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  • Geebo 10:19 am on January 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: privacy, ,   

    Ring doorbells caught in potential privacy gaffe 

    Ring doorbells caught in potential privacy gaffe

    If you’re unfamiliar with the Ring brand of video doorbells it’s actually an ingenious device. The doorbell not only has a built-in camera but also has built-in two-way communication. When someone rings your doorbell, not only can you see them through an app on your phone or tablet but you can also talk to them as if you were home. Many homeowners swear by the devices as if it was the answer to solving any potential security concerns. Privacy, on the other hand, may now be a completely different matter.

    It’s being widely reported that Ring gave unfettered access to customer cameras and recorded videos to their researchers in Ukraine. Not only that but that the video recordings sent to Ring through their cloud service were unencrypted in an effort to cut costs. While some Ring customers may not care who sees their video feed in Ukraine it also turns out that some US Ring employees and executives had around the clock access to some live feeds from customers whether their job required them to have the access or not. These allegations become even more disturbing when you realize that Ring also sells security cameras for inside the home as well.

    Ring themselves have claimed that no impropriety has been taken part in by their employees, however, the reports state that Ring employees found workarounds to the company blocking their employees from certain access. Not only does this not bode well for Ring but also for its parent company Amazon who purchased the company in 2018. Amazon itself is no stranger to privacy concerns with the company trying to sell allegedly invasive facial recognition software to several law enforcement agencies last year. It will be interesting to see if this alleged breach of privacy will catch the eye of legislators or whether or not the market will control the future of Ring going forward.

     
  • Geebo 10:13 am on December 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , privacy, Privacy International   

    Popular apps sharing data with Facebook without users’ permission 

    Popular apps sharing data with Facebook without users' permission

    It only seems fitting that we close out 2018 with another story about Facebook’s questionable data handling practices. 2018 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. It all started with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and just went downhill from there. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress which ended up not leading to much after giving his robotic-like testimony. Then more data breaches became public knowledge which resulted in the potential exposure of millions of users’ data to third parties. Then that all was followed up with Facebook allegedly authorizing a smear campaign of its biggest detractors. Now a report has surfaced that only seems to compound Facebook’s privacy problems.

    A privacy watchdog group called Privacy International studied many of the most popular apps on Android devices. Their findings concluded that a majority of the apps they studied send user data to Facebook. While that’s not really surprising the surprising part is that not only are these apps sending data to Facebook the moment you open the app but you also don’t have to have a Facebook account for the apps to send data about you. Some of the apps in the study included travel apps Kayak and Trip Advisor but also fitness app MyFitnessPal. While Facebook may not have instructed these apps to send the data, they’re not exactly discouraging it either.

    If you’re concerned about Facebook using your personal information, The Detroit News has a great article about what you can do to limit Facebook’s access to your data. Some of these steps include reviewing the privacy permissions you grant your most frequently used apps and minimizing your Facebook presence. While it’s difficult in today’s digital world of keeping all your data out of the hands of companies like Facebook, it’s not impossible to limit that amount of information just by taking the time to stop and read what permissions you’re granting these services.

     
  • Geebo 10:12 am on December 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy,   

    Here we go again: Facebook bug exposes millions of accounts 

    Here we go again: Facebook bug exposes millions of accounts

    In what is starting to become an almost weekly event, Facebook announced this past Friday that yet another bug exposed close to 7 million accounts to third-party app developers. The bug was first discovered in September and was active for a few weeks before being corrected. The bug is said to have exposed pictures that users had posted to Facebook but did not give permission for the pictures to be seen by third-parties.

    In the grand scheme of things, this bug is not that big of a security risk as other Facebook data leaks have been in the past year. The pictures that were exposed were only those that were started to be uploaded but for some reason were never posted to the user’s timeline. Or they were photos that were posted to Facebook Marketplace. However, it further shows Facebook’s long-standing disregard not just for user privacy but for Facebook’s own security.

