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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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 Box.net 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 Megaupload.com 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.]
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.
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.
— Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screenshot of www.uschamber.com, the website of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying group. Credit: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
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.
– Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows off Timeline, a dramatic redesign of users' profiles, in September. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
Two 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.
Image: A Sprint storefront in New York City. Sprint says it has disabled use of Carrier IQ software. Credit: Stephen Yang/Bloomberg
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.
– David Sarno
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.
— Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: An Apple iPhone 4S. Credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters
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