Monday, August 28, 2017

Interesting to me when mainstream magazines start reporting on Apps invading Privacy.  Maybe they are finally recognizing that, “We were planning to add a feature for you, but we changed our mind” isn’t really an excuse.  Especially when that feature would have announced to everyone on your Contacts list that you were using the “Anonymous” messaging App. 
Sarahah Has Been Downloading All the Data In Your Address Book
The anonymous messaging app, biled as a platform for honest feedback, has reportedly also been saving all the contacts in your phone.  According to The Intercept, when users download the app for the first time, “it immediately harvests and uploads all phone numbers and email addresses in your address book.”  In some cases, Sarahah does ask for permission to access your contacts, but it does not disclose that it will be saving the data to its own servers. 
Sarahah’s founder, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, tweeted in response to The Intercept's article , saying that the contacts were being uploaded for a planned “find your friends” feature.  The feature was then delayed due to “technical issues” and was accidentally not removed from the current version of the app.  He added that “the data request will be removed on next update.”

It seemed like such a friendly App…
With weather on everyone’s mind this week, this might be a good time to point out that AccuWeather was caught sending user location data – even when location sharing is off.
Last week, Zack Whittaker reported:
Popular weather app AccuWeather has been caught sending geolocation data to a third-party data monetization firm, even when the user has switched off location sharing.
AccuWeather is one of the most popular weather apps in Apple’s app store, with a near perfect four-star rating and millions of downloads to its name.  But what the app doesn’t say is that it sends sensitive data to a firm designed to monetize user locations without users’ explicit permission.
Read more on ZDNet and do read their follow-up how the problem persisted even after it was allegedly fixed.

There is value in anonymous speech.
China Tightens the Noose on Free Online Speech, Again
Chinese authorities have stepped up their war against free online speech by banning web platforms from accepting comments from anonymous users.
China's "cyberspace administration" said in rules published Friday that internet forum providers had to force their users to register using their real names, which they must verify, reports The Diplomat.  The web companies must also immediately report illegal comments to the authorities, and pre-screen comments on current affairs.
Illegal comments include those that spread rumors, potentially disrupt social order, leak secrets, damage China's national honor, incite hatred, undermine the state's policies about religion, and insult people.

Hundreds of Russians Protest Tighter Internet Controls
About 1,000 Russians braved pouring rain in Moscow on Saturday to demonstrate against the government's moves to tighten controls on internet use, with police arresting about a dozen protesters.
,,,   In July, Russia's parliament voted to outlaw web tools that let internet users sidestep official bans of certain websites.
It allows telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor to compile a list of so-called anonymiser services and prohibit any that fail to respect the bans, while also requiring users of online messaging services to identify themselves with a telephone number.
"Innovation and technology will win!  We will defend our freedoms!" one protester said, according to a broadcast of the march on YouTube.
Russia's opposition groups rely heavily on the internet to make up for their lack of access to the mainstream media.
But the Russian authorities have been clamping down on such online services, citing security concerns.

Fits in to the discussion my classes are having.
Kill animals and destroy property before hurting humans, Germany tells future self-driving cars
Germany’s government has answered the car ethics question once and for all: driverless cars should prioritize the protection of human life over the destruction of animals or property.
On Wednesday, the nation's Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure – a curious combination that suggests they took "information superhighway" too literally – announced it will "implement" guidelines devised by a panel of experts scrutinizing self-driving technology.
Back in June, the ministry's ethics commission produced a report on how computer-controlled vehicles should be programmed and designed in future.  The panel of 14 scientists and legal eggheads suggested some 20 rules autonomous rides should follow.  Now, Germany's transport regulator has pledged to enforce them in one way or another.
Among the proposed rules are:
  • The protection of human life always has top priority. If a situation on the road goes south, and it looks as though an accident is going to happen, the vehicle must save humans from death or injury even if it means wrecking property or mowing down other creatures.
  • If an accident is unavoidable, the self-driving ride must not make any choices over who to save – it can't wipe out an elderly person to save a kid, for instance. No decisions should be made on age, sex, race, disabilities, and so on; all human lives matter.
Ultimately, drivers will still bear responsibility if their autonomous charabanc crashes, unless it was caused by a system failure, in which case the manufacturer is on the hook.

I always thought of fingerprints as solid science.  Perhaps the procedure needs review? 
New on LLRX – Fingerprint Forensics: From Lore to Law
by on
Notable developments in courtrooms, academia and government institutions, both state and federal, are laying the groundwork for challenges to fingerprint matching.  This extensively researched, comprehensive annotated bibliography by Ken Strutin includes new and noteworthy materials such as key opinions, significant articles and online resources concerning accuracy, reliability, validity as well as authenticity of fingerprint evidence.  It also includes information on scientific and technological developments that are pushing the frontiers of biometric analysis.

Tossing the baby out with the bathwater?  Are we missing an opportunity to point out the errors in their logic and more importantly, the opportunity to laugh at them?  Worth reading. 
Nazis, The Internet, Policing Content And Free Speech
    I want to discuss an issue that's already received plenty of attention: how various platforms -- starting with GoDaddy and Google, but with much of the attention placed on Cloudflare -- decided to stop serving the neo-Nazi forum site the Daily Stormer.
   Let's start with the basics: Nazis -- both the old kind and the new kind -- are bad.  My grandfather fought Nazis in Europe and Northern Africa during WWII, and I have no interest in seeing Nazis in America of all places.  But even if you believe that Nazis and whoever else uses the Daily Stormer are the worst of the absolute worst, there are many other issues at play here beyond just "don't provide them service."  Of course, lots of services are choosing not to.  Indeed, both the Washington Post and Quartz are keeping running tallies of all the services that have been booting Nazis and other racist groups.  And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone.  There's certainly no fundamental First Amendment right for people to use any service they want.  That's not how free speech works.  
   As many experts in the field have noted, these things are complicated.  And while I know many people have been cheering on each and every service kicking off these users, we should be careful about what that could lead to.  Asking platforms to be the arbiters of what speech is good and what speech is bad is frought with serious problems.

If nothing else, you must admit he can catch the spotlight whenever he wants to.  (Which seems to be, every time he thinks people are beginning to forget him.)  
Kim Dotcom Wants YouTube Stars to Test His Bitcoin Payment System
Kim Dotcom, the file-sharing entrepreneur who is currently fighting extradition from New Zealand to the U.S. on copyright violation charges, has provided a glimpse of the new payments platform he says will make it easier to reward creators for their work.
Dotcom first talked about his Bitcache micropayments platform a year ago, when he said the bitcoin-connected system could provide a new business model for file-sharing—this would involve those who upload copyrighted media being able to charge downloaders small amounts. However, on the weekend he showed off how the platform could be used.
In a YouTube video, Dotcom showed how YouTube creators could embed a bar at the bottom of their videos, encouraging their viewers to give them very small amounts of money through their Bitcache accounts.

Kim Dotcom to shift to Queenstown after assets and money released
   Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the US, tweeted a Hong Kong judge had released some of his fortune and four container loads of property.
   The entrepreneur has fought for the past five years to have assets worth US$42.57m ($57.4m) released after they were seized under the instruction of the US government.
   Dotcom is flagging new court action against the New Zealand Government after a High Court judgment revealed he was under GSCB surveillance far longer than spies had previously admitted.

No comments: