Happy Data Privacy Day! A turning point for anonymity, privacy, and the tools that deliver them

Last week, we celebrated Data Privacy day. Everything we do online—whether on a computer or on a mobile device—is being tracked, traced, compiled, crunched, bought and sold by familiar tech-titans like Google, Facebook, Verizon and hundreds of lesser known data brokers who help advertisers build frighteningly detailed digital profiles of users by harvesting data from a variety of sources, including customer databases and online platforms. After I lecture to my students on this topic, rattling off a dozen mechanisms by which corporations and governments can spy and pry on us, threating both anonymity and privacy, their reaction is usually either indifference (because, you know, they think they have nothing to hide) or for those that I’ve convinced they should care, some measure of despair.

Burger King's Net Neutrality/Whopper Neutrality video is surprisingly excellent and says something about mainstreaming of net policy

Burger King's video on "Whopper Neutrality" (see Carla's earlier post) -- an analogy to explain Net Neutrality that's also obviously a marketing campaign for Burger King -- is a surprisingly great explainer, but even more importantly, it's an important bellwether for corporate America's perception of public support for Net Neutrality. Read the rest

The Internet of Shit is so manifestly insecure that people are staying away from it in droves

In Deloitte's new 2017 Global Mobile Consumer Survey, the company notes that "connected home systems—a category that includes home security, thermostats, and lighting—continue to lag behind other connected devices such as entertainment systems and connected vehicles," which the report attributes to "concerns about security and privacy." Read the rest

Spanish tech activists publish a "how-to guide for preserving fundamental rights on the Internet"

As the Spanish government was hacking the Catalonian independence movement, shutting down the .cat top-level domain, and engaging mass-blocking of websites and apps to control information about yesterday's referendum on Catalonian independence, the Xnet collective published a basic (but wide-ranging) guide to "preserving fundamental rights on the Internet," suitable for anyone living under the kind of state suppression that Spain underwent. Read the rest

Swedish transport agency breach exposes millions, from spies to confidential informants

The Swedish Transportstyrelsen (Transport Agency) botched its outsourcing to IBM, uploading its records to IBM's cloud and then emailing cleartext copies to marketing managers, unvetted IBM employees in the Czech Republic and others. Read the rest

Americans sent the FCC 1.6 million pro-Net Neutrality comments yesterday

Yesterday's Net Neutrality day marked unprecedented public participation in the formerly fatally dull realm of telcoms policy, as 1.6 million Americans sent the FCC comments supporting Net Neutrality. Read the rest

IBM reports data breaches were up 566% (4B docs!) last year

Information security is a race between peak indifference to surveillance and the point of no return for data-collection and retention. Read the rest

The Carbon Bubble is about to pop

Despite Trump's denial of climate change the the ghastly attacks on climate science and mitigation in the new proposed budget, the Carbon Bubble -- which overprices hydrocarbons and the industries that rely on them, as though we'll be burning all of them with impunity -- is about to pop. Read the rest

Why the Trump era is the perfect time to go long on freedom and short on surveillance

My new Locus column is "It’s Time to Short Surveillance and Go Long on Freedom," which starts by observing that Barack Obama's legacy includes a beautifully operationalized, professional and terrifying surveillance apparatus, which Donald Trump inherits as he assumes office and makes ready to make good on his promise to deport millions of Americans and place Muslims under continuous surveillance. Read the rest

Peak indifference: privacy as a public health issue

My latest Locus column, "Peak Indifference", draws a comparison between the history of the "debate" about the harms of smoking (a debate manufactured by disinformation merchants with a stake in the controversy) and the current debate about the harms of surveillance and data-collection, whose proponents say "privacy is dead," while meaning, "I would be richer if your privacy were dead." Read the rest