tracking Stories February 12, 2015

Currently most of us have to inform our bank by phone when we’re travelling to avoid purchases in other countries appearing as red flags for fraud and being declined. That could soon change as Visa looks to track smartphones with a service called Mobile Location Confirmation in order to help their security systems become smarter and reduce declined purchases by as much as 30%. expand full story

tracking Stories February 11, 2015

Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s more reliable than current wearable fitness devices at measuring activity, finds study

If you were thinking about buying a fitness band, a university study suggests you probably shouldn’t bother: it found that the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s measure activity more reliably than most current fitness bands.

The study by the University of Pennsylvania (via EurekAlert!) tested the ability of the phones to measure steps on a treadmill and compared the results to six dedicated fitness bands. The two smartphones had a margin of error of 12.9%, while the error rates of the fitness bands ranged up to 22.7%.

The study tested the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s against the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP24, Digi-Walker SW-200, Fitbit Flex, Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip. Only the FitBit One and Zip performed significantly better than the two smartphones.

tracking Stories June 12, 2014

New Chrome extension PixelBlock lets you stop email trackers in Gmail

A new extension has landed in the Chrome Web Store called PixelBlock, which lets you block companies and individuals from tracking whether or not you’re opening their email. As you can see above, the extension shows a small red eye when it has detected a tracking attempt.

The creator, Omar Qureshi, had this to say about the plugin:

I made this to protect my email privacy and find out at the same time who’s trying to track me, and what they’re using. Was pretty surprised to see who used email tracking on me while sifting through my emails with PixelBlock on.

It’s not uncommon for companies that send out newsletters and the like to track those who are and aren’t opening them. With this quick extension, available completely free, you’re just one click away from being protected while using the web-based Gmail client.

tracking Stories November 11, 2013

Google tracking your store visits to prove its advertising works

Digiday reports that Google has implemented the tracking system it described last month, allowing it to see whether people seeing ads for local stores do in fact visit them.

If someone conducts a Google mobile search for “screwdrivers,” for instance, a local hardware store could bid to have its store listing served to that user. By pairing that person’s location data with its database of store listings, Google can see if the person who saw that ad subsequently visited the store.

Google can do this by default on Android devices – it’s one of the things you agree to in the small-print when you switch on location services – and on iOS devices when people use Google apps.

It’s effectively the real-world equivalent of cookies. When you’re exposed to an ad for the Acme Hardware Store, a cookie will often be placed on your PC. When you visit the Acme website, it can read that cookie and see that the ad worked. This does the same thing for visits to physical stores.

Via Engadget

tracking Stories February 28, 2012

Everyone knows that Google can dodge privacy features in Internet browsers, renounce third-party cookie policies, and supply personalized ads despite a user’s privacy setting. Privacy regulators, advocates and consumers alike have called upon Google and other advertising companies to abide by browser’s do-not-track policies, but Google already stepped to the plate with a solution for suspicious users that do not want to be tracked.

Keep My Opt Outs” is a Chrome browser extension that blocks all cookies harvested for personalized ads. The evasive cookies under fire in the media essentially follow a user’s trail across websites to collect history for data reaping. The particulars help Google supply targeted advertisements. All Web browsers include a built-in setting to block this information-cropping process, but Google and other firms use a distinct code to disable the setting in Safari and Internet Explorer.

“Keep My Opt-Outs is an extension for users who aren’t comfortable with personalization of the ads they see on the web. It’s a one-step, persistent opt-out of personalized advertising and related data tracking performed by companies adopting the industry privacy standards for online advertising,” wrote Google on the Chrome webstore

expand full story

Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

tracking Stories November 30, 2011

Last we checked in on the Carrier IQ situation, XDA-Developer member Trevor Eckhart, the researcher who exposed the tracking software being deployed on various Android devices from Sprint, was receiving legal threats from the company behind the software. Eckhart didn’t back down, however, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation issuing a response to Carrier IQ on his behalf. Now, to further solidify his claims that Carrier IQ described as “false allegations”, Eckhart has put together the video above (via TechCrunch) showing how the software could theoretically track, record, and transmit user input.

While the video in no way proves that Carrier IQ or Sprint is actually collecting and recording the data, it’s clear IQ does have access to log user keystrokes with unique identifiers, track phone numbers dialed, record unique codes for SMS messages, and log secure data over WiFi unencrypted. While Carrier IQ and Sprint both deny actually transmitting and recording this data, it doesn’t seem necessary that the software would have these capabilities for its intended purpose– to improve the quality of their customer’s (Sprint’s) network and “understand device issues”.

More troubling is the fact that users are not informed of the software at any time and, according to TechCrunch, some are even reporting increased battery life and improved overall performance when the software is removed. Eckhart’s video ends by posing four questions to Carrier IQ and Sprint: expand full story

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