Location is One of The Big Factors in Advertising

Jennifer Jolly wrote an article wondering if Siri was spying on her because she began to see ads in Spanish after her husband began speaking Spanish at home, within “earshot” of her iPad. The answer is, of course, no. In her buried lede she tells us that she had just moved to a predominantly Spanish-speaking part of Oakland California. It seems reasonable to me that you would see Spanish ads in a Spanish area. Although I’m sure the device’s language is a factor. We did have news last year that contractors listened to some snippets of Siri recordings, but that was to improve the service and not sell ads. Meanwhile, if you turn on Limit Ad Tracking in Settings, your advertising identifier is zeroed. After that, location becomes one of the big factors in advertising.

And Apple says it engineers its devices to protect user privacy. When it comes to Siri, which is integrated in nearly every Apple device, the assistant is designed to activate only after the wake word (“Hey, Siri”) or a waking action is completed, Apple says.

CocoonWeaver Gives You Private Voice Transcriptions

CocoonWeaver is a new-ish app (released five months ago) that gives you private voice transcriptions automatically sorted into categories with a voice command. To assign a category to a transcription just say at the beginning, “Cocoon, <category>” then start talking as normal. The developers also have a good privacy policy. Audio and textual data is encrypted and stored locally. The app’s design adheres to guidelines put forth by The Center for Humane Technology. Other features include: Integrated maps for geotagged notes, global search of history, an Apple Watch app, works offline, and more. App Store: Free

Facebook Hilariously Reminds its Users About ‘Data Privacy Day’

In the next few weeks you might see a reminder in the Facebook to review your privacy settings. That is, what little privacy the company gives you.

The updates represent Facebook burnishing its image to some extent. It spent much of the last decade embroiled in privacy problems that ranged from the Cambridge Analytica scandal through to data exposure on a third-party system. At the same time, it’s safe to say many people want to know their data is being used properly — the prompt and expanded tools could provide a degree of reassurance.

I don’t think it’s possible for Facebook to burnish its image.

Amazon’s Ring Surveillance App is Loaded With Trackers

Not only are Ring doorbell cameras used as surveillance, but the app itself too. Like many apps, it’s loaded with third-party trackers and analytics tools. The EFF examined the Android app.

As we’ve mentioned, this includes information about your device and carrier, unique identifiers that allow these companies to track you across apps, real-time interaction data with the app, and information about your home network. In the case of MixPanel, it even includes your name and email address.

Leaked Documents Reveal Antivirus Surveillance Industry

Leaked documents reveal that an Avast antivirus subsidiary called Jumpshot packages what you do on your computer and sells it to companies like Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, and more.

The data obtained by Motherboard and PCMag includes Google searches, lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people visiting companies’ LinkedIn pages, particular YouTube videos, and people visiting porn websites. It is possible to determine from the collected data what date and time the anonymized user visited YouPorn and PornHub, and in some cases what search term they entered into the porn site and which specific video they watched.

I write a lot about privacy and security, and I try hard to be optimistic that eventually things will change and some day we will have a federal privacy law.

Privacy, Parenting, and Monitoring Your Kids’ Electronics

Wired is publishing a series on parenting, and this article is written by a father who monitors his teens’ electronics.

Later, after discovering my daughter had secreted a contraband Chromebook in her room to watch late-night Friends, all devices would be sequestered in the master bedroom overnight.

And this rule was above all else: The devices all belong to me and my wife, and we are entitled to see anything and everything on them.

I didn’t get a cell phone until I was in college, so my parents didn’t have to worry about me blasting my teenage cringe online. At the same time, this guy sounds like the type to physically remove the door to his kid’s room so they can’t hide from him.

Britain Wants Strict Privacy Rules for Kids

Today Britain rolled out strict privacy protections for kids, like requiring tech platforms to turn on protections by default.

The new rules are the most comprehensive protections to arise from heightened global concern that popular online services exploit children’s information, suggest inappropriate content to them and fail to protect them from sexual predators. The British children’s protections far outstrip narrower rules in the United States, which apply only to online services aimed at children under 13.