    This was a bug that was discovered back in September after being active for weeks. Why did it take Facebook upwards of three months before informing the public? According to the New York Times, Facebook didn’t notify government officials about the bug until November because they needed to “create a notification page” first. Again, this shows that Facebook is really more concerned about covering their own tails from regulators rather than protecting user privacy.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy,   

    Google+ shutting even earlier due to more massive breach 

    Google+ shutting even earlier due to more massive breach

    If you’ll recall, back in October, Google announced that it would be shuttering its underused social network Google+ in August of 2019 due to a security breach that left 500,000 user accounts vulnerable. This was after the Wall Street Journal discovered a flaw in the comically underused platform. In a world where Facebook is continually exposing millions of accounts to third parties in an almost regular basis, 500,000 users seemed like a thimble of water in the ocean in comparison. Now, a new breach has put Google in very similar company with Facebook.

    During internal testing by Google, it was recently discovered that Google+ had another bug in it that left 100 times the amount of accounts exposed than the last breach. Over 52 million accounts could have been potentially exposed with such information as a user’s name, email address, occupation, and age to third-party developers. Google has stated that there’s no evidence that any of the exposed information was used by bad actors but this latest breach has caused Google to move up the timetable for the demise Google+. Now Google has scheduled the shutdown for April of 2019.

    Besides being in amazement that Google+ actually had that many users at one point, this bug could not have come at a worse time. Maybe Google will be able to weather this storm since Google+ was nowhere near as popular as its competitors but when you add it to the multitudes of other security breaches in similar spaces this could invite even more governmental eyes looking to regulate companies like Google and Facebook. And as we’ve mentioned before, in today’s highly partisan climate it might not be the best time for any kind of sweeping legislative change.

     
  • Geebo 10:33 am on November 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy, Six4Three,   

    UK Parliament seizes internal Facebook data about privacy leak 

    UK Parliament seizes internal Facebook data about privacy leak

    While America was enjoying the tradition of the extended Thanksgiving weekend, the British Parliament was hard at work trying to hold Facebook accountable for the spate of data and privacy leaks that have been plaguing Facebook since the Cambridge Analytica scandal back in March of this year. Over the weekend, Parliament took the bold and unusual step of seizing internal Facebook documentation from an American citizen who happened to be in the UK at the time. This seizure is said to be a rarely used power of the UK Parliament. British news stalwart The Guardian first reported that Parliament had seized the documents from a US businessman and software developer who is embroiled in a lawsuit with Facebook in California.

    Parliament has tried repeatedly to get Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before them about British privacy leaks much as the US Congress did. However, Facebook has been reluctant to let Mr. Zuckerberg testify before Parliament even going so far as incurring a £500,000 fine which Facebook has the temerity to appeal. Basically, Facebook has continued to stymie Parliament’s attempt to investigate how the social media network allegedly abused the personal data of UK citizens and had little to no choice but to seize these documents.

    The documents in question were said to have been discovered by an app developer called Six4Three. Six4Three was developing an unsavory app that in theory would have allowed users to find pictures of their Facebook friends in bikinis. During the development of the app Facebook drastically altered what information app developers had access to allegedly bankrupting Six4Three. While the app may have been distasteful at best it does show how Facebook reportedly played fast and loose with users’ private data. After Six4Three went bankrupt, they sued Facebook in California for breach of contract. It was during Six4Three’s discovery process that they came across internal Facebook documents that allegedly show how Facebook allowed the Cambridge Analytica scandal to occur including confidential emails between senior executives, and communication with Mark Zuckerberg.Facebook is requesting that Parliament not make the documents public due to the fact that the documents have been sealed in a California lawsuit. However, legally Parliament does not have to grant this request and the documents may be made public as early as tomorrow. Instead of sending Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Parliament, Facebook is instead sending its Vice President for Public Policy Solutions Richard Allan.

