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Data Brokers' Secret Scores Can Cripple Consumers
November 6, 2019
Many businesses have been using secret scores created by data brokers to determine how much to charge consumers, whether to allow purchase returns, and what level of service to offer, among other things. "Most consumers will never know when they are the victim of a secret surveillance score," noted Laura Antonini, policy director at the Consumer Education Foundation.
Safari's Safe Browsing Option Raises Privacy Concerns
October 15, 2019
An option in Apple's Safari browser that's supposed to protect Web surfers from malicious sites has raised privacy concerns in some quarters. The option, called "safe browsing," is turned on by default. Depending on where an Apple device is registered, the browser could be sending IP information to Tencent, a conglomerate with close ties to China's government.
Get Serious About Cybersecurity: Take Ownership of Your Personal Data
October 4, 2019
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and one of the prongs in the three-part theme is for all computer users to "Own IT." This means staying safe on social media, updating privacy settings, and keeping tabs on apps. Simply put, users need to take better ownership of their data and their online presence as part of daily safe cyber practices.
The CCPA May Affect You, So Get Ready
October 3, 2019
Although not every United States business will be affected, the new California Consumer Protection Act almost certainly will have implications for many businesses outside of California. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, qualifying businesses will be subject to data privacy and security standards currently required only by the 28 member states in the European Union.
Congress Eyes Google's Chrome Encryption Plans
October 1, 2019
Google's plans to test an encrypted Internet DNS protocol reportedly have spurred some members of Congress to consider opening an antitrust investigation. They are concerned that the new technology could give Google an edge over competitors by making it harder for them to access consumer data. Google is experimenting with new ways to enhance online privacy.
Spotlight on Cybersecurity Awareness: Own IT, Secure IT, Protect IT
September 27, 2019
Cybersecurity should be a concern for all businesses -- large and small. Cybersecurity also should be a concern for consumers, government agencies, and basically anyone who relies on the Internet in our increasingly connected world. Among efforts to focus attention on the threatscape is designating October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
Google's 'Right to Be Forgotten' Approach Wins Nod From EU Court
September 25, 2019
Google need not comply with the right to be forgotten outside of the European Union, according to a European Court of Justice ruling. A global de-referencing would meet the EU's data protection objectives, the court said, but it found that numerous third states do not recognize the right to de-referencing or have a different approach to that right.
Google Promises Assistant Users More Audio Privacy
September 24, 2019
Google has announced tweaks to its privacy policy following earlier reports that its Google Assistant software was eavesdropping on user conversations. Although it does not retain Assistant audio recordings by default, according to Senior Product Manager Nino Tasca, the company has increased privacy protections affecting the transcription process used to check the accuracy of responses.
Facebook's New Portals: More Ways to Follow
September 19, 2019
Facebook has announced three additions to the Portal family: a new Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV. The devices let users make calls using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Portal has a new design that resembles a picture frame. The Portal Mini is similar but smaller. The Portal TV blends the functionality of a set-top box with social media and video conferencing.
Google's Super-Sized Nest Hub Draws Mixed Reviews
September 10, 2019
The new larger version of Google's Nest Hub smart display has been garnering mixed reviews. It has a 10-inch screen, compared to its predecessor's 7-inch display, and it sells for $229, compared to $129 for the Nest Hub introduced in June. "I like the big screen on the Nest Hub Max, since I was able to watch a football game in the kitchen and still see the score," wrote Todd Haselton.
Amazon Trying Out Hand-Scanning Payment System: Report
September 5, 2019
Amazon is testing scanners that can identify a human hand to use as a payment method for in-store purchases. The company plans to introduce "Orville" to some Whole Foods stores by the beginning of 2020, and later expand it to all locations in the United States. Employees at Amazon's New York offices are said to be using the technology to buy items from specially equipped vending machines.
Apple Says Sorry for Listening In on Siri Talks
August 29, 2019
Apple has suspended audits of consumer interactions with Siri, and undertaken a review of practices and policies related to the voice assistant. Before suspending grading, the process involved reviewing a small sample of audio and computer-generated transcripts from Siri requests -- less than 0.2 percent -- to measure how well Siri responded. The goal was to improve the assistant's reliability.
Storm Erupts Over Google's Advice Against Blocking Cookies
August 28, 2019
Google's recent announcement of Privacy Sandbox -- an initiative to develop a set of open standards geared toward fundamental enhancements of privacy on the Web -- has stirred up a controversy. Blocking cookies is not a good idea for a number of reasons, and standardization of such efforts is needed, argued Justin Schuh, director, Chrome Engineering. Google invited the Web community to comment.
Instagram May Roll Out App for 'Real Friends' Sharing
August 28, 2019
A new application may be in the works that allows Instagram users to share real-time information with their closest friends. Called "Threads," the app allows users to set up automatic sharing with their closest Instagram buddies of such information as location, movement and battery life, as well as text, video and photo messages generated using Instagram's tools.
Report: Chinese Hackers Eye US Cancer Research
August 27, 2019
Hackers affiliated with the Chinese government have been making a concerted effort to steal medical research, particularly cancer research, from U.S. institutions. The step-up in medical research theft by Chinese APT hacker groups appears to be linked to China's growing concern over cancer mortality rates and increasing healthcare costs. Cancer in the leading cause of death in China.
