AT&T's dystopian advertising vision perfectly illustrates the relationship between surveillance and monopoly

AT&T has come a long way from the supernormative, feel-good messages of its You Will ads; now CEO Randall Stephenson predicts a future where his company will dynamically alter your TV ads based on what it thinks you will buy; and chase you with that ad from your TV to your computer to your phone, and then spy on your location to see whether you go to a retailer to buy the thing you've had advertised to you; and use that intelligence to command high advertising rates from advertisers. Read the rest

Amazon just bought mesh wifi company Eero. Oh, great.

We have an Eero system in our house; it does really good and reliable wifi distribution, including to my office in the garage. And it was nice to have a piece of home electronics that was neither from one of the great data-sucking companies like Google, nor from the control-freak companies like Apple -- and also not from a no-name white-label re-badger or a giant shitty telco switch company whose consumer products arm is an afterthought. Read the rest

New York City's new rideshare regs put Big Brother in backseat, give GPS tracking a whole new meaning

Whether you love them or hate them, rideshares like Uber and Lyft have become a daily part of life for millions of New Yorkers. These app-based services make it easy to pay for your ride, but while the privacy cost isn’t always as clear, it’s about to get a lot larger. These apps have tracked our movements since they launched, but as of this month, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) started tracking us too. Read the rest

Amazon is using purchase data to sell targeted ads, which is creepy, but not because they've invented a mind-control ray

Amazon is building out its ad-targeting program to allow for ad-buys like "people near a physiotherapist's office who've bought a knee-brace," and reports that the ads are incredibly successful. Read the rest

American prisoners coerced or tricked into providing voice-prints for use in eternal, secret, unchecked surveillance

American prisoners are being forced -- on pain of losing access to the prison phone system -- to provide training data for a voice-print recognition algorithm that private contractors are building for biometric surveillance system that listens in on prisoners' calls. Read the rest

Project Atlas: Facebook has been secretly paying Iphone users to install an all-surveilling "VPN" app

The "Facebook Research" VPN is an app that circumvents Apple's ban on certain kinds of surveillance by cloaking itself as a beta app and distributing through the Applause, Betabound and Utest services, rather than Apple's App Store: users get up to $20/month, plus referral fees, to run the app, which comes with a man-in-the-middle certificate that lets Facebook intercept "private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps – including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information by tapping into the feeds of any location tracking apps you may have installed." Read the rest

How Facebook tracks Android users, even those without Facebook accounts

Facebook provides a suite of turnkey app-building tools for Android that are widely used among the most popular Google Play apps, with billions of combined installs; naturally, these tools create incredibly data-hungry defaults in the apps that incorporate them, so that even before you do anything with an app, it has already snaffled up a titanic amount of data, tied it into your Google Ad ID (which is recycled by Facebook to join up data from different sources) and sent it to Facebook. Read the rest

Shoshana Zuboff discusses her new book, "Surveillance Capitalism"

Ever since academic Shoshana Zuboff coined the term "Surveillance Capitalism" in 2015, it's become a touchstone for the debate over commercial surveillance (we've cited it hundreds of times). This week, Zuboff published her (very thick) book on the subject, to excellent early notices; I haven't read it yet, but it's next on my list. Read the rest

Whistleblower: Amazon Ring stores your doorbell and home video feeds unencrypted and grants broad "unfettered" access to them

Sources "familiar with Ring's practices" have told The Intercept that the company -- a division of Amazon that makes streaming cameras designed to be mounted inside and outside your home -- stores the video feeds from its customers' homes in unencrypted format and allows staff around the world to have essentially unfettered access to these videos. Read the rest

Bell Canada asks Canadians for permission to harvest and sell their browsing, location, viewing and other data

Bell Canada is the giant, diversified former national monopoly carrier that has been allowed to buy magazines, TV channels, and other users of its infrastructure, violating the cardinal separation of telcoms between services and carriers. Read the rest

Samsung phone owners are upset because they can't delete the Facebook app

Samsung's sleazy deals with Facebook mean that owners of Samsung phones are not able to uninstall the Facebook apps that come pre-installed with their devices. Read the rest

The latest Facebook scandal might explain why Amazon wrongfully banned book-reviewers

Yesterday, we learned that Facebook granted extraordinary user-data access to a handful of blue-chip companies, including Amazon. Read the rest

"Owning your data" will not save you from data capitalism

The fight against surveillance capitalism and mass state surveillance has reached a tipping point, the peak-indifference moment, when new privacy advocates are self-radicalizing as they witness firsthand the undeniable risks of overcollection, over-retention, and secret manipulation of personal data. Read the rest

EFF's guide to creepy, surveillant Christmas gifts

Topping the Electronic Frontier Foundation's don't-buy for Christmas list: Facebook's Portal in-home spycams, followed closely by Alexa/Google Home and other "home hubs"; Verizon's "AppFlash" spyware-equipped phones; and even the Elf on the Shelf gets a look in (normalizes surveillance!). Read the rest

Verizon writes down its Yahoo/AOL assets by $4.6 billion

A friend who works in ad-tech tells me that Verizon's datasets from its Yahoo/AOL assets are "the creepiest" in the industry, but even with every dirty trick and every stupid, harebrained scheme, the companies formerly known as Oath (because everything Verizon did made their users swear uncontrollably) are basically worthless. Read the rest

Surveillance libraries in common smartphone apps have amassed dossiers on the minute-to-minute movements of 200 million+ Americans

An investigation by the New York Times into the shadowy world of location-data brokerages found a whole menagerie of companies from IBM, Foursquare and the Weather Channel to obscure players like Groundtruth, Fysical and Safegraph, who pay app vendors to include their tracking code in common apps. Read the rest

British Member of Parliament publishes 250 pages of damning internal Facebook documents that had been sealed by a US court

Damian Collins chairs the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee; it was he who ordered the Parliamentary Serjeant at Arms to drag a visiting US tech executive named Ted Kramer out of his hotel to surrender his laptop to Parliament so they could see the internal Facebook documents that a US federal judge had ordered sealed. Read the rest

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