Posts Tagged ‘Personal privacy’

david cameron government Hello, emergency laws to monitor your phones and internet useEmergency laws are being brought in next week which will force phone and internet companies to hold records of customers’ calls, texts and visits to websites.

Sounds dodgy doesn’t it? How can a government do something like that? Well, Cameron & Co. have wheeled out the usual excuse of terrorism. See, if the government can snoop on everyone, that’ll stop someone from listening to God and blowing themselves up.

Obviously.

According to Cameron, these fast-tracked measures are absolutely necessary to defend our national security against the threat from Iraq and Syria. If we don’t, the consequences are “grave.” This move is a response to a ruling by the European Court of Justice which struck down regulations that allowed communications companies from storing data for police use for a year. Downing Street reckons that we’re all doomed if phone and internet companies start deleting these records.

“It is the first duty of government to protect our national security and to act quickly when that security is compromised,” David Cameron said. “As events in Iraq and Syria demonstrate, now is not the time to be scaling back on our ability to keep our people safe. The ability to access information about communications and intercept the communications of dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK. No government introduces fast track legislation lightly. But the consequences of not acting are grave.”

“I want to be very clear that we are not introducing new powers or capabilities – that is not for this Parliament. This is about restoring two vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe.”

Nick Clegg, a man hired to wander around Whitehall to say ‘does anything need doing? No? Okay. Fancy a pint after? You’re busy? Never mind then’, said these emergency laws “will not be used as an excuse for more powers, or for a ‘snooper’s charter’.”

“Liberty and security must go hand in hand. We can’t enjoy our freedom if we’re unable to keep ourselves safe.”

Tom Watson, meanwhile, isn’t impressed and said on the radio this morning that this is a “stitch up” that denies MPs the chance to be able to scrutinise the legislation: ”This is a secret deal between party leaders. There hasn’t been a bill published, we find out this morning when Parliament is on a one-line whip and MPs are in their constituencies that next week they will railroad through emergency legislation.”

“If you are an MP, you probably shouldn’t bother turning up for work next week because what you think doesn’t really matter. They are ramping up the rhetoric on it but no one in civic society has a chance to form a view on this or lobby their MP or talk to them about it. I understand that Labour’s shadow cabinet is seeing it this morning. They’ve not had a chance to think about it yet.”

Cue: If you’re not doing anything wrong, it doesn’t matter arguments.

facebook mobile 300x200 Regulator probes into Facebook for emotion experimentFacebook – yes, it is still going – have been playing with people’s emotions which is very sinister, even though the company themselves are playing it down by shrugging and goofily saying it didn’t really work and, pschaw! don’t you worry about it!

However, people are worried about it and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is going to investigate. They want to know whether or not Facebook Inc broke data protection laws when they allowed researchers to do a psychological experiment on users of the social network.

Now, Facebook are taking it a little more seriously.

“It’s clear that people were upset by this study and we take responsibility for it. We want to do better in the future and are improving our process based on this feedback. The study was done with appropriate protections for people’s information and we are happy to answer any questions regulators may have,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Here’s the kicker though.

The ICO can levy fines for up to £500,000. Facebook have that kind of money down the back of their sofa, so they’ll probably say sorry, pay the fine and then conduct some more experiments because they’re bored.

Meanwhile, fans of Edward Snowden will be weighing up whether to run around, wailing hysterically about how the baddies are coming to get us or to tweet “Oh, you don’t say?!” sarcastically to their 103 followers.

What has this whole debacle taught us? That everyone, regardless of viewpoint, is annoying.

Vodafone blabs on government spies

June 6th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spy vs spy tofu prv 2 Vodafone blabs on government spiesVodafone who, in the past, have been big brown-nosers to whichever government asks them for a favour (see their part in the riots in Egypt for more) have started blabbing.

They have revealed that governments around the world are using secret wires to listen-in on phone conversations over their networks.

