Tag Archives: privacy

Is the “Internet of Things” making us more vulnerable to hacking?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a general concept that refers to objects that have identifiable or machine-readable information, which can be managed by computers. The long-term goal is for every device and person to be equipped with identifiers that are all linked together.

The idea seems fascinating and innovative, but it raises a lot of issues, particularly issues related to security. For instance, last month we learned that the largest hacking scheme of Target’s financial system was done through a HVAC system. As things we use for everyday living begin to have online capabilities, our lives and the Internet of Things become increasingly interconnected. As we see now with the increased commercial use of things like NEST technology’s thermostat, we can control every system in our home without even leaving our seats. That sort of convenience helps its users but leaves the door wide open for those who have ill intentions.  IoT gives others the ability to hack in and control certain aspects of our lives, by unlocking our door, turning our lights on, or disabling security systems. They even have the ability to hack into our appliances. The biggest concern of all this is that your personal data can be compiled from IoT devices. IoT’s data includes information about its user’s location, how many people are in the home, when one arrives or leaves their home.

The IoT is an economically expanding system. With over 20 billion devices set to be “internized” by 2020, it creates a breeding ground for data collectors. Even software that allows users to counter security threats is still susceptible to hacking.

All we can hope for is that with the increase of “IoT”, there is an increase in security detail.  But even then nothing is guaranteed.  What do you think about “IoT”, and the concerns it raises? Would you want every device you own to be connected? How would we go about making sure our privacy, data, etc. are protected?

European Countries Not Putting up with Google’s Privacy Policies

This article expresses that the six largest European markets (France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany) have announced to take joint legal action against Google over their privacy policies. This action was taken after Google’s decision last year to consolidate more than seventy privacy policy into a single one, and after they decided to change their terms of service agreement. Google did not comply with EU data protection authorities’ recommendations, and did not follow up after a meeting with representatives of the six nations, leading to an investigation on Google by these nations. This could lead to fines for Google and/or possibly the banning of Google services in these countries until changes are made.


I think this article really goes to show that people aren’t going to tolerate Google’s abuse of information gathering. I also think it is good that these countries are calling attention to these abuses, as I don’t think many average users of Google services know how much data they are giving away. Although Google may be fined by these countries, I don’t think they will impact Google so much. From what I understand, the fines that could be imposed would barely be able to put a dent in Google’s economic infrastructure. I think the greatest impact that these nations could have on Google will stem from the public awareness that they are raising and the possible bans that could be put in place. I think if they go through with the ban in those markets, we could very well see a much more “tame” Google in terms of the user’s privacy. I think it is good that these countries are doing this because Google needs to be brought back down to Earth before they go overboard and severely damage the privacy of every individual.

I Do Not Like Richard Stallman

I attended Richard Stallman’s guest lecture the other night, and I can honestly say that I definitely do not care for him as a person and I think his movement is far too radical, to the point that I think it can be considered an extremest movement.

I think what Richard Stallman is shooting for is a worthwhile goal, but his way of trying to get there is ridiculous. He cannot truly expect that I am going to quit using cellphones and delete my Facebook because they may invade my privacy a little and can be used to track me. In fact, I promote that. I hope they can use these technologies to track down the coward who blew up the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Without these technologies, it is possible that this shithead may get away with it. Once again, I promote free software, but I do not promote Richard Stallman’s way of getting there.

I also felt that everytime someone asked him a question or exclaimed a criticism he took it as an attack on his movement and in turn, behaved like an asshole. I think he had a very condescending tone toward all of us and behaved very unprofessionally. It’s like he felt so highly of himself and we were all just a bunch of idiots who needed to see that his way of doing things is the only way of doing things; in his eyes we have to change completely and he/his movement are perfect and there is no room for improvement.  In a way, I see him as a bit of a hypocrite. In the same way that Apple ropes in their users, Richard Stallman is trying to rope us into his. If we don’t see things his way we are “unethical” or “evil.” I think he bullies people into his movement with name-calling like that.

Also, here is a video of Stallman eating something off of his foot. It’s gross/funny, but when regular people see this I think it definitely turns them off to his movement and furthers the notion that he is a wacko. Free Software deserves a more professional and appealing leader  —

Skip to 1:52 for the foot-crud feast

^^If you are a Stallmanite I cannot recommend that you watch this video as it was recorded and released in a non-free format. For the rest of you, enjoy the show.

