Posts Tagged ‘Personal privacy’
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.
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?
Do 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.
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.
Beleaguered 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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.