Privacy campaigner flags concerns about Microsoft’s creepy Productivity Score now in 365

Microsoft’s Productivity Score has put in a public appearance in Microsoft 365 and attracted the ire of privacy campaigners and activists. The Register had already noted the vaguely creepy-sounding technology back in May. The goal of it is to use telemetry captured by the Windows behemoth to track the productivity of an organisation through metrics Read more about Privacy campaigner flags concerns about Microsoft’s creepy Productivity Score now in 365[…]

IRS contracted to Search Warrantless Location Database Over 10,000 Times

The IRS was able to query a database of location data quietly harvested from ordinary smartphone apps over 10,000 times, according to a copy of the contract between IRS and the data provider obtained by Motherboard. The document provides more insight into what exactly the IRS wanted to do with a tool purchased from Venntel, Read more about IRS contracted to Search Warrantless Location Database Over 10,000 Times[…]

GM launches OnStar Insurance Services – uses your driving data to calculate insurance rate

Andrew Rose, president of OnStar Insurance Services commented: “OnStar Insurance will promote safety, security and peace of mind. We aim to be an industry leader, offering insurance in an innovative way. “GM customers who have subscribed to OnStar and connected services will be eligible to receive discounts, while also receiving fully-integrated services from OnStar Insurance Read more about GM launches OnStar Insurance Services – uses your driving data to calculate insurance rate[…]

Australia’s spy agencies caught collecting COVID-19 app data

Australia’s intelligence agencies have been caught “incidentally” collecting data from the country’s COVIDSafe contact-tracing app during the first six months of its launch, a government watchdog has found. The report, published Monday by the Australian government’s inspector general for the intelligence community, which oversees the government’s spy and eavesdropping agencies, said the app data was Read more about Australia’s spy agencies caught collecting COVID-19 app data[…]

Amazon’s ad-hoc Ring, Echo mesh network can mooch off your neighbors’ Wi-Fi if needed – and it’s opt-out

Amazon is close to launching Sidewalk – its ad-hoc wireless network for smart-home devices that taps into people’s Wi-Fi – and it is pretty much an opt-out affair. The gist of Sidewalk is this: nearby Amazon gadgets, regardless of who owns them, can automatically organize themselves into their own private wireless network mesh, communicating primarily Read more about Amazon’s ad-hoc Ring, Echo mesh network can mooch off your neighbors’ Wi-Fi if needed – and it’s opt-out[…]

The ones who brought you Let’s Encrypt, bring you: Tools for gathering anonymized app usage metrics from netizens

The Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) has a plan to allow companies to collect information about how people are using their products while protecting the privacy of those generating the data. Today, the California-based non-profit, which operates Let’s Encrypt, introduced Prio Services, a way to gather online product metrics without compromising the personal information of Read more about The ones who brought you Let’s Encrypt, bring you: Tools for gathering anonymized app usage metrics from netizens[…]

Google Will Make It a bit Easier to Turn Off Smart Features which track you, Slightly Harder for Regulators to Break Up Google

Soon, Google will present you with a clear choice to disable smart features, like Google assistant reminders to pay your bills and predictive text in Gmail. Whether you like the Gmail mindreader function that autofills “all the best” and “reaching out,” or have long dreaded the arrival of the machine staring back from the void,: Read more about Google Will Make It a bit Easier to Turn Off Smart Features which track you, Slightly Harder for Regulators to Break Up Google[…]

Apple hits back at European activist lawsuit against unauthorised tracking installs – says it doesn’t use it… but 3rd parties do

The group, led by campaigner Max Schrems, filed complaints with data protection watchdogs in Germany and Spain alleging that the tracking tool illegally enabled the $2 trillion U.S. tech giant to store users’ data without their consent. Apple directly rebutted the claims filed by Noyb, the digital rights group founded by Schrems, saying they were Read more about Apple hits back at European activist lawsuit against unauthorised tracking installs – says it doesn’t use it… but 3rd parties do[…]

