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The logical conclusion of our relationship to computers: expectantly to type “what is the meaning of my life” into Google.

It’s for your own good—that is Google’s cherished belief. If we want the best possible search results, and if we want advertisements suited to our needs and desires, we must let them into our souls. James Gleick writes about 'How Google Dominates Us' for the New York Review of Books. [more inside]
posted by WalterMitty on Aug 1, 2011 - 61 comments

... and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has supposedly started holding closed door meetings on extending the FISA Amendment Act to again extend the NSA's domestic warrantless wiretapping program. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jul 28, 2011 - 38 comments

"...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself..."

Public interests will be harmed absent requiring defendants to make available unencrypted contents in circumstances like these. Failing to compel Ms. Fricosu amounts to a concession to her and potential criminals (be it in child exploitation, national security, terrorism, financial crimes or drug trafficking cases) that encrypting all inculpatory digital evidence will serve to defeat the efforts of law enforcement officers to obtain such evidence through judicially authorized search warrants, and thus make their prosecution impossible.

The "if you were innocent, you'd have nothing to hide" argument rears its head, in a big way. [more inside]
posted by fifthrider on Jul 11, 2011 - 215 comments

The continued tragedy of Argentina's Dirty War

Ernestina Herrera de Noble heads up The Clarin Group and the Clarin newspaper (in Spanish), the largest in Argentina. She is the mother of two adopted children, Felipe and Marcela, heirs to the Clarin Group fortune. She has been a controversial figure for much of her life. Currently, her paper stands in staunch opposition to the administration of President Cristina Kirchner, who in 2009 successfully pushed through legislation forcing the Clarin group to sell off some of its holdings. President Kirchner recently announced she will be seeking a second term. However, Mrs. Herrera de Noble's legacy will probably rest on the suit brought against her by the Grandmothers of the Plaza del Mayo, forcing her children to submit DNA samples to ascertain whether they are the children of detainees killed by the military during Argentina’s “Dirty War”. The siblings and their mother have fought to avoid DNA testing, claiming it is a violation of their privacy, but there are families who claim that Felipe and Marcela are the natural born children of women pregnant when they were detained and subsequently disappeared. Ernestina insists that the adoptions were “legal”, and her children stand by her side. If a genetic link is proven to former detainees, Mrs. Herrera de Noble may face a criminal investigation.
posted by msali on Jun 22, 2011 - 30 comments

"F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds"

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.
posted by Trurl on Jun 13, 2011 - 46 comments

"Personhood" laws and reproductive rights

45 years ago yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that birth control (for married women) was legal and that the US Constitution guaranteed privacy to women seeking reproductive services. That privacy ruling was instrumental in subsequent cases [pdf]regarding the legality of birth control and pregnancy termination. And while many states are pushing through new termination restrictions; some states are now pushing through "Personhood" laws that grant constitutional rights to zygotes and fetuses. These laws ban abortion without exception, ban certain forms of birth control, ban in-vitro fertilization, and forbid the treatment of pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies. The legislations are being marketed by a "Conceived by Rape" bus tour. [more inside]
posted by dejah420 on Jun 9, 2011 - 121 comments

Selling doctors on patient gag orders

"It's completely unethical for doctors to force their patients to sign away their rights in order to get medical care." Ars Technica dissects doctor "privacy" agreements that seek to limit patients' ability to post online reviews by making them sign the copyright of any future reviews over to the doctor, in exchange for vague (and possibly illusory) extra privacy protection. Doctored Reviews offers info and tools for fighting "anti-review contracts," whose language comes primarily from an "anti-defamation protection program" sold by a company called Medical Justice. Sources quoted in the article express doubts that this kind of "privacy blackmail" would hold up in court, with some wondering if Medical Justice is actively deceiving doctors by selling them a product that won't work as advertised. [more inside]
posted by mediareport on May 24, 2011 - 30 comments

Every one a little lawyer.

“Watching the video I thought that it was wise of Major League Baseball to combine this sort of sentimental moment with mass speculative litigation. It kept brand values strong. I felt strangely grateful that I could have a moment to remember that afternoon. Surprised by the evidence of both copyright violation and father-daughter affection.” —Paul Ford, “Nanolaw with Daughter” [more inside]
posted by kipmanley on May 15, 2011 - 26 comments

That Syncing Feeling

Christopher Soghoian, who exposed the latest Facebook PR move, is now filing an FTC complaint (pdf) against Dropbox on the grounds that they gained unfair competitive advantage by lying about how files are encrypted and who has access to them. Dropbox explains how safe your files are.
posted by swift on May 13, 2011 - 44 comments

Egg on their Facebooks

Last Friday, USA Today reported that two people from PR firm Burson-Marsteller had been contacting various news outlets and bloggers, pushing a story about how Google's "Social Circle" gmail feature violates users' privacy. The pitch was made on behalf of an unnamed client that The Daily Beast now confirms was Facebook. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 12, 2011 - 104 comments

GPS Tracking

Battle Brews Over FBI’s Warrantless GPS Tracking. How to Check Your Car for a GPS Tracker. FBI Vehicle-Tracking Device: The Teardown. Video: The Dissection of an FBI Bumper-Beeper. Previously.
posted by homunculus on May 9, 2011 - 81 comments

Ahoy, eh!

The Canadian Pirate Party is official, registered, and running 10-12 candidates in the current federal election. The recent debate over usage-based billing convinced at least one of its candidates of its potential appeal to voters. They are unabashedly an issue-based party, whose platform deals with intellectual property, privacy, net neutrality, and government access/openness. [more inside]
posted by kevinsp8 on Apr 20, 2011 - 13 comments

Big Steve is Watching You?

iPhones Found to Track Your Movements, Keep Record Security researchers have discovered that without any input from the user, iPhones permanently record the movements of their owners. Download an open-source app (Mac) here to reveal your own geo history.
posted by modernnomad on Apr 20, 2011 - 380 comments

Please step away from the cell phone, Sir.

Should Cops Be Allowed to Scan Your Phone During a Traffic Stop? In Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint [PDF letter here] alleging that Michigan State Police officers used forensic cellphone analyzers to snoop in drivers' cellphones during routine traffic stops. [Before they fulfill an ACLU FOIA request, the MSP wants a $272,340 deposit up front to cover their costs of retrieving analyzer data, which is obtained without the cellphone owner's knowledge.]
posted by cenoxo on Apr 19, 2011 - 97 comments

Can You See Me Now?

"The results were astounding. In a six-month period — from Aug 31, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, Deutsche Telekom had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times. It traced him from a train on the way to Erlangen at the start through to that last night, when he was home in Berlin. Mr. Spitz has provided a rare glimpse — an unprecedented one, privacy experts say — of what is being collected as we walk around with our phones."
posted by Scoop on Mar 26, 2011 - 45 comments

"She signed up a year ago, under the old privacy policy, and hasn't logged in since 2010. And now I know what dildo she uses."

In a move reminiscent of Facebooks Beacon program, Etsy's new People Search feature has exposed account details, including purchase histories and real names, of its buyers and sellers. Here's how to opt out.
posted by lalex on Mar 14, 2011 - 61 comments

Corporations, Don't Take It Personally

Today the Supreme Court in ruled 8-0 in FCC v. ATT that corporations have no "personal privacy" exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. The opinion ended the speculation that the Supreme Court would use this case to take yet another step towards equating corporations with actual people. For links to the various briefs, lower court decisions, and a summary of the underlying facts and opinion, visit the SCOTUSblog. [more inside]
posted by Muddler on Mar 1, 2011 - 93 comments

Moooom, Daaaad, Google's being weird again!

Google's Doodle-4-Google program, where kids can design a variation of the company's homepage logo, is creating a bit of stir this year with the requirement of the child's social security number. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 23, 2011 - 37 comments

Your apps are watching you

Your apps are watching you
posted by peacay on Dec 18, 2010 - 79 comments

Bring It On.

An anonymous hacking outfit called "Gnosis" has infiltrated Gawker Media, hijacking the front page and leaking the company's internal chat logs, source code, and content databases along with the usernames, email addresses, and passwords of over 1.3 million users (including Gawker staff). The attack, which was motivated by what the group describes as the "outright arrogance" with which the company's bloggers taunted anonymous imageboard 4chan (semi-previously), affects every site in the Gawker network, including Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Jezebel, Deadspin, Jalopnik, and io9. While most of the leaked passwords are encrypted, more than 200,000 of the simpler ones in the torrent file have been cracked, and the links between account names and email addresses are in plaintext for all to see. Since the integrity of Gawker's encryption methods remains in doubt, it is recommended that anyone who has ever registered an account on any Gawker property change their passwords immediately, especially if the same log-in information is used for other services.
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 12, 2010 - 312 comments

The fundamental problem is that terrorism is innovative while TSA policy is reactive

A Nude Awakening - The TSA and Privacy. An insightful article about the TSA and fundamental freedoms from the Oklahoma Daily Student newspaper. via
posted by blue_beetle on Dec 6, 2010 - 48 comments

All the better to see you with, my dear...

