privacy Stories June 24, 2019

A bipartisan push for a new US law could see companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon having to state exactly how much your data is worth.

Consumers would be better able to understand how much privacy they were sacrificing to use free services if the value of the data used by the companies was made explicit …

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privacy Stories December 31, 2018

A study of 34 of the most popular Android apps found that at least 20 of them are sending user data to Facebook without consent.

The data transmitted ranges from the innocuous to the sensitive – such as whether the user has children – and is likely to be illegal in the case of European citizens …

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privacy Stories October 24, 2018

Privacy is a huge concern on the internet in 2018, and Google is high on the list of companies that have a lot of data on users. Google has made plenty of tools available to help users control data, but today the company is announcing some new options that make it easier to control and delete your Google data directly within the company’s own products.

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privacy Stories October 1, 2018

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee wants to give us control over our personal data

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has announced that he has put most of his work on hold to develop a way for web users to regain control of their personal data.

The concept, first developed at MIT, is known as Solid. A Solid POD is effectively a secure repository for all our personal data, and from there we can choose what access to grant to other companies and apps …

privacy Stories September 3, 2018

An international network of intelligence agencies has told the tech industry that ‘privacy is not an absolute’ and that the use of end-to-end encryption ‘should be rare’ …

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privacy Stories August 27, 2018

Industry body representing Google and others actively lobbying for federal privacy law

California may have found the perfect way to get tech giants to support a federal privacy law: show that the alternative could be an inconsistent mess of state-by-state laws.

An industry lobbying group whose members include Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and others has been ‘aggressively’ lobbying the White House to argue the case for a federal law, reports the New York Times

privacy Stories August 14, 2018

Banks secretly monitoring how you use your phone and computer to detect fraud

Banks are secretly gathering up to 2,000 data points on how you use your phone and computer to help detect fraud. The data used can be anything from the angle at which you typically hold your phone to whether or not you use a numeric keypad when typing numbers on your computer …

privacy Stories July 27, 2018

White House held 22 meetings with more than 80 organizations to discuss federal privacy law

It was last month said that the White House was considering options for introducing a federal privacy law along the lines of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) …

privacy Stories July 26, 2018

Facebook shares fall 25% as company reveals impact of privacy issues

Facebook saw as much as $150B wiped from its value as after-market trading saw the share price fall by 25%. This followed the company warning that its profit margin is likely to fall from its current 44% to the mids-30s for more than two years …

privacy Stories July 16, 2018

Carriers are selling the locations of smartphone users to third-party companies without their consent, say legal experts and a senator …

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privacy Stories June 22, 2018

Supreme Court ruling says government now required to have search warrant to obtain cellphone data

A new Supreme Court decision this morning has ruled that in general the government will need a warrant to collect information from wireless carriers like location data.

privacy Stories April 13, 2018

While investors may have been satisfied by the testimony given to Congress by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, not everyone was. Two senators – one Democrat, one Republican – plan to introduce a bipartisan bill to protect online privacy …

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privacy Stories April 2, 2018

ACLU & others call for tech companies – including Google – to sign four-point ‘security pledge’

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and six other campaign groups have responded to the Facebook privacy controversy by calling on tech companies to sign a ‘security pledge.’ The pledge asks companies to make four promises to their customers and users …

privacy Stories March 13, 2018

TSA denies ACLU suggestion that it illegally searches electronic devices on domestic flights

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) suggests that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may be conducting illegal searches of electronic devices belonging to passengers on domestic flights …

privacy Stories February 26, 2018

The European Union wants to be able to force US tech giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft to hand over electronic evidence across borders when investigating serious crimes. The proposed law would apply to any company that does business within Europe, no matter where its data centers are based.

Tech firms argue that such cross-border arrangements would ‘undermine consumer trust in cloud services’ …

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privacy Stories April 11, 2017

While the added privacy measures are not as noticeable as notification snoozing, Picture-in-Picture, and other new customizations, there are a number of them in Android O. With this release, Google is specifically aiming to limit device identifiers and other information that apps can request.

