privacy

CNN
iOS users must now give explicit permission for apps to track their behavior and sell their personal data, such as age, location, spending habits and health information, to advertisers. While many apps have allowed people to manage or opt-out of this for years, it's typically buried deep in user settings and wordy privacy policies.
Nice.

Open Web Analytics

A couple weeks ago I read Google Analytics: Stop feeding the beast and it was the straw that broke the steady drumbeat camel of not using Google Analytics on this site's back.

I looked around at alternatives and settled on Open Web Analytics. It runs locally without a complex install and you can add custom events. The interface isn't as slick as Google Analytics but since I can query the data directly I should be able to write my own report pages.

The main thing is that it's one (admittedly tiny) meal that Google doesn't get to eat. And this site is one less place that Google knows you visited. Sneaky! (If you weren't blocking GA already, which you should.)
conradakunga.com
"So today I set out to actually see what it is one agrees to when they accept all."
Peeling back the layers on those cookie agreement dialogs helps us learn about how web advertising works (and how massive the industry is).
Apple
A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.
I'm extremely concerned about privacy related to these companies and I also think this is a great development. We're going to need to trade some privacy for safety to get society going again. Kottke had a neat comic explainer about how contact tracing works: How Privacy-Friendly Contact Tracing Can Help Stop the Spread of Covid-19.
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.
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