Sites Feed Personal Details To New Tracking Industry
July 30, 2010 by Dissent
Julia Angwin and Tom McGinty have a must-read story in the Wall Street Journal:
The largest U.S. websites are installing new and intrusive consumer-tracking technologies on the computers of people visiting their sites—in some cases, more than 100 tracking tools at a time—a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.
n an effort to quantify the reach and sophistication of the tracking industry, the Journal examined the 50 most popular websites in the U.S. to measure the quantity and capabilities of the “cookies,” “beacons” and other trackers installed on a visitor’s computer by each site. Together, the 50 sites account for roughly 40% of U.S. page-views.
The 50 sites installed a total of 3,180 tracking files on a test computer used to conduct the study. Only one site, the encyclopedia Wikipedia.org, installed none. Twelve sites, including IAC/InterActive Corp.’s Dictionary.com, Comcast Corp.’s Comcast.net and Microsoft Corp.’s MSN.com, installed more than 100 tracking tools apiece in the course of the Journal’s test.
Read more in the Wall Street Journal.
(Related) You thought Cookies were bad? This pushes the Publishers Clearinghouse model to the breaking point. Imagine the calls to Brazil's 911: “Someone followed me home from the supermarket and now they're pounding on my door!”
Omo follows customers home with GPS-enabled products
July 30, 2010 by Dissent
Meghan Keane reports:
Privacy advocates may not be happy with brands tracking consumers online, but a Brazilian detergent brand is set to begin tracking customers in the real world. Starting next week, Omo is embedding 50 detergent boxes with GPS devices as part of a new video camera giveaway.
The campaign is sure to get Omo lots of attention, but the amount of privacy concessions necessary to make it all happen could prohibit GPS-enabled products from becoming a widely used marketing strategy.
Read more on Econsultancy.
[From the article:
"Fifty Omo boxes implanted with GPS devices have been scattered around Brazil, and Mr. Figueiredo has teams in 35 Brazilian cities ready to leap into action when a box is activated. The nearest team can reach the shopper's home 'within hours or days,' and if they're really close by, 'they may get to your house as soon as you do,' he said.
"Once there, the teams have portable equipment that lets them go floor by floor in apartment buildings until they find the correct unit, he said."
There are backup plans in place if things do not go smoothly with the unsuspecting customers. If the customer is hesitant to let the marketing team into his/her home, the group can "remotely activate a buzzer in the detergent box so that it starts beeping." And if something goes wrong with the search, or it takes too long, the boxes come equipped with a note explaining the promotion and prize offering (essentially the traditional approach to such things.)
(Related) Coming soon to a cubicle near you!
The robot that visits your cubicle
When Trevor Blackwell, CEO of a company called Anybots, wants to know what his employees are up to, he sends a robot to their cubicles.
… The 5-foot-6, 35-pound robot contains a video camera, a still camera and a microphone. From a laptop, Blackwell can see everything the robot sees. He hears what the robot hears. And, when he talks, the robot projects his voice.
Blackwell says that this is how the office of tomorrow will work. Within a year or so, he says, every office in Silicon Valley, California, will have about one telepresence robot for every 10 employees. [Want to bet? Bob]
Perhaps there is hope for the younger generations...
Students finally wake up to Facebook privacy issues
Students care about Facebook privacy more than the world thinks, and their use of privacy controls has skyrocketed recently, according to two researchers. Eszter Hargittai, Associate Professor of Northwestern University, and Danah Boyd, Research Associate at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society published their findings in the online peer-reviewed journal First Monday, noting that young people are very engaged with the privacy settings on Facebook, contrary to the popular belief that their age group is reckless with what they post publicly.
… The one thing the researchers were unsure of was why so many Facebook users started tweaking their privacy controls so much between 2009 and 2010. One theory was that there was an increase in public attention on Facebook privacy just before and during that time
Always a good place to start the debate – with a definition of the “problem” (Lots of links worth following...)
Did we pronounce privacy dead this week?
July 30, 2010 by Dissent
Caroline McCarthy reports:
Does privacy exist anymore? Do we even know what it is? A conversation between digital academics Jeff Jarvis and Danah Boyd on Friday morning at the Supernova conference capped off a week in which many peoples’ perceptions of the tension between public and private data online were shaken (and stirred).
“We have no definition of privacy,” said Boyd, a charismatic Microsoft researcher who says she has spent the past two months working on a data-intensive analysis of news stories pertaining to Facebook’s ongoing privacy controversy. The massive social network has been criticized by bloggers, advocates, and lawmakers for an allegedly cavalier attitude toward the privacy of its user base–but its astonishing growth has continued, and the social network propelled past 500 million members last week. “We don’t know what we’re talking about, the (members of the) press certainly don’t know what they’re talking about, (and) the spokespeople don’t know what they’re talking about.” [Does this speaker know what she is talking about? Bob]
Read more on cnet.
For my Ethical Hackers: How to be a Social Engineer
DefCon Contest Rattles FBI's Nerves
Posted by Soulskill on Friday July 30, @07:34PM
"A DefCon contest that invites contestants to trick employees at 30 US corporations into revealing not-so-sensitive data has rattled nerves at the FBI. Chris Hadnagy, who is organizing the contest, also noted concerns from the financial industry, which fears hackers will target personal information. The contest will run for three days, with participants attempting to unearth data from an undisclosed list of about 30 US companies. [Is your company on the list? Bob] The contest will take place in a room in the Riviera hotel in Las Vegas furnished with a soundproof booth and a speaker, so an audience can hear the contestants call companies and try to weasel out what data they can get from unwitting employees."
The group organizing the contest has established a strict set of rules to ensure participants don't violate any laws.
Geek tools. Speed your boot and secure your flash drive.
The 5 (Really) Cool Windows Tools You Might Need
Identifies what applications start at boot time and allows you to remove or delay them.
Click on the partition you feel is responding slowly, and perform an analysis to see if any files require defragmentation.
If you could somehow temporarily disable the writing permissions on your drive, your flash drive would be more secure. At the same time, you will be unable to accidentally delete or modify the flash drive’s contents.
a font manager with some extra font cleaning features. When you load it up, the program shows all fonts installed on your computer.
Bvckup is a program currently in its beta that works with Windows operating systems. The program has a number of interface and functionality features which set it apart from applications that perform the same auto-syncing tasks.
For my spreadsheet students (well, two out of three anyway.)
Top 3 Websites To Download Useful Free Excel Programs
On the Microsoft Office website, you’ll find countless pre-built Excel templates. … most of them are clearly intended for business purposes.
Vertex42 is a website dedicated to everything related to Excel – including templates and financial calculators.
A large part of these even work on Open Office as well!
This last website is complementary, and wouldn’t be considered ‘useful’ by all parties. [Would you believe, Excel Tetris? Bob]
Coming soon to Firefox. Keep tabs of your frequently used sites available all the time! (Interesting that a Microsoft ad precedes the video.)
How to use App Tabs in Firefox (video)