Tag Archives: privacy

The Internet With A Human Face

I don’t know if they did this in Germany, but in our elementary schools in America, if we did something particularly heinous, they had a special way of threatening you. They would say: "This is going on your permanent record".

It was pretty scary. I had never seen a permanent record, but I knew exactly what it must look like. It was bright red, thick, tied with twine. Full of official stamps.

The permanent record would follow you through life, and whenever you changed schools, or looked for a job or moved to a new house, people would see the shameful things you had done in fifth grade.

How wonderful it felt when I first realized the permanent record didn’t exist. They were bluffing! Nothing I did was going to matter! We were free!

And then when I grew up, I helped build it for real.

more on idlewords.com.

The brilliant Maciej Cegłowski on spying and the loss of online privacy, not necessarily to the government.

My Experiment Opting Out of Big Data Made Me Look Like a Criminal

No one should have to act like a criminal just to have some privacy from marketers and tech giants. But the data-driven path we are currently on, paved with heartwarming rhetoric of openness, sharing and connectivity, actually undermines civic values, and circumvents checks and balances. The President’s report can’t come soon enough. When it comes to our personal data, we need better choices than either “leave if you don’t like it” or no choice at all. It’s time for a frank public discussion about how to make personal information privacy not just a series of check boxes but a basic human right, both online and off.

more on time.com.

As an experiment, a woman tries to hide her pregnancy from online trackers. Not only it turned out to be pretty much impossible, but also exposed how deeply “big data” penetrated our society without a serious discussion on its implications to privacy.

Transcript of secret meeting between Julian Assange and Google CEO Eric Schmidt

On the 23 of June, 2011 a secret five hour meeting took place between WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who was under house arrest in rural UK at the time and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Also in attendance was Jared Cohen, a former Secretary of State advisor to Hillary Clinton, Scott Malcomson, Director of Speechwriting for Ambassador Susan Rice at the US State Department and current Communications Director of the International Crisis Group, and Lisa Shields, Vice President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

more on wikileaks.org.

A 3.5 hour conversation between Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt, about journalism, Wiki Leaks, access to information and politics. Truly fascinating interview that’s really a long monologue by Assange, rarely interrupted with questions. It turns out that there’s much more to this man than one might have concluded from sensational news reports. Assange explains in detail his views with really astonishing coherence and knowledge that ranges from low-level technical details of internet communication to large views on world politics.

The audio recording has some annoying noises in the background, but is very clear.

Why We Can No Longer Trust Microsoft

So the first news I see regarding Microsoft today is that Ballmer refuses to talk about the company’s wearable computing strategy. My first thought was, "This is its priority? Wearable computers? So it can spy on your day-to-day activities?" The next story I read was about how Microsoft is going to reshuffle the organization, which prompted me to wonder, "Re-org? Why? So it can put some intelligence agency folks in charge?"

If Microsoft thinks it can ignore what is happening by whistling in the graveyard, it is in for a big surprise. The investors will be the first to get a clue, and the customers will follow.

more on pcmag.com.

Microsoft is perfectly reasonable when it doesn’t care about the issue. Why should it, when the aforementioned governments don’t? It’s telling that the article was published in the PC Magazine and not Forbes or Wall Street Journal, where it was more likely to reflect genuine concern of investors. Politicians turn the problem into a joke and the American public doesn’t seem to care.

No One is Innocent

If someone tracked you for a year are you confident that they would find no evidence of a crime? Remember, under the common law, mens rea, criminal intent, was a standard requirement for criminal prosecution but today that is typically no longer the case especially under federal criminal law .

Debunking the ‘surveillance is not a problem as long as you have nothing to hide’ argument.

Why the NSA Prism Program Could Kill U.S. Tech Companies

If you lived in Japan, India, Australia, Mexico, or Brazil, and you used Gmail, or synced your photos through iCloud, or chatted via Skype, how would you feel about that? Let’s say you ran a business in those countries that relied upon information services from a U.S. company. Don’t these revelations make using such a service a business liability? In fact, doesn’t this news make it a national security risk for pretty much any other country to use information services from companies based in the U.S.? How should we expect the rest of the world to react?

Mass scale, carefully planned and government-approved spying effort like PRISM should naturally result in a massive exodus of customers from American cloud products. Yet, it seems rather unlikely to me: as long as there are not more usable alternatives, we’ll trade our privacy for convenience. The best case scenario would be if companies from other countries started to use privacy (and now that means the mere lack of perpetual surveillance) as a marketable feature.

The Google Glass feature no one is talking about

The really interesting aspect is that all of the indexing, tagging, and storage could happen without the Google Glass user even requesting it. Any video taken by any Google Glass, anywhere, is likely to be stored on Google servers, where any post-processing (facial recognition, speech-to-text, etc.) could happen at the later request of Google, or any other corporate or governmental body, at any point in the future.

This single article turned my perception of Google Glass upside down.

The Creepy Details of Facebook’s New Graph Search

The new feature allows users to use structured searches to more thoroughly filter through friends, friends of friends, and the general public. Now one can more easily search for “My friends who like Downton Abbey” or “People in San Francisco, California who work at Facebook.” Facebook then returns a list of individuals whose public or shared aspects of their profile match the search terms.
more on eff.org

Such targeting was available for advertisers for a long time, but this time Facebook took another big step and make matched people identifiable. If Facebook pulls this off it may be a really revolutionary step towards the world without privacy, that Zuckerberg is a believer of. But I can also see that this was one step too far and they will back off.

I hereby (fictionally) resign

I was willing to go along with things and see how they panned out. But today something went seriously wrong. I have been interviewing senior hires for the crucial tech lead position on the Fizz Buzz team, and while several walked out in a huff when I asked them to let me look at their Facebook, one young lady smiled and said I could help myself. She logged into her Facebook as I requested, and as I followed the COO’s instructions to scan her timeline and friends list looking for evidence of moral turpitude, I became aware she was writing something on her iPad.
“Taking notes?” I asked politely.
“No,” she smiled, “Emailing a human rights lawyer I know.”

A commentary on recent story (rumor?) about some companies forcing candidates to disclose their private Facebook profiles during interview.

Richard Stallman Was Right All Along

Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia – but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.

Up until relatively recently, it’s been easy to dismiss Richard Stallman as a paranoid fanatic, someone who lost touch with reality long ago. A sort of perpetual computer hippie, the perfect personification of the archetype of the unworldly basement-dwelling computer nerd. His beard, his hair, his outfits – in our visual world, it’s simply too easy to dismiss him.

more on osnews.com

I would really want to disagree, since Stallman tries all his best to look repulsive, yet there’s lots of merit in this article.