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Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

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Chinese deepfake app Zao sparks privacy row after going viral

September 3, 2019

Critics say face-swap app could spread misinformation on a massive scale

A Chinese app that lets users convincingly swap their faces with film or TV characters has rapidly become one of the country’s most downloaded apps, triggering a privacy row.

The rise of the deepfake and the threat to democracy
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Released on Friday, the Zao app went viral as Chinese users seized on the chance to see themselves act out scenes from well-known movies using deepfake technology, which has already prompted concerns elsewhere over potential misuse.

Users provide a series of selfies in which they blink, move their mouths and make facial expressions, which the app uses to realistically morph the person’s animated likeness on to movies, TV shows or other content.
The company was forced to issue a statement on Sunday pledging changes after critics attacked the app’s privacy policy, which it had “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable, and relicenseable” rights to all user-generated content.

There has been growing concern over deepfakes, which use artificial intelligence to appear genuine. Critics say the technology can be used to create bogus videos to manipulate elections, defame someone, or potentially cause unrest by spreading misinformation on a massive scale.

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“We understand the concerns about privacy. We’ve received the feedback, and will fix the issues that we didn’t take into consideration, which will take some time,” a statement released by Zao said.

Zao is owned by Momo Inc, a Tinder-like dating service that is listed on the US Nasdaq.

It has since changed its terms to say it will not use headshots or videos uploaded by users, other than to improve the app. It also pledged to remove from its servers any content that was uploaded but subsequently deleted by users.

The backlash has not dented the app’s popularity. As of Monday afternoon it remained the top free download in China, according to the app market data provider App Annie.

Concerns over deepfakes have grown since the 2016 US election campaign, which saw wide use of online misinformation, according to US investigations.

In June, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said the social network was struggling to find ways to deal with deepfake videos, saying they may constitute “a completely different category” of misinformation than anything faced before.

Article by Agence France-Presse in Shanghai
Mon 2 Sep 2019 09.05 EDT

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Google tightens grip on some Android data over privacy fears, report says

August 19, 2019

The search giant ends a program that provided network coverage data to wireless carriers.

BY CARRIE MIHALCIK
AUGUST 19, 2019 8:49 AM PDT

Google is apparently tightening its grip on some Android data. The search giant shut down its Mobile Network Insights service, which provided wireless carriers with data on signal strengths and connection speeds in their coverage areas, according to Reuters.

Google reportedly decided to shutter the program over concerns that sharing this Android data could draw further scrutiny from users and regulators.

Google on Monday confirmed that it shut down the program but didn’t provide further details.

“We worked on a program to help mobile partners improve their networks through aggregated and anonymized performance metrics. Due to changing product priorities, we decided to end it,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement Monday. “We remain committed to improving network performance across our apps and services for users.”

Google, and other big tech companies, have come under increased scrutiny over how they handle users’ data as well as potentially anticompetitive practices. Last year, Google faced a wave of backlash over its collection of location data even when users turned off location services. The company has since introduced an autodelete feature for location, app and web history.

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Wikipedia co-founder slams Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and the ‘appalling’ internet

July 8, 2019

Elizabeth Schulze

Wikpedia Co-Founder Larry Sanger said in an interview social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are abusing their power and violating users’ privacy and security.
He criticized executives in Silicon Valley like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for being “too controlling.”
Sanger is advocating “decentralized” social networks.

Larry Sanger co-founded Wikipedia in 2001 — and he’s not happy with how the internet has evolved in the nearly two decades since then.

“It’s appalling frankly,” he said in an interview with CNBC this week.

Sanger’s main gripe is with big social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter. These companies, he says, exploit users’ personal data to make profits, at the expense of “massive violations” of privacy and security.

“They can shape your experience, they can control what you see, when you see it and you become essentially a cog in their machine,” he said.
Sanger launched a “social media strike” this week to draw attention to his concerns. In a “Declaration of Digital Independence” published on his personal blog, he said “vast digital empires” need to be replaced by decentralized networks of independent individuals. The declaration had roughly 2,400 signatures as of Friday morning.