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privacy Stories April 1, 2017

Just a few days after Congress reversed internet privacy rules enacted during the Obama administration, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon have all made statements claiming they will not sell personal web browsing histories.

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privacy Stories March 14, 2017

Re/code found that Google’s mobile messaging app Allo can reveal your search history and other personal information when you include the Google Assistant bot in chats. Associate editor Tess Townsend made the discovery during an Allo chat with a friend.

My friend directed Assistant to identify itself. Instead of offering a name or a pithy retort, it responded with a link from Harry Potter fan website Pottermore. The link led to an extract from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. But the response was not merely a non sequitur. It was a result related to previous searches my friend said he had done a few days earlier.

And search history isn’t the only private data the Assistant can reveal to anyone you chat with …

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privacy Stories April 15, 2016

Google announces new user data guidelines for Chrome Web Store apps and extensions

While the Play Store usually gets more billing, the Chrome Web Store serves an equally large audience and is full of many useful apps and extensions. Google is updating the User Data Policy for the store with more stronger policies in regards to user data.

privacy Stories December 3, 2015

google-students

Yesterday it was revealed that a privacy group (EFF) had a filed a complaint with the FTC claiming that Google “deceptively tracks students’ internet browsing”. Specifically, the group claims that Google is breaching a Student Privacy Pledge that it signed in January. One issue with Chrome OS in particular is Chrome Sync, a feature which enables users to have the same bookmarks, logins and other data across various devices with the Chrome Browser installed. As you would expect, it didn’t take long for Google to deny claims of wrongdoing…

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privacy Stories November 11, 2015

Here’s how to see the personal information Google shares about you on the web

Google has launched a new ‘About Me’ page, which lets you see and change what personal information is visible to others when you use any of Google’s services. The company has most likely introduced the service in an effort to counter concerns about data privacy.

Don’t expect too much from it: it’s essentially the same information you can see on Google+, and mostly appears to be an alternative for those of us who long ago consigned Google+ to history. When I checked my data, it showed only my name, gender, birthday and occupation. But if you shared contact details with any Google service, those may also be visible, so it’s worth a quick look.

You can edit the information shown, as well as choose who can view each piece of data. Personally, I always enter a false date of birth on web forms, as it’s a key piece of information used by identity thieves. I set it to private simply to ward off any mistaken birthday wishes.

You can check your own data at aboutme.google.com, where you’ll also find a link to Google’s existing privacy checkup.

privacy Stories July 27, 2015

Europe Antitrust Google

Google announced today that it is updating its AdSense user consent policy to comply with requests from European Union data protection authorities. The updated user consent policy strengthens the requirement that publishes with audiences in the EU obtain permission from readers before collecting usage data and accessing cookies. Google says the updated user consent policy follows its own approach to comply with privacy laws. The company outlines the updated user consent policy for website and app publishers with EU readers and users: expand full story

privacy Stories June 18, 2015

right-to-be-forgotten1

Google controls most of the search engine market in Europe, and as a result receives most ‘right to be forgotten’ requests, those things where individuals can request the de-listing of links to sensitive information about themselves that are deemed out-dated or irrelevant. But more than half of requests are denied, and of those that are appealed, most of those are too denied – which the European Union says is just fine.

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privacy Stories June 12, 2015

google-france

Google has so far been meeting the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling in Europe by removing links only from the local site for each country – google.com remaining unaffected. A French court ruled last November that removing links from google.fr was insufficient, and ordered Google to remove the links worldwide.

Google ignored the ruling, and Reuters now reports that the French data protection regulator CNIL has given the company 15 days to comply before imposing sanctions …  expand full story

privacy Stories June 1, 2015

google-sundar-pichai

One of the big additions to Android with the unveiling of Android M last week is more granular permission controls, allowing developers to ask for access to things like the microphone or GPS only once they need them, and for users to be able to revoke one or all of these permissions when they’d like. What wasn’t discussed on the keynote stage, however, is that the Chrome browser already has these features. Here’s how to use them:

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privacy Stories May 30, 2015

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Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 10.53.58 PM

The last time we saw Google’s accounts settings page receive a fresh coat of paint was last December when the company brought it up to date with the new Material design language, and it seems they’ve gone ahead and updated it again recently.

