Archive for the ‘Privacy? What’s That?’ Category

Digital Dumpster Diving

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Brian Krebs wrote a fascinating post recently on keylogger results that are being posted in various cloud locations.  As Brian put it, insult is added to injury — not only has your machine been compromised, but the results are hanging out on the internet to be scavenged by random opportunists who know what to look for.

And to think that the biggest worry used to be shredding our documents to prevent physical opportunists from sorting through our leavings…

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumit/

Privacy Grin of the Day

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Gotta love Gizmodo, this thread on possible shenanigans with the iPhone 4 ordering process netted this gem from a commenter:

Patience only goes so far

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Mike Waddingham writes about how Facebook has run afoul of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and will likely end up in court.

He notes:

I’ve never had a Facebook account.  I can be patient.

But those that still trust Facebook with personal information — and haven’t bothered to examine the minutia of the site’s privacy settings — will continue to have their personal information shared with 400 million users and thousands of advertisers, data aggregators and, well, pretty much anyone else on the Internet.  At least until the wheels of justice grind to conclusion…

You may not have a Facebook account – but when everybody else around you does, it’s like pulling one string out of a rug — you can still see the pattern.  You’re still in the photos.  Your holidays may still be announced.  Your birthday may still be announced. You’re still husband of, and father to, and friend of friend for all sorts of people who will share freely about you.  Perhaps you aren’t as semantically dereferenceable as you otherwise would be – but you aren’t invisible either.

On the other hand, if are ever accused of a crime, chances are that some other poor schmuck’s picture will end up on the evening news… that’s handy.

One last point — Mike forgot to add governments to the list of places you are sharing your personal information with.   Facebook gives governments the ability to collect and analyse the one thing that is still uncool for them to ask for – details of private lives.  As long as we all remain overfed and obsessed with who won Survivor and how to get an iPad, nobody will mind that Facebook is the worlds greatest surveillance tool.  I hope it stays that way for a very long time.

Privacy vs. Profiling

Friday, April 9th, 2010

This raised the hairs on the back of my neck:

How Visa Predicts Divorce

Imagine the scenario. You’re in a bad relationship. You want out. Suddenly, magically, targeted ads start showing up all around you — ads for lawyers, counsellors, mid-life-crisis objects of desire. Your credit card company has sold your profile, and everyone is excited to be the first to offer you those services you need – before even you know you need it. Score one for the semantic web.

We’re bringing it on ourselves. We are inputting our lives into systems whose success depends on monetizing trends, and we are absolute in our own consistency as subjects — after all, that’s how you get those loyalty points right? But is there a line? Recognizing and monetizing a home move? An affair? A divorce? Political affiliation? Terminal illness?

Perhaps it’s time to say welcome to our new profiling overlords… or maybe we should just go out and buy both premium birdseed AND cheap motor oil at Canadian Tire. Ha. That’ll learn ‘em.

Hard-won Lesson

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Imagine this little scenario:

  • Your Macbook hard drive fails.
  • You take it to the Apple Store to get fixed.
  • They charge you a fortune for an out-of-warranty repair and then refuse to return your broken hard drive to you – they say it is Apple’s property, not yours.
  • Your original hard drive gets refurbished – and somebody thinks to look at the platters before they zero it for the next person.
  • Next thing you know, your data is for sale on Ebay.

The first 3 bullets happened to Dave Winer – and he has no control now over whether the last 2 bullets become a reality.

What I find especially interesting about this story is that this wasn’t even a case where Dave got a free drive through warranty — he actually paid for the new drive, he paid for the computer itself — yet the original drive was not considered his property. How does that work exactly? And how does Apple get away with an opaque policy with no option for redress?

I sincerely hope that none of Dave’s data shows up in the wrong hands. Apple should hope so too; that is assuming Dave’s story even penetrates Apple’s shiny white corporate iExterior.