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Paul Ohm writes about Netflix's insane new plan to release millions of customers' personal information -- ZIP code, gender, year of birth -- as a sequel to its Netflix Challenge. Latanya Sweeney's famous study on de-anonymizing data has shown that date (not just year) of birth, gender and ZIP are sufficient to personally identify 87% of Americans. In other words, Netflix is about to put the behavioral data about viewing choices for millions of Americans into the public domain, despite its legal duty to keep this information private.
Because of this, if it releases the data, Netflix might be breaking the law. The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), 18 USC 2710 prohibits a "video tape service provider" (a broadly defined term) from revealing "personally identifiable information" about its customers. Aggrieved customers can sue providers under the VPPA and courts can order "not less than $2500" in damages for each violation. If somebody brings a class action lawsuit under this statute, Netflix might face millions of dollars in damages.
Netflix's Impending (But Still Avoidable) Multi-Million Dollar Privacy Blunder
Facebook was caught offering advertisers a direct line to psychologically vulnerable teens. Nitasha Tiku writes that this exposes the deeper danger of its insight into our lives: it’s not the data that’s the problem, it’s how it could be “weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow.” The company had offered […]
Thunderbird is one of the last robust email clients, a must-have for people who don’t want to use webmail or leave their mail on a server, waiting to be hacked and dumped — but for years, it has been on deathwatch, as the Mozilla Foundation looked for another organization to take it over.
Comparitech commissioned a survey of 2,000 people in the US and UK to ask whether they thought “it is legal to install a program on a partner’s phone to snoop on their activity?” and whether they would “ever consider adding a program to your child’s phone that allows you to listen to their conversations and […]
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]