Posts tagged privacy

The Mozilla Blog
"Today, Firefox is enabling encrypted DNS over HTTPS by default in the US..."
So strange to see a tech company put energy into consumer privacy but I’ll take it.
github.com
I keep trying to switch to Firefox because it's not managed by an advertising company. It has been hard breaking the Chrome habit. But this browser theme for Firefox makes it look exactly like Chrome. I wasn't happy with the compact design for tabs and the bookmarks bar in Firefox. Now I have no excuse. I will switch.

Update: A trick that has helped me remember I want to switch is setting my Chrome homepage to the Firefox download page.
nytimes.com
Here's another must-read article even for chronic sufferers of tech-culture outrage fatigue—sorry.
"At my request, a number of police officers had run my photo through the Clearview app. They soon received phone calls from company representatives asking if they were talking to the media — a sign that Clearview has the ability and, in this case, the appetite to monitor whom law enforcement is searching for."
If you don't have or want a NYT subscribtion, The Verge has a good summary: Go read this NYT expose on a creepy new facial recognition database used by US police. (Interesting that a Facebook board member is funding a company that is seemingly breaking the Facebook terms of service?) Another must-read, Bruce Schneier's take on banning facial recognition: We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.
"A ban on facial recognition won’t make any difference if, in response, surveillance systems switch to identifying people by smartphone MAC addresses. The problem is that we are being identified without our knowledge or consent, and society needs rules about when that is permissible."
ps. (1/21) Vox has a great explainer video: What facial recognition steals from us.
Nelson's log Nelson's log
"The new thing here is that Yandex is working not just as a reverse image search tool; it seems to be doing facial matching."
Nelson has an interesting follow-up to the bellingcat guide to reverse image searching I posted recently.
Home amnesty.org
image from Home
"Either we must submit to this pervasive surveillance machinery – where our data is easily weaponized to manipulate and influence us – or forego the benefits of the digital world. This can never be a legitimate choice."
Amnesty International the organization is wrestling with their use of Facebook in the wake of this report: We called out Facebook and Google but still need them. That's exactly the problem. They go on to say:
“We are trying to pull off the difficult balancing act of carrying out our duty to spread our human rights message while spending money with companies profiting from problematic surveillance. The reputational risk grows with every scandal. ”
I hope we see some progressive organizations start to distance themselves from Facebook. If they won’t, who will?
om.co om.co
Om Malik tapped into a current of mistrust around smart device features sponsored by the big services after he wrote about his hesitation: Hello HomePod. So Long Sonos & Bose. Even my first generation Sonos speakers attempt to phone home frequently (for use stats?) and I block that with pi-hole. When I wanted to add a speaker recently I purchased a used first gen on eBay because I don’t want yet another always-on microphone in my home. I mean, have you seen the headlines?
nrempel.com
This is another great post about changing digital habits, google edition. This is feeling more possible to me every day. I need to switch to Fathom Analytics here. Google Analytics is overkill for a personal website. And it wasn't mentioned in this post, but I still haven't found a good alternative to Google Maps on my phone. Apple Maps has been improving but it's still not as accurate in my experience.
banking.senate.gov banking.senate.gov
image by @thedansherman
"...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, owner and operator of old-school bookmarking service Pinboard (which I use to power posts like this) spoke to the Senate Banking Committee about online privacy. His thoughtful written statement is an excellent description of privacy in our current tech environment and has some ideas about how regulation could change things. I have no idea how this public statement came about, but I hope our leaders were listening. The gif here is by @thedansherman.
pi-hole.net pi-hole.net
image from pi-hole.net
I'm a big fan of goofing around with a Raspberry Pi. At times I've used mine as a game emulator, media center, and caller ID server. Recently it has been sitting in a box, but now it's a DNS server that blocks ads on my home network thanks to Pi-hole. Pi-hole is software you install on a raspberry pi that filters the addresses you or your devices request through shared lists of known advertisers. It's simple to set up and it just works. I'm seeing 98% fewer ads across the web—no browser ad-blocker required. Once installed it has a nice web admin interface and it gives you statistics about which domains have been blocked. (8.7% of all my DNS queries have been blocked as I write this.) It was also easy to add my favorite ad-supported sites to a whitelist so they'll still get paid. It does bother me that this kind of tool leads to a nerds vs. everyone else experience (great interview, btw) but tracking, malware, and general browsing performance has gotten so bad due to ads that we need these tools. If you already have a tiny computer, Pi-hole plus an hour to set it up on a weekend will improve your web experience.
Gizmodo Gizmodo
image from Gizmodo
I never get tired of these stories where people change their digital habits. This piece by Kashmir Hill is an extreme example, but also a good illustration of how ubiquitous the major tech companies are. Understanding the often hidden architecture of our tech environment helps us make mindful decisions. A couple other posts in this genre I've enjoyed lately: Bye, Bye, Google by Bogdan Popa and Pulling the plug on Facebook by Drupal founder Dries Buytaert.
Motherboard Motherboard
image from Motherboard
10. We need strong regulation to protect our privacy
20. Goto 10


I think every large company has violated our privacy now—selling user data is the culture! So we need to change that culture via regulation. Congressional investigations with no follow-up are not scaring companies; so promises like this ring hollow: AT&T says it'll stop selling your location data. The week before it was IBM selling Weather Channel app location data: Los Angeles Accuses Weather Channel App of Covertly Mining User Data. With no repercussions we'll see these headlines over and over.
blog.chaddickerson.com blog.chaddickerson.com
This really rang true for me, especially: "I don’t sit there and think about what other people might think about what I’m writing — just the person who emailed me. To me, this is closer to what true friendship is like." I feel like we've collectively forgotten what private one-on-one relationships are.
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