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  • Geebo 9:01 am on April 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , privacy   

    Zuckerberg: Facebook is not a monopoly 

    Zuckerberg: Facebook is not a monopoly

    For the past two days, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before both houses of Congress in regards to the data breaches and scandals that have been in the public eye since the 2016 Presidential election. Zuckerberg’s total testimony added up to about ten hours of testimony in total, and in that ten hours not a lot of progress was actually made as Mr. Zuckerberg either tried to deflect the questions asked of him or would offer a nebulous explanation of how Facebook works.

    However, that’s not to say there wasn’t some newsworthy information to come from Mr. Zuckerberg’s testimony. When Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked if Zuckerberg thought Facebook was a monopoly, Zuckerberg responded with “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.” When asked by Sen Dan Sullivan (R-AK) if Facebook was too powerful, Zuckerberg replied with the non-answer of “We need to have a conversation about the right regulation.” Yet in his testimony Zuckerberg claimed that “I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

    As we have seen through the election meddling, the Cambridge Analytica breach, and the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people through Facebook in Myanmar, the social media giant absolutely has too much power. It has so much power that Facebook isn’t even control of all of the power it possesses. The question that then needs to be asked is Mark Zuckerberg so insulated from his own company that he believes what he is telling Congress, or is he just an outright liar? No one man or company should hold such global power. Facebook needs to either rethink their business model or face possible regulatory wrath of Congress that hasn’t been seen since the breakup of AT&T.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on April 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , privacy   

    Facebook has more controversies than it can handle 

    Facebook has more controversies than it can handle

    Artist’s rendering of the Facebook board room

    I’m going to let you have a little peek behind the curtain here at Greg’s Corner. As the official blogger for Geebo.com, I don’t like to post about the same subject twice in the same week. For example, earlier this week, I posted about how some in tech journalism are wondering if Mark Zuckerberg should step down as Facebook CEO in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. So, I had no real intentions of posting about Facebook again this week. That was until I checked my usual sources for news and the attention on Facebook was so intense that I had no choice but to blog about Facebook once again this week. The problem is that it’s not just one story about Facebook that is grabbing headlines today, but an overabundance of headlines in regard to Facebook today.

    For example…

    The Australian government is launching an investigation into Facebook as it’s possible that the data of 300,000 Australian Facebook users may have been compromised. This is similar to a claim made my the European Union that says that 2.7 million citizens of the EU may have had their information compromised as well. While we’re still on the world stage, Indonesia is launching its own investigation to see if Facebook breached that country’s privacy laws.

    Speaking of privacy issues, Facebook recently admitted that it scans users private messages. Supposedly, they do it to block content that doesn’t fit their ‘community standards’ but Facebook has always been intentionally vague about what those standards exactly entail. However, there is one person on Facebook whose private messages are completely safe. Of course that’s Mark Zuckerberg. Some of his private messages to other Facebook employees have been removed from Facebook. Facebook claims they did this in the wake of the Sony hacking scandal of a few years ago. Still, it seems a little bit more than hypocritical on Facebook’s part. However, the most egregious possible invasion of privacy Facebook was looking to commit was that of users’ medical records. According to CNBC, Facebook was allegedly asking several prominent hospitals for anonymous data about their patients, such as illnesses and prescription info, for a proposed research project. That doesn’t sound ominous in the least. Wisely, Facebook has decided to stop pursuing that avenue of research for now.

    I was about to say that Facebook is on the verge of becoming some kine of Orwellian surveyor, but let’s face it, they already are. The fictional Big Brother from Orwell’s 1984 would be jealous of the amount of surveillance Facebook conducts on its 2 billion users.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy   

    Facebook has been collecting Android user data for years 

    Facebook has been collecting Android user data for years

    While the Cambridge Analytica scandal continues to find its way into the headlines, Facebook is undergoing yet another perceived breach of user trust. Over the weekend, tech news site Ars Technica reported that Facebook has been allegedly collecting data for years from users who use its mobile application on Android devices.

