By Rob Scott
March 15, 2013
After a two-year investigation into whether or not Google’s Street View violates privacy protections, law enforcement officials have again told the company it is time to shape up. Google acknowledged breaches this week and said no longer will there be a scenario in which a midlevel engineer launches a program to secretly gather data from possibly millions of unencrypted global Wi-Fi networks, unbeknownst to his bosses. Continue reading Coalition of 38 States Draws Up Security Steps for Google
March 11, 2013
According to a study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, which followed the privacy practices of 5,076 Facebook users over the course of six years, Facebook succeeded in reversing users’ inclination to avoid public disclosure over time. And even as some sought to keep personal data private from strangers by limiting what was available on their profiles, they increased what they shared with friends throughout the years. Continue reading Study Finds Increase in Willingness to Share on Facebook
As Internet users become more aware of online privacy issues, Internet companies are working to prove that consumer data is safe and under control. Some companies are even trying to gain advantage in the market by promoting themselves as more privacy-friendly than their rivals. Mozilla recently took this approach when it announced it would allow users to disable third-party tracking software. Others have taken similar tacts. Continue reading Industry Responds to Upswing in Online Privacy Concerns
February 19, 2013
After Congress reintroduced the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a collection of Internet freedom activists quickly jumped into action. “Among them have been Demand Progress and Fight for the Future, who this week helped 300,000 citizens send a petition against CISPA to the lawmakers behind it,” reports Mashable. Continue reading CISPA Reintroduced: Activist Groups Fuel Online Response
January 24, 2013
Despite federal law that states authorities do not need warrants for e-mails stored for longer than 180 days, Google demands probable cause warrants when asked for user data from Gmail or other cloud-based services. “Google requires an ECPA search warrant for contents of Gmail and other services based on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which prevents unreasonable search and seizure,” Google said in a statement. Continue reading Google Demands Warrants for Access to Email and Cloud Data
By Emily Wilson
December 20, 2012
By Rob Scott
December 19, 2012
Despite panicked reports regarding recent changes to Instagram’s terms of service, The Verge notes that the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service always had an expansive license to use and copy images, not unlike the agreements of other Web services that store user data. There has been an uproar to the following sentence, released earlier this week: “You agree that a business may pay Instagram to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation to you.” Continue reading Instagram Users and Privacy Advocates Riled by New Terms of Service
By Rob Scott
December 17, 2012
Facebook will offer improvements to its privacy settings by the end of the year to allow users to change and understand their privacy settings without going to a remote privacy settings page.
The social network will provide a dropdown box on “almost every page,” reports The Atlantic. Facebook will also include messages alongside posts to help people understand who can see the specific status update or picture.
Changes to the privacy settings are intended to help people understand who can see content, and to help users target and remove inappropriate or unwanted content.
The changes will not affect Facebook’s data sharing, and Facebook will continue to leverage user data to build targeted advertising.
While The Atlantic classifies the changes as mostly “cosmetic,” it still says they are important because simplifying privacy control could help Facebook gain user trust.
By Bryan Gonzalez
November 14, 2011
The following are some notable comments from a panel at last week’s Futures of Entertainment conference at MIT.
Panel: “At What Cost? The Privacy Issues that Must Be Considered in a Digital World”
- If individuals release personal information to the world, they have to distinguish when they are really losing their privacy and when they are legitimately sharing information.
- Just because we are sharing information in different patterns today, that doesn’t mean that we have to think of privacy as a whole any differently.
- Everyone needs to know and be aware of what each service provider’s positions are regarding privacy.
- There should be a push to track and openly comment on user privacy policies by companies.
- There is no question that personalization requires giving one’s information. But this is only because we have not been creative enough in developing a solution that doesn’t require information sharing. Not enough thought has gone into having personalization and privacy live side by side without compromise.
- Here are a few examples from outside the entertainment space that have been able to personalize a user experience without compromising their privacy: Using GPS information for vehicles on the road, traffic patterns can be generated. Companies extract information from each vehicle, and anonymise the information. By using the information in aggregate each driver can receive a personalized traffic report.
- Adnostic is a system that provides targeted ads without tracking. It does the ad recommendations by pushing all the tracking to the client side, so that the centralized 3rd party service never knows what you are doing.
Jonathan Zittrain (Harvard University)
Helen Nissenbaum (New York University)