Archive for the ‘Privacy’ Category

Google+ bug exposes non-public profile data for 52 million users

December 10th, 2018
The Google Plus (G+, or Google +) social network logo is seen in the company's offices behind Android toys on August 21, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

Enlarge / The Google Plus (G+, or Google +) social network logo is seen in the company's offices behind Android toys on August 21, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Two months after disclosing an error that exposed the private profile data of almost 500,000 Google+ users, Google on Monday revealed a new leak that affects more than 52 million people. The programming interface bug allowed developers to access names, ages, email addresses, occupations, and a wealth of other personal details even when they were set to be nonpublic.

The bug was introduced in a release that went live at an undisclosed date in November and was fixed a week later, Google officials said in a blog post. During the time the bug was active, developers of apps that requested permission to view profile information that a user had added to their Google+ profile received permission to view profile information about that user even when the details were set to not-public. What’s more, apps with access to users’ Google+ profile data had permission to access non-public profile data that other Google+ users shared with the consenting user. In all, the post said, 52.5 million users are affected.

“The bug did not give developers access to information such as financial data, national identification numbers, passwords, or similar data typically used for fraud or identity theft,” Monday’s post said. “No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the developers who inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.”

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Posted in Biz & IT, google, Google Plus, Policy, Privacy | Comments (0)

Verizon/AOL helped advertisers track kids online, must now pay $5M fine

December 4th, 2018
A boy tapping the screen of a tablet computer.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Westend61)

Verizon-owned AOL helped advertisers track children online in order to serve targeted ads, in violation of a federal children's privacy law, and has agreed to pay a fine of $4.95 million, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced today.

"The Attorney General's Office found that AOL conducted billions of auctions for ad space on hundreds of websites the company knew were directed to children under the age of 13," Underwood's announcement said. "Through these auctions, AOL collected, used, and disclosed personal information from the websites' users in violation of COPPA [Children's Online Privacy Protection Act], enabling advertisers to track and serve targeted ads to young children."

In addition to paying the largest-ever fine for violating COPPA, the Verizon-owned company "has agreed to adopt comprehensive reforms to protect children from improper tracking," the announcement said.

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Posted in AOL, Biz & IT, children's privacy, COPPA, oath, online tracking, Policy, Privacy, verizon, yahoo | Comments (0)

Camera traps designed for animals are now invading human privacy

November 24th, 2018
A camera trap working properly.

Enlarge / A camera trap working properly. (credit: Flickr user: NationalZoo)

Over the past two decades automated wildlife cameras—known as camera traps—have proven invaluable in ecological research and conservation management. Their sensitive motion detectors have enabled scientific surveys of rare or shy animals in dense forest and as a consequence have seen broader use around the world.

But camera traps frequently take pictures of people as well as wildlife. This has important implications for privacy and human rights and may ultimately undermine conservation goals.

We conducted a survey of researchers who had deployed camera traps in ecological or conservation projects. More than 90 percent of the 235 respondents said that their cameras had taken images of people as well as wildlife.

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Posted in Animals, Camera, Privacy, science | Comments (0)

Tim Cook defends using Google as primary search engine on Apple devices

November 19th, 2018
Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on as the new iPhone X goes on sale at an Apple Store on November 3, 2017 in Palo Alto, California.

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on as the new iPhone X goes on sale at an Apple Store on November 3, 2017 in Palo Alto, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In an interview with Axios on HBO, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained the decision to use Google as the default search engine on Apple products. This decision has baffled some considering Google's business model of making money off of users' data—something Apple has spoken out against numerous times.

"I think their search engine is the best," Cook said in the interview. He followed up by diving into privacy features Apple has implemented in its Safari browser.

"Look at what we've done with the controls we've built in," Cook stated. "We have private web browsing. We have an intelligent tracker prevention. What we've tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It's not a perfect thing. I'd be the very first person to say that. But it goes a long way to helping."

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Posted in apple, axios, google, HBO, Privacy, Search engine, Tech, Tim Cook | Comments (0)

Convicted tax fraudster sues CNBC for defamation, says he’s not a “hacker”

November 19th, 2018
An actor playing a simulated Daniel Rigmaiden in <em>American Greed</em>.

Enlarge / An actor playing a simulated Daniel Rigmaiden in American Greed. (credit: NBCUniversal)

Daniel Rigmaiden wants the world to know that, while CNBC's American Greed television show may have portrayed him over two years ago as a "hacker," a "recluse," and more, he is none of those things.