In the 29 countries where Vodafone operate, governments are using wires connected directly (and permanently) to its network so they can spy on people in real-time, while also tracking the location of individuals. Basically, what Vodafone have said, is that some countries don’t have to make an interception request to spy on people.

This news was revealed ahead of Vodafone publishing a Law Enforcement Disclosure Report.

In a number of countries where Vodafone do their business, the law says that mobile operators have to install direct-access wires and if they don’t, the law are allowed to install them.

It seems that this wouldn’t be legal in the UK (as spies need warrants), however, the law does “allow indiscriminate collection of information on an unidentified number of targets”.

The marvellously named Stephen Deadman from Vodafone said: “We need to debate how we are balancing the needs of law enforcement with the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. The ideal is we get a much more informed debate going, and we do all of that without putting our colleagues in danger.”

Vodafone are blowing the whistle on all this because they want to see an end to direct-access wires.

Uncharacteristically nice from Vodafone, right? Maybe they’re hoping all this will make everyone forget about their taxes that made everyone so angry?

 

google plus logo Want to be forgotten by Google? Heres how...Google lost their case in a European court, so now, we all have the right to be forgotten. Basically, if there’s stuff online that you think is irrelevant and you want it removed from Google’s search engine, you can now ask for that to happen.

Very nice.

How do you lose the pointless load? Well, Google have issued a form where you can make your ‘right to be forgotten’ requests online.

The form asks for yours details, the links to the ‘outdated information’, and asks for an explanation of why they should be removed. You’ll also have to provide a scan of your photo ID, so Google know it is you asking, rather than some fraud horsing around or impersonating you.

Google acknowledge that this system might not be perfect as this is their ‘first try’ and they will be “working with data protection authorities” to develop it in the future.

The company haven’t said how long it will take them to action your request:  ”We will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.”

If you want to see the form, click here.

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook: Snapchat, voting and relationship mitheringFacebook are branching out. After buying WhatsApp, they’re looking at even more ways of getting people to sign-up with them.

Now, they’re looking at voting, messages that die and having people poke around in your relationship status.

Voting?

Well, remember when Americans went crazy, clicking the ‘I’m a Voter!’ button when they renewed Barack Obama? Facebook want to roll something similar out to the rest of the world. Not North Korea, presumably. The feature was available in India when they chose Narendra Modi as their new prime minister. Seems that there’s good money in knowing how people are voting.

Dying messages?

Facebook failed to buy Snapchat, so instead of resting on their laurels, it looks like they’re going to make their own version called Slingshot and it could be released within the month. Basically, like Snapchat, users will be allowed to send short video messages and the like, by tapping their screens after selecting someone from their Facebook friend list. It looks like Slingshot is going after Vine, too.

Relationship mithering?

There’s a new Facebook button that allows you to ask people if they’re single or taken, which is a bit naggy isn’t it? A bit like a meddling aunt reminding you that you’re running out of time. If you haven’t seen the button, it is because you have your relationship status filled in – it only appears for those who have left it blank. Those asking have got a notes section where they can explain why they’re asking about your status. It isn’t unlike the ‘ask’ option where people can try and get your email or phone number. However, there might be some single users who will benefit from all this.

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook change privacy controls, but you shouldnt trust themAs anyone with half a brain knows, Facebook aren’t exactly bothered about their users’ personal privacy. Members of the site know this and that’s the trade-off for being able to perv on people’s photos or get weary at the xenophobes you went to school with. Revenue always beats rights.

At the F8 conference yesterday (very exciting, honest), Facebook tried to win some critics over by introducing anonymous app logins.

What exactly? Well, you’ll now be able to limit how much personal info you share with third-party mobile apps. You’ll be able to try these apps without logging in, which means you can see if you like them without giving developers access to your personal data. You’ll see the usual ‘log in with Facebook’ button, as well as ‘log in anonymously’.

Users will also get some control over what data a third-party app can look at, such as your email address, date of birth, who your Facebook friends are, your Likes and all that.

