• Snowden revelations led to “chilling effect” on pursuit of knowledge: Study

    National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2013 mass surveillance revelations caused a drop in website browsing, particularly in internet searches for terms associated with extremism, an example of the most direct evidence yet that the spying operations exposed in the leak had a “chilling effect” on the lawful pursuit of information, an impending report has found.

  • Location data on two apps enough to identify someone: Study

    Stripping a big data set of names and personal details is no guarantee of privacy. Previous research has shown that individual shoppers, Netflix subscribers, and even taxicab riders are identifiable in heaps of supposedly anonymous data. Now, a team of computer science researchers has identified new privacy concerns by demonstrating that geotagged posts on just two social media apps are enough to link accounts held by the same person.

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  • Privacy advocacy groups ask NSA to halt changes to data sharing rules

    More than thirty organizations sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the National Security Agency, urging them to halt reported changes to the rules governing when and how the NSA can share the data it collects through overseas surveillance.

  • Apple versus FBI: All Writs Act’s age should not bar its use

    A federal magistrate judge in California has issued a warrant ordering Apple to assist the FBI in accessing data on an iPhone used by a suspect in the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting. Apple’s public refusal to comply with the order – and its motion asking a judge to reverse the order – have set up a legal showdown that has captivated the technology world. It’s hard not to think that marketing and economics are at least somewhat behind Apple’s actions. But my guess is most people understand that the FBI would not be getting into their phones without a probable cause search warrant. In addition, I would think Apple would not want to have a market composed of people who want to use iPhones for dangerous and illegal activity. The company might actually lose more future customers because of its uncooperative attitude than it would ever lose by helping the government by complying with a court order.

  • App warns users when they are about to give away sensitive information online

    Researchers are seeing potential in a software application which could effectively warn users when they are about to give away sensitive personal information online. The eye tracker detects where a user’s eyes are at the computer screen and records how long they gazed at that spot. The app uses these two functions to find when a user’s eyes remain on a request for sensitive personal information.

  • In FBI versus Apple, government strengthened tech’s hand on privacy

    The ongoing fight between Apple and the FBI over breaking into the iPhone maker’s encryption system to access a person’s data is becoming an increasingly challenging legal issue. This case is very specific, and in this narrow case, Apple and law enforcement agencies will likely find a compromise. However, this question is not going away anywhere. With the “Internet of things” touted as the next big revolution, more and more devices will capture our very personal data – including our conversations. This case could be a precedent-setting event that can reshape how our data are stored and managed in the future.

  • More Americans support Justice Dept. than Apple in locked iPhone dispute

    As the standoff between the Department of Justice and Apple Inc. continues over an iPhone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, 51 percent say Apple should unlock the iPhone to assist the ongoing FBI investigation. Fewer Americans (38 percent) say Apple should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of its other users’ information; 11 percent do not offer an opinion on the question.

  • Passwords, privacy and protection: can Apple meet FBI’s demand without creating a ‘backdoor’?

    The point of encryption is to make decryption hard. However, hard does not mean impossible. The FBI could decrypt this data, with sufficient effort and computational power, and they could do this with no help from Apple. However, this route would be expensive, and would take some time. In effect, what they’re requesting of Apple is to make their job easier, cheaper and faster. Ultimately, how this matter gets resolved may depend more on the big-picture question of what privacy rights we as a society want for the data we record on our personal devices. Understanding the technical questions can inform this discussion.

  • How mobile ads leak personal data

    The personal information of millions of smartphone users is at risk due to in-app advertising that can leak potentially sensitive user information between ad networks and mobile app developers, according to a new study.

  • Detecting hidden malicious ads hidden in apps

    The danger of acquiring a computer virus or spyware used to come with the risk of visiting the dark, sketchy corners of the Internet. But now trusted and harmless smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal and Candy Crush carry their own risks. As more and more people own smartphones, the number of malicious ads hidden in apps is growing — tripling in just the past year.

  • Snowden ready to return to U.S. for “fair trial”

    Edward Snowden has told friends and supporters he was ready to return to the United States if he could be guaranteed a fair trial. Snowden said his representatives had approached the U.S. Justice Department in an effort to negotiate a plea deal, even one involving him spending time in jail. He told the BBC Panorama last year, however, that the Justice Department had made no effort to respond.

  • NYPD has used Stingrays since 2008 -- with lower-level court orders rather than warrants

    The NYPD has confirmed that it owns and operates Stingrays— surveillance devices that spy on cell phones nearby and which can be used to track location. In response to an NYCLU FOIL request, the NYPD disclosed it used Stingrays nearly 1,016 times between 2008 and May of 2015 without a written policy and following a practice of obtaining only lower-level court orders rather than warrants. This is the first time the extent of the use of Stingrays by the NYPD has been made public.

  • Intelligence agencies could use Internet-of-things to spy on people

    James Clapper, the director of U.S. national intelligence, told lawmakers the other day that the Internet of things — baby monitors, TV set, home security devices, voice recognition dolls – may be used by intelligence services to spy on people. Clapper, testifying yesterday before a Senate panel, said that intelligence agencies might be able to use this new generation of household devices to increase their surveillance capabilities.

  • Anaheim police employed Stingray surveillance devices

    Police in Anaheim, California have been using Stingray surveillance devices, as well as employing the more intrusive cousin, “dirtboxes,” during active investigations, without the knowledge of residents. More than 400 new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show that the department has requested funds for the technology, and that it has been using the devices since at least 2009.

  • World leaders urged to oppose encryption back doors

    In an open letter made public on Monday, nearly 200 Internet and digital rights leaders and experts, companies, and organizations are calling on the Obama administration and other world leaders to reject efforts to create “back doors” to encryption. “Encryption tools, technologies, and services are essential to protect against harm and to shield our digital infrastructure and personal communications from unauthorized access,” the letter states.