    While the timing of this seizure seems to be incredibly convenient for Parliament, the fact that Facebook seems to be even more evasive than usual almost speaks volumes about Facebook’s alleged role in the Cambridge Analytica debacle. With reports ensuing in the months after the scandal that Facebook growth has stagnated and that they’re supposedly desperate to keep users engaged on their platform, a company-wide cover-up is not out of the realm of possibility. With Parliament taking action that Congress wouldn’t, could we be seeing the beginning of the end for Facebook? What weight will any Parliament action hold against a US-based company even though Facebook had exposed the data of millions of UK citizens? Is Facebook the Enron of privacy? With any luck, we’ll know the answers to those questions within the next 48 hours.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on November 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fortune, privacy   

    Facebook least trusted tech company in America 

    Facebook least trusted tech company in America

    Even though the midterm election went largely as predicted with minimal Facebook chicanery, it was another type of poll that closed election week on Facebook. Thanks to the ever-haunting Cambridge Analytica scandal and various other privacy compromises that have plagued Facebook in the past year, a poll conducted for Fortune shows that consumer confidence in Facebook is at an all-time low with Facebook being the least trusted company among the tech giants. Citing privacy issues as their major concerns, an overwhelming majority of the poll takers said Facebook couldn’t be trusted.

    According to the poll’s results, Facebook came in dead last in consumer trust among tech companies losing out to such companies as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Only 22% of those polled said that they trust Facebook with their personal data. On the opposite end, Amazon received a 59% approval rating when it came to personal data issues which is saying something since Amazon tends to keep a lot of our personal financial information on file after we make a purchase.

    So, if Fortune’s numbers are correct the question that needs to be asked is why are so many people still using Facebook? Part of it is a symbiotic relationship between brands and their customers as if you want to be a top-selling brand you need to be where the customers are and they’re on Facebook. And if consumers want to know more about a brand they’re more likely to go to the brand’s Facebook page than a corporate website. Also, if Facebook is so badly trusted with our personal information why do we continue to share so much personal information publicly in our news feeds? Facebook may be inept when it comes to keeping our information private but since we keep volunteering the information should we be surprised?

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

    Security breach claims Google+ 

    Security breach claims Google+

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A major social network run by a major tech corporation exposes a good size chunk of its user data which the company chooses not to disclose until it’s investigated by the media. Normally, you probably wouldn’t be wrong if you thought that this was another story about Facebook but for once you’d be mistaken. This time it’s Google’s failed attempt at a social network known as Google Plus or Google+ as the search engine behemoth has branded it.

    The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered that a flaw in Google+ allowed user data to be exposed for 500,000 users. While this would be a drop in the bucket for Facebook, this is a massive breach for Google+ users. After the Journal report was released, Google almost immediately announced it was shuttering Google+ within the next ten months. So by August of 2019, Google+ will be no more. In a very Facebook-like move. Google reportedly knew of the breach back in Spring of this year but remained silent on it in order to avoid the controversy that Facebook was undergoing after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

    Now, we can all joke about how barely anyone we know used Google+ but its impending demise shows a greater problem among the tech giants whose services we all use. Whether it’s Facebook, Google, Twitter or whomever, we use their services in exchange for a certain amount of trust that our personal information will be handled with a modicum of responsibility. Many of these companies have betrayed that trust especially in 2018. If these data breaches continue then these companies are just begging for governmental regulation and considering how divisive and partisan the current governmental scene is, it would make it the worst time for any kind of sweeping legislative change.

     
  • Geebo 10:15 am on August 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy   

    New issues show Facebook’s loss of control 

    New issues show Facebook's loss of control

    Facebook has exploded into the news this week with a number of issues that show how problematic the popular platform has become. The first issue for Facebook was when they announced the deletion of a number of profiles and pages that were from Russia and Iran designed to spread false and inflammatory information into the US and other Western countries. Facebook says they deleted 652 pages, groups, and accounts. While it’s commendable that Facebook removed these accounts, this is only a symptom in a larger problem of continuous foreign influence in Western Democracy.

