• Too much browser functionality creates unnecessary security, privacy risks

    Modern website browsers provide an incredibly broad range of features, with more and more capabilities being added every day. New research has identified numerous browser functionalities rarely used or needed by websites, but which pose substantial security and privacy risks to web surfers. Blocking website access to unnecessary browser functionality would help reduce these risks.

  • For $1000, anyone can purchase mobile advertising to track your location, app use

    Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something. But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see whether you’re using shopping apps on work time? The answer is yes, at least in theory.

  • FISA Section 702 reform bill a good Start, but improvements still needed: Critics

    Last Wednesday, the draft of the House Judiciary Committee’s bill to reauthorize and reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was made public. Section 702 permits the government to collect the content of communications of targets who are non-Americans located abroad, including communications they may have with Americans. Critics urge Congress to pass significant and meaningful reforms to Section 702 which address the serious constitutional concerns it raises, or allow that surveillance authority to expire.

  • The security of fitness trackers could – and should – be improved

    The security of wearable fitness trackers could be improved to better protect users’ personal data, a new study suggests. Vulnerabilities in the devices – which track heart rate, steps taken and calories burned – could threaten the privacy and security of the data they record, scientists say.

  • Big data amplify existing police surveillance practices: Study

    The big data landscape is changing quickly, and researchers wonder whether our political and social systems and regulations can keep up. With access to more personal data than ever before, police have the power to solve crimes more quickly, but in practice, the influx of information tends to amplify existing practices.

  • California’s police can't keep license plate data secret: Court

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU won a decision by the California Supreme Court that the license plate data of millions of law-abiding drivers, collected indiscriminately by police across the state, are not “investigative records” that law enforcement can keep secret. California’s highest court ruled that the collection of license plate data isn’t targeted at any particular crime, so the records couldn’t be considered part of a police investigation.

  • On internet privacy, be very afraid

    In the internet era, consumers seem increasingly resigned to giving up fundamental aspects of their privacy for convenience in using their phones and computers, and have grudgingly accepted that being monitored by corporations and even governments is just a fact of modern life. In fact, internet users in the United States have fewer privacy protections than those in other countries. In April, Congress voted to allow internet service providers to collect and sell their customers’ browsing data. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier talked about government and corporate surveillance, and about what concerned users can do to protect their privacy. “Surveillance is the business model of the internet,” he says.

  • Google’s assault on privacy: a reminder

    On its best day, with every ounce of technology the U.S. government could muster, it could not know a fraction as much about any of us as Google does now” (Shelly Palmer, technology analyst).

  • EFF to court: Border agents need warrants to search contents of digital devices

    Searches of mobile phones, laptops, and other digital devices by federal agents at international airports and U.S. land borders are highly intrusive forays into travelers’ private information that require a warrant, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said in a court filing Monday.

  • CDT files complaint with the FTC against Hotspot Shield VPN

    For many Americans looking to protect their online privacy, virtual private networks, or VPNs, are a good option. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) says, however, that a popular free VPN, Hotspot Shield, promises to protect its users’ privacy but has undisclosed data sharing and traffic redirection practices that violate that promise. Plixer said that the claims by CDT ignore the internet market realities.

  • “Stalking software”: Surveillance made simpler

    The controversial Snap Map app enables Snapchat users to track their friends. The app makes it possible for users to monitor their friends’ movements, and determine – in real time – exactly where their posts are coming from (down to the address). Many social media users expressed their indignation, referring to the app as “stalking software.” This is the latest in a series of monitoring tools to be built on social media platforms. A new study assesses the benefits and risks associated with their use.

  • The real costs of cheap surveillance

    Surveillance used to be expensive. Even just a few years ago, tailing a person’s movements around the clock required rotating shifts of personnel devoted full-time to the task. Not any more, though. Governments can track the movements of massive numbers of people by positioning cameras to read license plates, or by setting up facial recognition systems. Private companies’ tracking of our lives has also become easy and cheap too. Advertising network systems let data brokers track nearly every page you visit on the web, and associate it with an individual profile. It is worth thinking about all of this more deeply. U.S. firms – unless they’re managed or regulated in socially beneficial ways – have both the incentive and the opportunity to use information about us in undesirable ways. We need to talk about the government’s enacting rules constraining that activity. After all, leaving those decisions to the people who make money selling our data is unlikely to result in our getting the rules we want.

  • Minority Report? Wisc. company replaces ID cards, badges with microchips implants

    River Falls, Wisconsin-based technology company Three Square Market has become one of the first in the world to implant microchips in staff so they can clock-in or enter secure areas by waving their arm instead of using swipe cards or ID badges. The implanted microchip would also allow employees to order food at the cafeteria and open the parking garage doors. They can also log in to their computer without a password.

  • App ensures safe surfing on public Wi-Fi hotspots

    You always need to assume someone’s looking over your shoulder when you’re using public Wi-Fi: a hacker, or the government, or a plain old snoop. New app — SaferVPN — automatically turns on as soon as your device connects to unsecured networks, an begins to direct data through an encrypted “tunnel.”

  • Encryption system hides your travel data from Uber

    The apps created by Uber and its competitors put peers in touch with each other when one of them is looking for a ride. But the online platforms these companies have developed also collect users’ personal data – from passengers and drivers alike. Multiplied by millions of users each day, that comes out to be a goldmine of information, especially in the era of Big Data. Researchers looked at how the same level of service could be achieved without disclosing users’ personal data.