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.

Clearview AI Helps Law Enforcement With Facial Recognition

In a long read from NYT, Kashmir Hill writes about a startup called Clearview AI that works with law enforcement on facial recognition.

You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.

Your Online Activity is a Social Credit Score

Violet Blue has an interesting take, that of your online activity as a social credit score. The SCC is something we usually associate with China, but we’re seeing trends suggesting America is moving toward a similar system.

Combine this with companies like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and yes, Airbnb deciding what legal behaviors are acceptable for service, and now we’re looking at groups of historically marginalized people being denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural and social activities — at scale.