How the U.S. Military Buys Location Data from Ordinary Apps

The U.S. military is buying the granular movement data of people around the world, harvested from innocuous-seeming apps, Motherboard has learned. The most popular app among a group Motherboard analyzed connected to this sort of data sale is a Muslim prayer and Quran app that has more than 98 million downloads worldwide. Others include a Read more about How the U.S. Military Buys Location Data from Ordinary Apps[…]

Your Computer isn’t Yours – Apple edition – how is it snooping on you, why can’t you start apps when their server is down

It’s here. It happened. Did you notice? I’m speaking, of course, of the world that Richard Stallman predicted in 1997. The one Cory Doctorow also warned us about. On modern versions of macOS, you simply can’t power on your computer, launch a text editor or eBook reader, and write or read, without a log of Read more about Your Computer isn’t Yours – Apple edition – how is it snooping on you, why can’t you start apps when their server is down[…]

Mozilla *privacy not included tech buyers guide rated on creepy scale

This is a list of 130 Smart home gadgets, fitness trackers, toys and more, rated for their privacy & security. It’s a large list and shows you how basically anything by big tech is pretty creepy – anything by Amazon and Facebook is super creepy, Google pretty creepy, Apple only creepy. There are a few Read more about Mozilla *privacy not included tech buyers guide rated on creepy scale[…]

Six Reasons Why Google Maps Is the Creepiest App On Your Phone

VICE has highlighted six reasons why Google Maps is the creepiest app on your phone. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: 1. Google Maps Wants Your Search History: Google’s “Web & App Activity” settings describe how the company collects data, such as user location, to create a faster and “more personalized” experience. Read more about Six Reasons Why Google Maps Is the Creepiest App On Your Phone[…]

It Took Just 5 Minutes Of Movement Data To Identify ‘Anonymous’ VR Users

As companies and governments increasingly hoover up our personal data, a common refrain to keep people from worrying is the claim that nothing can go wrong because the data itself is “anonymized” — or stripped of personal identifiers like social security numbers. But time and time again, studies have shown how this really is cold Read more about It Took Just 5 Minutes Of Movement Data To Identify ‘Anonymous’ VR Users[…]

Police Will Pilot a Program to Live-Stream Amazon Ring Cameras

This is not a drill. Red alert: The police surveillance center in Jackson, Mississippi, will be conducting a 45-day pilot program to live stream the Amazon Ring cameras of participating residents. Since Ring first made a splash in the private security camera market, we’ve been warning of its potential to undermine the civil liberties of its Read more about Police Will Pilot a Program to Live-Stream Amazon Ring Cameras[…]

Brave browser first to nix CNAME deception, the sneaky DNS trick used by marketers to duck privacy controls

The Brave web browser will soon block CNAME cloaking, a technique used by online marketers to defy privacy controls designed to prevent the use of third-party cookies. The browser security model makes a distinction between first-party domains – those being visited – and third-party domains – from the suppliers of things like image assets or Read more about Brave browser first to nix CNAME deception, the sneaky DNS trick used by marketers to duck privacy controls[…]

When you tell Chrome to wipe private data about you, it spares two websites from the purge: Google.com, YouTube

Google exempts its own websites from Chrome’s automatic data-scrubbing feature, allowing the ads giant to potentially track you even when you’ve told it not to. Programmer Jeff Johnson noticed the unusual behavior, and this month documented the issue with screenshots. In his assessment of the situation, he noted that if you set up Chrome, on Read more about When you tell Chrome to wipe private data about you, it spares two websites from the purge: Google.com, YouTube[…]

Thought the FBI were the only ones able to unlock encrypted phones? Pretty much every US cop can get the job done – and does

