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7Sep/13

California first to get electronic license plates? Easier to track?

The California State Senate approves a bill that would allow for a pilot program to test digital license plates. Will it involve tracking?

by Chris Matyszczyk

California is the home of everything that's new, exciting, and, well, accidentally nefarious.

It's a delight, therefore, to hear that we here in the Golden State might be the first to get electronic license plates.

Yes, the young and the restless of tech will be able to have their new "TE$LA1" plate beamed directly to their car.

What could be more moving? I am beaming at Ars Technica for discovering that a bill has passed the California State Senate, allowing for a pilot program to launch the scheme.

... CONTINUE READING »

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5Sep/13

N.S.A. Foils Much Internet Encryption

NSAThe National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents.

The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.

Many users assume — or have been assured by Internet companies — that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the N.S.A. wants to keep it that way. The agency treats its recent successes in deciphering protected information as among its most closely guarded secrets, restricted to those cleared for a highly classified program code-named Bullrun, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. ... CONTINUE READING »

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2Sep/13

Facebook Wants to Use Your Profile Pic to Help Automatic Photo Tagging

20130902-160235.jpg Facebook is proposing a series of changes to its terms if service. There's a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, but the most interesting piece is that Facebook wants to start using your profile photo as the basis for suggesting that you be tagged in your friends' photos. What Facebook's really saying here is that the content of your profile photo—and your face really—is now an actionable piece of data that it can associate with your identity. Previously, you could keep Facebook from "knowing" your face by not letting other people removing any tags of you. That's not exactly an option any more. In theory, you could refuse to upload your likeness to Facebook, but that's a pretty extreme measure. It's always been possible to turn off tag suggestions for your profile. When you do so, it deletes the "template" that Facebook created to identify you. It appears that this deletion applies to any template information that would be created from your Facebook profile photo as well. When we're talking about all this, it's important to remember that most people don't ever touch their privacy settings. So if the proposed changes go through, this is how it's going to be for a majority of users. So far, Facebook has only posted a section-by-section summary of the changes has been posted, but the actual tracked changes document isn't online yet that we can see. Luckily, ATD has the relevant section in its news post:

We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friend’s pictures to information we’ve put together from your profile pictures and the other photos in which you’ve been tagged.

The old language:

We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friend's pictures to information we've put together from the other photos you've been tagged in. This allows us to make these suggestions.

In the short-term, the change will improve the company's facial recognition so that it can suggest you be tagged in more photos all over the site. And of course, if it can find you all over the site, then it's got a more comprehensive sense of who you are. And of course since this is a proposed change, it won't take effect until after a certain waiting and deliberation period—so if it matters to you, make sure to weigh in.

Via http://gizmodo.com/facebook-wants-to-get-a-better-picture-of-what-your-loo-1222315712

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12Jun/12

UK reopens probe into Google’s Street View data capture

The ICO re-opened its investigation after a US probe uncovered more detail about the data captured Google is back under investigation after gathering personal data while cameras on its cars took pictures for its UK Street View service.

The Information Commissioner’s Office previously dropped a probe into the affair after being told limited data had been “mistakenly collected”.

However, it said it had since become aware of reports that a Google engineer had deliberately written software to obtain a wider range of material.

The ICO has asked for more information.

... CONTINUE READING »

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4May/12

Corporations Are People, My Friend. But, IP Addresses Are Not.

When a judge makes a good decision, it shouldn't be news. But, in this case, it's very good news indeed.  This week New York Magistrate Judge Gary Brown for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York filed a 26-page ruling pointing out that the person listed as an Internet account holder is often not the person using the account.

"It is no more likely that the subscriber to an IP address carried out a particular computer function–here the purported illegal downloading of a single pornographic film–than to say an individual who pays the telephone bill made a specific telephone call," Brown said in his Order & Report & Recommendation, filed May 1.

"An IP address merely identifies the location where a certain activity occurred", Brown noted. A computer in a household is usually shared, which means a child, a boyfriend, or any other visitor, is just as likely to be using the computer. Brown also noted that many households now have a wireless network. If the network is not secured, many people, including neighbors and strangers, can be sharing that IP address without the original account holder's knowledge.

