Privacy

Keepsafe launches a privacy-focused mobile browser

Keepsafe, the company behind the private photo app of the same name, is expanding its product lineup today with the release of a mobile web browser. Co-founder and CEO Zouhair Belkoura argued that all of Keepsafe’s products (which also include a VPN app and a private phone number generator) are united not just by a focus on privacy, but by a determination to make those features simple and easy-to-understand — in contrast to what Belkoura described as “how security is designed in techland,” with lots of jargon and complicated settings. Plus, when it comes to your online activity, Belkoura said there are different levels of privacy. There’s the question of the government and large tech companies accessing our personal data, which he argued people care about intellectually, but “they don’t re...

UK report warns DeepMind Health could gain “excessive monopoly power”

DeepMind’s foray into digital health services continues to raise concerns. The latest worries are voiced by a panel of external reviewers appointed by the Google-owned AI company to report on its operations after its initial data-sharing arrangements with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) ran into a major public controversy in 2016. The DeepMind Health Independent Reviewers’ 2018 report flags a series of risks and concerns, as they see it, including the potential for DeepMind Health to be able to “exert excessive monopoly power” as a result of the data access and streaming infrastructure that’s bundled with provision of the Streams app — and which, contractually, positions DeepMind as the access-controlling intermediary between the structured health data and any other third parties th...

Purdue’s PHADE technology lets cameras ‘talk’ to you

It’s become almost second nature to accept that cameras everywhere — from streets, to museums and shops — are watching you, but now they may be able to communicate with you, as well. New technology from Purdue University computer science researchers has made this dystopian prospect a reality in a new paper published today. But, they argue, it’s safer than you might think. The system is called PHADE, which allows for something called “private human addressing,” where camera systems and individual cell phones can communicate without transmitting any personal data, like an IP or Mac address. Instead of using an IP or Mac address, the technology relies on motion patterns for the address code. That way, even if a hacker intercepts it, they won’t be able to access the person’s physical location....

Pressure mounts on EU-US Privacy Shield after Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal

Yet more pressure on the precariously placed EU-US Privacy Shield: The European Union parliament’s civil liberties committee has called for the data transfer arrangement to be suspended by September 1 unless the US comes into full compliance. Though the committee has no power to suspend the arrangement itself. But has amped up the political pressure on the EU’s executive body, the European Commission . In a vote late yesterday the Libe committee agreed the mechanism as it is currently being applied does not provide adequate protection for EU citizens’ personal information — emphasizing the need for better monitoring in light of the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, after the company admitted in April that data on as many as 87 million users had been improperly passed to third pa...

Spanish soccer app caught using microphone and GPS to snoop

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why an app is requesting microphone access when there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why it should need to snoop on the sounds from your surroundings, hold that thought — and take a closer look at the T&Cs. Because it might turn out that spying is exactly what the app makers have in mind. To wit: La Liga, an app for fans of Spanish soccer which has been discovered using microphone access combined with the precise GPS location of Android users to listen in on people’s surroundings during match times — in a bid to catch bars that might not have a license to broadcast the match being watched.  As surveillance capitalism goes, it’s a fiendishly creative repurposing of your users as, well, unwitting volunteer spies and snitches. It’s also of co...

The messy, musical process behind the web’s new security standard

The web is a big place, and changing the way it works isn’t a simple process. But it has to happen somehow or we’d all still be using Mosaic and transmitting our private data in cleartext. A new security standard called TLS 1.3 is the latest big change to how our browsers communicate, but the process by which it was created is a little weirder and less structured than you might think. “Anyone can participate from anywhere. There’s no cost — you can just send your stuff in,” said Sean Turner of the Internet Engineers Task Force, an official sort of collective that evaluates new standards for the web and decrees them best practices. Turner and Joe Salowey, with whom I spoke after the standard was approved, are co-chairs of the Working Group that put together TLS 1.3 that upends years of secu...