Earlier this year, Rigmaiden sued NBCUniversal, CNBC's parent company, and an Arizona Republic journalist shown in that episode, accusing them all of defamation.

Rigmaiden wants unspecified damages and also a permanent injunction that would stop further distribution of the episode, which is currently available on Amazon Video for $2.99.

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Posted in daniel rigmaiden, hacker, Policy, Privacy | Comments (0)

AT&T CEO: State net neutrality and privacy laws are a “total disaster”

November 13th, 2018
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson speaking and gesturing with his hand while being interviewed at a tech conference.

Enlarge / AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson yesterday urged Congress to pass net neutrality and consumer data privacy laws that would prevent states from issuing their own stricter laws.

"There are a number of states that are now passing their own legislation around privacy and, by the way, net neutrality," Stephenson said in an interview at a Wall Street Journal tech conference (see video). "What would be a total disaster for the technology and innovation you see happening in Silicon Valley and elsewhere is to pick our head up and have 50 different sets of rules for companies trying to operate in the United States."

There was a single US standard for net neutrality passed by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. But AT&T and other ISPs opposed it and sued the FCC in a failed effort to get the regulation thrown out by a court.

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Posted in AT&T, Net Neutrality, paid prioritization, Policy, Privacy, zero-rating | Comments (0)

Proposed data privacy law could send company execs to prison for 20 years

November 2nd, 2018
A man with white hair, wearing a button-down shirt and tie, standing behind the bars of a jail cell.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Ed Bock)

A US senator has proposed a privacy law that could issue steep fines to companies and send their top executives to prison for up to 20 years if they violate Americans' privacy.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. announced a discussion draft of his Consumer Data Protection Act yesterday. The bill would establish new privacy rules that major companies must follow and establish fines and prison sentences big enough to make even the largest companies take notice.

Consumers would have the right to opt out of systems that share their data with third parties. Companies that don't follow the proposed law could be fined up to 4 percent of annual revenue on their first offense. The FTC currently is unable to fine first-time corporate offenders, and "fines for subsequent violations of the law are tiny, and not a credible deterrent," Wyden's bill summary says.

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Posted in Policy, Privacy | Comments (0)

NYT: Chinese and Russian spies routinely eavesdrop on Trump’s iPhone calls

October 25th, 2018
An Apple iPhone lock screen is seen in this photo illustration on September 24, 2018.

Enlarge / An Apple iPhone lock screen is seen in this photo illustration on September 24, 2018. (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Chinese and Russian spies routinely eavesdrop on personal phone calls President Trump makes on his iPhones, one of which is no different from the smartphone millions of other people use. The US president’s casual approach to electronic security has several current and former officials so frustrated they leaked the details to The New York Times, which reported on the phone interceptions Wednesday evening.

Trump, Wednesday’s article reported, has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit the types of hacks they’re susceptible to. The president has a third iPhone with no modifications that he uses as personal device, because unlike the official iPhones, he can store personal contacts on it. What’s more, while Trump is supposed to swap out his two official phones every 30 days for new ones, he rarely does. Trump did agree to give up his Android phone, which most security experts believe is more vulnerable than Apple’s iOS, and Trump has also agreed to the more cumbersome arrangement of having the two official iPhones. One is for Twitter and other apps, while the other handles calls.

Still, when Trump uses the cell phones to call friends, Chinese spies often listen in hopes of gaining insights about how to influence him on the long-simmering issue of trade. Russian spies also routinely eavesdrop on Trump’s calls, although the Russian spies don’t appear to be running as sophisticated an influence campaign as their Chinese counterparts. Aides have repeatedly warned the president that cell phone calls are especially susceptible to monitoring by adversaries. The aides have pressured him to use landlines instead, but he has refused to give up his devices.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Cell Phones, eavesdropping, national security, Policy, Privacy, White House | Comments (0)

Tim Cook calls for strong US privacy law, rips “data-industrial complex”

October 24th, 2018
Apple CEO Tim Cook delivering a speech.

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels. (credit: European Data Protection Supervisor)

Apple CEO Tim Cook today called on the US government to pass "a comprehensive federal privacy law," saying that tech companies that collect wide swaths of user data are engaging in surveillance.

Speaking at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels, Cook said that businesses are creating "an enduring digital profile" of each user and that the trade of such data "has exploded into a data-industrial complex."

"This is surveillance," Cook said. "And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them. This should make us very uncomfortable."

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Posted in apple, Biz & IT, Policy, Privacy, Tim Cook | Comments (0)