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Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

Web Privacy Tech in Focus

posted by Pete Prestipino @ 2:15 PM
Monday, October 15, 2012

If you're struggling to help users maintain privacy on your site, check out the combined tag management system and visitor privacy solutions from Ensighten, which has just been awarded a patent for its consumer privacy management technology. Ensighten's services help online publishers and retailers that need to comply with consumer privacy protection lawas such as Do Not Track (DNT) in the US and the UK Cookie Law. 

The Ensighten system uses conditional logic enables the creation of privacy rule-sets to handle privacy law requirements from any nation or to support enforcement of any company policy. Multiple privacy rule-sets supported, and are assignable by domain(s), sub-domain(s), page(s), path(s) or session-conditions (e.g. based on visitor’s national origin, device type, cookie, date, etc.). 

“We’ve always seen our privacy technology as far more advanced than any other website privacy compliance solution on the market. The assignment of this patent by the USPTO underscores that Ensighten has extremely unique and compelling privacy technology that is practical for real-world use by high-traffic publishers,” said Des Cahill, VP of marketing at Ensighten. 

“Online publishers and retailers are paying careful attention to evolving regulations such as Europe’s ePrivacy Directive because they must ensure their websites conform with its requirements. Ensighten Privacy provides single line of code deployment, requires no modification to existing page code, and does not require the purchase or installation of a TMS while giving publishers complete control of their privacy compliance.”

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Is Behavioral Advertising No Longer Cool?

posted by Michael Garrity @ 2:30 PM
Monday, July 16, 2012

It looks like one of the big issues on the Web over the next few years will be user privacy; specifically, how much personal data websites and marketers are allowed to collect, and how much users are allowed to keep to themselves.

Most likely a result of numerous (and serious) complaints about Facebook’s many privacy issues in the past, more and more ‘Net users are paying closer attention to what data websites are using to track them, and taking more of an initiative to keep as much of their personal data to themselves as possible.

Online privacy services provider TRUSTe recently looked further into this topic and today released a report showing that an increasing number of consumers are taking action to protect their online privacy.

When the company studied this last year, it found that 27 percent of US adults (18 and over) would opt-out of online behavioral advertising due to privacy concerns. This year, that number has almost doubled, with 50 percent of adults choosing to opt-out.

In addition, 76 percent of respondents said they don’t let companies share their personal information with a third party, 90 percent will use browser controls (including deleting cookies) to protect their privacy, and 58 percent said they generally don’t like behavioral advertising. All of these numbers were an increase from last year’s report.

For now, this issue isn’t in the general public consciousness just yet, but as the numbers indicate, it’s getting there very quickly. Fortunately for marketers, this provides some time to try to come up with incentives for users to want to opt-in, or at least ways to provide a comparable experience to those consumers who don’t want to share their private information.

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The U.K. Cracks Down on Cookies

posted by AllisonH @ 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 2, 2012

The U.K.’s cookie law, which requires website owners to ask permission before installing certain types of cookies on to users’ machines, went into effect earlier this week – meaning that website owners in the U.K. need to make sure that they are compliant.

One way to become compliant is with a new and free Web service from high-performance tag management systems provider Ensighten. The service, Ensighten PrivacyEU, not only helps publishers, marketers and merchants become compliant, but also complements the recently launched Ensighten PrivacyDNT service.

Together, these free services offer a complete solution for consumer online privacy initiatives.

Ensighten PrivacyEU is easy to set up and doesn’t have a limitation on traffic volume or the number of Web domains supported. Publishers are required to add a single line of code to their websites so that site visitors from the U.K. can be recognized and presented with a dialogue box that requests their consent for any data collection that will be used for tracking purposes.

Additionally, the Ensighten PrivacyEU solution leverages tag classification data provided by PrivacyChoice, and is also based on the same technology that powers Ensighten’s enterprise-class privacy solution, Ensighten Privacy.