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privacy Stories May 27, 2015

privacyandroidm

Earlier this year, a report emerged claiming that Google was planning on giving Android users more control over app permission settings. At the time, it was rumored that Google would add the ability to give users the ability to manually select what pieces of information to which apps have access. Android Police today corroborates the report from earlier this month and offers up a few more details…

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privacy Stories May 25, 2015

Today we’re getting a look at an upcoming new version of the Google Photos app courtesy of some screenshots obtained by AndroidPolice. The app features a new Assistant mode that appears to replace the old Autoawesome feature with a more manual editing experience, as well as something new features and tweaks to the overall user experience. expand full story

privacy Stories May 21, 2015

app-store

A multinational government group known as the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – the spy group comprising Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand – planned to hack Android phones by compromising both Google and Samsung app stores. The plan was revealed in newly-released Snowden files dating back to 2012, reports CBC News.

Five Eyes specifically sought ways to find and hijack data links to servers used by Google and Samsung’s mobile app stores [trying] to find ways to implant spyware on smartphones by intercepting the transmissions sent when downloading or updating apps.

The alliance planned to begin by analyzing traffic to the stores to identify the Internet usage habits of targets (such as which apps they used), but the ultimate goal was to plant spyware that would enable them to extract data from targeted smartphones, or even to take control of them …  expand full story

privacy Stories May 19, 2015

Google among those asking Obama to reject calls for government access to encrypted data

Google and Apple have co-signed a letter calling on President Obama to reject any government proposal to allow the government backdoor access to encrypted data on smartphones and other devices. The Washington Post says the letter, due to be delivered today, is signed by more than 140 tech companies, prominent technologists and civil society groups.

The signatories urge Obama to follow the group’s unanimous recommendation that the government should “fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards” and not “in any way subvert, undermine, weaken or make vulnerable” commercial software.

The FBI has been pushing increasingly hard to require tech companies to build in backdoor access to their encryption systems to allow access by law enforcement, even going so far as to say that Apple could be responsible for the death of a child. a NY District Attorney has also cited public safety as justification for demanding access to encrypted data.

The letter calling on Obama to reject this argument is also signed by five members of a presidential review group appointed by Obama in 2013 to assess technology policies in the wake of leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Many in the tech industry have pointed out that, aside from the obvious concerns over government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens, any backdoor used by the government could potentially be discovered and exploited by hackers and foreign governments.

privacy Stories May 7, 2015

SwiftKey Keyboard + Emoji - Android Apps on Google Play 2015-05-07 14-56-34

According to a report this afternoon from Bloomberg, “people familiar with the matter” have said that Google is preparing to give Android users more control over what data gets shared with their apps. Users will, at some point in the near future, have “more detailed choices” over which pieces of their information that apps have access to:

Google’s Android operating system is set to give users more detailed choices over what apps can access, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter remains private. That could include photos, contacts or location. An announcement of the change, which would put Android closer in line with Apple Inc.’s iOS, is expected for Google’s developer’s conference in San Francisco this month, one of the people said.

More than likely, this is a feature that Google will be announcing alongside Android “M” at this year’s Google I/O conference which is set to kick off at the end of the month.

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privacy Stories April 20, 2015

Google now lets you download your search history, not just view it

As part of its commitment to being transparent about the data Google holds on you, the company has long allowed you to view your search history. It’s now gone one better, letting you download that history.

You can download all of your saved search history to see a list of the terms you’ve searched for. This gives you access to your data when and where you want.

I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to do this, but given the company’s numerous run-ins with various governments over data privacy, it probably wants to play safe.

Via Google Operating System and TNW

privacy Stories March 27, 2015

cookies

Update: A class action suit has now been funded by a major US law firm, allowing any qualifying UK user to join the action at no cost. You can complete a qualifying questionnaire here.

