Guide to finding and erasing your online data doppelganger

The New York Times rounds up direct links to several services surveillance opt-out screens, including some I'd never thought to look for (Amazon), as well as instructions for installing tracking blockers and no-script extensions that will limit the data trail you exhaust behind yourself as you traverse the net. Read the rest

The Private Eye: a supervillain tries to bring the internet back to a world where the press are the cops

Brian K Vaughan and artists Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente started syndicating The Private Eye just before the first Snowden revelations hit, which was a fortuitous bit of timing for them, since their surreal science fictional tale was set in a future where the rupture of all internet security had provoked humanity into banning the internet altogether, replacing it with a world where cable news was so dominant that the police had been replaced by reporters.

Mozilla's new Android browser blocks ads and trackers

Mozilla has extended and improved its Firefox Focus browser, heretofore an Ios product, bringing it to Android, with auto-blocking of trackers and ads and making it easy to erase your browser history. Read the rest

In Rhode Island, students and parents must let schools spy on them day and night through their laptops

A majority of the Rhode Island school districts with "1-1" programs where each student is issued a laptop have a blanket policy of spying on the students and everything they do on their laptops, during, before and after school hours, on or off school premises, without any evidence (or even suspicion ) of wrongdoing. Read the rest

Should police be able to access your cellphone location history without a warrant? Supreme Court to decide.

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear an important digital privacy rights case that will determine if police have to get a warrant to access your cellphone location data, which is archived by wireless carriers.

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Invent privacy & security adventures with Cryptomancer & Mozilla

Brett Gaylor writes, "As part of the Mozilla Privacy Arcade project in this year’s Global Sprint, Mozilla is inviting activists, artists, designers, educators, gamers, storytellers, and technologists of all backgrounds to invent new privacy-themed adventures for the role playing game Cryptomancer." Read the rest

Facebook offering "vulnerable teens" to advertisers shows it is willing to be used as a weapon

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 advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.” ...

If the users in question weren’t teenagers—or if the emotion wasn’t insecurity—Facebook’s public statement might have been sufficient; the uproar from privacy advocates may have been duly noted, then promptly forgotten.

Instead, as Kathryn Montgomery, a professor at American University and the director of the school’s communications studies division—who is married to Chester—tells WIRED, The Australian’s report served as “a flashpoint that enables you to glimpse Facebook’s inner workings, which in many ways is about monetization of moods.”

As Tiku points out: "It’s not a dystopian nightmare. It’s just a few clicks away from the status quo."

The fences you put up are meaningless if Facebook owns the land.

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Thunderbird finds a new home

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. Read the rest

Survey: nearly half think it may be legal to install spyware on a family member's devices

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 spy on their messages?" Read the rest

235 apps attempt to secretly track users with ultrasonic audio

Ultrasonic beacons (previously, previously) let advertisers build an idea of when and where you use your devices: the sound plays in an ad on one device, and is heard by other devices. This way, they can associate two gadgets with a single user, precisely geolocate devices without aGPS, or even build graphs of real-world social networks. The threat was considered more academic than some, but more than 200 Android apps were found in the wild using the technique.

In research sponsored by the German government [PDF], a team of researchers conducted extensive tests across the EU to better understand how widespread this practice is in the real world.

Their results revealed Shopkick ultrasonic beacons at 4 of 35 stores in two European cities. The situation isn't that worrisome, as users have to open an app with the Shopkick SDK for the beacon to be picked up.

In the real world, this isn't an issue, as store owners, advertisers, or product manufactures could incentivize users to open various apps as a way to get discounts.

From the paper:

While in April 2015 only six instances were known, we have been able to identify 39 further instances in a dataset of about 1,3 million applications in December 2015, and until now, a total of 234 samples containing SilverPush has been discovered. We conclude that even if the tracking through TV content is not actively used yet, the monitoring functionality is already deployed in mobile applications and might become a serious privacy threat in the near future

Apparently it's not very effective—consumer speakers and mics aren't designed with ultrasonic use in mind and the authors say noise, audio compression and other factors "significantly affects the feasibility" of the technology—but the intent is clearly there on the part of advertisers and appmakers to make a stab at it. Read the rest

India's controversial national ID scheme leaks fraud-friendly data for 130,000,000 people

Aadhaar kicked off in 2009, linking each Indian resident's biometric data and sensitive personally identifying information to a unique 12-digit number. Read the rest

The NSA no longer claims the right to read your email in case you're talking about foreigners

For more than a decade, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been suing the NSA over its extraordinarily broad interpretation of its powers under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act -- a law that the NSA says gives it the power to spy on Americans any time they mention a foreigner. Read the rest

What happens legally if you shoot someone's drone out of the sky?

Probably not much, as Brad Jones learned over Easter when a neighbor allegedly blasted his DJI Phantom. Even if his prime suspect confessed, there's not much precedent for prosecutions. Read the rest

EFF study: ed-tech is spying on America's kids and not telling them about it

The Electronic Frontier Foundation surveyed hundreds of American kids, teachers and parents about privacy and the "ed-tech" sector, which is filling America's classrooms with Chromebooks and cloud services and mobile devices that ingest kids' data wholesale without any meaningful privacy or data retention policies. Read the rest

How to protect your privacy at a protest

Micah Lee and The Intercept put together this video with “tips on how to prepare your phone before you go to a protest and on how to safely communicate with your friends.”

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Japan secretly funneled hundreds of millions to the NSA, breaking its own laws

The Intercept publishes a previously-unseen set of Snowden docs detailing more than $500,000,000 worth of secret payments by the Japanese government to the NSA, in exchange for access to the NSA's specialized surveillance capabilities, in likely contravention of Japanese privacy law (the secrecy of the program means that the legality was never debated, so no one is sure whether it broke the law). Read the rest

Lawsuit claims Bose tracks what you listen to then sells the data

According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Chigago, Bose uses software to track the music and other audio listened to on its wireless headphones, violating the privacy of its users and selling the information.

The complaint filed on Tuesday by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stop Bose's "wholesale disregard" for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones.

"People should be uncomfortable with it," Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. "People put headphones on their head because they think it's private, but they can be giving out information they don't want to share."

The headphones alone aren't the problem, apparently, but an optional app bundled with them. Savvy users may know that such things are often sleazy marketing wheezes, but that hardly excuses it. Read the rest

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