This story is part of When Spies Come Home, a Motherboard series about powerful surveillance software ordinary people use to spy on their loved ones.
A company that sells consumer-grade software that lets customers spy on other people’s calls, messages, and anything they do on their cell phones left more than 95,000 images and more than 25,000 audio recordings on a database exposed and publicly accessible to anyone on the internet. The exposed server contains two folders with everything from intimate pictures to recordings of phone calls, given that the app markets itself mostly to parents.
FEMA mistakenly exposed personal information, including addresses and bank account information, of 2.3 million disaster victims, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General said in a report released Friday. The breach occurred because FEMA did not ensure a private contractor only received information it required to perform its official duties, the report said.
The victims affected include survivors of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the 2017 California wildfires.
The report found FEMA’s failure to protect their data put them at risk of identity theft and fraud.
Fitness apps and other smart devices embedded with GPS satellite chips and other sensors may use satellite data to help users stay fit and healthy, but, according to Penn State and Penn State Dickinson Law researchers, they unwittingly open a gateway to privacy-related legal and ethical headaches and are a repeated source of national security threats.
In a session at the Penn State Law Review annual symposium held today (March 22), the researchers and Dickinson Law professors said that immediate focus is needed on how vast quantities of data, collected from sensors embedded in smart devices combined with both government-owned and privately owned satellite mapping technologies, is aggregated, used, disseminated, and bought and sold. Government-owned satellite mapping technologies, including global positioning satellites provide free, worldwide access for use in GPS chip-embedded devices.
This story is part of The Privacy Divide, a series that explores the fault lines and disparities–economic, cultural, philosophical–that have developed around digital privacy and its impact on society.
Increasingly, the most important issue for everyday internet users is privacy—and rightly so. In today’s connected world, we’re being tracked and surveilled more than ever by everyone from search giants and social media companies to ISPs and advertising firms. These organizations don’t just record what we click on or share, but analyze our online activity to compile complex demographic and psychographic profiles about us—so they can manipulate us into doing their bidding, whether that’s clicking on ads they serve us based on the data they hold about us or getting us to interact with their sites more and share even more information about ourselves.