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Down the EU's Right-to-Be-Forgotten Rabbit Hole
July 17, 2014
Telecom regulators from each EU member state, together with the Article 29 Working Party -- a group comprised of a data protection authority representative from each state, the European Data Protection Supervisor, and the European Commission -- reportedly have invited search engines to a meeting next week. Microsoft, which just started fielding link removal requests to Bing, plans to attend.
Google's Project Zero Cybersecurity Watch: No Excuses
July 15, 2014
Google on Tuesday announced Project Zero, an effort to speed up the security bug-fixing process. A team of cybersecurity experts will go after vulnerabilities in any and all software, notify the vendors, and then file bug reports in a public database so users can track the issuance of patches. The Project Zero team has promised to send bug reports to vendors in as close to real-time as possible.
Report: NSA Stalked Prominent Muslim Americans
July 10, 2014
It's been known for years that the U.S. National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have targeted Muslim Americans. What hasn't been widely known is that their targets included lawyers and some who have served the United States at the highest levels. Five highly prominent Muslim Americans were listed on an NSA spreadsheet called "FISA recap."
Can I Get My Reputation Back?
July 09, 2014
Ray Donovan was U.S. Labor Secretary under Ronald Reagan and a colorful figure. During his tenure he was indicted by a Bronx, N.Y., grand jury on corruption charges stemming from a contract to build a subway line. The trial involved unions and the mob and was automatically sensational. The verdict turned on whether a construction company got a contract due to mob influence.
Your Abandoned Smartphone May Betray You
July 09, 2014
Doing a factory reset to wipe the data off smartphones does not work, and the data can be recovered, warned Avast. The company recovered tons of data, including more than 40,000 stored photographs, from 20 used Android phones purchased from eBay. Device owners need to overwrite their files to make them irretrievable, Avast said, touting one of the applications it offers.
Europeans Want Right to Be Forgotten - but Not for the Other Guy
July 08, 2014
Marie Antoinette may not have been too far off the mark when she intoned the immortal line, "Let them eat cake." When it comes to the right to be forgotten, it seems Europeans want both to have their cake and eat it. They are now up in arms over Google's having deleted links to various news stories from search results in Europe, calling the action part of a backroom campaign to change the law.
NSA's Eyes Trained Less on Terrorists Than on Average Joes and Janes
July 07, 2014
Nine out of 10 people whose information is being collected by the NSA are Americans who have nothing to do with people targeted by the agency. Data provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden includes some information pertaining to terrorist activities and possible threats to U.S. national security, as well as a few successes in antiterrorist work.
Civil Liberties Board Takes Heat for NSA Spying Report
July 03, 2014
The U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has come under fire for its latest report on NSA surveillance. The report essentially says collection of information under Section 702 of FISA "has been valuable and effective in protecting the nation's security and producing useful foreign intelligence." However, because certain aspects of its implementation have raised privacy concerns.
Emotional Backlash Unlikely to Unsettle Facebook
July 02, 2014
It's unlikely that Facebook's psych experiment that turned some 700,000 of its users into involuntary lab rats will hurt its brand or advertising revenue. However, Facebook's research on the emotional impact of content in the News Feeds of its members has unleashed a torrent of criticism. Facebook has faced this kind of outrage before, though, and the results have almost always been the same.
Supreme Court Turns Deaf Ear to Google's Street View Appeal
June 30, 2014
The Supreme Court has declined Google's appeal of a lower-court ruling in a class-action lawsuit that alleges it violated federal wiretap laws with its Street View cars. The court left in place a decision the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down in September. The appeals court declined to dismiss the case, ruling that Google was not exempt from liability under the federal Wiretap Act.
Manipulative User Research Earns Facebook a Shiner
June 30, 2014
Once again, Facebook is embroiled in a controversy over privacy. This time, hackles have been raised by publication of a study for which the company manipulated the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 subscribers. The study concluded that negative messages on social networks make people sad, and positive ones make them happy -- and those feelings can spread through a social network to third parties.
Facebook, NY DA Lock Horns Over User Data Warrants
June 27, 2014
Facebook, not known for respecting users' privacy, is battling a New York County district attorney's demand for all information pertaining to the accounts of several hundred of its subscribers. DA Cyrus Vance's office issued 381 secret warrants for the information in July of 2013 in a hunt for retired police officers and firefighters wrongfully claiming Social Security disability benefits.