A not-for-profit company, Google Action Group Ltd, has been set up to manage the case which is seeking to win between £400 and £4000 in compensation for each claimant who used a .  It has appointed Hausfeld, Europe’s leading claimant firm, to challenge Google on behalf of all those Apple users in England and Wales who used the Safari browser on Apple computers, iPod Touches, iPads, and iPhones during the infringing period of Summer 2011 to about 17th February 2012.
The Google Action Group is seeking more members of the public to sign up for the legal action.  The public can join the action for  free, because the costs will be met by a £2.5m pot of money being put up by a major US litigation funding firm.

UK Apple users have been given the go-ahead to sue Google for continuing to drop cookies on their devices even after they had refused permission through their Safari browser settings.

It was revealed in 2012 that Google bypassed the setting in Safari which instructed sites not to drop cookies, enabling it to deliver personalized ads. The FTC in the US fined the company $22.5M for the practice, with millions more in additional fines levied by 38 US states. There was no government action in the UK, but a group of British iPhone users took Google to court, seeking compensation for breaching their privacy.

Google had attempted to have the case dismissed, claiming that there was no case to answer as the plaintiffs had not suffered any financial harm, but the UK’s Court of Appeal has rejected this argument, allowing the case to proceed …

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privacy Stories March 26, 2015

patriot-act-reform

Google is one of ten tech giants to once again call on the US Government not to reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form. The Act expires on 1st June unless it is renewed by Congress. Google was joined by Apple, AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In an open letter to President Obama, NSA Director Admiral Rogers and other prominent government figures, the companies urge Congress to end the bulk collection of communications metadata–the logs that determine how and when ordinary citizens contact each other.

The letter says that mass surveillance must end, and that a revised bill must contain mechanisms to ensure that future government surveillance is both transparent and accountable …  expand full story

privacy Stories February 20, 2015

google

Last year, the Italian government gave Google 18 months to reform its tata collection policies and change the way it stores and treats that user data. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Google has now agreed to allow the Italian government to perform spot checks at its Mountain View headquarters. The regulator will get quarterly updates from Google and have the ability to send someone  to Mountain View for “on-the-spot checks.”

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privacy Stories January 30, 2015

Google settles dispute with UK, agrees to change privacy policy by June

Google has had its fair share of privacy-related run-ins with the authorities in Europe, but will now be able to put one of those disputes behind it. TechCrunch reports that the company has reached an agreement with the UK’s privacy watchdog to change its privacy policy in order to comply with UK law.

The UK’s Information Commissioner didn’t object to the personal data collected by Google, but found that it was not properly explaining to consumers what data was collected and how it would be used. Google has agreed to include illustrative examples to help consumers to understand its policies.

In particular the Commissioner recommended that the data controller should do more to bring users’ attention to processing which would not be within their reasonable expectations. When considering this point it was noted that some users will not have sufficient technical knowledge to fully appreciate the ways in which the data controller can obtain their data from their use of the data controller’s products and services, how the data is combined, and how behavioural advertising on the internet operates. It was suggested that further examples of the processing would assist in this regard.

Google also came under fire in the UK last year for continuing to drop cookies in Safari even when users had switched off this option.

Its far bigger fight against Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten‘ legislation is likely to continue to run for some considerable time.

privacy Stories January 28, 2015

We told you earlier this week about a letter sent from WikiLeaks to Google, asking why it took so long for the Mountain View company to notify them of federal warrants for their personal data. Google apparently stood up against the gag orders preventing them from doing so (via The Washington Post), saying it “challenged the secrecy from the beginning.”

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privacy Stories January 7, 2015

NYPD-iPhone-01

Bloomberg reports that a Manhattan District Attorney is challenging recent moves by Apple, Google and other tech companies by suggesting government pass laws that prevent mobile devices from being “sealed off from law enforcement.” In an interview this week, the government official called it “an issue of public safety.”