Microsoft Kinect (née Project Natal) is sure to be a monster hit this season, and no surprise: Microsoft hopes to disthrone Nintendo's Wii and are supporting the platform with a $500 million marketing budget, larger than the marketing budget for the launch of the original Xbox. However, privacy experts are raising concerns over recent comments made by Xbox CFO Dennis Durkin at at an investors' conference:
“We can cater which content we present to you based on who you are,” Durkin said. “How many people are in the room when an ad is shown? How many people are in the room when a game is being played? When you add this sort of device to a living room, there’s a bunch of business opportunities that come with that.”
One example given was that the Kinect could identify sports jersey worn by players and deliver ads specific to their team. The Kinect platform works with its array of video- and infrared cameras, 3D depth sensors, and stereo microphones, all attached to a motorized platform which can follow players' movements. [more inside]
posted by 2bucksplus on Nov 15, 2010 - 116 comments

Can you imagine 50 people a day, I said 50 people a day? Friends, they may think its a movement.

Nov. 24 is National Opt-out Day from airport back-scatter scanners Time to call BS on TSA's kabuki theater of airport security: "As public anger grows over the TSA's body scanners and intrusive new airport pat-down procedure, a Web site is urging travelers to "opt out" from the body scanners and instead choose to have a pat-down in public view, so that everyone can "see for themselves how the government treats law-abiding citizens." OptOutDay.com declares November 24 to be the day when air travelers should refuse to submit to a full body scan and choose the enhanced pat-down -- an option many travelers have described as little short of a molestation."
posted by TDIpod on Nov 10, 2010 - 395 comments

Spaced out

"I measure my life in terms of my relationship with Star Wars" - The Guardian interviews Simon Pegg, star of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and the forthcoming Paul (trailer).
posted by Artw on Oct 20, 2010 - 47 comments

Does it start now?

"Better people than I have sacrificed more than their careers, their livelihood, for the cause of freedom. Americans need to wake up and stand up." Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet, refused to enter the millimeter wave machine. TSA called the police and sent him home. [more inside]
posted by peachfuzz on Oct 20, 2010 - 142 comments

Facebook. Privacy. Again.

The Wall Street Journal's What They Know blog is charged with determining what information marketers are capable of learning about internet users through tracking technology. This weekend, they took aim at Facebook, after their investigation discovered that many popular apps on the social-networking site, including those by Zynga, have been transmitting identifying information in the form of User ID's to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, even if a user has enabled strict privacy settings. Additional analysis. Response post on Facebook's Developer Blog. Forbes' blogger Kashmir Hill asks if the WSJ is overreacting, and Techcrunch notes that the severity and risks of UID transferral are still being debated.
posted by zarq on Oct 18, 2010 - 56 comments

We don't need you to type at all

"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it." The Atlantic's editor James Bennet discusses with Schmidt how lobbyists write America's laws, how America's research universities are the best in the world, how the Chinese are going all-out in investing in their infrastructure, how the US should have allowed automakers to fail, and ultimately Google's evolving role in an technologically-augmented society in this broad, interesting and scary interview (~25 min Flash video) [via]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Oct 4, 2010 - 55 comments

Lay down your sword and shield / Down by the riverside

Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide this week after his sexual encounter with another young man was broadcast online by his roommate via hidden webcam. Afterwards, Clementi probably started this thread at justusboys.com [NSFWish ads] (screencaps here) asking for help in coping with the incident. His last contact with the world was a Facebook status update reading simply: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." Many thousands have acknowledged his passing on several different FB tribute pages. Another page cries out for the roommate, Dharun Ravi, and his accomplice Molly Wei, to be charged with more than just "invasion of privacy." Previously, related.
posted by hermitosis on Sep 30, 2010 - 339 comments

Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes

Judge sides with motorcylist in videotaping incident. Previously [more inside]
posted by peeedro on Sep 28, 2010 - 37 comments

Operation Payback is a Bitch

Thousands of broadband customers in the UK have had their personal details uploaded to web, complete with the names of pornographic movies they are alleged to have downloaded. [more inside]
posted by afx237vi on Sep 28, 2010 - 70 comments

Typical pre-alpha bugginess, or embarrassing beginner mistakes?