“The laws emerging in the European Union invariably go far beyond the recommendations and best practices embodied in the Do Not Track standard that is evolving in the United States,” said Des Cahill, VP of marketing at Ensighten. “Publishers and e-tailers worldwide need to pay careful attention to the ePrivacy Directive and ensure their websites conform to its requirements. Ensighten PrivacyEU provides simple and free compliance with these laws and enables them to reassure site visitors that their rights are being respected.”

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Google+ now open to teens, with a few security tweaks too

posted by Technology @ 2:52 PM
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Google+ Hangouts prompt for teens

Google+ opened up to teenagers on Thursday, a move that Google no doubt hopes will help it challenge Facebook as the social network of choice.

"Teens and young adults are the most active Internet users on the planet," said Bradley Horowitz, Google's vice president of products, in a post on his Google+ page. "And surprise, surprise: they're also human beings who enjoy spending time with friends and family. Put these two things together and it's clear that teens will increasingly connect online."

While minors will now be able to use Google+, the experience on the social network won't be exactly the same for them as the 18-and-older crowd. Google has made a few privacy and security changes with teens in mind that Horowitz said will make Google+ a more ideal network to use for sharing and connecting with friends than other services.

"Unfortunately, online sharing is still second-rate for this age group," he said of teenagers. "In life, for instance, teens can share the right things with just the right people (like classmates, parents or close ties). Over time, the nuance and richness of selective sharing even promotes authenticity and accountability. Sadly, today's most popular online tools are rigid and brittle by comparison, so teens end up over-sharing with all of their so-called "friends.' "

The ability to share on Google+ to specific "circles" of friends is a start Horowitz said, but the social network is also giving users "control over who can contact them online. By default, only those in teens' circles can say hello, and blocking someone is always just a click or two away."

Google+'s Hangout video chats will also be tweaked for teens. "If a stranger outside a teen's circles joins the hangout, we temporarily remove the young adult, and give them a chance to rejoin," he said.

Previously, Google+ was only open to users who were 18 years old and up. Now, Horowitz said, anyone who is old enough for a Google account of any sort is old enough for Google+. And in all but Spain (14), South Korea (14) and the Netherlands (16), that age is 13.

Facebook, which boasts more than 800 million users, is open to anyone 13 and older. Google+ has about 90 million users, the tech giant said earlier this month.


Google plans to merge more user data across its products

Google+ continues battle with fading user interest, data say

Google engineer goofs, tells whole world that Google doesn't get it

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Image: An example of the prompt a teenage Google+ user under age 18 will receive whenever someone they don't have included in a contact "circle" on the social network joins in on a Hangout video chat session. Credit: Google

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Google plans to merge more user data across its products

posted by Technology @ 3:05 PM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Google is alerting hundreds of millions of users of its products that it's changing the way it treats users' data, combining even more information it knows about them from all of its products, from Gmail to YouTube.

The Internet search giant is putting a notice on its home page and sending emails to users starting Tuesday. Google says the changes will give users a better, more consistent experience on Google products and will help advertisers better reach users who are interested in their products and services.

The changes to Google's privacy policy and terms of service take effect March 1. They remove legal hurdles Google had faced in combining information from certain properties such as YouTube or search history.

Google said the new privacy policy responds to demands from regulators around the globe that users have a simpler, more concise way to understand what Google does with their information. Right now users have to navigate a complex web of privacy policies and terms of service for different Google products.

Google says it's been combining information it gleans about users logged into Google for years to tailor search results and ads to their interests. Now it will be able to do that even more broadly. For example, if you search for skateboard tricks on Google and then hop over to YouTube, the video sharing site will recommend offerings from skateboard pro Tony Hawk.

Google says users can still control their information through the privacy dashboard and the Ads Preferences Manager.

Google says it's helping users. But it’s also clearly helping itself, said Danny Sullivan, editor of

"This may cause more critics to complain that there is no escaping the clutches of Google," Sullivan said.

