Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Confusion Over Facebook Changes To Defaults Exposes More Information Than Before

"Back in December, Facebook changed the default settings for all 350 million users to 'encourage' them to share more content publicly. The reality of the situation was that many people were confused by the new settings and that a lot more content is now public than before.

Earlier this month, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said that the age of privacy is over, and that we should all get used to it."

Computer Weekly - Privacy is not dead

"False Terrorism Emergencies": FBI Violated US Electronic Communications Privacy Act

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has violated US laws by collecting over 2,000 telephone records under the Bush administration.

The Washington Post said Tuesday it obtained emails that showed the 'spy agency' created false terrorism emergencies between 2002 and 2006 in order to collect information concerning its citizens.

According to the report, the FBI admitted that it had violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act by doing so."

Press TV - Report: FBI violated phone conversation privacy

Microsoft Does As Little As It Possibly Can To Meet Privacy Demands

"Microsoft will eliminate all data collected on Bing users after six months. The software giant said it sent a letter to the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, a collection of the EU's top minds on data protection and privacy issues, today notifying it that the company would reduce the amount of time it stores IP addresses from searchers from 18 months to six months before deleting them.

Currently, Bing takes search data and separates the user's account information (such as e-mail or phone number) from the non-personal information (such as what the query was) and only after 18 months does Microsoft take the additional step of deleting the IP address and any other cross session IDs associated with the query. The only difference with the new policy is that the IP address will be removed completely at six months to provide greater user privacy protection; the rest of the process will remain the same, since Microsoft says it needs the data to make search better for consumers."

Ars Technica - Microsoft to delete Bing users' IP addresses after 6 months

Privacy Struggle Reflected in Microsoft BING Data Retention Policy Change

"Microsoft responded to privacy concerns of the Article 29 committee, an organization made up of data protection officers from the countries of the European Union, by announcing that it will change its Bing search data retention policies and purge IP address data after six months."

"If search providers like Microsoft and Google could operate in a privacy vacuum, they would retain as much data as the storage capacity of their data centers could hold. Historical data of search habits and patterns is like gold to a search provider"

"The more search providers can retain and analyze search result information, the more they can tweak the algorithms used to deliver search results.

If the provider can determine your interests and inclinations based on your Web surfing habits, and you past searches, and which results you have actually clicked on, it can use that information to present you with search results that are uniquely suited for you. When it comes to online advertising, it would make sense to only bombard you with banner, display, and pop-up ads that are at least related to products or topics you are interested in."

"Perhaps a prominent businessman is considering pursuing political office. Maybe a famous entertainer has a drug problem. Bringing it down to mere mortals, maybe a wife is cheating on her husband and considering divorce, or a spouse frequents fetish porn sites.

Any one of those scenarios involves an expectation of privacy. The individuals would not want future search results--which may be done with others present--to reflect the Web surfing and online searches conducted previously in private."

PCWorld - Bing Data Retention Shift a Sign of Privacy Struggle

Monday, January 18, 2010

Body Scanners Risk To Privacy, May Possibly Produce Illegal Images

"The UK's equality watchdog has written to the home secretary expressing concerns about plans to use body scanners at airports.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the devices risked breaching an individual's right to privacy under the Human Rights Act."

"The British prime minister has pledged to introduce full body scanners at British airports, and they are due to be in operation at Heathrow Airport by the end of this month.

They produce "naked" images of passengers, and civil rights groups warn they could generate illegal images of children and images of celebrities that could be leaked online."

"Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said the government had not considered privacy in its "desperation to be seen to be doing something"."

BBC - Body scanners risk right to privacy, says UK watchdog