iOS 13.2 Will Let You Delete Your Siri Audio History

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The latest Apple betas like iOS 13.2 have a feature that lets you delete your Siri audio history in settings.

In addition to offering an explicit opt-in, Apple has promised that only employees, and not contractors, will be involved in reviewing the audio clips. However, this doesn’t stop the automated text transcriptions of your Siri requests from being transmitted to Apple, irrespective of whether you opt-in or -out, although they will pseudonymized and dissociated from your Apple ID. What’s more, these transcripts could be reviewed by employees and contractors.

I’m glad that Apple is adding this feature, and given its privacy stance I’m surprised it’s a feature we don’t already have.

Your Kids' Photos Power Surveillance Technology

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Kids lining up against the wall with smartphones

The New York Times has a nice feature out today about how a mother found photos of her kids in a machine learning database.

None of them could have foreseen that 14 years later, those images would reside in an unprecedentedly huge facial-recognition database called MegaFace. Containing the likenesses of nearly 700,000 individuals, it has been downloaded by dozens of companies to train a new generation of face-identification algorithms, used to track protesters, surveil terrorists, spot problem gamblers and spy on the public at large. The average age of the people in the database, its creators have said, is 16.

I can’t imagine the gross feeling you get when you see your kids in a database like this.

Private Social Network MeWe Reaches 6 Million Members

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Private social network MeWe has reached six million members in 2019 and was named the Best Entrepreneurial Company for this year.

MeWe expects over 100 million members by the end of 2020, having achieved 405% growth in 2018 and growing twice as fast on a daily basis in 2019. 60% of MeWe’s traffic is international and 35% of members are active—exceeding industry standards.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t used MeWe since I reviewed it. But I’ll gladly promote alternatives to Facebook, especially if privacy is the number one focus.

DuckDuckGo Survey Shows People Taking Action on Privacy

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A recent survey (n=1,114) by DuckDuckGo found that 79.2% of U.S. adults had taken privacy measures in the past year, like adjusting privacy settings on social media or just using social media less.

43.1% (± 2.9) removed personal information or posts that they didn’t want the network or others to see.

35.0% (± 2.8)made their profile completely private.

34.8% (± 2.8) stopped adding location tags to their posts.

38.2% (± 2.8) changed which data they allow the network to collect and share about them.

I think it’s great to see more people paying attention to their privacy. For most people, privacy is something that you don’t notice often until you start losing it.

How Motorola Helps Enable Government Surveillance

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Since 2017 Motorola Solutions has invested US$1.7 billion to support or buy companies that build police body cameras, train the cameras with facial recognition, find suspects in videos, and track vehicle movement via license plates.

The company provided a statement that described its plan to add artificial intelligence products, including object detection and “unusual motion detection,” to a package it sells to public safety agencies. The systems can help flag a potential trespasser or the appearance of smoke, the company said. The company emphasized that the new tools are not meant to make automatic policing decisions but to help officers decide how to act.

Apple, Amazon, and the Quest for Device Location

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This article is a great example of false equivalence. By including both Apple and Amazon and writing about each company’s efforts with location technology, the reader is led to believe that we have to worry about both companies. But of course, that isn’t true. Apple has much better privacy practices, while Amazon barely knows the word.

It could be that with the privacy-focused techlash of recent years, both are treading carefully in the launch stages. Just look at how Amazon’s acquisition of mesh networking company eero was received earlier this year or the widespread interest in Huawei’s level of involvement with 5G networks. Location tracking in particular is currently the focus of much more granular controls in iOS 13 and Android 10 than ever before.

More Apps Should Use Differential Privacy

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News app Tonic is different than most news apps because it uses differential privacy. More apps should do the same.

Before your eyes cross, a real-life example Cyphers gave me is the census. The government has a lot of aggregate data about its citizens—and it probably wants to share demographic information from that set without revealing anything about any one particular individual. Let’s say you live in a small census block with only one or two people. It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out personal information about you, given the right parameters. Differential privacy would be a way to summarize that data without putting any one individual at risk.

Amazon Has a Mole in the California State Assembly

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Perhaps using the word “mole” is hyperbole. But it’s deeply concerning that California Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin is actively trying to kill California’s privacy act that would impede companies like Amazon Ring, when her husband is the COO for Ring.

Like other companies that collect vast amounts of consumer data, Ring — and its parent company, Amazon — has a financial stake in the details of California’s groundbreaking data-privacy law. Industry groups, including those representing Amazon, have been scrambling to change the law before it takes effect Jan. 1.

“We can talk about this later,”Jacqui Irwin said, side-stepping questions about a potential conflict outside her office last week. “It’s a little bit offensive there.”

HP Printers Send a Ton of Data Analytics Back Home

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Software engineer Robert Heaton found disturbing evidence that HP printers request a lot of analytics permissions to send back to the company.

In summary, HP wants its printer to collect all kinds of data that a reasonable person would never expect it to. This includes metadata about your devices, as well as information about all the documents that you print, including timestamps, number of pages, and the application doing the printing (HP state that they do stop short of looking at the contents of your documents).

WhatsApp's 'Delete For Everyone' Feature Doesn't Work With iPhones

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WhatsApp

WhatsApp from Facebook has a feature called Delete for Everyone that lets people unsend messages, photos, and videos from an individual’s phone, or everyone in a group. But it doesn’t delete them from iPhones.

According to Shitesh Sachan, an application security consultant, who found this privacy issue and shared his findings exclusively with The Hacker News, the feature for WhatsApp for iOS has not been designed to delete received media files saved in the iPhone’s Camera Roll.

Spotify Wants to Track Your Location so Friends Don't Use a Family Plan

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In more location tracking news today, Spotify wants to track yours because non-family members sometimes use Family Plans *gasp!*.

“The changes to the policy allow Spotify to arbitrarily use the location of an individual to ascertain if they continue to reside at the same address when using a family account, and it’s unclear how often Spotify will query users’ devices for this information,” said Christopher Weatherhead, technology lead for UK watchdog group Privacy International, adding that there are “worrying privacy implications.”

iOS 13 Forced Facebook to Admit it Collects Your Location Data

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Yes, I know how shocked you are folks. As it turns out, Facebook lied about yet another thing: It totally collects your location data, and admitted that fact itself in a blog post.

For years the antisocial media giant has claimed it doesn’t track your location, insisting to suspicious reporters and privacy advocates that its addicts “have full control over their data,” and that it does not gather or sell that data unless those users agree to it.

Then, late on Monday, Facebook emitted a blog post in which it kindly offered to help users “understand updates” to their “device’s location settings.”

You may have missed the critical part amid the glowing testimony so we’ll repeat it: “… use precise location even when you’re not using the app…”

Quote from a TMO reader: “Hoping that FB will somehow become secure is as much magical thinking as expecting a wild pig to perform the role Juliet for Bolshoi.”

NSA Publishes Threatening Letter Calling for Encryption Backdoors

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Glenn S. Gerstell, general counsel for the National Security Agency (NSA) published a letter in the New York Times, writing about how a “digital revolution threatens to upend our entire national security infrastructure.” He thinks backdoors into encryption is one answer (of course he doesn’t use the word backdoor), as well as the agency collecting even more data from citizens. Read his letter by clicking the link below, then read this take by Nefarious Laboratories.

Make no mistake, this letter is a thinly-veiled threat to every major corporation around the globe: provide the U.S. government with access to all of your data or else, “there is another path, and it is the one taken by authoritarian regimes around the world”.