And it could throw more fuel on the already heated controversy over Google's recently launched Google Search plus Your World feature which combined information from Google+ into search results.

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Larry Page, Google has moved more aggressively to use its position as the dominant Internet company to promote its Google+ social network.

It's looking to slow the momentum of Facebook and to use personal data from Google+ and other Google products to improve search, maps and ads.

It’s a battle of the Web superpowers. Facebook, which is on the verge of an initial public offering that could raise $10 billion and value the Menlo Park, Calif., company at $100 billion, aims to own everyone’s online identity and already has a rich hoard of information about its users and deep insights into their connections and interests.

To counter Facebook's growing influence, Google is pouring massive resources into reengineering its approach to the Web and make it more social.

Like other major Internet players, it’s walking a fine line between respecting the privacy of users and mining as much information about them as possible.

Google has stumbled when it comes to privacy. Last year it reached a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that subjects the company to 20 years of privacy audits. It also has drawn heavy regulatory scrutiny in Europe.

Google recently launched a privacy campaign to educate consumers about how it uses their information and how to protect themselves on the Web.

Privacy advocate Ryan Calo, who was given a sneak peek at Google's new privacy policy, says it's unlikely users will read it. Privacy policies are required by law, but few people pay attention to them, even when they are like Google's latest one: short, concise and written in plain English, he said.

"Sounds like Google's overall practices won't be that different; it's more that Google is owning up to how it thinks and what it does," said Calo, who’s with Stanford Law School's Center for Internet & Society, which gets some funding from Google.

But he’s less sure if Google isn’t risking turning off some users with what he calls the "creepiness" factor.

For example, Google says someday it may be able to alert you based on your location, your calendar and local traffic conditions when you are going to be late for a meeting. According to Google: "Google users still have to do too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them."

Do users want Google to do that? It depends, Calo said.

"It's different if I am going to a business meeting or to a strip club,” he said.


Google aims ad campaign at privacy concerns

Privacy watchdog urges investigation of Google search

New Google feature adds a personal touch to search results

– Jessica Guynn

Photo: A sign for Google is displayed behind the Google android robot, at the National Retail Federation, in New York on Jan. 17, 2012. Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

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MegaUpload, one of the world's largest file-sharing websites, was shut down Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice, which accused it of violating piracy and copyright laws.

  In an indictment, the Justice Department alleged that MegaUpload was a "mega conspiracy" and a global criminal organization "whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale."

The Justice Department said MegaUpload, which had about 150 million users, tallied up harm to copyright holders in excess of $500 million by allowing users to illegally share movies, music and other files. Prosecutors said in the indictment that the site's operators raked in an income from it that topped $175 million.

Justice Department indictment of MegaUpload DOCUMENT: Read the indictment against MegaUpload

MegaUpload was just one of the many services that allow for the easy sharing of large files online. Others include sites such as Mediafire and Rapidshare and cloud storage services that allow for shared folders such as and Dropbox.

One way MegaUpload differentiated itself was with its online marketing campaign that featured celebrities such as rapper/producers Kanye West, Lil' Jon, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Swizz Beats stating in YouTube videos why they loved using the site. Other videos feature tennis star Serena Williams, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons and director Brett Ratner testifying to their use of MegaUpload.

The release of the Justice Department indictment came after dozens of websites, led by tech heavyweights Wikipedia, Craigslist, Mozilla and Google, altered their websites to protest two anti-piracy bills under consideration on Capitol Hill: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

Critics of the bills say the proposed laws would give the Justice Department the ability to censor the Internet by giving the agency clearance to shut down a site without having to get court approval of an indictment, as it did with MegaUpload. Although the indictment was unsealed Thursday, it was issued by a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 5, the agency said.

In a statement issued with the indictment,the Justice Department said "this action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime."

The Justice Department said that at its request, authorities arrested three MegaUpload executives — officially employed by two companies, Megaupload Ltd. and Vestor Ltd. — in New Zealand, including the site's founder, Kim Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz. The agency is also looking to arrest two additional executives.

