You’re not ready to know all that Google and Facebook know about us

What Google & FB have on you ss
Source: Dylan Curran’s article on The Guardian
It’s awe-inspiring and terrifying to know how much Google and Facebook know about us: where we go, what time we go to the gym, what you’ve searched, what searches you’ve deleted, what apps you use, what you and your friends talk about, and more. Dylan Curran, writing in The Guardian, says,

They can access your webcam and microphone
The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to. read more

Online privacy advice via The New York Times, Wired and Forbes

Blogger Bob Braun rips testing giant Pearson’s privacy invasion practices wide open

Creepy Parson spying on meWith amplification from Diane Ravitch (where you can also read the text of Bob’s original post if his website is still inaccessible), Washington Post, Daily Kos, a growing number of local news portals and now The War Report radio show, Bob Braun has busted wide open the practice of standardized testing giant Pearson Education to spy on and oppress students using Pearson Streamlines Social Media Listening and Monitoring With Tracx. It’s more than shocking.

Bob Braun’s Ledger reported the exclusive story that Pearson is monitoring students’ social media accounts during PARCC testing … and that both Pearson and the NJDOE called for the punishment of a student who had tweeted after taking the test, although school authorities knew – and had reported – that the student did not share any sensitive information. This Watchung Regional High School District Superintendent’s letter was leaked to Braun and started the snowball rolling. read more

Hungry for privacy? Facebook de-friending won’t even get you close

You are being tracked
I’ve been really thinking about a Facebook friend’s earlier post, saying she feels exposed by having 822 friends and will start deleting some in order to get more privacy. I just had to reply to the privacy issue and afterwards, realized that my assertions needed to be backed up by reliable data. “I must say,” I commented to my friend, “I find it strange that you would play a game on Facebook or post anything here and voice concerns about privacy,” and followed that with my first information point: “Facebook sells your data to game creators – this is a well-known fact.” read more

Did Facebook illegally try to depress users?

Facebook manipulationI learned today that Facebook is under an FCC consent decree that will last 20 years (until 2032) to protect user’s privacy. Also that privacy advocacy group EPIC has filed a formal complaint against Facebook for violating it. Facebook recently attempted to influence the mood of 700,000 users by filtering posts in their News Feeds to show either more good or more bad news, and then monitored individual users’ posts for words known to reflect emotional state. This was a research project that involved Cornell University but users were not informed that it was taking place. read more

Take control of your privacy & end surveillance

Google privacy

Google privacy
Jon Fox, Global Advocacy Manager for Access points out that we have the power as individuals to curtail mass surveillance and data collection and comments, “Here are four things you can do today to keep your online activities private and secure from snooping eyes.”

1. Secure Browsing: Access recommends using the Tor Browser Bundle which provides access to blocked websites, and prevents others from tracking you online or watching what sites you visit by obscuring your online communications. Tor also prevents websites and others from collecting data on you – most importantly your physical location. read more

Where does Google Voice fit into the privacy spectrum these days?

Google - do not disturbBeing gifted a spectacular MotoX Adroid phone from my brother saddled me with the obligation to sort through privacy options I had avoided confronting until now by staying away from smart phones and as much as possible, the public observation grid. I use a client-side email application connected to a private email service, which means my mail isn’t being stored on Yahoo or Google’s servers or monitored by them (as most people’s e-correspondence is). And I use a client-side calendar as well NOT synched via the cloud, which is another layer of privacy protection I’ve got that many people gave up a long time ago. read more

Be vigilant in the twilight against oppression & loss of privacy

EPIC privacy word cloud 2013

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

EPIC privacy word cloud 2013On 23 August 2013, UK’s Mail Online reported

Newly published top-secret documents show that the United States government has reimbursed tech companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft millions of dollars each year for their participation in the National Security Agency’s clandestine Prism surveillance program that was made public earlier this year by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. read more

We must keep the internet open

Vincent Cerf, one of the recognized fathers of the internet, writes in this New York Times op-ed piece:

Several authoritarian regimes reportedly would ban anonymity from the Web, which would make it easier to find and arrest dissidents. Others have suggested moving the privately run system that manages domain names and Internet addresses to the United Nations. …

When I helped to develop the open standards that computers use to communicate with one another across the Net, I hoped for but could not predict how it would blossom and how much human ingenuity it would unleash. What secret sauce powered its success? The Net prospered precisely because governments — for the most part — allowed the Internet to grow organically, with civil society, academia, private sector and voluntary standards bodies collaborating on development, operation and governance. read more

Fight for internet freedom and the open web

These organizations are fighting for your freedom and privacy (and mine) online and in all digital/electronic media. Learn about them – and from them, get involved with their campaigns, support them and publicize their efforts. We’re all in this together.

  • Free Press
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor, who’s spending his life educating America about how disconnected American politicians have become from the American people and why we should take big money out of public elections: 28 Oct 2011 lecture
  • and book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It
  • read more

    Who Has Your Back on The Web?

    Internet privacy is a matter of online civil liberty.

    Friends, we have an ongoing need to educate ourselves about what privacy means in the Internet environment and take action to protect it. The Internet “space” we live in today is a pioneering world where people’s rights haven’t yet been fully determined. The EFF is one of the organizations the general public knows little, or nothing, about which is working behind the scenes every day at no charge to us to protect the privacy of all netizens. Other organizations are the ACLU and Public Citizen. read more

    Hide your list of email recipients

    This morning I received a hoax email forward and was disgruntled, but not surprised, to discover that my friend, along with many previous senders, had made visible to each recipient the long list of other people to whom that email was forwarded. I wish my friend had checked to see if the email were true before forwarding it to me. I also very much wish she had hidden my email address from view.

    There are good reasons to hide recipient’s addresses when you sent an email broadcast. Here are a few to think about: read more