    Secondly, Facebook announced that, in a move similar to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, four million users may have had their personal data compromised. Facebook has banned an app called MyPersonality, a personality quiz as you can probably surmise. Even though four million users is a drop in the bucket of Facebook’s billions of users worldwide, that’s still a significant number of users whose personal information may have been exposed. While it’s an improvement over the 87 million accounts exposed in the Cambridge Analytica kerfuffle, Facebook seems like it’s still leaking like a sieve with our information.

    Lastly, and probably the most damning, the New York Times published an expose on a study that has linked Facebook use to anti-refugee violence in Germany. While the study doesn’t blame Facebook per se, it does allege that Facebook use paired with engagement into hate-filled rhetoric has resulted in a rise in hate-related violence. What concerns me most about this study is how much Facebook hate-crimes based on ethnicity or religion are coming closer and closer to the US. In today’s charged political climate, how long will it be before Facebook lynch mobs finally leave their keyboards and start taking to the streets?

    Facebook has become a virus that has escaped the lab and is creeping through the world’s population and by continuing to rely so heavily on it we’re willingly ignoring the cure.

     
  • Geebo 9:08 am on July 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy   

    Facebook loses market value over privacy but not in the way you might think 

    Facebook loses market value over privacy but not in the way you might think

    Yesterday, during an earnings call Facebook announced that the company fell short of projected earnings. While Facebook’s revenue grew by 42 percent over the same time last year they fell short of their $13.3 billion projection by ‘only’ making $13.2 billion. That mere $100 million loss caused Facebook stock to dive around 20% and cost the company close to $150 billion in value. One could rightly assume that the market loss had to do with Facebook’s many privacy and security issues since the 2016 Presidential Election, but many analysts say that’s not the case.

    Many market analysts say that Facebook’s improvement to privacy and security has caused the loss stating that Facebook can’t make money from privacy. It also doesn’t help that the number of Facebook users has leveled off. While it still holds the lion’s share of social media users in the world many are leaving the platform and Facebook isn’t bringing in new users as many young people becoming new users to social media are foregoing Facebook.

    That’s not to say that Facebook is on the verge of bankruptcy by any means. Facebook also owns the widely popular apps of Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, which many end users don’t really consider as being a part of Facebook. As Slate points out if Facebook can survive this year’s election cycle without a major scandal, and that’s a mighty big if, they could be back on the road to profitability. Whether or not Facebook can strike a balance between privacy and profit remains to be seen. It seems that if there was a new social network ready to make Facebook its MySpace, now might be the time to strike.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on July 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Crimson Hexagon, , , privacy,   

    Facebook is facing yet another privacy problem 

    Facebook is facing yet another privacy problem

    Once again Facebook finds itself embroiled in controversy over the possible abuse of user data. If you’ll recall, Facebook was admonished by both the US and UK governments when it was discovered that analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users. Now, Facebook has suspended a research firm from accessing its data over surveillance concerns.

    Over the weekend, Facebook suspended its contract with research and marketing firm Crimson Hexagon. This was in response to a Wall Street Journal article that claims Crimson Hexagon has contracts with entities that have ties to US and Russian government agencies. Facebook has suspended Crimson Hexagon’s access to user data over fears that the data is being used to conduct government surveillance on Facebook users. Crimson Hexagon denies this claim and says they only get their information from public Facebook posts. However, it is a bit disconcerting that Crimson Hexagon has over 1 trillion of these posts in their databases.

    Besides the fact that this may be another case of Facebook being unable to keep track of who has its data, there’s another concern here. Facebook is only reacting to these potential breaches only after its brought to their attention by the media. By the time Facebook becomes aware of the problem, the data is already in questionable hands. Is Facebook not properly vetting these data collectors, or does Facebook just not really care about our privacy as long as they’re being paid for our information? Then again, the Cambridge Analytica scandal didn’t seem to hurt Facebook so it’s unlikely this latest kerfuffle will either. What will it really take before the American public realizes that Facebook’s only interest is in itself?

     
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