The indictment charges the two companies with running a "racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement."

According to the Associated Press, before the MegaUpload site was shut down Thursday, a statement was posted on the site saying the allegations made against it were "grotesquely overblown" and that "the vast majority of Mega's Internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."

Visits to on Thursday showed the website as unable to load. The Justice Department had ordered the seizure of 18 domain names it linked to the alleged wrongdoing.

[Updated at 3:42 p.m.: As noted by Times reporter Ben Fritz on our sister blog Company Town, the hacker group Anonymous has allegedly lobbed a denial-of-service attack that has temporarily taken down the websites for the Department of Justice and Universal Music as a move in retaliation for the shutdown of MegaUpload. Forbes is reporting that the same attack has struck the sites for the Recording Industry of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America.]

[Updated at 3:50 p.m.: The Twitter accounts @YourAnonNews and @AnonOps are taking credit on behalf of Anonymous for the web attacks on the websites of the Justice Department, Recording Industry of America, Motion Picture Assn. of America and Universal Music.]


SOPA blackouts inspired protest around the world

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

Wikipedia: SOPA protest led 8 million to look up reps in Congress

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

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Bloggers in China sound off on SOPA blackout

posted by Technology @ 2:44 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Bloggers in China sound off on SOPA blackout

Watching from China, where Web censorship is practically a national hallmark, some can't help but smirk and crack jokes about the controversy raging over Internet freedom in the U.S.

"Now the U.S. government is copying us and starting to build their own firewall," wrote one micro-blogger, relating China's chief censorship tool to the U.S. plan to block sites that trade in pirated material.

The Relevant Organs, an anonymous Twitter account (presumably) pretending to be the voice of the Chinese communist leadership, quipped: "Don't understand the hoopla over Wikipedia blackout in the U.S. today. We blacked it out here years ago. Where are OUR hugs?"

PHOTO: Sites gone dark to protest anti-piracy bills

Humor aside, the brouhaha has generated some strong opinions in the country that  Google fled, not the least because opponents of the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills are conjuring Chinese Web censorship to promote their case.

The consensus here, however, appears to be this: Americans should try a minute in our shoes before invoking online Armageddon.

If anything, Chinese bloggers say, the debate underscores how privileged U.S. Web users and Internet companies are, even in times of duress.

"Only an American company could protest the way Wikipedia or Google has to the government," said Zhao Jing, a closely followed blogger in Beijing who uses the pen name Michael Anti. "A Chinese company would never get away with that."

Indeed, China's Internet sector has no choice but to submit to government pressure -– be it by censoring its own users or implementing whatever happens to be the state initiative of the moment (the latest may require the real-ID registration of 250 million micro-blog accounts despite threats to privacy and the cost burden on Web firms).

Another distinction Chinese activists note is that the proposed legislation in Washington is being debated openly in public and ultimately has to adhere to U.S. law. Chinese censorship, on the other hand, operates in an opaque space where no one really knows what's banned, what isn't and who is calling the shots.

"It's hard for people in the U.S. to understand Internet censorship in China," said Wen Yunchao, a prominent blogger and outspoken government critic who left mainland China recently for Hong Kong. "In China, all the government decisions are done in a dark box. No one knows what's going on. There's never any legal reason cited. If these laws are passed in the U.S., every step of the way it will be more transparent. People can challenge it. There's no comparison when it comes to censorship in China and in the U.S."

Still, Wen supports U.S. activists challenging the bills, saying it's a slippery slope to lesser Web access. He said China's so-called Great Firewall, which blocks access to many foreign sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, was first billed as a strategy to stop piracy and pornography.

"Now it's being abused and extended to thousands of websites," he said.

Ironically, China's 513 million Web users have relatively free access when it comes to the very sites targeted by the proposed Protect Intellectual Property Act and Stop Online Piracy Act. Those include BitTorrent sites such as Extratorrent and sellers of counterfeit goods such as Taobao.