Tell-all cars put your driving business out in the open

Today I saw this article from The USA Today about privacy and cars. The article starts off by stating that today almost every car today has more and more on-board computers, and these computers are collecting consumers data. Many people don’t know they’re data is being collecting, but still it is happening with their permission. A lot of people simply sign those agreements unaware of what that means for their data collection. The article also states that in the future it will be even harder for individuals to subvert being watched.

The article goes on to discuss three systems that monitors drivers. The first system is Electronic Data Recorders (EDR) or more commonly known as black boxes. These systems record information about the car most commonly used to see what happened in the case of an accident: how fast the car was going, were seat-belts engaged, were the airbags deployed, etc. The second system is Infotainment systems and on-board computers. These systems provide more information to car manufacturers to see how the car is running. Oil changes and tire pressures are examples. The third category is transponders. These devices are used for traffic studies. Something interesting, Progressive gives their drivers discounts of 10% to 15% on drivers premiums for access to install transponders in their cars.

What interested me about this article was how it seems that if we as a society want to progress and live better lives we need to give up some of our privacy. For instance some company could have transponders installed in people’s cars. They could use that data to give other drivers important traffic information and road situations. Also if we want our cars to be the safest possible car manufacturers need real world car data. Finally, and most importantly if we are ever to have self driving cars we’ll have to give up all the data of our cars. So, I see the need to give up our data, and that in today’s world I don’t think that our data will be used so severely against us. However, should things change, and citizens for instance come under the rule of an oppressive government, this car data could be very dangerous, and that bothers me slightly. The data might not be used against us but I would sure hate to give someone the opportunity too.

Facebook withdraws support of CISPA

I found this article on CNET and believe it ties in very nicely with our class discussions about privacy. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a proposed law in the USA which would allow the government to “investigate cyber threats and ensure the security of networks against cyberattack” by allowing the government to have access to Internet traffic information from many U.S. companies. The bill would overrule all existing federal and state laws by saying “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” Opponents of the bill say that the bill will “waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity” and U.S. Representative Ron Paul has even gone so far as to call the bill “Big Brother writ large.” The bill is supported by many telecommunications and information technology companies such as AT&T, IBM, INTEL, Oracle Corporation, Symantec, and Verizon. Facebook supported the bill until very recently when they withdrew support to promote consumer privacy.


I find this bill to be offensive and very much so an invasion of individual privacy. I am supportive of Facebook withdrawing from the bill as I believe it is detrimental to the quality of privacy for American citizens,  although I question Facebook’s motive for withdrawing as they did not withdraw until they went under the heat of a petition created to convince Mark Zuckerberg otherwise. I think it is very possible that Mark Zuckerberg may still support the petition, but is afraid to admit it due to consumer backlash and Facebook’s privacy issues in the past.


I think that if you look at the bill from a utilitarian point of view, it results in decreased happiness for all involved. Although some may argue that the decrease in cybercrime may increase happiness for all involved, I do not believe that the bill would be that effective in preventing or stopping crime and would mostly serve to annoy and scare many U.S. citizens.  I believe the bill would be used to prosecute people committing less threatening cybercrimes (downloading illegal music, movies, etc.) much, much more than it would ever have the potential to stop greater cybercrimes (overseas hacking, child abduction, etc.).

I am interested to hear what the rest of you think about this. Also, If you do think this bill would be effective, I encourage you to convince me otherwise.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 2008 . . .2012 . . .2017

By a vote of 73 to 23, the US Senate, on December 29, 2012, voted to extend the FISA Amendments Act for five years a.k.a. until December 31, 2017.

(some history real quick)

In 2008, congress passed The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (abbreviated FISA) Amendments Act.  This act by congress was basically seen by the public as yet another link in a long chain-of-reactions aimed at the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001. At its core, the main function of this amendment was to extend the – similar but not quite carbon copy – provisions encompassed by the Protect America Act of 2007. Similar to how certain components of the Patriot Act – particularly ones condemned by the public – have survived thru bill-rehashing and manipulation; it seems that the Protect America Act of 2007 is also becoming an undead bill.