    The report states that Facebook has been collecting information not just on your contacts on Android, but information about your calls and text messages such as who you contacted and how long the call may have been. Facebook tries to defend itself by saying this an optional and voluntary feature, but as the Ars Technica report points out, that particular check box is pre-checked when you install Facebook to your device. Forbes has an article on how you can see how much of your data Facebook has and how to prevent Facebook from gathering this data in the future.

    Even Silicon Valley, which is normally protective of its own, has been coming down hard on Facebook lately. Not only has Elon Musk removed the Facebook pages for Tesla and Space X, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “well-crafted” rules toward Facebook privacy may well be needed.

    It’s long been said on the internet that if you’re using a free service as much as Facebook is used, you’re not the customer but the product. With each passing day, Facebook continuously seems to prove that adage correct.

     
  • Geebo 10:55 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy, TOR, VPN   

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you? 

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you?

    As was expected, the House of Representatives also voted to repeal internet privacy regulations that would have prevented internet service providers from selling your personal information to advertisers. President Trump is expected to sign it into law once the legislation reaches his desk. However, the questions remain about how this affects the individual user and what can they do to protect themselves?

    First off, if your web history is sold to a third-party it won’t be sold as an individual’s history. Instead, it will be sold off as part of a multitude of users who fit a certain demographic, for example males ages 18-34. Also, that’s only if your ISP or wireless provider engages in selling your data. Most large ISPs have voluntarily promised not to sell your internet history.

    If you’re still unsure about your history being sold you could always use a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN is basically a tunnel that goes through your ISP’s connection but hides your direct activity from them. You could also use the TOR browser which reroutes your internet traffic throughout many servers across the world, however, with the TOR browser you would sacrifice speed for a certain level of anonymity. While VPNs and TOR would hide your traffic from your ISP, they will not hide you from law enforcement if you’re engaging in illegal activity, as VPNs can just as easily sell disclose your browsing history and law enforcement has been catching bad guys through TOR for years.

    If you’re really worried about your privacy there are options out there, however, they may cost you a little bit of money or speed, but in the end they may be worth it.

     
  • Geebo 9:53 am on March 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy   

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs 

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs

    Yesterday, the US Senate voted to repeal FCC regulations that prohibited wireless and internet providers from selling your personal information to third-parties. The previous regulations required these carriers to ask your permission up front before sharing your personal information. This included such information as browsing information, location and financial information.

    Proponents of the repeal said that the old privacy regulations are too far-reaching and expensive for ISPs and that the rules don’t apply to web-based companies like Google and Facebook who aren’t required to ask your permission before sharing your information. What those who are in favor of the repeal want to do is move these regulations from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Privacy advocates see this as a start of a war on net neutrality. Net Neutrality is a concept where all internet traffic is treated equally. For example, without net neutrality ISPs could slow down traffic to a service like Netflix but instead prioritizes it to their own streaming service.

    The repeal is expected to pass the House easily so when the new regulations go into effect you will have to tell your carriers not to share your information if you so choose.

     
  • Geebo 9:51 am on September 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , privacy, , school,   

    Do you know how your kids’ school monitors them online? 

    Do you know how your kids' school monitors them online?

    These days a number of schools issue Chromebooks or iPads to their students to in order to assist the students with online learning. These programs are also often seen as a boon to families who may not necessarily be able to afford to provide their kids with electronic devices for school. But did you know that the schools can access those computers at almost any time?

    Usually when a school checks a child’s activity on a school issued device, it’s either to make sure the device isn’t being used improperly, or to make sure a student isn’t getting behind in their work. However, there have been incidents of abuse in the past where schools have used the devices’ cameras to allegedly spy on students in their homes.

    So what kind of privacy can you and your kids expect on these school issued devices. Well, according to TechCrunch, virtually none and the schools aren’t exactly forthcoming with that information. However this lack of privacy can be used as a teaching opportunity for your kids and how to behave online. It can teach them that their online activities can have real world repercussions and can prepare them to protect their own privacy for when they become adults.