iOS 12 will let users register another person to their Face ID

From advancements in AR to Memojis to group FaceTime, there is plenty to be excited about with iOS 12. But one of the more practical updates to Apple’s mobile operating system, coming this fall, went unmentioned during the keynote at WWDC. According to 9to5Mac, iOS 12 will allow for two different faces to be registered to Face ID. Up until now, Face ID has only allowed a single appearance to be registered to the iPhone X. 9to5Mac first noticed the update when combing through the iOS 12 beta, where one can find new settings for Face ID that allow users to “Set Up an Alternative Appearance.” Here’s what the description says: In addition to continuously learning how you look, Face ID can recognize an alternative appearance. While that’s about as unclear as a description might be, 9to5Mac test...

Apple got even tougher on ad trackers at WWDC

Apple unveiled a handful of pro-privacy enhancements for its Safari web browser at its annual developer event yesterday, building on an ad tracker blocker it announced at WWDC a year ago. The feature — which Apple dubbed ‘Intelligent Tracking Prevention’ (IPT) — places restrictions on cookies based on how frequently a user interacts with the website that dropped them. After 30 days of a site not being visited Safari purges the cookies entirely. Since debuting IPT a major data misuse scandal has engulfed Facebook, and consumer awareness about how social platforms and data brokers track them around the web and erode their privacy by building detailed profiles to target them with ads has likely never been higher. Apple was ahead of the pack on this issue and is now nicely positioned to surf a...

Facebook says it “disagrees” with the New York Times’ criticisms of its device-integrated APIs

Facebook has responded to a New York Times story that raises privacy concerns about the company’s device-integrated APIs, saying that it “disagree[s] with the issues they’ve raised about these APIs.” Headined “Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends,” the New York Times article criticizes the privacy protections of device-integrated APIs, which were launched by Facebook a decade ago. Before app stores became common, the APIs enabled Facebook to strike data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, that allowed them to offer Facebook features, such as messaging, address books and the like button, to their users. But they may have given access to more data than assumed, says the article. New Y...

Not just another decentralized web whitepaper?

Given all the hype and noise swirling around crypto and decentralized network projects, which runs the full gamut from scams and stupidity, to very clever and inspired ideas, the release of yet another whitepaper does not immediately set off an attention klaxon. But this whitepaper — which details a new protocol for achieving consensus within a decentralized network — is worth paying more attention to than most. MaidSafe, the team behind it, are also the literal opposite of fly-by-night crypto opportunists. They’ve been working on decentralized networking since long before the space became the hot, hyped thing it is now. Their overarching mission is to engineer an entirely decentralized Internet which bakes in privacy, security and freedom of expression by design — the ‘Safe’ in their plan...

Ticketfly’s website is offline after a hacker got into its homepage and database

Following what it calls a “cyber incident,” the event ticket distributor Ticketfly took its homepage offline on Thursday morning. The company left this message on its website, which remains nonfunctional hours later: Following a series of recent issues with Ticketfly properties, we’ve determined that Ticketfly has been the target of a cyber incident. Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken all Ticketfly systems temporarily offline as we continue to look into the issue. We are working to bring our systems back online as soon as possible. Please check back later. For information on specific events please check the social media accounts of the presenting venues/promoters to learn more about availability/status of upcoming shows. In many cases, shows are still happening and tickets may b...

Facebook didn’t see Cambridge Analytica breach coming because it was focused ‘on the old threat’

In light of the massive data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica around the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a lot of people wondered how something like that could’ve happened. Well, Facebook didn’t see it coming, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said at the Code conference this evening. “If you go back to 2016 and you think about what people were worried about in terms of nations, states or election security, it was largely spam and phishing hacking,” Sandberg said. “That’s what people were worried about.” She referenced the Sony email hack and how Facebook didn’t have a lot of the problems other companies were having at the time. Unfortunately, while Facebook was focused on not screwing up in that area, “we didn’t see coming a different kind of more insidious threat,” Sandberg said. Sandbe...