"The Chinese Great Firewall is not targeting pirated material," said Beijing-based Jason Ng, another popular blogger who has 29,000 Twitter followers. "Look at the Chinese Internet space and it's all about pirated movies, TV and porn. Everyone just wants to enjoy and be entertained. If the government cut all that off, they'd have a serious problem on their hands."


Number of Web users in China hits 513 million

SOPA blackout: How many have joined the fight?

Google says 4.5 million people signed anti-SOPA petition today

– David Pierson

Photo: A Google search page awaits input from a user at an Internet cafe in Beijing. Credit: Alexander F. Yuan / Associated Press

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Facebook to boost privacy protections in Europe, Irish agency says

posted by Technology @ 11:54 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Facebook will improve privacy protections in Europe over the next six months after an investigation into its practices there, the Irish data protection agency said Wednesday.

The agency conducted a three-month audit of Facebook’s compliance with European Union and Irish data protection requirements.

Facebook, the Menlo Park, Calif., company that has its European headquarters in Dublin, has agreed to give users more information on how Facebook and third-party apps handle their information, minimize how much data is collected on users when they are not logged in to Facebook and warn European users that Facebook uses facial recognition software that suggests people to tag in photos.

The Dublin headquarters has responsibility for handling hundreds of millions of users outside the U.S. and Canada.

“This was a challenging engagement both for my Office and for Facebook Ireland,” Irish Data Protection Commissioner Gary David said in a statement. “Arising from the audit, FB-I [Facebook Ireland] has agreed to a wide range of ‘best practice’ improvements to be implemented over the next six months.”

There will be another formal review in July.

The agency received 22 complaints from a privacy group, Europe V Facebook, and additional complaints from the Norwegian Data Protection Agency. Facebook said it was pleased that the report underscored a number of Facebook’s “strengths or best practices” in the security of user data and using personal information to target ads. 

“The people who use Facebook take privacy and data protection seriously and so do we,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s director of public policy for Europe, said in a blog post.

Last month, Facebook agreed to settle privacy complaints raised by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The proposed 20-year agreement would require Facebook to get permission from users before sharing information they thought would remain private. The company also agreed to 20 years of privacy audits.

Facebook has run into trouble with its facial recognition software that suggests people for users to tag in their photos. A German data protection agency said it may fine Facebook over the feature and Norway’s privacy watchdog is investigating.

Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking site, is planning a $100-billion initial public offering sometime next year.


Watchdog group targets Facebook privacy settlement 

Facebook and FTC reach agreement on privacy protections

Facebook nears settlement with the FTC on privacy

– Jessica Guynn

Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

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China-based hackers reportedly targeted U.S. Chamber of Commerce

posted by Technology @ 10:05 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

US Chamber of Commerce website

Hackers based in China reportedly pulled off a massive Web attack against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying group, which resulted in access to a significant number of confidential emails and documents.

Unnamed sources told both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal that the security breach took place in 2010 and gave the hackers access to information belonging to the Chamber's 3-million members.

The chamber, the U.S.' largest business lobbying group, is still investigating the attack, both reports said.

The strike is believed to be one in a wave of Web attacks from hackers based in China, along with previous reported hackings against "U.S. companies, business associations, and lobbying groups involved in trade policy associated with China," Bloomberg said.

Officials at the Chamber of Commerce were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

According to the Journal's report, the chamber hasn't yet determined how much of its data was viewed or taken by the hackers, though evidence has been found that "hackers had focused on four chamber employees who worked on Asia policy, and that six weeks of their email had been stolen."

It is also possible that the hackers, who investigators suspect may have ties to the Chinese government, "had access to the network for more than a year before the breach was uncovered, according to two people familiar with the chamber's internal investigation," the Journal said.