     
  • Geebo 12:22 pm on September 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: privacy, , ,   

    When did we give up our privacy? 

    When did we give up our privacy?

    Tech blog Mashable recently posted a listicle entitled “6 ways you’re being too open online”. It has some good tips like not accessing sensitive information over public wifi and the mandatory tip about keeping strong passwords. One tip they share is one that not too many people seem to want to follow and that’s “Posting too freely on social media.”

    Services like Facebook and Instagram seem anathema to not only privacy advocates but they fly in the face of most if not all security protocols. Back in the days of the early web in the late 90s, most tech experts would say not to post any personal information online. Then somewhere in the mid 2000s with the advent of social media, we all started posting our personal information online so we could reconnect with old friends. Then it got to the point where we document our daily lives online with endless selfies and detailed descriptions of our daily minutia. It has become so accepted that we don’t even think twice about it anymore.

    A lot of the information that we share openly online can be used by bad actors to socially engineer their way into your personal accounts. Facebook tells everyone when your birthday is, and your birthday is often used an identifier to access your accounts. When you post pictures on Instagram of being at a party or on vacation people can tell when your home is left unprotected. Even posting pictures of your kids at their soccer game or whatever activity they enjoy can give predators information on how to approach your children.

    Have we become so narcissistic as a society the we crave likes and follows so much that we disregard our own safety? If so, maybe it’s time that we started re-thinking our safety priorities.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on September 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: privacy, ,   

    Your kids’ toys are tracking them 

    Your kids' toys are tracking them

    As adults, we realize we’re being tracked online by companies like Facebook, Apple and Google. A adults, not only do we know the benefits and drawbacks of being tracked like that, but we can also take steps to also protect our privacy online. Our children, not so much, and some toy companies have been caught using their products to track children’s online habits.

    Mattel, Viacom, parent company of Nickelodeon, Hasbro and Jumpstar have been fined by the State of New York, hundreds of thousands dollars apiece, for using internet connected toys and services to track children. Granted, the information gathered is more than likely used for marketing purposes, it doesn’t make it any less disturbing.

    In today’s climate kids are marketed to almost from birth and while US law states that children under 13 can’t have their personal information collected without parental consent, it obviously hasn’t stopped some companies from trying. As parents it’s up to us to protect our children from being targeted by unscrupulous businesses.

     
  • Geebo 4:03 pm on August 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , privacy   

    Comcast wants to charge for privacy 

    Comcast wants to charge for privacy

    If there’s one inherent truth to the internet it’s that someone is selling your data. I’m not talking about malicious hackers selling your personal information to identity thieves, but the Facebooks and Googles who sell your browsing habits to advertisers. They do this, they say, in order to show you advertising tailored more to your likes. Now, one of the country’s largest internet providers wants to charge you extra to not sell your data.

    Comcast has petitioned the FCC to allow ISPs to charge their customers extra for not selling their browsing habits. If Comcast had its way the ISPs could charge you an extra fee to not sell your data to advertisers. That sounds a lot like a protection racket from an old black and white gangster movie with Comcast playing the heavy that says “That’s some real nice privacy you’ve got here. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.”

    What’s worse is that Comcast acts like they’re doing customers a favor…

    Comcast said in its filing that “such a prohibition would harm consumers by, among other things, depriving them of lower-priced offerings, and as FTC Commissioner [Maureen] Ohlhausen points out, ‘such a ban may prohibit ad-supported broadband services and thereby eliminate a way to increase broadband adoption.’

    What’s really depriving consumers of lower-priced offerings for broadband is the lack of competition between ISPs. In most markets you can either choose the cable company or the phone company for internet service. A duopoly doesn’t encourage much competition and without competition prices not only stagnate, but they tend to rise because who else are you going to use? If you’ve ever been in an area that offers the upstart Google Fiber you’ll see the incumbent providers start slashing their prices in order to compete.

    So instead of trying to extort customers over their privacy, maybe the ISPs should start offering better services in order to make more money.

     
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