"Smart home" companies refuse to say whether law enforcement is using your gadgets to spy on you

Transparency reports are standard practice across the tech industry, disclosing the nature, quantity and scope of all the law enforcement requests each company receives in a given year. Read the rest

Deleting Facebook is not enough: without antitrust, the company will be our lives' "operating system"

Facebook is the poster-child for the techlash, the worst offender in the monopolistic bunch, and recent books like Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan (previously) and Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier present variations on the main critiques of Facebook with some prescriptions for what to do about it. Read the rest

Why Do-Not-Track browser settings are useless and what to do about it

The long fight over Do-Not-Track followed a predictable trajectory: a detailed, meaningful pro-privacy system was subverted by big business, and then published as a "standard" that offered virtually no privacy protections. Read the rest

Facebook lied: its in-home "Portal" cameras will collect your data

Facebook Portal is a camera that is supposed to follow you around your house while you videoconference; the product launch was repeatedly delayed because of the company's string of horrific privacy breaches; when the company finally pulled the trigger on the launch it was at pains to insist that Portal would not collect your data while you used it. Read the rest

Blame Big Data for CVS's endless miles of receipts

Buy a single item at CVS and you can end up with a 4'-6'-long ribbon of register tape, a kind of orgy of coupons and come-ons. Read the rest

Facebook's new product: every-room cameras for your home

Facebook's newest product is "Portal," a home camera intended to follow you from room to room while you videoconference. Read the rest

Democrats unveil "Internet Bill of Rights": transparency, privacy, control, notification, Net Neutrality, competition, accountability

The Democrats' newly unveiled "Internet Bill of Rights" enumerates ten rights that the party says it will enshrine in law, ranging from Net Neutrality to data portability to timely notification of breaches to opt-in for data collection, the right to see the data held on you by surveillance capitalists, rights to privacy and to be free from surveillance-driven discrimination, pro-competitive measures and so forth. Read the rest

Whatsapp founder: I sold out, but I walked away from $850,000,000 when I quit Facebook

In 2014, Facebook bought the messaging system Whatsapp for $22B; it was a weird fit, because Whatsapp founders had decried Facebook's surveillance-based business model and targeted advertising, and had promised its users "No ads, no games, no gimmicks." Read the rest

The most popular "privacy" tool in Apple's Mac App Store was stealing users' browsing history and sending it to China

Apple pioneered the idea of "app stores," where operating system vendors got to decide who could distribute software that ran on their platforms, arguing that these "curated" stores would ensure high quality and protect users from malicious and inferior code. Read the rest

From Tahrir to Trump: how the internet became the dictators' home turf

Zeynep Tufekci (previously) leads Tech Review's politics issue with the best overview of the forces that have combined to make the internet so hospitable to totalitarians and racist pigs. Read the rest

Apple removes Facebook's deceptive, surveillant VPN from the App Store

Onavo (previously) was an Israeli startup that Facebook bought; the company has made a series of apps that masqueraded as utility software while gathering competitive intelligence that Facebook used to target its rivals by monitoring users' behavior. 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.

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?

Podcast: Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags

Here's my reading (MP3) of Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags, a Locus Magazine column about the corruption implicit in surveillance capitalism, which creates giant risks to users by collecting sensitive information about them in order to eke out tiny gains in the efficacy of targeted advertising. The commercial surveillance industry may not be very good at selling us fridges, but they're very good at locating racists and thugs and getting them to support violent political movements.

MP3 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

Here are 15 privacy settings you should change from defaults, from Linkedin to cellphones to smart TVs

The Washington Post rounds up 15 privacy defaults that no one in their right mind would want to leave as-is, and provides direct links to change 'em (hilariously and predictably, Verizon/Oath/Yahoo's privacy settings dashboard times out when you try to load it) -- once you're done with that, go back and follow his links to unfuck the privacy defaults for Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and #DeleteFacebook. (via Reddit) Read the rest

More posts