privacy

In MySpace, everyone can see you preen

Ten years later, the online world is a very different place. For one, I don't need to take a book with me every time I log on to keep me entertained while I wait for a new page to load.

For another, despite UK journalist Martin Foley's much-publicised investigation into pedophilia on Skype, and despite MySpace's recent removal of almost 30,000 known sex offenders from its database, most people who use the internet regularly now know that the majority of people they talk to online are as normal as they are.
.
.
.
It has been argued that 20 years in the future, when virtually everyone has a backlog of life history available online, no one will care about compromising photos taken at university parties, or dramatic outpourings of teenage angst. Better yet, maybe employers, prospective partners and future mothers-in-law will have the savvy to differentiate between reliable information and unqualified hearsay.

It is always interesting to watch the net change and grow, but sometimes it is quite sad to see the consequences when it harms normal people who haven't done anything much different than the rest of society. Our lives are our record now, less and less toleration for mistakes too. It seems like we are just heading straight towards disaster with these sort of ideals. EVERYONE makes mistakes and these days, everyone will know. Society needs to adapt as this article suggests.

'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy

Abstract
In this short essay, written for a symposium in the San Diego Law Review, Professor Daniel Solove examines the nothing to hide argument. When asked about government surveillance and data mining, many people respond by declaring: I've got nothing to hide. According to the nothing to hide argument, there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. The nothing to hide argument and its variants are quite prevalent, and thus are worth addressing. In this essay, Solove critiques the nothing to hide argument and exposes its faulty underpinnings.

This short, 25 page paper covers more than a year's worth of newspaper articles and blog postings. Rarely do we see such a good discourse about a complex topic like privacy. This isn't a sensationalist piece like many articles out there. The author, A Professor Solove, even makes a point not to be sensationalist. I would quote the whole article if I were allowed, it was that good. But for the author's sake and for yours I will just share a few quotes I especially liked.

Ruling Endangers Privacy in Email and IP Addresses

The court appears to grasp this distinction, but, unfortunately, doesn't follow it to the correct conclusion. In a footnote, the court points out that capturing URLs of webpages visited "might be more constitutionally problematic" because "[a] URL, unlike an IP address, identifies the particular document within a website that a person views and thus reveals much more information about the person's Internet activity. However, an IP address can point to a particular website and can also be used to identify "much more information about the person's Internet activity." For instance, it can be combined with information about the size of a file downloaded from a particular IP to identify a particular page on a website.

On top of this casual, erroneous reasoning, the court oddly says almost nothing about how the surveillance actually occurred. Indeed, at one point the opinion says, "the government applied for and received court permission to install a pen register analogue on [defendant's] computer." Ordinarily, pen register surveillance takes place on the provider's system, not on the target's computer; so this statement, along with the fact that keylogging software was used, raised questions about whether the court approved physical entry or some kind of remote surveillance like the FBI's "Magic Lantern." EFF has confirmed with defense counsel that the surveillance in fact occurred at the provider's system, but these ambiguities only underscore the need for review of the opinion.

Oxford University Fines Students For Facebook 'Flour' Photos

Social networking site users have to worry about more than just potential employers digging up their dirt online now.
One of the most prestigious U.K. universities has begun to scan the social networking sites seeking snapshots and other evidence of misbehavior that qualifies for formal disciplinary action. Students at Oxford University are outraged that school leaders are scanning Facebook and disciplining students based on what they find there.

Outrage isn't going to stop it. People need to realize the minute you are posting information, pictures and videos of yourself doing things online it is very hard to remove them or prevent them from being seen. The internet is NOT a very private place, treating it as one is a huge mistake. Think before you post.

Full Story

How to: protect your privacy online…and why

Defending your privacy is not something that can only be achieved through the right software and a good firewall. Often your best defence is common sense and a canny understanding of hacking and criminal technique.

A very interesting and correct article talking about privacy aimed at journalists but can easily be applied to all internet users. Understanding the methods used by hackers and phishers who are trying to expose flaws and steal information about you is a good start to protecting yourself. It is good to see the words common sense again. Common sense and the internet seem to be antonyms as of late.

Full Story

Web search groups to yield on privacy

Yahoo and Microsoft are preparing to announce concessions in their privacy policies in the next few weeks, as pressure mounts in Europe over the length of time internet search companies should be allowed to hold personal data.

The Article 29 Working Party, a group of national officials that advises the European Union on privacy policy, last month said it wanted to investigate how long companies such as Yahoo and Microsoft keep data on individuals who use their search engines.

Finally they are investigating other major search engine players and their policies as well. A level playing field and more privacy for the users is a good thing in general.

Full Story

Privacy Rules Don't Apply to Internet Messages, Court Says

In Friday's ruling, the court said computer users should know that they lose privacy protections with e-mail and Web site addresses when they are communicated to the company whose equipment carries the messages.
.
.
.
The ruling "further erodes our privacy," the attorney said. "The great political marketplace of ideas is the Internet, and the government has unbridled access to it."

The court case is a bit bogus, the guy was manufacturing Ecstasy, which I'm sure didn't help. Ingoring that detail, it is quite scary what the courts just said was allowable. They can watch where you go on the internet. The whole idea of 'they can't see what you are looking at' is bs. Any user can look at a URL visited and type it in themself to see what is there. The compare it to looking at the outside of a package. I can't just get another identical package and open it though, with the internet that is the case. So much data is also passed through the URL bar (anything with ?function=value after it is passing data (look at your google search page. Notice the q=proxyhost.com. Is it REALLY not invading my privacy? Remember the AOL case where the leaked millions of searches and people could be identified and their privacy was violated?

A Transparent Life

Even if we don’t all end as stars of our own personal Truman Shows, it won’t be easy to opt out of the transparent digital community that is taking shape. Social pressure to conform is powerful, and setting limits is hard. Next time a vague acquaintance asks to be your friend on Facebook, can you really say no?

New forms of social etiquette are badly needed to govern the hyper-transparent world that is emerging. So are technologies to help people gain more control over their online existence. Before being encouraged to opt in wholeheartedly, people must believe that it is still both possible and acceptable to opt out.

More of a fluff article from Financial Times about living in this age where what we do is so transparent. Has a few key points but doesn't have much depth to it.

Full Story

IG: Pentagon not safeguarding privacy data

WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- Despite several high-profile compromises of private information, the U.S. Department of Defense is not protecting personal data adequately, a report says.

Officials assigned to protect personal data like Social Security numbers and other records at the Defense Department usually are not specifically trained in the requirements of the 1974 Privacy Act.

Big surprise. Wish I had more to say about this, but none of it surprises me, who would have expected incompetance in managing something?

Full Story

Google-DoubleClick Deal Draws Criticism

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Europe's major consumer group BEUC said Wednesday that it feared Internet search engine Google Inc.'s takeover of online ad tracker DoubleClick Inc. would damage European Union privacy rights and limit consumers' choice of Web content.

Their plea to EU regulators comes after U.S. consumer privacy advocacy groups asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to look at how the two companies, when combined, would have access to an unprecedented amount of data on consumers' Web usage and Internet search habits.

Last I checked there was plenty of tools to prevent cookies and such (using a proxy for instance?). To me this sounds like a case of missing information and a need for education of the users. You can reject certain cookies, you can delete them (or even modify them yourself). As far as users not knowing their information would ultimately go to Google with a Double CLick buyout? 90% of them already use google, if they were so worried about them I am not sure you would see such high usage.

Full Story