Tag Archives: Privacy

Facebook Portal Will Spy On You After All



As reported by Recode, and with a small dose of “Told you so“, Facebook has clarified that it will spy on you using its new Portal devices after all.

In an email sent to Recode, Facebook said, “Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices. We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across our platforms. Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads.

I don’t have to put up with this kind of privacy abuse when I use my landline or my smartphone to make a voice call. Why should it be acceptable at all just because it’s a video call?

Imagine I phoned a retailer using their toll-free number and then I was phoned a few days later by a competitor, perhaps offering a discount. The phone company had sold my phone number to the competitor on the basis of the original call. Now, I’m fairly sure that would be flat out illegal in most countries – I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure in Europe the GDPR regulations would stop that – but here we are with Facebook potentially showing us ads on the basis of who we talk to. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

I am increasingly of the opinion that these social media giants need regulation to ensure our rights are maintained. Keeping private both conversations, and the data about conversations, would be a very good place to start.


Shhh! It’s a Secret!



Shhh!The past few weeks have seen most of the tech industry line up against law enforcement and intelligence agencies over the matter of encryption and privacy. I particularly liked Google’s recent conversion to privacy as it wasn’t that long ago that Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, said that, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Moving on, there’s been a great deal of emphasis on the privacy aspect, but few have noted that encryption is mainly about secrecy, and that privacy and secrecy are not the same thing. If you do think that privacy and secrecy are the same thing, consider this, “It’s no secret that you go to the restroom, but it’s something you do in private.” I can’t claim credit for this – Bruce Schneier was discussing this over ten years ago and I thoroughly recommend you read some of his recent posts on the matters too.

You might also like to think of it this way; a private home v. secret hide-out. The former is in plain sight but restricted to the owner and his guests, whereas the latter is hidden and known only to a select few.

With a better understanding of the difference between privacy and security, a more reasoned debate can take place, which needs to be agnostic of the technology, to decide the rights of the individuals and the responsibilities of law enforcement.

Ask yourself some questions, “Should what person X does (on their phone) be private?” and “Should what person X does (on their phone) be secret?”. Remember, person X might be you, your family, your friends, your colleagues; person X might be suspects, criminals, murderers, terrorists, paedophiles; person X might be freedom fighters, democracy activitists, oppressed women, abused spouses, LGBT members. You get the picture, person X might be someone you approve of, or they might be someone you don’t like.

The easy answer is to say that person X should have privacy but not secrecy. Does this guard against wholesale monitoring of communication by intelligence agencies? Snowden has shown that this happened and I think most people would see this as an overreach of their authority with no legal oversight. But once person X has come to the attention of the authorities, does that strip away any right to privacy? What level of suspicion is needed, what evidence is required, what is the process of law? None of these have easy answers.

Undoubtedly this is a complex affair with hyperbole, thin-end-of-wedge-ism, and freedom protestors in dictatorships by the bucket load. For certain, we need to move this away from the technology and into human, societal and legal rights. Nothing is black and white, but this is about the future and the world we want to live in. Personally, I firmly believe in privacy, but I’m not so sure about secrecy. I use encryption on my phone as reassurance that should I lose my phone, important data won’t be misused by the finder. Generally I feel that wrong-doers, alleged or otherwise, shouldn’t have secrets, but I’m always concerned about the abuse of power. As always, “Who watches the watchers?”

(The other curious thing to consider is regarding dead people. Generally, they don’t have the same legal rights as living people. What would this mean?)


eBlocker Pro Protects Online Privacy at CES



eblockerGuarding your privacy online can be a real challenge. There are so many systems out there designed to track your every mouse click, it’s impossible to try and keep track of them all. And while you can give yourself a baseline level of protection by adjusting some browser settings, that may not be enough to keep you truly guarded. Many different companies have come up with tools to help users maintain their online privacy and eBlocker is the latest to enter this field.

At CES 2016, the company has announced its eBlocker Pro device. Unlike many other privacy protection systems that rely on software solutions, eBlocker Pro is a piece of hardware that easily connects to a home network. From there, eBlocker Pro protects all of the devices connected to the network by cloaking their IP addresses, and blocks all ads and trackers, allowing you to truly surf the web anonymously. eBlocker Pro also has a customizable service for shared devices called eBlocker Family. This allows administrators (i.e. parents) to whitelist or block certain websites, based on who’s using a device. eBlocker Family is especially designed for situations where family members are sharing a device like a tablet or a desktop computer.

eBlocker can be found during CES 2016 in the Sands G/Eureka Park building, booth #80432.