No matter how we argue or protest, the original intent and purpose of this act have survived by taking on the mask of FISA, FISA amendments and now the FISA amendments extension.  And I’m not saying that the entire act is bad or that every provision is controversial, I just want to point out that our words are not being heard and change is not coming anytime soon.

In its most recent context – a 5-4 vote nation’s highest court that definitively ended the case of a group of individuals who said “said their communications were likely being scooped up by the government’s expanded spying powers in violation of their constitutional rights”.  The court ruled – based on the recent extension of the FISA Amendments – that these groups don’t have the right to sue at all, because they can’t prove they were being spied on.

This is a silent problem that affects few United States citizens – but that’s how every landslide starts. I firmly believe that if we don’t stick up for the little guys, we’ll soon all be in their shoes – cursing our ignorance. What do you guys think? Can you think of any other laws or other political agendas that have been similarly manipulated  by The Man?


As technology increases and people get smarter, there will always be a new technology or service that pushes the limits of what is “acceptable” in society. Today, I was reading an article about an new app called Koozoo. Basically, it allows people to stream live video from a phone to anyone using the Koozoo app. Other people can also “tune in” to a video feed to watch what is being broadcasted. Sounds intriguing, right? The creator of Koozoo based this app upon an old website that had a live video stream of a bar in Michigan that people could log onto in order to see if the bar was busy that day or something. Koozoo seeks to be similar, but less complicated doing so. They want you to take an old smartphone (“There are billions of dollars of smartphones sitting in sock drawers all over the world”), download the app, and set up a live stream of whatever using that phone. It could be a stream of a city intersection, the outside of a library, whatever. They just want it to be a stream of a public place.

The cool thing about Koozoo is that a 24/7 feed is not actually being streamed, but your phone is actually taking a picture every few minutes to use as a thumbnail, then takes a live feed once someone “tunes in.” The stream is geo-tagged so people know where it originates from. Also, no audio is streamed, only the video itself. However, I believe that Koozoo is already doomed to privacy struggles. In Koozoo’s terms of service it states that only public spaces can be streamed. Koozoo’s founders said “unless a front yard is obscured in some way, it is visible to the general public.” According to this rule, if people can see my backyard from the street, they can stream me swimming.. This would be considered a public spot, and could be streamed. Koozoo says that they are going to be working hard to make sure that only acceptable content is streamed, but how successful will they be? Already, it sounds like privacy can be infringed here and Koozoo will not have a problem with it. What do you think? Is Koozoo a bad idea that will cause privacy concerns, or will it be a beneficial app?

Don’t Get Scroogled

Reading Google’s privacy policy reminded me of Microsoft’s recent ad campaign “Don’t Get Scroogled” trying to get people switch to outlook.com using privacy as a selling point.

The campaign includes newspaper ads, billboards and videos ranging from creepy,very creepy, and sometimes funny, very funny (or as funny as an ad made by Microsoft can get).

As part of the ad campaign Microsoft has a petitioned to get Google to stop reading email to sell ads which has gotten over 100,000+ people sign it.

Microsoft has comment on the ad campain saying

“Privacy of email services is a fair subject for a petition, and 6,000 people have said so in just a few days. Over 500,000 people have visited our website and tens of thousands have tried Outlook.com. It is a serious public policy issue a lot of people care about.”

In Microsoft press release on their “educational campaign”

“Outlook.com believes your privacy is not for sale,” Weitz said. “We believe people should have choice and control over their private email messages, whether they are sharing banking information or pictures of their family or discussing their medical history.”

Weitz added, “Outlook.com does not scan the contents of your personal email to sell ads. Outlook.com is an email service that prioritizes your own and your family’s privacy. You wouldn’t let the post office look inside your mail, so why would you let Google?”

The irony is Microsoft is using target ads to get it message across that Gmail reads your email to generate targeted ads. Also both Outlook and gmail  “read” your email to filter out spam anyway.

