9/14/2018 13:10

Privacy in the Modern Age

Here it is, the year 2018. A great many people are talking about the issue of privacy and the threats which arise from having personally identifying information spread across the cyberworld. Some people are even going beyond talk and taking such actions as paying a company to monitor the use of their social security number and credit scores or concentrating all their identity on a single, vulnerable, web-enabled electronic device.

I find the entire experience rather quaint.

This year, as I pointed out, is 2018. Back in 1968 I was a high school junior. I was applying to take my first college course over the summer before my senior year. I telephoned the university admissions office -- in 1968 the telephone had a cord which connected directly to the wires on the poles in front of the house. The reason I called was to object to using my social security number as the student ID. It was not an appropriate use, I said, and it put my personal information at risk.

I realize that I may have been precocious, but 50 years ahead of the rest of the world?

Still, it is good to know that that world is thinking now about the issues of the generation past. By the middle of this century, people may begin to consider the issues of today. By the start of the 22nd Century, if humanity survives, they might even start to take action.

Some people take long trips, even across oceans, in order to find new perspectives. I think you can find a surfeit of perspectives and conundrums within 20 miles and anywhere. The way to play the actual reality game is not so much to run farther afield as to examine the field you are already playing.

Here are a few quotations about privacy from the past couple years:

Michal Kosinski, the [Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre]'s lead scientist, found that with knowledge of 150 likes, their model could predict someone's personality better than their spouse. With 300, it understood you better than yourself. "Computers see us in a more robust way than we see ourselves," says Kosinski. -- Carole Cadwalladr


Facebook has told advertisers it can identify when teenagers are feeling "stressed", "defeated", "overwhelmed", "anxious" and "useless", for example.


There were whoops and cheers from developers as Google announced the incremental ways it is strengthening its grip on many aspects of people’s lives at its annual developer conference ... Assistant is widely considered much smarter than Siri, thanks to the fact that Google harvests a lot more personal data than privacy-conscious Apple.


The answer to the fact that your front door might be cracked open isn't to open all your windows and walk around naked, too. -- Cindy Cohn executive director for Electronic Frontier Foundation quoted by Anick Jesdanun and Michael Liedtke "What the CIA WikiLeaks dump tells us: Encryption works"


The report from Trend Micro, a cybersecurity firm, said it also costs just $55,000 to discredit a journalist and $200,000 to instigate a street protest based on false news, shining a light on how easy it has become for cyber propaganda to produce real-world outcomes. -- Lion Gu, Vladimir Kropotov, and Fyodor Yarochkin

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jun/13/fake-news-manipulate-elections-paid-propaganda http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/online-economy-fake-news/

The whole of ecommerce -- and egovernment -- is totally dependent on encryption, which is why it's insane to think about banning it. -- Jack Schofield


We should not expect the new speech gatekeepers to be benign forever, or to enforce rules that we agree with forever. -- Daphne Keller Stanford Center for Internet and Society quoted by Julia Carrie Wong


The sheer volume of information the social network has about a typical user is difficult to comprehend. -- Alex Hern


How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible? -- Sean Parker founding president of Facebook quoted by Olivia Solon


Google has confirmed it has been able to track the location of Android users via the addresses of local mobile phone masts, even when location services were turned off and the sim cards removed to protect privacy.


With the continuing collapse in online advertising revenues, websites are turning to other methods to pay their hosting bills - including using visitors' computers and phones to mine cryptocurrency. -- Alex Hern


Safety Check forms part of Facebook's grand plan to make users feel "more safe". And like most things concerning the social network, its primary solution appears to be "more Facebook". The onus is always on the user to share more, engage more -- all the while feeding Facebook's appetite for data. -- Tim Burrows


The problem with Meltdown is that anything that runs as an application could in theory steal your data, including simple things such as javascript from a web page viewed in a browser.   -- Samuel Gibbs

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/04/meltdown-spectre-computer-processor-intel-security-flaws-explainer (see examples at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/27/pirate-bay-showtime-ads-websites-electricity-pay-bills-cryptocurrency-bitcoin http://wtaq.com/news/articles/2018/feb/11/us-uk-government-websites-infected-with-crypto-mining-malware-report/)

Facebook and Google are essentially huge advertising firms. Ad-blocking software is their kryptonite. Yet millions of people downloaded these plug-ins to stop ads chasing them across the web [...]. -- Jamie Bartlett (author of Radicals: Outsiders Changing the World) "Will 2018 be the year of the neo-luddite?"


Seeing your digital life organised into folders is something of a wakeup call, particularly when you realise the data Facebook lets you download is just the tip of the iceberg of what it knows about you. -- Arwa Mahdawi "I downloaded all my Facebook data – here’s what I learned"


We make data together, and we make it meaningful together, but its value is currently captured by the companies that own it. -- Ben Tarnoff "Big data for the people: it's time to take it back from our tech overlords"


You might think it odd that any self-respecting financial institution would seek to authenticate customers via static data like partial SSN for passwords, and you'd be completely justified for thinking that, too. Nobody has any business using these static identifiers for authentication because they are for sale on most Americans quite cheaply in the cybercrime underground. -- Brian Krebs, Krebs on Security "What Is Your Bank's Security Banking On?"


Once upon a time the internet was associated with anonymity; today it is synonymous with surveillance. -- Alex Hern and Arwa Mahdawi "Beware the smart toaster"


The social media space offers great opportunities for guilt by association. -- Alan Friedman, a former Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reporter, in plan to prop up Viktor Yanukovych, July 2011 as quoted by Luke Harding, "Former Trump aide approved 'black ops' to help Ukraine president"


All the technology would work great if real people were living lives as dull and narrow as the data on which expansive conclusions are based.

From: peter@pivotrock.net Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:23 +0000

Equifax might have lost my personal data in 2017, but I can’t fire them because I’m not their customer or even their user. I could complain to the companies I do business with who sell my data to Equifax, but I don’t know who they are. -- Bruce Schneier "Data protection laws are shining a needed light on a secretive industry"

Surveillance is the business model of the internet. It's not just the big companies like Facebook and Google watching everything we do online and selling advertising based on our behaviors; there's also a large and largely unregulated industry of data brokers that collect, correlate and then sell intimate personal data about our behaviours. -- Bruce Schneier "Data protection laws are shining a needed light on a secretive industry"


If you've read this far (bless you), don't let breach fatigue and incessant media exposure of how little privacy we have harden into resignation. -- Brian Krebs "Why Is Your Location Data No Longer Private?"


There are, however, two things that are conveniently omitted from this uplifting narrative. The first is that there is no such thing as a secure networked device. The second is that the motivation for many manufacturers of these "smart" gadgets is to collect data about what goes on in your home. ... What has been less obvious until now is that it doesn't have to be a hacker who can control "your" home devices. It could be a former partner, a jilted lover, a stalker, a former lodger or just someone you know who has a grievance. -- John Naughton "The internet of things has opened up a new frontier of domestic abuse"


Latanya Sweeney ... showed that 87% of the population of the United States could be uniquely identified by their date of birth, gender and five-digit zip codes. ... Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a computational privacy researcher, ... and others have shown time and time again that it's simply not possible to anonymise unit record level data - data relating to individuals - no matter how stripped down that data is. -- Olivia Solon "'Data is a fingerprint': why you aren't as anonymous as you think online"


For criminals intending to make a lot of money, the rest of the world is slow, poor, and cautious, by comparison to the US. It’s far easier and profitable to go after a rich country with a lot of security holes. -- "Reader", commenting on Brian Krebs, "Human Resources Firm ComplyRight Breached"