Never mind the Feds. American police forces routinely “circumvent most security features” in smartphones to extract mountains of personal information, according to a report that details the massive, ubiquitous cracking of devices by cops. Two years of public records requests by Upturn, a Washington DC non-profit, has revealed that every one of the United States’ Read more about Thought the FBI were the only ones able to unlock encrypted phones? Pretty much every US cop can get the job done – and does[…]

UK test and trace data can be handed to police, reveals memorandum – that mission crept quickly

As if things were not going badly enough for the UK’s COVID-19 test and trace service, it now seems police will be able to access some test data, prompting fear that the disclosure could deter people who should have tests from coming forward. As revealed in the Health Service Journal (paywalled), Department for Health and Read more about UK test and trace data can be handed to police, reveals memorandum – that mission crept quickly[…]

Remember when Zoom was rumbled for lousy crypto? Six months later it says end-to-end is ready – but it’s not

The world’s plague-time video meeting tool of choice, Zoom, says it’s figured out how to do end-to-end encryption sufficiently well to offer users a tech preview. News of the trial comes after April 2020 awkwardness that followed the revelation that Zoom was fibbing about its service using end-to-end encryption. As we reported at the time, Read more about Remember when Zoom was rumbled for lousy crypto? Six months later it says end-to-end is ready – but it’s not[…]

Five Eyes governments, India, and Japan make new call for encryption backdoors – insist that democracy is an insecure police state

Members of the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes, along with government representatives for Japan and India, have published a statement over the weekend calling on tech companies to come up with a solution for law enforcement to access end-to-end encrypted communications. The statement is the alliance’s latest effort to get tech companies to agree to encryption backdoors. Read more about Five Eyes governments, India, and Japan make new call for encryption backdoors – insist that democracy is an insecure police state[…]

Google is giving data to police based on search keywords: IPs of everyone who searched a certain thing. No warrant required.

There are few things as revealing as a person’s search history, and police typically need a warrant on a known suspect to demand that sensitive information. But a recently unsealed court document found that investigators can request such data in reverse order by asking Google to disclose everyone who searched a keyword rather than for Read more about Google is giving data to police based on search keywords: IPs of everyone who searched a certain thing. No warrant required.[…]

Europe’s top court confirms no mass surveillance without limits

Europe’s top court has delivered another slap-down to indiscriminate government mass surveillance regimes. In a ruling today the CJEU has made it clear that national security concerns do not exclude EU Member States from the need to comply with general principles of EU law such as proportionality and respect for fundamental rights to privacy, data Read more about Europe’s top court confirms no mass surveillance without limits[…]

The IRS Is Being Investigated for Using Bought Location Data Without a Warrant – Wait there’s a company called Venntel that sells this and that’s OK?

The body tasked with oversight of the IRS announced in a letter that it will investigate the agency’s use of location data harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples’ phones, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Motherboard. The move comes after Senators Ron Wyden and Elizabeth Warren demanded a formal investigation into Read more about The IRS Is Being Investigated for Using Bought Location Data Without a Warrant – Wait there’s a company called Venntel that sells this and that’s OK?[…]

Facebook revenue chief says ad-supported model is ‘under assault’ – boo hoo, turns out people like their privacy

Facebook Chief Revenue Officer David Fischer said Tuesday that the economic models that rely on personalized advertising are “under assault” as Apple readies a change that would limit the ability of Facebook and other companies to target ads and estimate how well they work. The change to Apple’s identifier for advertisers, or IDFA, will give Read more about Facebook revenue chief says ad-supported model is ‘under assault’ – boo hoo, turns out people like their privacy[…]

Who watches the watchers? Samsung does so it can fling ads at owners of its smart TVs

Samsung brags to advertisers that “first screen ads”, seen by all users of its Smart TVs when they turn on, are 100 per cent viewable, audience targeted, and seen 400 times per TV per month. Some users are not happy. “Dear Samsung, why are you showing Ads on my Smart TV without my consent? I Read more about Who watches the watchers? Samsung does so it can fling ads at owners of its smart TVs[…]