Why not to go within 100 miles of the border

Normally I am ok with sacrificing things for the name of national security. For instance im completely ok with x-ray screening at the air port. Or some extra checks where they look through my luggage. Or even my employer having my Facebook or twitter password. I have nothing to hide, especially nothing illegal to hide, but the newest hindrance to our freedoms walks very close to even my line. Now the Department of homeland Security has the power to take any and all of your electronics if you are within 100 miles of the border. They need no reason or warrant, if they want to take your shit, they can and they will. This article outlines how they acquired this power and some of the problems it has already caused.  This is a new way to ignore our 4th amendment rights and it has me troubled. While I still have nothing to hide, I also like to be left the hell alone. I wouldn’t mind showing the DHS my things if i had all the time in the world, but in the case of the Canadian man talked about at the bottom of the article, he was held for 3 hours and didn’t get his laptop returned for 11 days. That is something I am far from OK with.

According to the DHS this is legal because of past legal precedent.  Does anyone else agree this is kinda bullshit? That just because I am within 100 yards of the border doesn’t mean I should lose my 4th amendment rights?

what I have found on Te’o and a connection to this class.

Ok, so this first paragraph will just be a summation of the Te’o story. For anyone who already knows the story go ahead and skip to the bottom paragraph to see how this pertains to our class. For those who don’t know, Manti Te’o was a linebacker for Notre Dame. He is from Samoan heritage, born in Hawaii, of Mormon faith and went to a catholic school for some reason. In the 2012 football season he lead Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season and a birth in the national title game where they got smacked around by Alabama. That game aside Te’o was the leader on the Notre Dame defense that was one of the best in the country. Te’o won almost every award a linebacker can win in college football and was second in the Hiesman trophy race. What made Te’o so compelling was his tragic story of loss. On September 12th, Te’o lost his grandmother to cancer. Then less than 24 hours later he lost his girlfriend Lenney Kekua to cancer as well. Everyone felt for Te’o back in September. The Notre Dame students cheered him for his strength at all Notre Dame pep rallies. ESPN and other news channels ate this story up. The media attention and Notre Dames winning season pushed Te’o into a national name and top choice for the Heisman. ESPN sports writer Skip Bayless passionatly pushed Te’o for the Hiesman in this article.  In the end, Notre Dame was outmatched in the title game and Te’o didnt get the Heisman, but the fame for his play and strength in the face of loss made it look like he would go in the top 10 in this years NFL draft.

On january 16th, Deadspin.com broke the story that Te’os girlfriend Lenney Kekua wasn’t a real person. That she never existed. Then Te’o came under attack from all across the nation. Had he made this women up just to get his Heisman chances up? Did he lie just for the attention of the country? Te’o said he was lied to. That he was tricked into thinking the girl he had an internet relationship with for months was real and he didnt have any reason to think she was fake. So the line was drawn. in most peoples eyes, Te’o was either a schmuck who fell for an awful internet prank and was humiliated in front of the nation. Or he was a sociopath who created this lie to serve himself and help his brand name.

Now more parties involved in this story have come out. the man behind the hoax, who ran Kekua’s facebook and twitter accounts, the man who called Te’o for months using a cypher to cover his voice, is Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. I have yet to find a reason for Tuiasosopo to do any of these things but it is evident by the way he has acted since the story broke that he is very involved. It is really interesting to look at the tweets outlined  the bleacherreport.com has kept a running article with live updates of the Te’o situation. In there article the outline the entire Te’o story from every angle.

Finally Wednesday January 23rd, Te’o had his first live interview with anyone since the story broke. Here is a video and article of Te’o with Katie Couric. In it he tells his side of the story, why he lied, what his truth is.

His story and whether he was duped or is a lying sociopath is up for you to decide but since i eclipsed the 500 word mark awhile ago, here is my connection for this class. Does Deadspin have the right to publish something that could be very harmful to a persons credibility, character, and future when they dont have every fact of the story? Deadspin article does great damage to all those things involving Te’o, and they didnt have to entire truth at there disposal. They took what they knew, that his girlfriend didnt exist, and ran with it. If Te’o lied, then the public should know the absolute truth, but if he was tricked and had no evil intent, then dead spin just threw out this story for the country to laugh at. So does deadspin have the right to do this without knowing the full truth? Is it ok to just throw out what they know even if it invades Te’os privacy and turns him into a laughing stock when he could be an innocent victim?