Posts Tagged ‘Personal privacy’

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. 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.

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Are Facebook illegally scanning your private messages?Facebook are staring at a class action lawsuit over allegations that they have been monitoring people’s private messages illegally. Facebook aren’t new to personal privacy issues, but this one is a humdinger of an accusation.

The lawsuit reckons that when users share links with each other privately, Facebook scans it to profile the user’s web behaviours. If this is true, then Facebook are systematically intercepting messages and mining them for personal data and then potentially sharing it with data aggregators and marketers.

Facebook said the allegations were “without merit” and, in a statement, they said: ”We will defend ourselves vigorously.”

The lawsuit claims that Facebook reviews private messages “for purposes unrelated to the facilitation of message transmission”, continuing: ”Representing to users that the content of Facebook messages is “private” creates an especially profitable opportunity for Facebook… because users who believe they are communicating on a service free from surveillance are likely to reveal facts about themselves that they would not reveal had they known the content was being monitored.”

“Thus, Facebook has positioned itself to acquire pieces of the users’ profiles that are likely unavailable to other data aggregators.”

So, to the ugly business of money. The lawsuit wants to claim for the greater of either $100 (£61 to you) a day for each day of the violations or $10,000, for each user.

It seemed a bit odd that Skype would hit out against Microsoft for being spies, given that Microsoft own the messenger company. Many thought Skype had gone rogue, however, the hashtag in the tweet gave the game away.

skype microsoft 385x500 Skype tell everyone to not use Microsoft because of spying

Skype’s Twitter account had been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (still sounds like a synthpop band). Microsoft initially kept quiet about the whole thing, but eventually released a statement.

It said: “We recently became aware of a targeted cyber attack that led to access to Skype’s social media properties, but these credentials were quickly reset.” They then deleted the tweets.

That didn’t stop a Twitter account used by the SEA posting an image of what seemed to be Microsoft employee account data, showing off Steve Ballmer’s (Microsoft SEO) company email address, phone number and his office number at Microsoft headquarters.

We would’ve preferred it if Skype suddenly decided to bite the hand that feeds it rather than some hacker being behind it, but there you go.

Apple turn to iBeacon to snoop on customers

December 9th, 2013 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

rotten apple 243x300 Apple turn to iBeacon to snoop on customers

Despite Apple announcing that they don’t like people spying on their customers, it seems they have some spying of their own to do as they switch on the iBeacon system across 254 stores. This network lets Apple watch their customers as they shop in Apple stores so they can send them targeted, specific message depending on where they are stood.

So, if you’re wandering past some iPads, you phone will kick into action and start telling you all about the products you haven’t bought. It does this by using iBeacon transmitters which utilise Bluetooth to figure out your exact location.

If you’ve got the Apple Store app, you’ve already agreed to let them track your whereabouts. It seems that this isn’t going to be solely used in stores though as this will work with any building that has iBeacon.

They say this offers “a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores”.

So, if you don’t like the idea of Apple sending you messages you don’t want, all you have to do is turn off your location services. It may mean other apps don’t work as well, but at least you won’t be watched from afar by Cupertino & Co.

Is your LG Smart TV spying on you?

November 21st, 2013 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

tv 3004 narrowweb  300x3730 241x300 Is your LG Smart TV spying on you?As technology gets smarter, the people behind it get sneakier. Take for example, the LG Smart televisions which, it turns out, are able to log viewing information in order to serve targeted ads to its customers.

New research from IT consultant Jason Huntley showed that his new LG Smart TV was targeting adverts at him on his Smart landing screen because they’d slyly been collecting his data. You may think that it is pretty obvious that smart technology would store some data about a user, but there’s a catch.

“There is an option in the system settings called ‘Collection of watching info’ which is set ON by default,” he wrote. “I decided to do some traffic analysis to see what was being sent. It turns out that viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to ‘on’ or ‘off’.”

Huntley found that the Smart TV recognises when you’re changing channel and logs what you’re watching. This data is sent unencrypted to LG’s servers. On top of that, filenames from an external hard drive attached to the TV also get sent off to LG.

Now, in LG’s defence, there was a corporate video on their website aimed at advertisers which said: “LG Smart Ad analyses user’s favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences.” However, LG have removed that from their website, which is a bit suspicious. Either way, this customer profiling is something customers agree to in T&Cs. However, LG are going to look into it.

“Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such, we take this issue very seriously,” said a spokesman. “We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent.”

If data is being collected without consent, LG could be found to be breaking the law. Should you want to stop this from happening on your TV, visit DoctorBeet – Huntley’s blog – where he gives advice on ways to shore up you telly.

Tesco have announced that they’re going to be getting really creepy and installing screens at 450 petrol station forecourts which allow advertisers to use facial recognition software while filming your face, so they can glean information about you and tailor which adverts are shown while you queue at tills.

This technology is being deployed in conjunction with Amscreen, who just happens to be owned by Lord Sugar. And you can see their dead-eyed pitch below.

This Minority Report style meddling is known as OptimEyes and it films you before feeding all our faces into a data stream which advertisers can then manipulate.

Defending his technology Sugar said: “Yes, it’s like something out of Minority Report, but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible. The OptimEyes does not store images or recognise people but just works out gender and sorts customers into one of three age brackets.”

Changing the face of British retail? Maybe we should all change our faces with masks to muck up this snide device? Either way, Tesco will have this Amscreen deal in place for the next five years.

adobe Adobe security breach leaked 38 million peoples recordsEarlier in the month, everyone heard of a security breach concerning Adobe which leaked the records of around 3 million customers – turns out the actual figures are in advance of 38 million.

In what Adobe called “sophisticated attacks”, hackers got access to what they believed was the data for 2.9 million customers. The data included names and encrypted card numbers. However, journalist Brian Krebs said this number was a crock and he should know because he’s seen the list of hacked details himself!

Adobe spokeswoman Heather Edell confirmed what Krebs already knew and said: ”So far, our investigation has confirmed that the attackers obtained access to Adobe IDs and (what were at the time valid) encrypted passwords for approximately 38 million active users. We are still in the process of investigating the number of inactive, invalid and test accounts involved in the incident.”

Edell also noted that the hackers made off with some of the source code for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Reader, and ColdFusion.

To apologise, Adobe is offering one year’s worth of free credit monitoring by Experian to anyone who had their account compromised in the attack. As Adobe might not get around to all customers, it would be beneficial for you to place fraud alerts on your accounts and keep an eye on things in the meantime.