The Wikipedia co-founder, who is currently CIO of a blockchain encyclopedia network called Everipedia, is not the first internet pioneer to attack the dominance of big tech companies. Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web, recently released a “Contract for the Web” arguing companies need to take more action to protect consumers’ privacy and personal data.

Zuckerberg’s ‘temperament’
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to seemingly endless concerns about privacy and security on the platform with a new vision for the company, highlighting measures like encrypted messaging. Sanger questioned whether Zuckerberg’s intentions are “sincere” and blasted the Facebook executive for abusing the company’s power online.

“The internet wouldn’t have been created by people like Mark Zuckerberg, or any of the sort of corporate executives in Silicon Valley today,” he said. “They wouldn’t be capable, they don’t have the temperament, they’re too controlling. They don’t understand the whole idea of bottom up.”

Despite growing scrutiny of Big Tech by governments and regulators around the world, Sanger isn’t convinced legislation is the best solution for reining in companies like Facebook or Twitter. Facebook did not provide a comment to CNBC at the time of publication. Twitter declined to comment.

Sanger said onerous regulations could make it more difficult for competitors to enter the market, ultimately benefiting big corporations like Facebook. He also raised concerns over government efforts to regulate free speech and content online.

“If the government gets involved their interests are not the same as individual people,” Sanger said.

‘Decentralized’ internet
Instead, Sanger advocates for decentralized social networks. These networks would, for example, allow individuals to publish information online without going through a central organization, like a corporation. In the same way that bitcoin is a “decentralized” asset not subject to authorities like central banks, decentralized social networks would mean no single platform could control users’ data online. The idea has support among privacy advocates but has a long way to go before becoming mainstream.

“A decentralized internet, a freer internet, that’s what led to the internet being created in the place,” Sanger said.

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Why America Needs a Thoughtful Federal Privacy Law

June 26, 2019

More than a dozen privacy bills have been introduced in this Congress. Here’s what it needs to do.

By Peter M. Lefkowitz
Mr. Lefkowitz is the chief privacy and digital risk officer at Citrix Systems.
June 25, 2019
This is the year of privacy, a unique opportunity to protect Americans’ privacy rights while protecting technological innovation and civil discourse.

If this sounds lofty for a technology issue, consider: The Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed significant threats to consumers and to democracy posed by the misuse of consumer personal information; the General Data Protection Regulation, Europe’s year-old comprehensive privacy law, required companies globally to rework their privacy programs, at real expense and with the possibility of monumental fines; and the California Consumer Privacy Act, enacted quickly last year, gives consumers extensive new rights, including the ability to tell companies not to sell or retain their data.
Congress is working on a consumer privacy law, with the prospect that the United States will join 80 other countries with comprehensive national laws protecting personal information. At least 15 bills have been filed this year, and a group of six senators is expected to introduce its own bill in coming weeks, the most substantial undertaking to date.
There are many reasons to support federal privacy legislation. A federal law would set a consistent standard for how companies treat consumers’ personal information and would inspire greater confidence in how responsible companies behave. It could address the significant risks posed by the aggregation of consumer profiles, which include racial and economic discrimination and a lack of transparency
about how information is collected and used. And a federal law would allow the United States to harmonize its laws with those of other major economies, easing trade concerns and promoting American technology in Europe and beyond.

For all of this promise, there are serious deficiencies in the way privacy is being discussed in public and in Congress, particularly in the failure to consider how proposals designed to address social media would impact critical work elsewhere.

[If you’re online — and, well, you are — chances are someone is using your information. We’ll tell you what you can do about it. Sign up for our limited-run newsletter.]

First, “opt-in consent” — the model suggested in a number of federal proposals — does not protect consumers.

