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What Surveillance Valley knows about you
This isn’t news to companies like Google, which last year warned shareholders: “Privacy concerns relating to our technology could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our products and services.”
Little wonder then that Google, and the rest of Surveillance Valley, is terrified that the conversation about surveillance could soon broaden to include not only government espionage, but for-profit spying as well.
Privacy And Why It Really Matters
"As much as privacy is about one's ability to control what others know about one, it's also about protecting the freedom of the modern democratic society.
The processes that make our democratic and free society possible are built on transparent and fair decision-making. If you strip out transparency you end up with totalitarianism. The current practice of harvesting and analysing individual's private and public data jeopardises the whole system of fair decision-making."
I'll put this in the "It's on the internet so it's true" category, but assuming it IS true.... wow:
"It was a confluence of magnificent proportions that led six agents from the joint terrorism task force to knock on my door Wednesday morning. Little did we know our seemingly innocent, if curious to a fault, Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling. Because somewhere out there, someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history."
[Update a few hours later] Unsurprisingly there's more to the story: Updates At The Atlantic Wire.
[And a few hours later another update] Employer Tipped Off Police To Pressure Cooker And Backpack Searches, Not Google
The NSA Has Some Really Cool Tools:
• XKeyscore gives 'widest-reaching' collection of online data
• NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches
• Sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history
Internal Debates Arise Over Using Collected Information and Protecting Privacy.
After much wrangling and many attempts to build the "slider" tool, whose three main settings were nicknamed "kitten," "cat" and "tiger," the idea was abandoned last year, according to people familiar with the matter. Because Google has so many Web services that operate differently, executives found it impossible to reduce privacy controls to so few categories, these people said. Also, allowing people to select the maximum-protection setting, known as the "tin-foil-hat option," went against Google's newer efforts to get more people to share information about themselves on the Google+ social-networking service, they said.
Obscurity is the idea that when information is hard to obtain or understand, it is, to some degree, safe. Safety,here, doesn't mean inaccessible. Competent and determined data hunters armed with the right tools can always find a way to get it. Less committed folks, however, experience great effort as a deterrent.
Online, obscurity is created through a combination of factors. Being invisible to search engines increases obscurity. So does using privacy settings and pseudonyms. Disclosing information in coded ways that only a limited audience will grasp enhances obscurity, too.
Pippert concludes, “It might ultimately be a human problem to solve: capture content from others mindfully and use it thoughtfully, with good communication. Let others know you’re using the content and make sure you are clear to friends your preference about your content being redistributed.”
This is yet another reminder that anything you say anywhere on the web, private or not, is always subject to being shared via third party apps, screenshots, or good old fashioned copy and paste, so never say something online that you wouldn’t say in public, because there really is no such thing as privacy, which is sad and unacceptable, but true.
Facebook can still track users through its "Like" function. And Web surfers' online data can still be used by law enforcement and "market research" for the employment, credit, healthcare and insurance industries. And let's not even get into denial of service attacks and cybersecurity...
That said, here are three major privacy issues that everyone should pay attention to in 2013:
3.Dodgy QR codes
The developers behind ad-tracking browser plug-in Ghostery said they'd logged 137 different trackers on the Microsoft website and 107 on Apple's site, while they logged 66 on Samsung's site and 65 on HP's. Dell has 106. All of these tech sites make greater use of trackers associated with behavioural advertising than specialist retail sites such as Tesco (64), John Lewis (46) and Dabs (12).
The holiday shopping season is upon us, and once again e-book readers promise to be a very popular gift. Last year's holiday season saw ownership of a dedicated e-reader device spike to nearly 1 in 5 Americans, and that number is poised to go even higher. But if you're in the market for an e-reader this year, or for e-books to read on one that you already own, you might want to know who's keeping an eye on your searching, shopping, and reading habits.
Unfortunately, unpacking the tracking and data-sharing practices of different e-reader platforms is far from simple. It can require reading through stacked license agreements and privacy policies for devices, software platforms, and e-book stores. That in turn can mean reading thousands of words of legalese before you read the first line of a new book.