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privacy Stories December 15, 2014

Google

Dutch privacy watchdog group CBP has threatened Google with up to a €15 million fine for violating Dutch privacy legislation. According to DutchNews, the issue stems from Google collecting personal information about users from Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and search results and combining the data into one profile for more effective targeted advertising. expand full story

privacy Stories November 26, 2014

Twitter Logo

Twitter Logo

Twitter is about to get very nosey with its mobile subscribers, and if you’re among the millions of people using the company’s app on your smartphone, you’ll definitely want to listen up. The short-form social media outlet’s new app graph feature will soon start tracking which applications you have installed on your devices. This opt-out feature is being introduced to help the firm insert better ads and recommendations into your timeline.

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privacy Stories November 18, 2014

WhatsApp

The Wall Street Journal reports that WhatsApp has been updated with end-to-end encryption for messages sent and received between Android smartphones and tablets. The cross-platform messaging service claims it will be unable to help decrypt messages for law enforcement, a noteworthy move given increasing concerns about government surveillance and tracking over the past few years. expand full story

privacy Stories November 17, 2014

google

Europe’s controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling, giving individuals the right to have sensitive information about them removed from search engines if it is deemed to be ‘out-dated or irrelevant,’ could extend beyond Europe following a recent court ruling.

Google has so far been removing links only from its European sites, for example google.fr in France and google.co.uk in the UK. However, a French court has now ruled that Google is required to remove links globally, and that local subsidiaries can be fined if the company fails to do so, reports the Guardian …  expand full story

privacy Stories October 13, 2014

James Comey FBI Director

FBI Director James Comey isn’t backing down from his position that Google and Apple are wrong to encrypt customer smartphone data preventing law enforcement agencies the possibility of access if requested. After last month sharing that the FBI was in talks with the two companies to discuss concerns with marketing devices as being inaccessible to third-parties including the government, the FBI Director spoke with CBS News in an interview where he continued to make the case against such encryption… expand full story

privacy Stories October 7, 2014

att

AT&T is currently apologizing to customers for a security breach caused by one of its employees who illegally accessed personal information for a small number the carrier’s subscribers. Some of the compromised information includes social security and driver’s license numbers of the affected customers. AT&T says the incident took place this past August and further discussed the matter in a letter to the Vermont attorney general.

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privacy Stories October 1, 2014

Google-Germany

Google is in hot water in Germany, with the Hamburg Data Protection Authority warning the company that its user profiling practices violate the Telemedia Act and Federal Data Protection Act. A continuation of the search giant’s ongoing problems in Europe, the German regulatory organization is stating that spreading a person’s information across multiple services such as Gmail, Maps and YouTube is unnecessary and a violation of the country’s privacy laws.

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privacy Stories August 5, 2014

Photo: http://www.corporateofficeheadquarters.com

Photo: http://www.corporateofficeheadquarters.com

Google recently helped police in Houston, Texas catch a sex offender after tipping the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that it had located explicit pictures of children in a man’s email. Although the search giant’s efforts helped catch a criminal, they’ve also made some people wonder if the company regularly monitors its subscribers’ email accounts.

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privacy Stories August 4, 2014

Gmail_Icon

Google helped law enforcement arrest a man in Houston, Texas by sending a tip to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The search giant used information obtained from the suspect’s email account, according to a report from Business Insider. Already a registered sex offender, the man was previously convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1994 and was recently caught after sending explicit images of a child via email.

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privacy Stories July 24, 2014

Google-offices-1

The mess and uncertainty created by an European court ruling that individuals have a ‘right to be forgotten‘ by search-engines when sensitive information is deemed to be “outdated or irrelevant” just got worse. Regulators are meeting with Google today to express concerns about the way in which Google has chosen to implement the ruling, reports Business Insider.

Under particular scrutiny is Google’s decision to only remove results from its European search engines, such as google.co.uk, meaning anyone can easily access the hidden information by switching to the widely used google.com […]

Another issue likely to be raised by the EU watchdogs is Google’s decision to notify the owners of the websites that have been removed from search results …

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