Google Glass: is it a threat to our privacy? | Technology | The Guardian


For Google, “privacy” means “what you’ve agreed to”, and that is slightly different from the privacy we’ve become used to over time. So how comfortable – or uneasy – should we feel about the possibility that what we’re doing in a public or semi-public place (or even somewhere private) might get slurped up and assimilated by Google? You can guess what would happen the first time you put on Glass: there would be a huge scroll of legal boilerplate with “Agree” at the end. And, impatient and uncaring as ever, you would click on it with little regard for what you were getting yourself, and others, in to. Can a child properly consent to filming or being filmed? Is an adult, who happens to be visible in a camera’s peripheral vision in a bar, consenting? And who owns – and what happens to – that data?

Google Glass: is it a threat to our privacy? | Technology | The Guardian.




David Mitchell on Google and privacy


We’re divided in our responses to this. Some unthinkingly share everything about their lives from their relationship status, through drunken pictures of themselves, to their opinion on a new chocolate bar. They want to yell their identity in a continuous screech of affirmation. Others are mindful of the new media saw that if something’s free then you’re not the customer, you’re the product.

Oddly, I think the former group get a better deal. They receive something in return for their information: an activity they enjoy. Meanwhile the latter bunch are stuck. It’s increasingly fruitless to try and withhold everything about yourself from the ruthless corporate grid. You still get bombarded with advertising, but for things you definitely don’t want

via There’s no point resisting corporate websites. It’s time to sell yourself | Comment is free | The Observer.

How Twitter is putting an end to our private lives | Technology | The Observer


I love these hand-wringing articles in the old media about how the new media is ruining our lives. Here’s one from the Guardian about things happening in public which used to be private. Follow the link below to read the full article.

One of the most unnerving sentences I read last week was a brief question posed by someone I didn’t know, about someone I didn’t know: although by the time I read it, I was au fait with a conversation that they might – or might not – have had. But I certainly wasn’t well enough acquainted with Melissa Stetten to be able to judge the tone of this tweet: “Did I just ruin Brian Presley’s life via Twitter?”

Stetten is a 22-year-old model who, on 6 June, took a flight from Los Angeles to New York and found herself sitting next to an actor called Brian Presley. This much, we think, is undisputed; what followed is not. In a series of tweets, Stetten appears to convey their conversation, which fulfils two cliches: that of person bored half to death by self-regarding neighbour who fails to pick up on their “I’m going to read my book now” cues; and that of attractive woman hit on by man emboldened by a hiatus in matrimonial or familial obligations.

via How Twitter is putting an end to our private lives | Technology | The Observer.

Cult of Mac » Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy [Update]


UPDATE: the app has now been pulled from the App Store. More about it in this video. Makes you wonder what kind of moral compass Apple has, that it need other people to point these things out. I mean, they ban pornography, but apparently stalking women is okay.

Here’s a good read, with a couple of follow-ups, about the iPhone app Girls Around Me, which enables anyone with a FourSquare account to log in and stalk women see at a glance where the girls are. For those of us who have been hammering on about how young people don’t care enough about their privacy, this is just one more example of why they should. I can imagine a few people might not care that the guy who approaches you in a bar with your favourite drink, and who seems so perfect because he likes the same things you do, actually got all that information by geolocating you and checking your (open) Facebook page. But I also think that it’s fairly predatory behaviour, crossing the line from chasing into stalking.

Where is that line? It’s the line between a situation in which people wanting to chat each other up do their best to make a connection based on face-to-face communication; and one in which one party has inside information and knows which buttons to push. The article is worth a read, if only because it enumerates all the things it’s possible to learn from somebody’s Facebook account, if they choose to leave it open to the public (even down to pictures of what she looks like in a bikini):

In answer to the first question, I replied that as sleazy as this app seemed, Girls Around Me wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. Sure, on the surface, it looks like a hook-up app like Grindr for potential stalkers and date rapists, but all that Girls Around Me is really doing is using public APIs from Google Maps, Facebook and Foursquare and mashing them all up together, so you could see who had checked-in at locations in your area, and learn more about them. Moreover, the girls (and men!) shown in Girls Around Me all had the power to opt out of this information being visible to strangers, but whether out of ignorance, apathy or laziness, they had all neglected to do so. This was all public information. Nothing Girls Around Me does violates any of Apple’s policies.

via Cult of Mac Mobile » This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy [Update].

Here’s the first follow-up: because of the above article Foursquare revoked access to its API, so Girls Around Me can no longer use it.