Facebook said: “We’ve heard from people that they are worried about sharing information with apps, and they want more control over their data. We are giving people more control over these experiences so they can be confident pressing the blue button.”

Naturally, even though you won’t be giving third parties your details, Facebook will still have them and use them to create revenue from advertisers, so this could well be a thoroughly pointless endeavour designed merely to placate.

In addition to that, whenever Facebook tinkers with privacy controls, it usually wipes the old ones, which means users’ settings are reverted wide open, so remember to fix that, if indeed, there’s any point in it. In a few months time, this conversation will inevitably happen all over again.

google plus logo Google: Contact lens cameras and still looking at your emailsGoogle, as we all know, aren’t too fussed about your privacy. When they’re not teaming up with governments, they’re scanning your correspondence so they can target adverts at you.

Personal privacy groups have long been unhappy with the internet giant and even Microsoft got in on the action, shouting “Don’t Get Scroogled by Gmail” when they were trying to convince everyone to use Outlook.

One court case against Google’s sniffing around our emails, District Judge Lucy H. Koh said that Google’s terms of service and privacy polices did not explicitly notify the plaintiffs “that Google would intercept users’ emails for the purposes of creating user profiles or providing targeted advertising.”

After that was said, Google spontaneously decided to update their terms of service, which came into play as of Monday, adding the provision that “Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

Not only that, but it looks like they’ve got some more wearable tech in the pipeline which could well creep out the kind of people who think the sky is falling on their heads.

Basically, those worried about Google Glass taking photos without consent will love the news that Google now has a pending patent for a contact lens embedded with a camera. That’s Google Glass which you wouldn’t be able to see if someone was wearing it. That’s human beings, essentially walking around with a camera stuck on their eyeball. It’ll be ace of paparazzi photographers.

Google say that the development would be used or diabetics and blind people, which is a nice idea; but if Glass takes off, you can’t see a scenario where Google wouldn’t want to try and make a shedload of money from it with a general sale.

Is Google’s Glass a surveillance device?

April 1st, 2014 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google glass Is Googles Glass a surveillance device?Over in That Australia, there’s a proposal to overhaul of state and federal privacy laws and with it, things could get a bit tricky for those making wearable technology, in particular, Google Glass.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has put forward an approach to privacy, with regards to technology, which is technology-neutral in their definition of “surveillance device”. Basically, what the ALRC are saying is that things like Google Glass are able to record private conversations or activities and if you haven’t got consent, then it should be illegal.

“Offences in surveillance device laws should include an offence proscribing the surveillance or recording of private conversations or activities without the consent of the participants,” say the ALRC.

“This offence should apply regardless of whether the person carrying out the surveillance is a participant to the conversation or activity, and regardless of whether the monitoring or recording takes place on private property.”

Now, of course, people can film things with their mobile phones or digital cameras, but it is a little more clear if someone is filming you with a handset. With Glass, someone could film you without you necessarily knowing. And obviously, governments like to copy each other, so if this move proves popular, we could see personal privacy rules being brought in, with regards to Glass, by other countries.

There’s already been bother with a Glass wearer who went to the cinema with them on, which ended up with homeland security being called out. There’s a whole host of personal privacy issues for anyone who is online, so is Glass potentially a personal privacy minefield which Google are ignoring, or hoping no-one will notice or care?

msn hotmail 300x298 Microsoft have been reading peoples private emailsDo you have a hotmail email account? Firstly – what is this? 1998? Secondly, you might want to know that Microsoft aren’t exactly fussed about your privacy. You see, they’ve admitted that they read the Hotmail inbox of a blogger while they were investigating a software leak.

John Frank, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said it took “extraordinary actions in this case” and, to keep the lawyers away, the search itself was technically legal.

What happened was that Microsoft’s snooping came to light during a legal case by US prosecutors against an ex-Microsoft employee, Alex Kibalko.

Microsoft were looking into the blogger had been given stolen lines of code from Windows 8. The blogger released screenshots of the code to his blog and Microsoft wanted to find the source of the leak. And so they started looking at the emails in the blogger’s accounts, so they could find the name of the employee dishing out secrets.

This snooping is allowed within Microsoft’s terms of service, which say: ”Microsoft reserves the right to review materials posted to the Communication Services and to remove any materials in its sole discretion.”

However, people are still unhappy with that and there are more debates about privacy violations of tech companies cropping up and, in addition to that, it has to be pointed out that Microsoft have been vocally critical of Google’s scanning of users emails, leaving them looking not only like nosey-parkers, but hypocrites too.

Facebook lambast Obama for spying: misses irony

March 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook lambast Obama for spying: misses ironyFacebook have a long history of privacy issues, mostly for using unsuspecting people’s personal information for their own gain. They mine users data, profile everyone and turn it into money for themselves. Basically, regardless of age or gender, Zuckerberg’s company watch what you ‘Like’ and talk about and turn it into gold.

Facebook has even had to pay out a $20 million settlement for sharing users’ likes in “Sponsored Stories” without permission.

And so, to Mark Zuckerberg’s open complaint to President Barack Obama about the continuing mutterings about the US government spying on the activities of some of his company’s 1.2 billion users.

Apparently, the Facebook founder phoned Barack Obama to gripe about his frustration over the NSA’s ALLEGED programmes and noted that Facebook has been focusing their time on making its own network secure and looking at the weaknesses of others because they want to ‘keep the Internet strong.’

While everyone is having a nice time online, Zuckerberg pretty much told the Prez outright that noted that the government are undoing all of the goodwill.

In an open letter, the Facebook fella said:

“As the world becomes more complex and governments everywhere struggle, trust in the internet is more important today than ever.
The internet is our shared space. It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity. It enables us to learn. It gives us a voice. It makes us stronger and safer together.”

“To keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure. That’s why at Facebook we spend a lot of our energy making our services and the whole internet safer and more secure. We encrypt communications, we use secure protocols for traffic, we encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people’s services.”

“The internet works because most people and companies do the same. We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world.”

“This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”

“The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”

“So it’s up to us — all of us — to build the internet we want. Together, we can build a space that is greater and a more important part of the world than anything we have today, but is also safe and secure. I’m committed to seeing this happen, and you can count on Facebook to do our part.”

Moneysupermarket to start trading in YOU

March 5th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zzzzfd1 300x180 Moneysupermarket to start trading in YOU

If you think you weren’t being exploited enough by advertisers, think again.

Moneysupermarket.com are hoping to develop a new revenue stream worth millions, by selling consumer data from approximately a third of the UK.

Advertisers will have access to a wealth of personal data, if these plans go ahead. Moneysupermarket revealed that their financial growth over the next 12 months would be driven by the exploitation of the company’s data and users.

“The data asset in Moneysupermarket is a real foundation for growth,” said Peter Plumb, chief executive. “I don’t think there’s any other business out there that has the breadth and depth of quote data that we have.”

The company, whose revenue passed £225 million in 2013, expect that they can rake in around £10 million from this, but stress that it wants to offer trend data rather than sell off individual customer data.

Now throw your internet into the sea.  We’re all for sale basically.

UK spies intercept millions of Yahoo webcam images

February 27th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spy title cropped UK spies intercept millions of Yahoo webcam imagesGCHQ – that’d be the British surveillance agency of spies – have been helped by the National Security Agency in swiping and intercepting webcam images from millions of internet users, which is a preposterous invasion of personal privacy.

According to files, which the Guardian are showing off at the moment, there was a surveillance program called ‘Optic Nerve’ which harvested images from Yahoo webcam chats and it didn’t matter if you were an intelligence target or not. These images were stored, including all the dirty stuff people had been doing.

More than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally have been spied on.

When the Guardian got in touch with Yahoo, they are reported to have “reacted furiously” and “denied any prior knowledge of the program” before accusing agencies of “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy”. In addition to that, the documents detail that GCHQ struggled to keep the huge library of “sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff.”

