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  • Geebo 10:13 am on February 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , privacy   

    Apple/Facebook privacy dispute drags Google into the fray 

    Apple/Facebook privacy dispute drags Google into the fray

    Earlier this week, Facebook was caught paying users including teens for complete access to their phones. Unhappy with this, Apple struck back by not only banning the app from iOS devices but also revoked Facebook’s enterprise access which hamstrung a number of internal apps that Facebook employees needed to use just to do their daily jobs. At least one report states that some Facebook employees were considering quitting their jobs if Apple did not restore Facebook’s enterprise certificate because they couldn’t do their jobs. However, since the original kerfuffle over user privacy, Apple has restored Facebook’s enterprise access. Facebook didn’t seem to learn their lesson though as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has allegedly defended Facebook’s paid marketing research by claiming that its users consented to the program. But again, the question of consent needs to be reframed when it comes to paying minors.

    Facebook wasn’t the only tech company who felt Apple’s wrath this week as Google admitted that they had a similar research program that was also being used on Apple devices. Google came clean about their program during the initial dust-up between Apple and Facebook, however, that didn’t stop Apple from temporarily revoking Google’s enterprise access as well. While you may think that Google would be an Android-only workplace they do have to develop their most popular apps for Apple’s iOS operating system as well. Without that access, Google could have potentially lost out on having their apps on Apple devices. However, Apple has since restored Google’s enterprise access as well.

    With two of the top tech companies in the country being severely admonished by another one of the top tech companies in the country, will this be a turning point in the fight for user privacy? Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that it will be. Facebook has shown time and time again that they follow their own path when it comes to user privacy as they have continued to forge ahead with questionable privacy practices even in the face of past controversies. Meanwhile, Google has their own Android operating system that outnumbers Apple’s iOS. Consumers still demand products from Facebook and Google on their devices no matter which platform they use as there aren’t many alternatives to their services. So it still may be a while before we see Google or Facebook stop treating consumers as the actual product.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy   

    Apple flexes its muscle and disables part of Facebook’s internal infrastructure 

    Apple flexes its muscle and disables part of Facebook's internal infrastructure

    Yesterday’s news story about how Facebook was paying some of its users to have complete access to their phones has had more far-reaching implications than some had previously thought. If you’ll recall, when the news of Facebook’s marketing app broke, Facebook pulled the app from the iOS App Store. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Apple as they have taken what some may call drastic measures against the social media titans.

    Apple has now taken steps to revoke Facebook’s developer certificates on iOS devices. While this will mean little to the average Facebook user, internally it has struck a blow against Facebook developers using Apple products. Apple’s certificate revocation has disabled many of the intraoffice Facebook apps that Facebook employees use to do business including such things as communication apps, lunch menus, and bus schedules some employees use to get to and from work. Apple released a statement saying…

    “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

    Will this be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to Facebook and user privacy? Considering that not only are iPhones one of the most popular consumer electronic devices, but the fact that Facebook employees rely on them internally could cause a major backlash against Facebook both internally and externally. Would Apple even go as far as to ban the Facebook app from its app store? Apple has such a devout following among its user base it could potentially start its own social network if it wanted to and would probably draw a large chunk of Facebook’s younger demographic away from Facebook’s plateauing userbase. Or will Facebook just make the switch to Android devices for all its employees? Either way, this is a story that could have rippling effects that we will be seeing for years.

     
  • Geebo 10:11 am on January 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , privacy   

    Facebook is paying teens to allow them complete access to their phones 

    Facebook paying teens to allow them complete access to their phones

    It appears that Facebook is starting 2019 the same they left off in 2018, continuing to be criticized for questionable practices when it comes to user privacy. Even more unfortunately, this time the target for Facebook’s latest privacy mishap appears to target children. Not satisfied with exposing the personal data of millions of users to third parties, Facebook is now being accused of paying minors to allow Facebook to have complete access to the teens’ phones in order for Facebook to accomplish what they call ‘marketing research’.

    Tech news stalwart TechCrunch first broke the story yesterday about discovering an app that Facebook was using where people from the ages of 13-35 could make $20 a month for letting Facebook track all of their phone activity. Participants in the program were even encouraged to refer their friends to the program in order to make more money. The app requires the user to give root access to Facebook and in some cases requires you even send Facebook screenshots of your Amazon purchases. At first, Facebook defended the practice then hours later pulled the app from the iOS App Store. Its fate on Android devices is still unknown.

    While the majority of people Facebook is paying are probably over 18, there are too many kids under 18 who are being asked to compromise their privacy in order to get a $20 gift card. This seems like this is the age group that Facebook wants the most information on since so many reports claim that Facebook is hemorrhaging teen users and they can’t seem to reclaim the dominance in the market they once had with teen users. To call this practice predatory is an understatement.

     
  • Geebo 10:17 am on January 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Facetime, , privacy,   

    Apple bug let you spy on friends 

    Apple bug let you spy on friends

    If you’re a fan of Apple products and are deeply entrenched within the iOS ecosystem, you’ve probably used the popular app Facetime. For those of you who may not know, Facetime is an app that allows you to make video calls to your friends on many Apple devices. While Apple prides itself on user privacy, the hacking of iCloud accounts notwithstanding, a major bug was recently discovered in Facetime that potentially allowed users to spy on their contacts.

    According to unofficial Apple new site 9 to 5 Mac, a bug in Facetime allows you to connect a Facetime call without the other party having to accept the call. In order to enact the bug, you would need to add yourself as a contact in a Facetime group call and the call would connect automatically while it appears to the other contact that they have not accepted the call yet.

    In order to prevent these types of Facetime calls from happening it was recommended that you disable Facetime in the settings of your iOS device. However, Apple has since reacted to the news of the bug by disabling group chat ion Facetime across most devices. Apple claims that there will be a patch for the bug later this week.

    This privacy gaffe comes in the wake of Apple taking out a massive billboard at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that touted their reputation of iOS devices being secure than other devices.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , phone location data, privacy   

    FCC blames shutdown on failure to investigate private data being sold by telecoms 

    FCC blames shutdown on failure to investigate user location data being sold by telecoms

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

    Last week, tech news site Motherboard published an investigation that exposed how user location data, accurate up to a few hundred meters, is being sold by the major cell phone carriers to third parties. In their investigation, MOtherboard discovered these services being used by car salesmen, property managers bail bondsmen, and bounty hunters just to name a few. All were found to be obtaining this information without any kind of warrant that police would need to obtain to be able to access this kind of user information. Motherboard’s investigation has resulted in House Democrats calling for the FCC to appear before them in response to the crisis.

    Not surprisingly, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has responded by saying that not only is the sale of location data not a threat to public safety but that any further investigation into the matter has been suspended due to the government shutdown. How convenient for Mr. Pai. This is where we usually mention that before joining the FCC, Mr. Pai was a prominent attorney for Verizon, one of the carriers accused of selling user location data. Ever since the FCC rolled back the net neutrality regulations enacted by the Obama Administration, just about everything Mr. Pai has done in office has benefitted the telecoms and internet providers while claiming that it’s what’s best for consumers.

    Because of his record even if the government was in full operation logic dictates that it would be highly unusual that Chairman Pai would do anything about the sale of user location data. The wholesale failure to protect consumer privacy under the watch of Chairman Pai continues unabated with little to no recourse for consumers. Maybe the special investigations that are looking into President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia also need to investigate whether or not Chairman Pai is colluding with his former telecom masters.

     
  • 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.

     
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