China cracks down on Internet rumors

Chinese hackers pose a growing threat to U.S. firms

China-based hackers targeted oil, energy companies in 'Night Dragon' cyber attacks, McAfee says

— Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Image: A screenshot of, the website of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying group. Credit: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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A San Jose federal judge rejected Facebook's bid to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that ads telling Facebook users that their friends "like" the advertisers violate a California law on commercial endorsements.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled Friday that the case can move forward but dismissed a claim that Facebook, which makes an estimated 90% of its money from online advertising, was unfairly profiting from the ads.

“We are reviewing the decision and continue to believe that the case is without merit,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an e-mailed statement.

The world's most popular social networking site began running the ads called "sponsored stories" in January. Such an ad shows a friend's name and profile picture and notes that the friend "likes" the advertiser.

The lawsuit was brought by Facebook users who contend the site is making unauthorized use of their names and likenesses, violating the state's "right of publicity" statute. Facebook says the law does not apply because of an exemption. The plaintiffs seek to represent tens of millions of Facebook users.

Facebook’s revenue will reach $6.9 billion in 2012 from $4.27 billion this year, according to estimates by research firm EMarketer. Its major selling point to advertisers is the persuasive nature of advertising when a product or service is recommended by a friend. People are twice as likely to remember commercial endorsements from friends and three times as likely to buy the product, according to Facebook executives.

Privacy issues continue to dog Facebook, which reached a privacy settlement three weeks ago with the Federal Trade Commission.


Facebook looks to cash in on user data

Facebook nears settlement with FTC on privacy

Facebook and FTC reach agreement on privacy protections

– Jessica Guynn

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows off Timeline, a dramatic redesign of users' profiles, in September. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg 

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Sprint says it has stopped pulling Carrier IQ data from phones

posted by Technology @ 4:53 PM
Friday, December 16, 2011

Sprint-newTwo weeks after the Carrier IQ dust storm, in which an unknown California company was found to have data collections software embedded on tens of millions of smartphones, one of the company's main allies is taking a step back.

Sprint Nextel Corp. is now saying that it has "disabled use of" the Carrier IQ software. Importantly, that doesn't mean they have turned off or deleted the data collection software from your phone. Instead, the company is using the term "disabled" to mean that it is no longer accessing data from the Carrier IQ program, even though that program is still operational on your mobile device.

"We have weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected," wrote Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge in an email. "We are further evaluating options regarding this diagnostic software as well as Sprint’s diagnostic needs."

In late November, when the furor originally broke out, Sprint came to Carrier IQ's aid, noting that "Carrier IQ is an integral part of the Sprint service" and that "Sprint relies on Carrier IQ to help maintain our dependable network performance.”

But now, in the wake of congressional inquiries and a nasty public relations storm, it seems the company has reconsidered the value of Carrier IQ.


Carrier IQ, T-Mobile, Sprint, RIM face class-action suits

Carrier IQ defends itself in privacy flap over data collection

Security researchers doubt researcher's Carrier IQ video conclusions

Image: A Sprint storefront in New York City. Sprint says it has disabled use of Carrier IQ software. Credit: Stephen Yang/Bloomberg

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Facebook says it has fixed a security glitch after founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's private photographs were published online.

The incident stemmed from a Nov. 27 post on the Web forum. An anonymous tipster spelled out step-by-step instructions to access photos uploaded by Facebook users, even if the photos were marked as private. Among the photos hackers published: Zuckerberg preparing food and handing out candy on Halloween.

Facebook says the security glitch "was live for a limited period of time." It did not say how many of the site's more than 800 million users were affected. "The precise number of people impacted is unknown at the moment but we continue to investigate," a spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Facebook blamed the problem on a recent "code push" in which it revised some of its software.

"Not all content was accessible, rather a small number of one's photos. Upon discovering the bug, we immediately disabled the system, and will only return functionality once we can confirm the bug has been fixed," a company spokesman said in an email.

The privacy breach struck at Facebook's Achille's heel. Last week Facebook agreed to settle federal government charges that it exposed too much user information without consent.