Here’s the second: a blog entry by SF writer Charlie Stross, in which he discusses how your privacy has been commodified, and how it’s in Facebook’s interest to encourage you to “over share” information about yourself. They do this by constantly changing their privacy policy and settings, by introducing things like the Timeline. It works because you’re too busy to keep up with this stuff, and you get tired of constantly checking your settings. As the people around you give up and reveal too much about themselves, you also start to think that over-sharing is normal, and that people who don’t over-share are a bit odd. Here’s Charlie Stross’ final paragraph:

But as I said earlier, the app is not the problem. The problem is the deployment by profit-oriented corporations of behavioural psychology techniques to induce people to over-share information which can then be aggregated and disclosed to third parties for targeted marketing purposes.

Facebook passwords ‘fair game in job interviews’ – Telegraph


facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

More Facebook fun.

It’s the Catch 22 (look it up) of the 21st century. If you have robust privacy settings on your account, they think you’ve got something to hide. If you have fewer privacy settings, they see you in photos at parties with pints of vodka on your head.

It’s the logical extension of all those invasive post-9/11 security checks, and the people who say, well if you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Tell that to the Italian student who was harassed by Community Support chimps, knocked to the ground, arrested, and jailed in 2009 — just for taking tourist-type photos of London tourist spots (“Come to London for 2012: we’ll beat you up and steal your camera”).

What to do? Employers seem to think they have the right to tell you how to live (teachers are already strongly advised not to have Facebook at all) and to judge the way you behave away from work. You want to just kick them in the balls and walk away, but you need the money for pints of vodka. This is also a logical extension of the obsession that some US politicians have with women and what they choose to do with their bodies. Employers seem to be demanding Facebook log-on details in two situations: first, when they can’t find you on there at all (I’m not on, is that a problem?); and second, when you have sensible security precautions in place.

So, two solutions: one, walk away from the interview with a few choice words; two, create a sock puppet Facebook account in which you are to be seen helping old ladies cross the road (whether they want to cross the road or not) and feeding the hungry with loaves and fishes.

Idea for a startup business: offer a service creating sock puppet Facebook accounts, complete with wholesome friends, lots of charity work and nice library photos of you photoshopped into outward bound courses and working with children (with no hint of paedophilia).

Read more at the Telegraph:

While Lee Williams, an online retail worker from the Midlands, told The Telegraph that he was asked by his managing director for his Facebook login details, after his boss had looked him up on the social network and could not see any details about him as his privacy settings were locked down. The boss thought that Williams was hiding something by not having his profile publicly available.

Williams refused to hand his password over. His boss persisted with his request, but then let it go without taking any further action. Williams still works for the company, but did not wish to name it.


Facebook updating its privacy policy – again


Is it Thursday already? Must be time for Facebook to change its privacy policy again. Just in case you were beginning to get a grip on it.

Constant change is a hallmark of a totalitarian régime. Chairman Mao’s permanent revolution. Or my old sociopath boss, who used to just make everybody move around the office every few months just because he hated the idea that anyone was feeling comfortable or enjoying their work.

Facebook keep changing privacy in the hope that you’ll give up trying to keep on top of it, and just let everything go to the default. When you do that, they can sell more of your data. And keep changing the privacy setting so that more of your data is available by default.

The really confusing thing is this business about your friends installing apps which then have access not just to your friends‘ data, but to anything you happen to share with your friend. I guess this is the bit of the privacy policy I was puzzling over in class, the bit that says something like “How much of your data your friends bring with them when they use apps.” It’s that verb bring. It sounds friendly, you know, like “bring a bottle,” or “bring a plus-one”. What they actually mean is take. Which sounds more like stealing, or at least taking without asking.

To begin with, the company’s privacy policy is now being renamed its “Data Use Policy,” perhaps better reflecting Facebook’s shift from a single website to a platform unto itself. Other changes include clearer descriptions of some behaviors users may not be so pleased with, such as how your information is shared with Facebook apps: if one of your friends installs an app, that app will be able to access any information you’re sharing with said friend, whether you’ve approved it directly or not.

via Facebook updating its privacy policy tomorrow, users have until today to comment | The Verge.

Censorship is inseparable from surveillance | Technology |


Cory Doctorow’s latest Guardian column is a must-read:

We hear a lot about the death of privacy, and the supposed end of our desire to be private. I think it’s more correct to say that we’re very bad at pricing the long-term option on a present-day privacy disclosure. That’s because privacy tradeoffs are one of those areas of public life where actions and consequences are separated by a lot of time and space. That’s a recipe for a problem that’s nearly impossible to get good at solving.

via Censorship is inseparable from surveillance | Technology |