Online Privacy

Online Privacy

Privacy experts praise Google+ rollout so far

Privacy experts praise Google+ rollout so far
Ultimately, the key issue may not come down so much to pure privacy features but to whether Google+ lets users share online in a more natural, intuitive manner, like they do in real life, than is possible with Facebook today, F-Secure's Sullivan said. Whether it succeeds and beats Facebook in that respect remains to be seen, he said.

The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

Privacy Main Issue At Stake in Santa Clarita Library Suit

While a nonprofit group (Save Our Libraries) dedicated to keeping the Santa Clarita libraries within the County Library system continues to subpoena former and present City officials in an ongoing lawsuit, the attorney assigned to the matter, Donald Ricketts, maintains that unwarranted access to the public’s information is the primary issue.

“What the lawsuit says is you can’t put the library into the hands of a private company,” Ricketts said, “because to do so you would have to give them information which is confidential and which they need to run the library.”

After City Council voted 4-1 on August 24 to secede from the County of Los Angeles Public Library – and inevitably award a contract to Library Systems and Services, LLC to run the City’s three branches – 12 people sent a letter to City Council alleging a Brown Act violation had occurred.

Essentially, the Brown Act prevents California governmental bodies from holding secret workshops and study sessions where decisions concerning the public could be made without its attendance.

Question: Is there a way to insure that a private corporation wouldn't take advantage? And should we assume that they would take advantage of acquiring confidential information?

KHTS Hometown Station reports.

A Revised Taxonomy of Social Networking Data

A Revised Taxonomy of Social Networking Data: Lately Bruce Schneier has been reading about user security and privacy -- control, really -- on social networking sites. The issues are hard and the solutions harder, but he's seeing a lot of confusion in even forming the questions. Social networking sites deal with several different types of user data, and it's essential to separate them.

THis is his taxonomy of social networking data, which he first presented at the Internet Governance Forum meeting last November, and again -- revised -- at an OECD workshop on the role of Internet intermediaries in June.

Privacy: The issue isn't (just) other people knowing your information

ALA's Intellectual Freedom Round Table has a blog post suggesting that thinking about online privacy on the 'human scale' (eg, other people seeing our information) is too limited. <i>So by thinking about privacy violations on a human scale, we convince ourselves that even though the capability exists to track us, our privacy is only potentially violated. For our privacy to actually be violated, someone (Google, Facebook, or the FBI) would have to specifically notice us.

Bullet Point: Dear Google, you too need to talk to librarians

Bullet Point: Dear Google, you too need to talk to librarians

I have met too many librarians who take a myopic approach to privacy. That is, privacy is so important to our members that we don’t even let them decide what information to keep or share. We just wipe all our records after some time so they don’t get caught up in the Patriot Act web. What’s worse, we feel that by creating an environment that protects privacy (by eliminating choice) we are protecting the members, when in fact the information they would expose to us is so inconsequential compared to their other activities it almost doesn’t matter.

Instantly online-17 golden rules for mobile social networks

Instantly online-17 golden rules for mobile social networks
Instantly online-17 golden rules to combat online risks and for safer surfing mobile social networks The EU ‘cyber security’ Agency - ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) today presents a new report on accessing social networks over mobile phones, ‘Online as soon as it happens“. The report points out the risks and threats of mobile social networking services, e.g. identity theft, corporate data leakage and reputation risks of mobile social networks. The report also gives 17 ‘golden rules’ on how to combat these threats.

How online life distorts privacy rights for all

How online life distorts privacy rights for all
People who post intimate details about their lives on the internet undermine everybody else's right to privacy, claims an academic.

6 Ways We Gave Up Our Privacy

6 Ways We Gave Up Our Privacy: Privacy has long been seen as a basic, sacred right. But in the Web 2.0 world, where the average user is addicted to Google apps, GPS devices, their BlackBerry or iPhone, and such social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter, that right is slowly and willingly being chipped away. In fact, some security experts believe it's gone already.

Adding to this sobering reality is that public and private entities have a growing array of tools to track our movements, habits and choices. RFID tags are on more of the items we take for granted. Those discount cards you use at the grocery store offer companies an excellent snapshot of the choices you make. And in the post 9-11 world, the government has greatly expanded its power to spy on you with such laws as The Patriot Act.

ACLU Targets Facebook Apps That Access Personal Info

The Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has put out a campaign designed to raise awareness of the privacy implications of Facebook's developer platform. It's focusing specifically on the popular "quiz" applications, like "Which Cocktail Best Suits Your Personality?" and "Which Wes Anderson Movie Character Are You?" These are largely one-time-use apps that many a Facebook user clicks on and tries out with little concern. CNET reports.

According to the ACLU chapter, "millions of people on Facebook who use third-party applications on the site, including the popular quizzes, do not realize the extent to which developers of quizzes and other applications have access to personal information. Facebook's default privacy settings allow nearly unfettered access to a user's profile information, including religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, photos, events, notes, wall posts, and groups." For the promotion, it's put together a quiz about how much you know about Facebook-based quizzes.

Side note: Creating a Facebook quiz app to draw attention to the pratfalls of Facebook quiz apps is very meta.

Privacy: A Bigger Challenge Than Ever

Even for a place where personal information is under siege, the case of Brandy Combs is unusual.

University of Florida police allege Combs stole a university librarian’s personal information to fraudulently obtain more than $31,000 in student loans and took a student’s information to get a false student identification. He was arrested on May 20 on charges of fraud and passing false checks.

While the details of the case were unusual, having a breach of private information at UF was not. The university experienced more than 130 confirmed privacy breaches in 2008, compromising the information of about 358,000 individuals, according to the UF Privacy Office.

UF officials said they’re taking steps to improve security as new regulations increase reporting requirements and fines for breaches. But they say the nature of a university means keeping large amounts of information that is sought by hackers and others.

“Every university, because it’s a university, is a prime target,” said Chuck Frazier, UF’s interim chief information officer. “You can be attacked from anyplace and every place.” The Gainesville Sun.

EFF weighs in on Google Books Settlement

This just in from the Electronic Frontier Foundation with most of their call shown after the "read more" jump:
We are putting together a group of authors (or their heirs or assigns)
who are concerned about the Google Book Search settlement and its effect
on the privacy and anonymity of readers.

An Expectation of Online Privacy

Bruce Schneier: "This isn't a technological problem; it's a legal problem. The courts need to recognize that in the information age, virtual privacy and physical privacy don't have the same boundaries. We should be able to control our own data, regardless of where it is stored. We should be able to make decisions about the security and privacy of that data, and have legal recourse should companies fail to honor those decisions."

Amazon using library cookies?

In the Technology section of the New York Times there is an article called An Icon That Says They’re Watching You that is about an idea to help companies target online ads and still protect your privacy: Mark ads with a special icon that, when clicked, displays what they know about you.

In the comments section there is a person claiming that Amazon used their library information to target products to them. Black helicopter time? Or possibility?

Excerpt of comment: the targeting wasn’t based on my prior purchasing patterns: Amazon pulled it from tracking my recent library borrowing requests.

Last time I looked, the government couldn’t get this info without a subpoena; but renewing my books online apparently allows Amazon to nibble my cookies indiscriminately. Moreover, there’s nothing to stop the govt from getting my library records the roundabout way, through Amazon. And had it not been for those come-ons, I would probably not have noticed or wondered what Amazon was up to.

A Matter of Ethics

From Randy Cohen's 'The Ethicist" column in the NYT:

Q. I’m a librarian. A regular patron, a man in his late 40s or early 50s and virtually technologically illiterate, asked me to print a few e-mail attachments for him — photos of a young and attractive Russian woman. Many of the messages were titled “I Love You” or the like and included explicit requests for money. I believe he is being scammed. May I intervene, or does that violate his privacy and my professional boundaries? N.P., LAWRENCE, KAN.

A. The professional — and delicate — response is to give your patron excellent service without criticizing or embarrassing him. A skilled reference librarian often goes beyond a patron’s specific request, suggesting resources he has not even considered. You can provide this fellow with the information that he needs to protect himself from (or at least become aware of) possible fraud — and without using the words “You love-drunk old fool.”

Ann Thornton, a director of reference and research services at the New York Public Library, concurs via e-mail: “If the librarian handles the matter in a confidential, courteous manner and offers appropriate resources, he/she is providing a higher level of service. Therefore, it is well within the scope of his/her professional responsibility.”

Agency Skeptical of Internet Privacy Policies

Agency Skeptical of Internet Privacy Policies The Federal Trade Commission had some sharp words for Internet companies Thursday, saying that they are not explaining to their users clearly enough what information they collect about them and how they use it for advertising. For now, the commission is sticking to its view that the Internet industry can voluntarily regulate its own privacy practices.

Hiding My Candy: Give Me The Option To Share My Reading

Hiding My Candy: Give Me The Option To Share My Reading. The Free Range Librarian:

I expect librarians to protect my privacy by going to bat for me when the government or industry over-intrudes, not by designing systems that make it impossible to have an online presence in their systems. I want companies and organizations that gather this data to use it in ways that improve my experiences — making my life more efficient, fun, and interesting — and yes, they can use it to improve their experiences, as well.

Information...or...Nosiness?

Verizon Wireless has fired an undisclosed number of employees who couldn’t resist the chance to peek into Barack Obama’s cellphone records, CNN reports.

It was an old, flip-top phone, not his famous BlackBerry, and the account had been inactive for months. No text messages or voicemail contents could have been accessed. The employees were satisfying “idle curiosity,” a source told CNN, and the employees were not authorized to access customer records.

Microsoft adds privacy tools to IE8

Microsoft Corp. today spelled out new privacy tools in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) that some have dubbed "porn mode" in a nod to the most obvious use of a browser privacy mode.

A privacy advocate applauded the move, calling it a "great step forward," while rival browser builder Mozilla Corp. said it is working to add similar features to a future Firefox.

The Eternal Value of Privacy

Bruce Schneier:

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

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