Late yesterday the much-hyped "privacy aware, personally controlled" Diaspora social network platform (discussed previously) published its open-source developer release. "Feel free to try to get it running on your machines and use it," the team urged, "but we give no guarantees. We know there are security holes and bugs, and your data is not yet fully exportable." The Register's initial report is less than rosy: Code for open-source Facebook littered with landmines
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis on Sep 17, 2010 - 58 comments

GStalk

A Google engineer was recently fired for spying on several teens through their GTalk, Gmail, and Google Voice accounts.

He accessed contact lists and chat transcripts, and in one case quoted from an IM that he'd looked up behind the person's back... In another incident, Barksdale unblocked himself from a Gtalk buddy list even though the teen in question had taken steps to cut communications with the Google engineer.

Google statement confirming the shenanigans.
posted by swift on Sep 15, 2010 - 96 comments

Cyberspace has everted.

Google's Earth by William Gibson.
posted by xowie on Sep 1, 2010 - 92 comments

Fink Different

... Apple will know who you are, where you are, and what you are doing and saying and even how fast your heart is beating. ... This patent is downright creepy and invasive— certainly far more than would be needed to respond to the possible loss of a phone.
posted by Joe Beese on Aug 25, 2010 - 161 comments

P is for Privacy

MetaFilter users are
    55% male
    68% 18-49
    83% Caucasian
    54% >$60k/yr

How do I know? Perhaps a little zombie told me.
posted by DU on Aug 20, 2010 - 92 comments

Position-based quantum cryptography theoretically proved

Our results open a fascinating new direction for position-based security in cryptography where security of protocols is solely based on the laws of physics and proofs of security do not require any pre-existing infrastructure.
posted by Joe Beese on Aug 8, 2010 - 47 comments

Law, economics, and Facebook

"The meteoric rise of Facebook raises four general questions . . . How is it possible for a teenager, however brilliant, to create a multibillion-dollar online business in such a short time? How likely is such a business to flame out? What, if any, legal protection from competition should be given to the ideas that power these businesses? And how far will social networking erode privacy or have other social consequences, good or bad?" Richard Posner (the federal judge and University of Chicago law professor best known as one of the pioneers of the "law and economics" movement [Wikipedia]) answers these questions in his brief history and critique of Facebook. (This is a printer-friendly version that may cause a print dialogue box to pop up, but it's the only link that will work unless you subscribe to The New Republic. The article is nominally a book review but spends barely any time talking about the book that's supposed to be reviewed.)
posted by Jaltcoh on Aug 5, 2010 - 41 comments

Track Record

The Wall Street Journal investigates web snoops. The 50 sites installed a total of 3,180 tracking files on a test computer used to conduct the study. Only one site, the encyclopedia Wikipedia.org, installed none. Twelve sites, including IAC/InterActive Corp.'s Dictionary.com, Comcast Corp.'s Comcast.net and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com, installed more than 100 tracking tools apiece in the course of the Journal's test. [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Jul 30, 2010 - 59 comments

Cops get privacy on a public street?

The ACLU of Maryland is defending Anthony Graber for violating Maryland wiretap laws because he recorded a video of a plain clothes officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop without first identifying himself as a police officer. The Maryland State Police raided Graber's parents' after learning of the video on YouTube. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jul 27, 2010 - 141 comments

That Work Pager? Nope, Not Private.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously against a fourth amendment claim of a right against an employer search of texts on a work pager. The decision, City of Ontario v. Quon, rejected the claims, by the officer and by others who texted him on the device, that the employer city and the city's service provider violated their rights by reviewing transcripts of the text messages. Justice Kennedy's decision assumed the officer had a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, he said, the city’s search was not unduly intrusive. There was a “legitimate work-related purpose” for the audit, Justice Kennedy wrote. The city “had a legitimate interest in ensuring that employees were not being forced to pay out of their own pockets for work-related expenses, or on the other hand that the city was not paying for extensive personal communications.” Interestingly, the officer's direct supervisor had told him that he could use the pager for personal messages, as long as he paid their cost. Kennedy nonetheless opined for the Court that he likely only had a "limited privacy interest." The Court did not reach the question of whether there is an employee privacy interest in email on work servers, or conversations on work telephones.
posted by bearwife on Jun 17, 2010 - 58 comments

Your Truly Quite Open Book

Your Open Book (NSFW language) lets you search Facebook's publicly accessible status updates. While the site exists ostensibly to protest Facebook's problematic privacy settings, perhaps its even greater achievement is to let us peer into the lives of our fellow Facebook users. (NSFW language)
posted by Sticherbeast on Jun 15, 2010 - 51 comments

The Viewer As Voyeur

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera is an exhibition at the Tate Modern in London which examines voyeurism through the medium of photography. In addition to works from professionals such as Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lee Miller, Shizuka Yokomizo, Guy Bourdin, Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe, it includes amateur and CCTV "stolen" images taken both with and without the knowledge of their subjects -- all intended to "explore the uneasy relationship between making and viewing images that deliberately cross lines of privacy and propriety." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 15, 2010 - 7 comments

Privacy! You cannot... destroy... my PRIVACYYYY!!

"Now, I'm willing to admit the policeman has a difficult job, a very hard job. But it's the essence of our society that the policeman's job should be hard. He's there to protect the free citizen, not to chase criminals—that's an incidental part of his job. The free citizen is always more of a nuisance to the policeman than the criminal. He knows what to do about the criminal." Orson Welles' musings on privacy and its erosion, police harassment, and the need for an International Association for the Protection of the Individual Against Officialdom. (part 2) [more inside]
posted by Atom Eyes on Jun 11, 2010 - 14 comments

"It is possible that this has been the largest privacy breach in history across Western democracies"

"Google WiFi Snafu Likely Illegal." In May, Google admitted "inadvertently" collecting data from unsecured networks with its Streetview cars, resulting in investigations around the world and in the US. Activist Attorney General (and current US Senate candidate) Richard Blumenthal has lined up Google in his target sights (and recommended residents change their passwords), and six class action lawsuits have already been filed.
posted by availablelight on Jun 9, 2010 - 129 comments

Copy Machines, a Security Risk?

Armen Keteyian of CBS News bought four copiers for $300 a piece (video link). He found a great deal of personal data on the copiers' hard drives, easily accessible using free software one could find on the Internet. [more inside]
posted by reenum on May 23, 2010 - 62 comments

Your life is an Open Book

Is Facebook violating your privacy, or are you just oversharing? Facebook status updates are searchable through the Graph API.
posted by monospace on May 17, 2010 - 151 comments

Whoopsgle!

Google accidentally collects private data over WiFi networks. Affects US, Brazil, Hong Kong, Germany, France. Google apologizes & explains & promises to knock it off. Plus the data was kind of all just hanging out there, unencrypted. So all is well, right? [more inside]
posted by chavenet on May 14, 2010 - 73 comments

Police State U?

We've already discussed the death of a University of Virginia Lacrosse player, allegedly killed by her boyfriend. Now, UVa President John Casteen (statements on the murder 1, 2, 3, 4) wants greater access to student arrest records in the hopes that it will help prevent violence on campus.
posted by Saxon Kane on May 12, 2010 - 23 comments

Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative

Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative
[I]n December, with the help of newly hired Beltway privacy experts, it reneged on its privacy promises and made much of your profile information public by default. That includes the city that you live in, your name, your photo, the names of your friends and the causes you’ve signed onto. This spring Facebook took that even further. All the items you list as things you like must become public and linked to public profile pages. If you don’t want them linked and made public, then you don’t get them — though Facebook nicely hangs onto them in its database in order to let advertisers target you.
posted by mecran01 on May 9, 2010 - 218 comments

Can a person disappear in surveillance Britain?

It's been estimated that the average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by nearly five million CCTV cameras. So how hard would it be for an average citizen to disappear completely? That’s the subject of a new documentary film: Erasing David, (Trailer: YouTube, Vimeo) which premieres this evening in the UK on More4. It's also now available worldwide online at the iTunes store and through several Video On Demand services, as well as through Good Screenings. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 29, 2010 - 17 comments

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