Public Outcry Over New Spotify Terms of Service



Spotify logoSpotify, the Sweden-based media streaming service, received some negative press earlier this week because of some recent changes to its terms of service. Initially, it looked like the company was getting a bit too grabby with users’ personal information. The ToS was updated by adding this language:

With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.

The new terms were first brought to the general public thru a Twitter post by former Minecraft developer Notch. This led to a response from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. From there, Spotify went into damage control mode, starting with a blog post that’s supposed to clarify the situation.

And while these new terms do look a bit overreaching, the key part to remember is that Spotify won’t be doing anything with your information without your consent. Still, the company could’ve done a better job of clarifying exactly what it’s planning to do with your photos, contacts, and other information.

Considering so much recent news in the tech world has revolved around hacks, leaks, and privacy breaches, all companies doing business online need to be super transparent about these kinds of things going forward if they want to maintain (and grow) their customer bases.


MacKeeper Provides Human Tech Support For Your Mac At CES



mackeeper logo

Even though Macs are well-known for their security, it’s still important to keep tabs on your Mac’s security. With excellent anti-virus protection and built-in tech support capabilities, MacKeeper is the perfect Mac security and support solution.

Jamie and Nick talked to Jeremiah Fowler from MacKeeper about his product. MacKeeper is an application with a wide range of features to protect and enhance your Mac. You can connect with a real technician to troubleshoot and solve computer issues, manage and protect your Mac’s data against viruses and security breaches, clean up your system, and much more.

MacKeeper’s support staff are certified IT professionals, so you can rest assured that you’ll get expert assistance every time. MacKeeper runs quietly in the background of your system, so you won’t experience annoying lags in speed or performance. And with pricing as low as $7 per month, you won’t have to break the bank to get user-friendly all-in-one tech support for your Mac.

For more information, visit MacKeeper’s website.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly and Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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SmartSafe Brings Data Security To Your Wrist At CES



Ionosys Smart Safe

Our personal data is valuable. With the endless stream of hacks and security breaches flooding the news these days, protecting our private information is more important than ever.

Scott spoke with Stephane Blondeau of Ionosys about the Ionosys SmartSafe. SmartSafe is a wristband that securely stores your passwords, account numbers, and other personal data right on your wrist. The wristband uses a combination of encryption and your personal biometrics to ensure that only you as the owner have access. And with NFC capability, SmartSafe can connect to your other devices, including doors.

SmartSafe will be available in September or October. Price is still to be finalized.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Facebook Changes Privacy Options for Teens



FacebookParents who have a teenager that uses Facebook may want to take a minute or two and familiarize themselves with a new privacy change. Facebook announced that it is going to allow teens more options when it comes to privacy. This affects Facebook users who are between the ages of 13 and 17.

Previously, when a teenager joined Facebook, his or her posts were automatically set to allow “Friends of Friends” to see that post. The teen had the option to change individual posts to “Friends” only.

As of October 16, 2013, when people age 13 through 17 sign up for an account on Facebook, their first post will automatically be set to be seen by “Friends” only. All future posts made by that teen will be available to “Friends” only (unless the teen chooses to change that option).

In other words, this change allows teens to make a decision about whether or not to post something with the setting of “Friends”, or “Friends of Friends” or “Public”. Teens will also get extra reminders that pop up if they choose to make a post “Public”. The reminder will say:

Did you know that public posts can be seen by anyone, not just people you know? You and any friends you tag could end up getting friend request messages from people you don’t know personally.

If the teen reads that, and makes the decision to go ahead and make that post “Public”, another reminder will pop up. It points out, again, that sharing with “Public” means that anyone (not just people you know) may see your post.

It seems to me that this change might make teens more aware of who, exactly, can see what they post on Facebook. I cannot help but wonder if this might help prevent some of the online bullying that goes on. A teenager who has concerns about being bullied could make all of his or her posts set to “Friends” only. That teen could also remove people from his or her “Friends” list that are problematic.

On the other hand, this change also would allow teens to share all of their posts as “Public”. Parents may want to have a discussion with their teenagers who use Facebook and make sure their teen fully understands that “Public” really does mean everyone can see what was posted.