Security and privacy concerns have not dampened enthusiasm for Facebook, which has soared in popularity. It's preparing for an initial public offering next year that could peg the company's worth at $100 billion.


Facebook and FTC reach agreement on privacy protections

Facebook nears settlement with FTC on privacy

Privacy group asks FTC for Facebook inquiry

– Jessica Guynn

Photo credit: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

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Carrier IQ, T-Mobile, Sprint, RIM face class-action suits

posted by Technology @ 7:40 PM
Monday, December 5, 2011


Joining the growing parade of class-action lawsuits against cellphone software company Carrier IQ Inc., suits have been filed by a group of five California plaintiffs alleging that the Mountain View, Calif., company and affiliated wireless carriers and phone makers violated state law by "surreptitiously intercepting communications" of smartphone customers.

The plaintiffs are all clients of Century City attorney Susan Yoon, who filed the class-action suits Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Carrier IQ, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd. Each suit alleged that the companies secretly recorded user cellphone activities.

"In violation of California's Invasion of Privacy Act, defendants herein secretly intercepted, received, recorded and/or monitored" the plaintiff's communications without alerting the plaintiff, the suit against T-Mobile alleges

The suit also alleges that Carrier IQ's software "records and transmits to defendants keystrokes, content of text messages and passwords."

That assertion has been disputed by Carrier IQ and a group of security researchers, who said that a video purporting to show the capturing of keystrokes and text messages had been incorrectly analyzed by the amateur security researcher who made it.

Nevertheless, the company has stopped short of offering details about the specific types of smartphone user data it collects, saying only that "a great deal of information is available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset."

Doubts about the types of information the company and its clients collect have led to a series of state and federal class-action suits, as well as questions from federal legislators and privacy activists.

A Carrier IQ spokeswoman declined to comment on the California actions.

"The company has not seen or been served on any lawsuit, so we cannot comment on the allegations at this time," she wrote in an email.

When reached by telephone, Yoon, the attorney, declined to discuss the suits, including whether one of the named plaintiffs, Steve Yoon, was a familial relation.

The T-Mobile suit seeks both liquidated damages ($5,000 per violation to each class member) and an injunction to prevent further alleged violations of California's Invasion of Privacy Act.


Carrier IQ defends itself in privacy flap

Security researchers doubt Carrier IQ video conclusions

Facebook settles privacy complaint with Federal Trade Commission

– David Sarno

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Apple iPhone 4S

Research In Motion announced on Tuesday that it will soon launch software that will bring security and management features once only found on BlackBerrys over to Android and iOS phones and tablets.

The new tools, which RIM is calling BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, will allow businesses to set up and control Apple's iPhone and iPad, as well as smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system, as they have done for years with BlackBerry phones and more recently, the slow-selling PlayBook tablet.

"We are pleased to introduce BlackBerry Mobile Fusion — RIM's next generation enterprise mobility solution — to make it easier for our business and government customers to manage the diversity of devices in their operations today," said Alan Panezic, RIM's vice president of enterprise product management and marketing, in a statement.

"BlackBerry Mobile Fusion brings together our industry-leading BlackBerry Enterprise Server technology for BlackBerry devices with mobile device management capabilities for iOS and Android devices, all managed from one web-based console," Panezic said. "It provides the necessary management capabilities to allow IT departments to confidently oversee the use of both company-owned and employee-owned mobile devices within their organizations."

In announcing Mobile Fusion, RIM touted itself as "the leading provider of enterprise mobility solutions with over 90 percent of the Fortune 500 provisioning BlackBerry devices today," a nod to its still-large market share of the business market for smartphones.

But the Canadian company also acknowledges that when it comes time for consumers to buy phones and tablets for themselves, they're increasingly choosing rival devices and then bringing those gadgets into the workplace.