One of the leaked documents says the program is like a digital police mugshot book: ”Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for ‘mugshots’ or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face. The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright.”

GCHQ insists all of its activities are necessary, proportionate, and in accordance with UK law. For more, visit the Guardian’s detailed coverage by clicking the link above.

G+ is just a spying exercise for Google

February 18th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google plus logo G+ is just a spying exercise for GoogleSeeing as G+ has been such a rousing failure for Google, ever wondered why they didn’t just delete it, like all their other unpopular products, like Wave and Buzz?

G+ may not have been embraced by users, but anyone who has a Gmail account or a YouTube channel, will have been using it and sending very valuable data to Google – it might not be a decent social network, but G+ is proving to be an excellent surveillance tool for the internet giant.

Plus is, in essence, all your accounts rolled into one, so Google know who your mates are through your emails, sees what you’re putting into their Maps and observes everything you do through their services.

If they want to woo advertisers, then this data is gold dust. And they’re getting loads of new sign-ups too. Want to comment on a YouTube video? It is mandatory that you get a G+ account. This, naturally, has set alarm bells ringing for people with antitrust concerns.

Even the Federal Trade Commission are looking at the whole thing suspiciously.

Now brands and companies are being dragged in, with Google offering packages which involve ‘prime placement’ in Google Search. Basically, if you want help with your SEO, then use Plus because you’ll get better placement than if you spend all your time with their rivals. WHICH ISN’T ROPEY AT ALL.

Barclays to be fined again after data breach

February 10th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

barclays bank limited 300x300 Barclays to be fined again after data breachBeleaguered Barclays are staring down the barrel of yet more fines after they stated that they’re looking into the reasons why 27,000 of their customers had their data stolen and flogged by bad people on the black market.

According to a statement, they said they’d notified regulators over the data breach and started their own probe.

“This appears to be criminal action and we will co-operate with the authorities on pursuing the perpetrator,” said Barclays.

If you had any dealings with Barclays Financial Planning wing (which closed in 2011) and haven’t heard from the  bank yet, it would be worth getting in touch to see what you need to do or, indeed, to see what free stuff you can get by way of compensation.

The Barclays statement continued: ”Protecting our customers’ data is a top priority and we take this issue extremely seriously. We would like to reassure all of our customers that we have taken every practical measure to ensure that personal and financial details remain as safe and secure as possible.”

Cyber-attacks on financial institutions are becoming more frequent, but it seems our banks are slow to react to the whole thing, so maybe, just to be on the safe side, we should start drawing all our money out and hiding it under the bed and asking our banks to burn all our details in a huge pyre in a town square.

Chrome Is Googles Chrome secretly listening in on your through your mic?It has been reported by other people (take note, lawyers) that a weakness in Google’s Chrome browser is allowing people to use our computer’s microphone to spy on us. Google denies this outright, but they would. Developers on the other hand aren’t having it.

“Even while not using your computer – conversations, meetings and phone calls next to your computer may be recorded and compromised,” says Israeli developer Tal Ater.

Basically, if a site isn’t being honest about using your mic (as in, it switches it on, even though you haven’t given permission to), that’s when the trouble starts.

“When you click the button to start or stop the speech recognition on the site, what you won’t notice is that the site may have also opened another hidden pop-under window,” Ater wrote. “This window can wait until the main site is closed, and then start listening in without asking for permission. This can be done in a window that you never saw, never interacted with, and probably didn’t even know was there.”

Chrome remembers your settings for secure sites, so these pop-under windows won’t need continual permission from users.

Ater says he’s contacted Google, but they’ve yet to fix the situation. The Reg asked Google for a comment and they said: ”The security of our users is a top priority, and this feature [the blinking red dot on tabs] was designed with security and privacy in mind.”

If you’re at all worried about this, there’s an easy fix until Google get it sorted – go to your settings, hit click ‘show advanced settings’ then ‘content settings’, then click “Do not allow sites to access my camera and microphone” and that should do it.