Google admits it tracks users' location after they turn off location history

A few days ago, the AP, working with Princeton University, demonstrated that Google tracked the location of users even after they disabled location tracking on their devices. Today they admitted it, reports the AP.

It has now "clarified" its tracking policy; pray they do not "clarify" it further.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google has revised a help page that erroneously described how its "Location History" setting works, clarifying for users that it still tracks their location even if they turn the setting off. On Monday, an Associated Press investigation revealed that several Google apps and websites store user location even if users have turned off Location History. Google has not changed that practice. But its help page now states: "This setting does not affect other location services on your device."

Business Insider's Sean Wolfe describes how to disable location tracking completely on iPhone and Android. What a headache. Read the rest

EBGAP: Error Between Google and Privacy

The year is 2031, and I'm going to see Avengers 7 in 8K-vision. I hop in my Goober self-driving car and notice something strange – my location is displayed on the Goober Dashboard, even though I opted out of Google AlwaysTrack™! There's a complete disconnect between what the user interface is telling me and what actually happens without my knowledge or consent.

AP and Princeton University: Google tracks location of users even when they tell it not to

The Associated Press, working with Princeton University researchers, report that Google services on both Android and iOS devices store the user's location irrespective of location data privacy settings. The company was caught after prompting a graduate student to rate a retail store they had recently visited.

Google’s support page on the subject states: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. ...The privacy issue affects some two billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.

There is some elaborate ratmaze of settings you can dig into to actually turn the tracking off, one of which is apparently this "Web and App Activity” panel. Google says it is "being perfectly clear." The AP's interactive map of its researcher being tracked over a three day period shows what is perfectly clear: where you are. Read the rest

TSA: the fact that our secret surveillance program hasn't caught anyone means it's working

Late last month, the Boston Globe published a blockbuster scoop revealing the existence of "Quiet Skies," a secret TSA program that sent Air Marshals out to shadow travelers who were not on any watchlist and had committed to crime, on flimsy pretenses like "This person once visited Turkey." Read the rest

Handy guide to the current state of urban surveillance

Ingrid Burrington (previously) takes viewers on a guided tour of New York City's current surveillance matrix, from license plate readers and shotspotters to the Domain Awareness System. Read the rest

On the cruelty of ankle-monitors

Ankle monitors are billed as a humane alternative to incarceration, allowing people who might otherwise be locked up to be reintegrated into the community. Read the rest

Toronto's aural panic: why we need digital rights now

Last week, my city became a garbage fire. Within 48 hours of a mass shooting on Toronto's Danforth Avenue, City Council had passed a motion to purchase the American acoustic surveillance system ShotSpotter, making Toronto the first Canadian municipality to adopt the technology. As Americans already know, the system is designed to monitor "at risk" (read: poor and black) neighbourhoods for potential gunshots, which it geolocates and pushes to local law enforcement personnel for a substantial fee. Of course, ShotSpotter would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy on the Danforth and there are real questions about its effectiveness as a gunshot detection system, but why let facts get in the way of a rash political decision?

TSA "Quiet Skies" surveillance program targets innocent U.S. citizens

Assigned to covertly observe and, if necessary, violently protect air travelers on flights which include passengers on a TSA terrorist watch list or on routes that are considered to have a higher probability of coming under attack in a terrorist action, federal air marshals have been a fixture on many flights since the September 11th attacks of 2001. That we seldom hear about the work that air marshals do is a very good thing. It means that we’re safe as we travel and that they’re very good at keeping a low profile as part of doing their job. It’s a gig that anyone should be proud to do. However, the pride that comes with quietly and professionally protecting folks may be in for a bit of tarnish thanks to a disturbing new program launched by the TSA called Quiet Skies.

As part of Quiet Skies, air marshals are being asked to step off of the flights that they’ve been assigned to protect to undertake a new detail: gathering intelligence on civilians who aren’t on a terrorist watchlist – regular folks like you and me. Unlike ICE, which giddily has accepted a larger number of troubling new powers and responsibilities from the federal government, the air marshals are voicing their concern with the new marching orders being given to them.

From The Boston Globe:

Since this initiative launched in March, dozens of air marshals have raised concerns about the Quiet Skies program with senior officials and colleagues, sought legal counsel, and expressed misgivings about the surveillance program, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Globe.

Read the rest

Calgary malls caught secretly using facial recognition to characterise shoppers' age and gender

Calgary's Chinook Centre and Market Mall -- operated by Cadillac Fairview -- have been caught running background software that analysed the footage from the CCTVs in the malls' electronic directories to guess at the age and gender of visitors, without consent or notification. Read the rest

Watchdog: UK spies engaged in illegal surveillance from 2001-2012

The UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that GCHQ (the UK's domestic surveillance apparatus) illegally engaged in mass surveillance for more than a decade (starting after 9/11), during which time the foreign secretaries who were supposed to be overseeing their activities "delegated powers without oversight," allowing the spies to police their own activities. (Images: Defense Images, CC-BY-SA; Cryteria, CC-BY) Read the rest

Chinese iPhones crash when users try to type Taiwanese flag characters

A now-fixed bug in Ios caused Chinese-localized Iphones to reboot any time the user tried to enter the character combination for a Taiwanese flag or the word "Taiwan"; the bug was caused by Apple's China-only censorship and surveillance software. Read the rest

Sky blue, water wet, porn filters don't work

In Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material, two researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute reveal their empirical findings on the efficacy of porn filters -- the online systems that are supposed to stop users from seeing sexual images, videos, and text. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg and his empire of oily rags

Surveillance capitalism sucks: it improves the scattershot, low-performance success-rate of untargeted advertising (well below 1 percent) and doubles or triples it (to well below 1 percent!). Read the rest

China is sending its ethnic minorities to torture camps to be brainwashed out of Islam

During the Cultural Revolution, millions of dissidents (and those suspected of dissidence) were sent to "re-education camps" where torture and slave labor were augmented by marathon "self-criticism" sessions where prisoners would have to engage in prolonged recitations and disavowals of their heresies. Read the rest

EFF has released STARTTLS Everywhere: free tools to encrypt email between mail servers

When you send someone else an email, your mail server connects to their mail server to transmit the message, and spy agencies have made a surveillance banquet out of these transactions, harvesting emails by the billions. Read the rest

Supreme Court: no government location tracking without a warrant

The Supreme Court has ruled in the closely watched Carpenter v. United States case, which questioned the constitutionality of warrantless location surveillance, a widespread practice among US law enforcement and surveillance agencies. Read the rest

China has perfected the internet control playbook and now it's exporting it to the world

After decades of back-and-forth over internet freedom, China has figured out a method for allowing people to use the internet for social and business purposes, but not for political reform -- a combination of huge boiler-rooms full of censors, centralization of internet services under tight government control, and control over standards to ensure that surveillance and censorship are always possible. Read the rest

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