Pentagon Warns Military Not to Use Home DNA Kits

A Department of Defense memo warns U.S. military members about the privacy risks of home DNA kits.

The memo provides little details on how genetic profiles could endanger security, other than noting that potential “inaccuracies” in health information could pose a risk to military personnel, who are required to report medical issues. Most of the health reports provided by DNA companies typically pertain to medical risks, though, such as a predisposition to cancer, rather than diagnosing a condition.

NYT Reporters Used a Leaked Location Database to Track the President

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to call this piece “explosive”, “stunning” et cetera. Reporters at the New York Times found a database of location data containing “50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans.” These Americans included two Secret Service agents (and by extension the President), a Department of Defense official, CIA agents leaving for home, and much more. The article is a nightmare to browse because it’s one of their interactive ones, but it’s still worth the read.

The data reviewed by Times Opinion didn’t come from a telecom or giant tech company, nor did it come from a governmental surveillance operation. It originated from a location data company, one of dozens quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps.

An Interview With the COO of the Recently Acquired Private Internet Access VPN

Popular VPN Private Internet Access (PIA) was recently acquired by a company called KAPE, now called Private Internet. PIA COO did an interview.

Private Internet is positioned to lead the movement for a private and secure online experience for all. The internet as we now know it is a place where data is harvested and identities do not belong to the users but are traded by privileged few. Private Internet changes that. The new name also reflects the fact that we will now be offering four new privacy products to our product suite.

I’m interested, and wary, of the future of PIA. I’ve seen accusations of KAPE that include malware, but Mr. Sagi does say the app will be open-sourced. Although this quote sounds odd to me: “We’re building an internal roadmap to create a transparent and verifiable infrastructure, in which no one, including ourselves, is permitted access to the servers through which VPN traffic flows.” They had shown in court they can’t produce information regarding user data, so they already shouldn’t be able to access server traffic.

Facebook Thinks California Privacy Law Doesn’t Apply To It

The California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) goes into effect January 1. Despite it being state-created it’s expected to affect all Americans. Some companies have been following Microsoft’s example and plan to voluntarily apply it to all states. Facebook however, disagrees (to no one’s surprise).

Facebook is taking a different tack for its web tracker, Pixel. Pixel’s name comes from its physical appearance on a website that installs it: literally, one square pixel. But behind that pixel is a code that that installs cookies on your browser, allowing it to track your activity across the internet.

Facebook provides this code to businesses free of charge, and those businesses can then purchase ads based off the information that Pixel collects…According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook will claim that it doesn’t sell the data that its web trackers collect; it simply provides a service to businesses and websites that install Pixel on their sites. Because of this, it believes its web trackers are exempt from CCPA’s regulations…

Senator Lindsey Graham to ‘Impose His Will’ on Encryption Backdoors

Apple and Facebook representatives met with lawmakers today where senators pushed for the companies to compromise their users’ security by including encryption backdoors. In particular, Sen. Lindsey Graham said:

My advice to you is to get on with it. Because this time next year, if we haven’t found a way that you can live with, we will impose our will on you.

“Encryption backdoors for thee, but not for me.”

Google Wants COPPA to Change so it can Keep Collecting Kids’ Data

The Federal Trade Commission is considering a revamp of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Google wants to help them change the rules, and asked the agency to eliminate rules that categorizes anyone watching kids content online as actual kids.

In September, Google agreed to pay US$170 million to the FTC to resolve claims that YouTube violated COPPA by serving targeted advertisements to children under 13…After the FTC settlement, YouTube told creators that they would have to identify when videos are aimed at children under 13. When that happens, YouTube now turns off ads that rely on web browsing behavior and other targeting data, which earn more for YouTube and creators.

Homeland Security Cancels Facial Recognition Plan for Americans

Homeland Security had a plan to expand its use of airport facial recognition to include U.S. citizens. After much outcry the agency will drop that plan, although foreign nationals and visitors will still face mandatory scanning.

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection, which filed the proposal, said the agency has “no current plans to require U.S. citizens to provide photographs upon entry and exit from the United States,” and that it “intends to have the planned regulatory action regarding U.S. citizens removed from the unified agenda next time it is published.”