Apple granted patent to remotely disable iPhone cameras sparking fears of a Big Brother future

In short, this technology provides a means to control certain functions of the device (ie: iPhone) based on certain conditions such as entering an area defined by a wireless signal.

Apple patent 8,254,902Last week, Apple was granted patent # 8,254,902 which according to the filing is “Apparatus and methods for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event. In one embodiment, the event comprises detecting that the wireless device is within range of one or more other devices. In another variant, the event comprises the wireless device associating with a certain access point.” Continue reading “Apple granted patent to remotely disable iPhone cameras sparking fears of a Big Brother future”

Almost everything you need to know about Facebook groups posting to your friends news feed

Why are my open group posts showing up in my friends’ feed?

Around June or July of 2011, Facebook made drastic changes to groups migrating old groups to the new group format. Users started complaining about their open group posts showing up in their friends’ feed. Continue reading “Almost everything you need to know about Facebook groups posting to your friends news feed”

Google+ privacy issues

Ongoing list of Google+ privacy issue.

Google+ is still in the testing phase so things are constantly changing. Here is a list of ongoing privacy issues. Please suggest new entries in the comment section.

The biggest discussions are centered around photo privacy. There are multiple issues.

  1. Be careful what you include in albums when tagging a single photo. When you tag someone in a photo, that person is notified and given a link to that photo but they will also have access to your entire album, not just that single photo.
  2. Joining Google+ changes the privacy settings of your Picasa albums. You’ve recently joined Google+. Note the following changes to Picasa Web Albums:
    • Albums you’ve shared can in turn be tagged and shared by others.
    • For new albums, anyone an album is shared with can see who else it is shared with.
    • When you tag someone, they receive a notification and can see the photo and the related album.

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  3. Albums you share within your circle can be reshared with those outside your circle if someone in your circle reshares them.
  4. Using Chat may expose your email address. Users are warned when they enable Chat for the first time. When you appear in someone’s chat list in Google+, it’s possible that person could discover your email address. While your email address won’t be displayed in the chat list in Google+, it is displayed in the chat lists of other Google products (Gmail and iGoogle, for instance). The members of chat lists are consistent across Google products. Continue reading “Google+ privacy issues”

Facebook wants to share your phone number and address with third party applications

Palo Alto based Facebook announced on Friday in their developer blog that they are now making a user’s address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object. In plain language, this means your phone number and address may be shared with third party apps if you so choose. Jeff Bowen wrote in the blog

Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs.

Facebook app to share private info
Facebook's request to share your phone and address with apps

Many who use Facebook apps are familiar with the request for permission screen. A new entry has been added to allow the app to “access my private contact information”. Note that many web apps have no need for your address and phone number and will probably not ask for it. It is more likely to be used by merchant apps such as ebay marketplace where there would be a valid reason for passing on this information. Your address and phone number will not be shared with existing apps so you will not have to modify those.

In any case, users should pay attention to what private information they are sharing on Facebook as this new feature has the potential to be a telemarketer’s dream.

EFF: Privacy and safety questions loom over federal program to track preschoolers

In this previous article, I wrote about RFID tracking of preschoolers at the George Miller III Headstart site. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with the ACLU of Northern California, published an open letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department.

In this previous article, I wrote about RFID tracking of preschoolers at the George Miller III Headstart site. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with the ACLU of Northern California, published an open letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department. Many of the questions they addressed were some of the same questions I presented to Karen Mitchoof, public information officer for the Contra Costa Employment and Human Services Department. Although Mitchoof answered all my questions with openness, I agree that there needs to be formal public discussions about privacy issues regarding the use of RFID technology in tracking people. Just because they are not violating anyone’s privacy now does not mean they can’t or won’t in the future. And the procedures of one county does not dictate the procedures for the next county. It’s a new technical frontier and open discussion and debate should be encouraged. Continue reading “EFF: Privacy and safety questions loom over federal program to track preschoolers”

Facebook Places will broadcast your location even if you didn’t opt-in

Places is a new Facebook mobile application that allows members to tag their location and the location of their friends using geo-location feature of mobile phones. Facebook has started rolling out Places in the U.S. and will continue to over the next several days.

Places is a new Facebook mobile application that allows members to tag their location and the location of their friends using geo-location feature of mobile phones. Facebook has started rolling out Places in the U.S. and will continue to over the next several days. Continue reading “Facebook Places will broadcast your location even if you didn’t opt-in”

How to protect your privacy on Facebook Places

Places allows Facebook users to ‘check in’ to real world locations and to tag their friends as present (similar to how Facebook allows tagging in photos).

via Electronic Frontier Foundation

Facebook Places

Commentary by Kurt Opsahl

Yesterday, Facebook introduced Places, a new location feature that competes with popular services like Foursquare, Google Latitude, Loopt, and Gowalla. Places allows Facebook users to ‘check in’ to real world locations and to tag their friends as present (similar to how Facebook allows tagging in photos). Everyone who is checked in to the location can see who else is listed as “Here Now” for a few hours after they check in. Once you are checked in to a location, Places also creates a story in your friends’ News Feeds and places a notice in the location’s page’s Recent Activity section. The product will roll out over the next few days. Continue reading “How to protect your privacy on Facebook Places”