Google Worms Its Way Into Nest
June 26, 2014
Google-owned Nest Labs, maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors, this week launched a developer program along with partnerships that already have products on offer. Partners include Jawbone; LIFX, which makes smart WiFi-enabled light bulbs; Logitech; and Mercedes-Benz, which will offer models that allow owners to remotely control the Nest device.
Google Starts Purging Search Results in Europe
June 26, 2014
Google has started to remove search results in certain cases in Europe, in compliance with the EU's new "right to be forgotten" rules. The EU last month ruled that the company must allow individuals to request the removal of links to news articles, court judgments, and other documents that might turn up in results when searches are conducted on their names.
No Cellphone Search Without Warrant, Supreme Court Rules
June 26, 2014
Police need a warrant to search the cellphone contents of people they have arrested, the United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Warrantless searches, in essence, would impact privacy to a far greater extent than is acceptable. The ruling also applies to individuals stopped for questioning by the authorities, said Jake LaPerruque of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
To Pay or Not to Pay - That's the Ransomware Question
June 24, 2014
Ransomware is a growing problem for consumers and businesses alike. In Symantec's most recent quarterly security report, the company's researchers found all targeted attacks -- including ransomware -- grew 91 percent year-over-year. That's raising a big question for those targeted by cyberextortionists: Should the ransom be paid? Security experts generally say no, but some insert a caveat or two.
BlackBerry Unveils BBM Protected to, Ahem, Protect Market Share
June 18, 2014
BlackBerry, whose share of the mobile phone market has been on a downward spiral, this week launched BBM Protected, the first in its planned eBBM Suite of secure enterprise-class messaging products. BBM Protected targets regulated industries. It's claimed to be the only secure mobile instant messaging app that uses a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic library.
Microsoft Pushes Back Against US Data Warrant
June 12, 2014
The latest court ruling in an ongoing battle between Microsoft and demands from the United States government for data about one of the company's users, seems to have a lot of folks running for cover. In 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis issued a search warrant requiring Microsoft to turn over all date pertaining to the subscriber, hosted on a server in Ireland, to the U.S. authorities.
Free Speech vs. Internet Privacy and the 'Right to Be Forgotten'
June 10, 2014
The conventional wisdom of the Internet is that everything posted, whether on social media, a website or anywhere else, will be on the Internet forever. That conventional wisdom was just challenged successfully in a recent ruling handed down by the EU's highest court. A new conventional wisdom may arise from that ruling -- that we have a "right to be forgotten."
Why Mobile Providers Will Have to Give a Little on Privacy
June 06, 2014
Apple has tossed out some hints that its App Store may soon accept apps that handle digital currencies such as bitcoin. Though there are many possible reasons for the move, one stands out: PornHub last month released an analysis of its 38 million daily visitors, which included the interesting observation that more than half were using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
Google Releases Email Encryption Tool Alpha
June 06, 2014
Google this week released the alpha version of source code for End-to-End, a Chrome browser extension that encrypts email. End-to-End uses the OpenPGP standard to encrypt, decrypt, digitally sign and verify signed messages within the browser. "We're just sharing the code today so that the community can test and evaluate it, helping us make sure that it's as secure as it needs to be," Google said.
Getting Away With Privacy Murder
May 29, 2014
Snapchat in May agreed to implement a comprehensive privacy program and be audited for the next 20 years to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that it had, among other things, lied to users when it said messages sent through its service would be erased after a designated period of time. However, Snapchat's privacy violation is infinitesimally small compared to some others.
Chinese Media: Cisco Is Playing on US Cyberspy Team
May 28, 2014
Cisco has been accused of being in bed with U.S. cyberspying efforts, according to a Chinese state media outlet. Cisco "carries on intimately" with U.S. spying apparatuses, the outlet claims, and plays "a disgraceful role" in efforts to prop up U.S. power over the Web. Cisco denied the accusations. Beijing definitely seems to have taken umbrage with last week's U.S. indictments for cyberespionage.
Iranian Court Wants a Word With Zuckerberg
May 28, 2014
Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by an Iranian court over privacy-violation concerns, according to news reports on Tuesday. The court in question, located in Iran's southern province of Fars, reportedly also opened a case against Facebook-owned social networking services WhatsApp and Instagram and ordered that they be blocked.

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