"Considering the weak relationship between an IP address and personal identity, it's likely copyright holders were accusing the wrong people of violating copyright", Brown noted. Mass-BitTorrent lawsuits relying entirely on IP addresses to identify copyright infringers were a "waste of judicial resources," he wrote.

VIA: http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/security/297475-ip-address-not-a-person-judge-says-in-copyright-lawsuit

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12Apr/12

Social Networking Bill of Rights

BackgroundCheck.org has developed an interesting infographic seaks to address your rights as a social network user. (Click below for a larger view.)

Via: http://www.backgroundcheck.org/social-networking-bill-of-rights/

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23Mar/12

Sarkozy: Anyone who “consults Internet sites which promote terror” should go to jail

Sarkozy: Anyone who "consults Internet sites which promote terror" should go to jail | http://t.co/u34fQrH8

 

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19Mar/12

There’s an app for that: How researchers pwned your mind

Researchers turn smartphone users into unwitting minions with a simple app

With mobile users becoming more reliant on their devices and accompanying applications, researchers from Northwestern University have discovered the ease with which user’s mobility can be “soft” controlled.

As smartphone apps become further and further integrate into our daily lives, you have to wonder if we’re in control of our desires or if mobile applications are starting to controlling us.

To discover the ease with which app users can be manipulated, researchers from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University underwent a study to determine whether they could change the habits of a smartphone user’s mobility through gaming and social-networking applications. The goal was to compel them to visit areas less frequented.

How can an application affect on our decisions on a daily basis?

Like with advertising, we can be compelled by Foursquare to achieve or maintain our “Mayor” standing at a particular restaurant or venue. We might be manipulated, for instance, to travel not to the local pizza shop, but instead to the Chinese food store that we’ve been visiting repeatedly for the last month.

The research was conducted by John Rula and Fabián E.

Bustamant and titled, “Crowd (Soft) Control Moving Beyond the Opportunistic.” They used four foundational elements that work together offer individuals incentives:

  • Location: The location desired stated in terms of latitude and longitude, and optionally altitude and heading.
  • Action: The type of action to be triggered at the particular location and time.
  • Expiration Time: The time when the request is no longer valid; this is used to control the timing and relevancy of actions.
  • Ranking: The relative importance of the location. This can be used by the game to differentiate incentives by priority Rula and Bustamant created an Android-based augmented reality game titled, “Ghost Hunter,” which required users to chase monsters and ghosts throughout the neighborhood. The objective of the game was to “zap” the ghosts and monsters by capturing the augmented image on their mobile phone’s camera. But what users were not aware of was the researcher’s underlying intent.

The researchers had positioned the ghosts in exact locations, around a predetermined building. The resulting photographs of the “ghosts” enabled the researchers to create a 3D picture of the building from the collected images. While the photographic modeling of the building was successfully crowdsourced by the unsuspecting “Ghost Hunter” gamers, what the researchers had also discovered was the ability to compel users to capture images of the building from angles and locations typically not frequented, as the image below indicates.

While mobile users are concerned about their privacy, the ease with which they can be “soft” controlled raises a whole new issue altogether. Games and social networks not only offer a means of learning more about the people who use them, they can potentially offer a way to control their actions. Manipulating users into conducting illegal acts or luring them to dangerous locations is very much a reality.

Only days ago, three Japanese tourists were mislead by their GPS into the Moreton Bay in Australia during a low tide and became trapped in the thick mud. With the tide rising, they were forced to abandon their waterlogged rental car.

Ultimately, users will have to decide for themselves where they draw the line. As the research reiterates, “As augmented reality gamers can be trusted to exercise their best judgment during play, users of extended location based applications should be trusted to judge the suggestions made through CSC (Crowd Soft Control).”

Via http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/researchers-turn-smartphone-users-into-unwitting-minions-with-a-simple-app/

 

 

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18Mar/12

Megaupload Seizure Order “Null and Void” Says High Court

In another astonishing development in the Megaupload saga, a judge in New Zealand’s High Court has declared the order used to seize Kim Dotcom’s assets as “null and void”. The blunder, which occurred because the police applied for the wrong type of court order, means that the Megaupload founder could have his property returned.

