photos and plan release all the mucky, naked ones that match with usernames.

They’ll be available on October 12th on a torrent.

According to reports, the hackers have a 13GB library of snaps from a third-party app which allows users to save Snapchats without the sender knowing.

Snapchat know about the leak: “We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security. We vigilantly monitor the App Store and Google Play for illegal third-party apps and have succeeded in getting many of these removed.”

Snapchat are deflecting blame away from themselves, but if they were really vigilant, they should’ve got third party apps removed from app stores or something.

What should worry people though is that a lot of young people use Snapchat, which means anyone looking at any potential leaks could basically be looking at compromising images of underage kids.

Google+ will stop forcing you to do things

September 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

google plus logo Google+ will stop forcing you to do thingsGood news Googlers – you no longer have to have a Google+ account tied in with your activities.

Google are said to have quietly snuffed out the service, which demands you tell it everything during the sign-up process, and then chains itself to your radiator* (*every move on the internet).

Now when you create a new Google account, there’s the option of signing up for a G+ account. And now, you can instead use the new “No thanks” button, and they’ll be on their way.

It doesn’t mean the end of the network, oh no, it’s suggested that they will continue to perservere with it, and improving aspects such as Google Hangouts.

But it sort of gives the idea that Google may not be arsed at foisting it on people willy nilly, and accept that it will never be the level that Twitter and Facebook enjoy.

However you can carry on ignoring it as usual, but it may hamper you leaving app reviews and uploading videos to YouTube and that.

A Google spokesperson said: “We updated the signup experience in early September. Users can now create a public profile during signup, or later, if and when they share public content for the first time (like a restaurant review, YouTube video or Google+ post).”