privacy

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Private humans.

If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold, or even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data.

We lose the freedom to be human.

Tim Cook on digital privacy.

2019-07-31T09:40:07+10:0027th November, 2019|Tags: privacy, tech|

Dragons’ hoards.

Our discourse around privacy needs to expand to address foundational questions about the role of automation: To what extent is living in a surveillance-saturated world compatible with pluralism and democracy? What are the consequences of raising a generation of children whose every action feeds into a corporate database? What does it mean to be manipulated from an early age by machine learning algorithms that adaptively learn to shape our behavior?

That is not the conversation Facebook or Google want us to have. Their totalizing vision is of a world with no ambient privacy and strong data protections, dominated by the few companies that can manage to hoard information at a planetary scale. They correctly see the new round of privacy laws as a weapon to deploy against smaller rivals, further consolidating their control over the algorithmic panopticon.

Maciej Cegłowski on agendas.

2019-07-11T09:56:01+10:0019th November, 2019|Tags: privacy, social media, tech|

Purchased.

Tl;dr Google keeps a weird creepy history of everything it knows (e.g. via Gmail) you’ve purchased, makes it really unclear that it’s doing this, and makes it impossible for you to delete the history.

Awesome! Great value-add, just what I wanted! Thanks, Google!

2019-07-09T15:18:36+10:0010th November, 2019|Tags: google, privacy|

This new world of ambient surveillance.

In the regulatory context, discussion of privacy invariably means data privacy—the idea of protecting designated sensitive material from unauthorized access.

[…]

But there is a second, more fundamental sense of the word privacy, one which until recently was so common and unremarkable that it would have made no sense to try to describe it.

That is the idea that there exists a sphere of life that should remain outside public scrutiny, in which we can be sure that our words, actions, thoughts and feelings are not being indelibly recorded. This includes not only intimate spaces like the home, but also the many semi-private places where people gather and engage with one another in the common activities of daily life—the workplace, church, club or union hall. As these interactions move online, our privacy in this deeper sense withers away.

Maciej Cegłowski in his testimony to the US Senate.

Cegłowski is the guy who runs Pinboard, for those of you who’ll recognize the service but not the name.

2019-07-08T14:01:46+10:008th November, 2019|Tags: privacy, tech|

ChatSS.

A web-based chat client written entirely in CSS. On the other hand, as someone who loathes the JavaScriptification of the web, I lol’d. On the other, while this is a cute proof-of-concept, what the tech behind it actually more likely to be used for (and, in fact, what the inspiration Tweet was talking about) is circumventing client-side JavaScript blocking for the purpose of online surveillance.

So, yanno. Welcome to our dystopian internet hellhole, and all that…

2019-07-08T11:47:57+10:003rd November, 2019|Tags: css, privacy, tech, webdev|

Individual actions cannot mitigate institutional threats.

The reality is that your sensitive data has likely already been stolen, multiple times. Cybercriminals have your credit card information. They have your social security number and your mother’s maiden name. They have your address and phone number. They obtained the data by hacking any one of the hundreds of companies you entrust with the data­ — and you have no visibility into those companies’ security practices, and no recourse when they lose your data.

Bruce Schneier on identity theft.

Schneier does go on to give some steps people can take (effectively, assume your personal data is already breached and behave accordingly), though notes that most people won’t because it’s a huge pain in the ass. The actual “real” answer—something Schneier’s been advocating for for years—is, of course, government regulation and legal-system-enforced penalties for data misuse. Which… we’re taking tentative steps towards. Slowly. Far, far too late.

2019-07-01T10:55:58+10:0031st October, 2019|Tags: privacy|

Physical equivalent.

In some library conference talks I’ve done, I’ve groped toward a formulation I’m now calling “physical-equivalent privacy.” That is, if we wouldn’t track a print book, or a person using the physical library, in a particular way, the digital analogue to that tracking behavior is also not okay. Put more formally, “the library patron using library-provided electronic information should enjoy privacy protection equal to that of the same patron using the same information via a library-provided physical information carrier.” This is not a perfect analogy, let me just state that up-front—physical surveillance is also ramping up in all too many contexts, even in libraries—but it productively tickles most folks’ sense of what’s creepy, and I think it also activates a lot of tacit operational-privacy knowledge in librarianship.

Dorothea Salo on privacy.

… I really like this analogy and I will definitely be stealing it in future.

2019-07-01T09:57:09+10:0029th October, 2019|Tags: privacy, tech|

Techmoney.

Tl;dr the GDPR has been rendered effectively toothless by the fact that its “lead prosecutor”, Ireland, is too in the pocket of big tech companies to take regulatory action against them.

2019-07-31T09:40:06+10:0026th October, 2019|Tags: privacy, tech|