Major Browsers Block Kazakhstan Government's Fake Safety Cert
August 22, 2019
Google, Mozilla and Apple have blocked a fake root certificate issued by Kazakhstan's government to spy on its citizens' online activities. The government provided separate installation instructions for Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and IE Web browsers. When those who installed the certificate attempt to access website using Chrome, Firefox or Safari, they now will see an error message.
Facebook Gives Privacy-Minded Users Some Control Over Activity Tracking
August 21, 2019
Facebook has announced the release of Off-Facebook Activity, a tool that will let members see which apps and websites supply information about their online activity, and clear that information from their Facebook accounts if they wish. Once members have cleared their off-Facebook activity, Facebook will remove their identifying information from the data it collects.
28M Records Exposed in Biometric Security Data Breach
August 15, 2019
Researchers associated with vpnMentor, which provides virtual private network reviews, discovered a data breach involving nearly 28 million records in a BioStar 2 biometric security database belonging to Suprema. "BioStar 2's database was left open, unprotected and unencrypted," vpnMentor said. "After we reached out to them, they were able to close the leak."
How to Exert Privacy Control Over Your Home Speakers
August 6, 2019
Amazon, Google and Apple have suspended contractor review of consumer recordings following disclosures that the devices are nearly always listening and have captured personal, business and other delicate human interactions. Consumers using smart speakers and digital assistant apps from Amazon and Google can apply some control over their system settings.
Amazon's $10-a-Person Attempt to Wriggle Off Privacy Hook
August 1, 2019
Some very large companies now are under scrutiny by the U.S. government for their data collection and use. As the pressure increases, Amazon seems to have come up with a creative solution. It has been offering to pay users $10 for permission to track them. Interesting. While $10 is practically nothing, this move does suggest companies are beginning to realize they crossed the line.
Bug in Facebook Messaging App Exposes Kids to Strangers
July 24, 2019
A flaw in a Facebook app designed for children under 13 years old allows kids to chat online with people unapproved by their parents. The messaging app for kids is designed to give parents control over who their kids text and video chat with online, but a bug in the software lets a contact approved to chat with one child to talk to another without the approval of the second child's parents.
Why We All Need to Learn to Live on Camera
July 22, 2019
I was struck by a recent video of a soldier who apparently took some woman's parking spot and then went off the rails when she objected. He bad-mouthed the U.S. military and the U.S., abused his wife, and put his child at risk. A decade ago we probably wouldn't have seen this incident, but now there is a good chance that anyone who misbehaves, as this guy clearly did, will be caught on camera.
Facebook Unfazed by $5B FTC Settlement
July 18, 2019
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced its approval of a $5 billion settlement with Facebook, ending a long-running investigation into the company's privacy practices. The commission's 3-2 vote was along party lines. The United States Department of Justice must finalize the settlement before the matter is closed. The DoJ's action will end the investigation that began early last year.
Zoom Flaw Turns Mac Cam into Spy Cam
July 10, 2019
A security researcher has found a flaw in the popular video conferencing app Zoom that could be used to turn on the camera on a Macintosh computer without a user's permission. The vulnerability allows any website to forcibly join a user to a Zoom call, with their video camera activated, without a user's permission, explained Jonathan Leitschuh, a senior software engineer at Gradle.
FBI, ICE Turn Drivers' Licenses Into Facial Recognition Gold
July 9, 2019
State motor vehicle departments have become a rich source of facial recognition data for and FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Researchers at Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology reportedly used public records requests to gather a cache of documents that show the agencies have turned state DMV databases into the foundation of a vast surveillance infrastructure.
NSA Admits Improper Collection of Phone Data, 2nd Time Around
June 27, 2019
The ACLU has released documents showing the NSA improperly collected Americans' call and text logs in November 2017 and in February and October 2018. The unauthorized collections occurred just four months after the agency announced it was deleting more than 620 million call detail records acquired since 2015 under Title V of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
Can Brands Protect Privacy While Personalizing?
June 14, 2019
I sometimes think personalization is the best thing that happened to humankind in terms of marketing. As a consumer, I love getting suggestions on what to buy, especially when it's exactly what I need. Sometimes I feel as though I'm under constant surveillance, however, so I turn on my ad blockers, I surf in private mode, and I report ads that are not relevant to me.
Apple Spotlights Privacy, Big Iron at WWDC
June 4, 2019
Privacy, a new muscular Mac Pro workstation, and the debut of iPadOS were topline items at Apple's WWDC keynote. During its more than two-hour presentation, Apple emphasized new features in its products aimed at protecting users' data and privacy. "At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right and we engineer it into everything we do," Craig Federighi told the enthusiastic crowd.
Amazon Debuts Echo Show 5: Smaller, Cheaper, More Private
May 30, 2019
Amazon has announced the Echo Show 5 and is taking preorders. This third-generation Echo Show is called the "5" because it has a 5.5-inch diagonal display. he Echo Show 5 is available in the line's standard Charcoal and Sandstone colors. It is priced at $90. New Alexa routines are available on the Echo Show 5, such as a nighttime routine that turns off the bedroom lamp and plays soothing sounds.
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Would you license your personal data to advertising platforms if you were paid directly for it?
Yes -- So much of my personal data is already in the hands of advertisers anyhow; I may as well be paid for it.
Possibly -- It depends how much I would be compensated and how the data I authorize to share would be used and protected.
No -- I would not sell my personal data at any price.
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