Tag: privacy

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You Dunno Where This Cat Lives

Another benefit using Leica Q, or any camera without GPS built-in: Location information isn’t captured with photos, and, as such, cannot easily be made available across the Wild Wild Web (yes, that’s what the WWW really represents). I know, from memory, that the Featured Image was shot somewhere along Adams Ave. in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood. But I can’t exactly recall where.

Perhaps because kitties are so popular on the Internet, nearly four-year-old website “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” uses them to make a privacy point, by showing how pics shared online reveal location. Ah, like your residence! “Hey, Look. That’s Jack’s living room, and there’s Frisky”. 

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I’m Mad! Some Dude is using My Gmail to open Dating and Deal Site Accounts!

Question: “When is stupidity fraud?” I ask because someone is using my gmail address to sign up for a humungous number of newsletters and websites. At first, I presumed someone trolled me. But that no longer appears to be the case. This guy, presumably living in North Carolina, either uses my address randomly to hide his identity, or he mistypes one that is similar. Given many of the services are for an unidentified widower looking for love, I assume the latter.

Behind my question are real concerns about identity and privacy that do not just apply to me. The email address gives me the ability to change the passwords and even cancel accounts—both of which I have done, treating his misuse of my email address as identity theft and violations of my privacy; after years of careful cultivation that reduced spam, crap is on the rise as this misuse spreads my gmail identity across dating and discount sites and sex webcams. Who knows on what mailing lists it will appear next. But over the past 24 hours, the amount of spam offers, like being paid to take surveys, exploded. The email address may be permanently ruined for personal and professional purposes. 

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The Rally Against FBIOS Begins

Microsoft will join Apple against the FBI and U.S. Justice Department, filing a friend-of-court—amicus brief—in a case going to court tomorrow. The government wants Apple to create a special version of iOS, referred to by critics as FBIOS, to break an iPhone 5c security features. The device manufacturer argues that compliance would set a precedent that would give law enforcement carte blanche with other mobile devices.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal counsel, says the company “wholeheartedly supports Apple”—a statement the eradicates any potential confusion caused by cofounder Bill Gates. In an interview with Financial Times two days ago, Gates supported the government’s demands. I responded, calling his position a “catastrophic occurrence that demands current chief executive Satya Nadella’s official response. There needs to be clear policy about government backdoors and the position with respect to the San Bernardino shooting iPhone”. The company’s position is now unequivocally clear—presuming the legal filing fits with “wholeheartedly”.

Smith publicly disclosed Microsoft’s plans during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today. 

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Bill Gates’ Backdoor Policy

I see something disingenuous about Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates supporting the government’s demands that Apple selectively unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif. shooters. The former CEO turned philanthropist spoke to the Financial times in an interview posted today. The implications for Microsoft cannot be overstated, and the company’s current chief executive should state corporate policy.

Gates’ position aligns with the government’s: That this case is specific, and isolated, and that the demand would merely provide “access to information”. Here’s the thing: The interviewer asks Gates if he supports tech companies providing backdoors to their smartphones. The technologist deflects: “Nobody’s talking about a backdoor”. Media consultants teach publicly-facing officials to offer non-answers exactly like this one. The answer defines the narrative, not the interviewer’s question. 

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Tim Cook’s Defining Moment

Some documents are historically significant. They mark moments, comment on them, in manner demanding future citation and even use in courts or classrooms. That’s how I read Apple CEO Tim Cook’s “Open Letter to Our Customers“, about breaking iPhone encryption  His exposition spotlights seminal moment in the United States of America: Government’s further expansion of powers encroaching indiviuals’ rights to privacy and one company standing up and saying “No”.

Some people will scoff at my comparison, but it truly is what I see. Cook is like Rosa Parks, refusing to take a seat at the back of the bus—or in this instance behind one court judge and the FBI. Cook and Apple stand up for us all. I applaud law enforcement’s efforts to protect us from terrorism but tyranny shouldn’t be the means; taking away Constitutionally-given freedoms to protect them. Tim Cook is right. 

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I Don’t Trust Travelocity, Should You?

On June 29, 2015, I received email from Travelocity thanking me for creating an account. I did no such thing—or, wait, did I have an account already? Sure enough, I set up one in 2006, according to my archived emails. Why this notification now? I wrongly assumed the thank-you message was a mistake, or even a marketing ploy, to get me to sign into the account. But who remembers a password from 9 years ago? So I clicked the forgot password link and had a new one sent.

I wouldn’t understand until later that someone in Florida created a new account using my email address. But Travelocity never sent confirmation to verify that the email address was valid or belonged to the person who signed up for the service. As such, by resetting the password, I had access to someone else’s account, which, fortunately, contained no personal information (like credit card numbers). But I didn’t understand this circumstance until later, when, in a routine check of my online accounts. I discovered an itinerary for a hotel stay that had just passed. 

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Amazon Brews Unexpected Coffee Deal

I best be watchful, for my wife is smarter than she pretends to be. If not, she’s the mother of all coincidence. Because by all appearances, the woman used the vendor online tracking everyone suspects to snake a great discount from Amazon. Maybe you can turn to advantage persistant invasion of your privacy.

Our story starts on Feb. 11, 2015, when following days of price comparisons she ordered a 12-pack of one pound Café Bustelo from the Internet retailer. Price: $52.90. As we consumed coffee, she returned to Amazon on March 17, when a shocker waited: Same item cost $69.31. Ah, yeah. That’s a 31 percent increase. But by apparently gaming the system, she later purchased for 19 percent less than previously paid. 

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You Phone Home, I Hang Up

Tonight, I removed Adobe’s Lightroom 1.3 from my computer. Maybe that makes me part of the so-called “tinfoil” hat crowd. I’m deeply concerned about Adobe collecting information, in apparently disguised fashion, from users of its products.

I don’t buy Adobe’s excuses. Creative Suite 3 isn’t freeware. People buying the software can pay as much as $1,800 (street price), depending on CS3 version. Adobe feels free to mine information from these customers, without even asking their permission? Shame on Adobe. I would remove Acrobat and Flash, if so many Websites didn’t use the software. I’m mad

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Where Kids Fly Safe Online?

I simply couldn’t find time to blog this week, on my personal site. Busy week at the office, with the Consumer Electronics Show—and I didn’t even attend! I feel for my boss, who traveled to Las Vegas and soon goes onto San Francisco for Macworld.

My first catchup post is followup to my two posts, “What Kids Reveal Online” and “Minimizing Kids’ Online Risks“. Jan. 16, 2006, Business Week has a story about new online social network, Yfly.com, which opens on February 1. Apparently, Jessica Simpson’s soon-to-be ex-spouse Nick Lachey is behind the venture, which seeks to provide teens a safe place to socialize online. 

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Minimizing Kids' Online Risks

As the parent of an 11 year-old that is active online, I’m concerned about the risks she might encounter there. I also realize that my daughter is fairly insulated from many dangers, because of simple rules she willingly agrees to follow. Risks remain, as they would anywhere, walking along Capitol Hill at night, driving fast on the highway, or climbing a ladder to change a light bulb. Living is about taking risks. But taking unnecessary online risks, particularly when there are predators online hunting teenagers, is another matter.