Just when it seemed that the handling of the Megaupload case couldn’t get any more controversial, a development from New Zealand has taken things to the next level.

Following the raids on Kim Dotcom’s mansion in January, police seized millions of dollars worth of property belonging to the Megaupload founder. But thanks to a police blunder, he could now see all of those assets returned.

On Friday, Justice Judith Potter in the High Court declared the order used to seize Dotcom’s property “null and void” after it was discovered that the police had acted under a court order that should have never been granted.

The error dates back to January when the police applied for the order granting them permission to seize Dotcom’s property. Rather than applying for an interim restraining order, the Police Commissioner applied for a foreign restraining order instead, one which did not give Dotcom a chance to mount a defense.

According to New Zealand Herald, on January 30th prosecution lawyer Anne Toohey wrote to the court explaining that the wrong order had been applied for and detailed five errors with the application.

Justice Potter said that police commissioner Peter Marshall tried to correct the error by applying for the correct order after the raids were completed and retrospectively adding the items already seized.

Although the correct order was eventually granted albeit on a temporary basis, Potter said she will soon rule on whether the “procedural error” will result in Dotcom having his property returned.

The Crown is arguing that since the new order was granted the earlier error no longer matters, but Dotcom’s legal team framed it rather differently by describing the seizure of assets as “unlawful”.

Whether the assets are returned will rest on Dotcom’s legal team showing a lack of “good faith” in connection with the blunder. A hearing to decide if the assets will be returned will take place next week.

Via http://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-seizure-order-null-and-void-says-high-court-120318/

 

 

 

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16Mar/12

Privacy suit filed against Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, others

Privacy suit filed against Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, others Address book issue with mobile apps prompts privacy lawsuit against app makers.

Thirteen individuals have filed a lawsuit against more than a dozen mobile app makers—including Path, Twitter, Apple, and Facebook—who were accused of automatically uploading user address books without permission.

The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas, names 13 plaintiffs, most of them from Austin, and seeks class-action status. The defendants in the suit are: Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, Beluga, Yelp, Burbn, Instagram, Foursquare Labs, Gowalla, Foodspotting, Hipster, LinkedIn, Rovio Mobile, ZeptoLab UK, Chillingo, Electronic Arts, and Kik.

“Literally billions of contacts from the address books of tens of millions of unsuspecting wireless mobile device owners have now been accessed and stolen,” the suit says. “The surreptitious data uploads—occurring over both cellular networks and open, public wireless access nodes in homes, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, stores, and businesses all across the nation—have, quite literally, turned the address book owners’ wireless mobile devices into mobile radio beacons broadcasting and publicly exposing the unsuspecting device owner’s address book data to the world.” The lawsuit was prompted by reports last month that Path and a bunch of other apps were snagging address books from users without their permission when the users were prompted to find friends to connect with. The companies claimed they weren’t doing anything nefarious and figured that the users would have realized that access to contact lists were needed to provide the functionality. The news prompted questions from Congress for Apple, as well as public backlash, despite the fact that Path, Apple, and others promised to fix the problem.

Representatives from Twitter, Path and Kik said they had no comment on the lawsuit. LinkedIn spokesman Hani Durzy said, “Yes, we’ve seen the suit. It’s baffling, because quite simply, our mobile apps do not do what is alleged in the suit.” ZeptoLab provided this statement: “As far as we know we have not been legally served with any lawsuit, and thus have no comment at this time.” Representatives from the other companies did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment today.

Privacy has become a huge topic of concern for the industry, particularly when it comes to mobile devices. Google, Apple, and other mobile platform providers have reached an agreement with the California Attorney General’s office to require app developers to post visible privacy policies. And the Obama Administration is pushing for a code of conduct and is looking toward legislation to protect consumer privacy online.

Via http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-57399021-245/privacy-suit-filed-against-path-twitter-apple-facebook-others/

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