"The enterprise market for smartphones and tablets continues to grow in both the company-provisioned and employee-owned (Bring Your Own Device or BYOD) categories," RIM said. "BYOD in particular has led to an increase in the diversity of mobile devices in use in the enterprise and new challenges for CIOs and IT departments as they struggle to manage and control wireless access to confidential company information on the corporate network. This has resulted in increased demand for mobile device management solutions."

Among the features RIM said Mobile Fusion will offer for Android and iOS phones and tablets is the management and configuration of devices, as well as security features such as remote locking and data wiping, the creation of multiple user profiles on shared devices, app management and control over how a device connects to the Internet, among other settings.

While some would seem to love having an iPhone or an Android that's as secure and easy to manage at the scale a large business would require, others such as ReadWriteWeb has asked if RIM isn't "shooting itself in the foot with Mobile Fusion?"

GigaOm described RIM's stance with Mobile Fusion as "If you can't beat iOS and Android devices in the market, you might as well secure them."

Currently, Mobile Fusion is in "early beta testing with select enterprise customers," RIM said. But the company is accepting "customer nominations for the closed beta program which will start in January." The commercial rollout of Mobile Fusion isn't expected until late March.


Adobe gives up on mobile Flash Player, but RIM won't yet

RIM's PlayBook OS 2.0 pushed into Feb. 2012 with no BBM

RIM's BBX phones are 'going to surprise people,' investor says

— Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: An Apple iPhone 4S. Credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters

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Facebook settles privacy complaint with Federal Trade Commission

posted by Technology @ 11:12 AM
Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Facebook has settled charges with the Federal Trade Commission that it deceived users by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private and then repeatedly making it public, according to the agency.

The settlement of an eight-count complaint requires Facebook to warn users about privacy changes and to get their permission before sharing their information more broadly, according to the FTC. Facebook has agreed to 20 years of privacy audits, it said.

"Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users," Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, said in a written statement. "Facebook's innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not."

In a blog post, Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is committed to giving its users "complete control" over what they share and with whom.

"I also understand that many people are just naturally skeptical of what it means for hundreds of millions of people to share so much personal information online, especially using any one service.  Even if our record on privacy were perfect, I think many people would still rightfully question how their information was protected. It's important for people to think about this, and not one day goes by when I don't think about what it means for us to be the stewards of this community and their trust," he wrote. "I'm committed to making Facebook the leader in transparency and control around privacy."

Facebook also has created two new positions to make sure it takes privacy seriously, Zuckerberg said.

Erin Egan, a former partner with Covington & Burling, will become chief privacy officer for policy. Michael Richter, Facebook’s chief privacy counsel, will take on a new role as chief privacy officer for products.

Privacy watchdog Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said the settlement shows that Facebook "has long misled users and the public."

But another frequent critic, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), applauded the settlement.

"The settlement's privacy protections will benefit Facebook users and should serve as a new, higher standard for other companies to follow in their own efforts to protect consumers' privacy online," Markey said in a written statement. "When it comes to its users' privacy, Facebook’s policy should be: ‘Ask for permission, don’t assume it."


Privacy group asks FTC for Facebook inquiry

Facebook nears settlement with the FTC on privacy

Is Facebook killing your privacy? Some say it already has

– Jessica Guynn

Photo: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg greets a student as he arrives to speak at Harvard University. Zuckerberg, who dropped out of Harvard in 2004, met with students as part of an East Coast trip to recruit for the social networking company. Photo credit: Kelvin Ma / Bloomberg 

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Google Street View Continues to Raise Privacy Concerns

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 10:55 AM
Thursday, February 26, 2009

By Brian Cooper (c) 2009 Medium Blue

Google Street View, a Google Maps feature that lets users see images of streets and the surrounding areas, continues to generate controversy. Since its launch in May 2007, the feature has prompted questions about whether it constitutes an invasion of privacy, complaints about inappropriate images, and even a lawsuit.

Aaron and Christine Boring vs. Google

The lawsuit came from a Pittsburgh couple in April 2008. The couple lives

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