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Angry Birds, a popular mobile app, is among the seemingly innocuous programs that are raising privacy concerns by collecting personal information that is used to focus advertising. When Jason Hong, an associate professor at the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, surveyed 40 users, all but two were unaware that the game was noting and storing their locations so that they could later be the targets of advertising.
With the fate of our beloved internet economy allegedly at stake, perhaps it's a good time to examine what Do Not Track is. How did the standard come to be, what does it do, and how does it stand to change online advertising? Is it as innocuous as privacy advocates make it sound, or does it stand to jeopardize the free, ad-supported internet we've all come to rely on?
The company this month began offering reports to marketers showing what Verizon subscribers are doing on their phones and other mobile devices, including what iOS and Android apps are in use in which locations. Verizon says it may link the data to third-party databases with information about customers' gender, age, and even details such as "sports enthusiast, frequent diner or pet owner."
"We're able to view just everything that they do," Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative, told an industry conference earlier this year. "And that's really where data is going today. Data is the new oil."
However, ads make Facebook and Google free to use. Says Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project: "When you pay a company $80 a month, they have no business monetizing the data they're collecting."
The new iPhone operating system comes with three things that make tracking easier for advertisers and reduce the likelihood that you'll opt out.
iOS 6 comes in a default "tracking on" position. You have to affirmatively switch it off if you do not want advertisers to see what you're up to.
The tracking control in iPhone's settings is NOT contained where you might expect it, under the "Privacy" menu. Instead, it's found under "General," then "About," and then the "Advertising" section of the Settings menu.
The tracking control is titled "Limit Ad Tracking," and must be turned to ON, not OFF, in order to work. That's slightly confusing — "ON" means ads are off! — so a large number of people will likely get this wrong.
The "I Know..." series of blog posts shows relatively simple tricks [malicious] websites can use to coax a browser into revealing information that it probably should not. Firewalls, anti-virus software, anti-phishing scam black lists, and even patching your browser was not going to help.
Fortunately, if you are using one of today’s latest and greatest browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.), these tricks, these attack techniques, mostly don’t work anymore. The unfortunate part is that they were by no means the only way to accomplish these feats.
TechCrunch sure knows how to write a headline. They cover a bit on a new project called TOS;DR. The site aims to give more power to users by summarizing terms of service, flagging potential issues and rating apps on a scale from A (the best) to E (the worst).
If most websites can’t get password storage right, you can also bet they can’t get storage of the actual content you are trusting them with right, either. The private documents that you stored with your favorite cloud service are probably not encrypted in a way that only your account can decrypt, if they’re encrypted at all. The mobile app or website you use to access those documents may send your password and your files “in the clear,” enabling that shady-looking person on the other side of the café to snoop on you. They may advertise that they use encrypted connections but then disable verification in the mobile app so as to “not complicate the interface.” Someone could hijack your connection and the app would never notify you of the error. I have seen all of these problems in real-world cloud apps used by thousands of people.
Here are the researcher’s conclusions:
•The market has produced few realistic, privacy-protective alternatives to the dominant privacy-invasive online services.
•Greater transparency and consent requirements could help, but only if consumers can make decisions that align with their preferences.
•The gulf between private-sector information demands and consumer preferences suggest that better disclosures and choice mechanisms will only preserve the status quo.
•Aggressive interventions are necessary to create incentives for firms to reduce collection of personal information.
•Privacy tradeoffs are not clear; consumers need the ability to change their minds and walk away from a service.
Facebook users were given the opportunity to decide if the social network should keep its existing Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) and Data Use Policy or change it to the updated version which was introduced in May this year.
Voting took place from June 1 through to June 8 and saw around 297,883 people -- approximately 87% of all voters who participated -- opt to keep Facebook’s existing SRR and Data Use Policy.
Despite voters’ overwhelming preference for the former policy, Facebook said the number of users who voted was too small to be representative of the entire Facebook community and said it would go ahead with the proposed changes.