Website privacy policies average more than 2,500 words and are carefully drafted to maximize data use and minimize legal exposure. Few consumers read these policies before agreeing to give up information, and the practices of ad networks and social media are not clear to most of us when we click the “I agree” button.

Second, rigid rules about the “sale of data” and limits on the use of artificial intelligence
are not a productive way to prevent abuse and would impact activities essential to our safety and security.

Some behavior raises alarms and should be stopped, like secretly sharing minutely detailed personal profiles with political operatives to turn elections. However, essential activities — including advances in health care, cybersecurity, financial services and fundamental scientific research — depend upon large data sets and broad data sharing. Massachusetts has funded a public-private partnership called Mass Digital Health, and the American Medical Association has created the Integrated Health Model Initiative to promote data sharing across the medical and scientific communities to improve health care outcomes. Technology companies are deploying artificial intelligence across massive data sets to advance understanding of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
Detecting fraud and cybercrime relies upon compiling and analyzing large sets of metadata, as bad actors intentionally strike broadly and over time. And A.I. is being used to benefit underserved communities. There are innovative programs using a range of personal data to offer loans to disadvantaged consumers, and there is research on internet search data to predict and prevent infectious diseases. Requiring companies to remove individual pieces of data from large data sets on demand, and prohibiting analytics because some might use it improperly, would render many of these activities impractical.

Finally, the law must not be so burdensome that it cuts off innovation and economic opportunity.

The digital sector represented roughly 7 percent of the American economy as of 2017, and it is growing at nearly triple the average, according to the Bureau of Economic Affairs. Contrast that to Continental Europe, where a burdensome regulatory environment contributes to anemic tech sector growth.

At the same time, American companies are competing to develop more privacy-protective technologies and to wed their brands to how well they guard our data. Any new law must foster this commercial interest in the value of privacy without making it onerous for new businesses to emerge and compete. Notably, creating high barriers to new services only further entrenches the few social media and data companies with established services, large data sets and financial cushions.

Some ideas already employed widely outside the United States deserve consideration. Privacy laws in Canada, Japan and elsewhere rightfully require companies to consider the benefits and risks their data practices pose to consumers and society. Setting standards for data use and requiring more granular disclosures would take the pressure off consumers to consent to all possible uses at once.

Any new law must also recognize that data is important to all we do and that we cannot simply make it go away. Instead, a variety of tools — including reasonable data minimization, development of industry standards and Federal Trade Commission rule-making — can protect against misuse while allowing development of science and industry.
Time is running out for Congress to pass meaningful privacy legislation before the implementation of the California privacy law in 2020, the adoption of inconsistent laws in other states, and the distraction of the 2020 elections. Let’s use the coming months constructively to enact a privacy law that protects consumers and promotes technology innovation and a healthy digital environment.

Mr. Lefkowitz is the chief privacy and digital risk officer at Citrix Systems. He was the 2018 chairman of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

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9 Important Privacy Settings for Windows 10

June 3, 2019

Matt Powell On Jun 3, 2019

At first glance, the Digital Age may seem like a wonderful thing. And in many ways, it is. Advances in technology have provided humanity with many qualities of life changes in various aspects of our lives from optimization in commercial operations to an AI reminding you to take the lasagna out the oven because you’re occupied with your three kids.
However, unfortunately, the Digital Age is a double-edged sword. Just as technology has made life easier for us, it has also diminished personal privacy to an all-time low and made digital crimes easier to commit.

Hacking is becoming a more prominent problem with every passing year. Don’t believe me? Ask the Marriott hotel chain that had the personal information of up to 500 million customers compromised in a data breach last year. Or Equifax, a credit bureau that was the victim of a cyber attack that may have compromised the data of around 140 million Americans. Or ask any of the 12 countries that were the victim of cyber attacks by a Chinese hacker group. Cyber attacks that affected hundreds of companies and organizations, and went on for years. Scared yet?

Cybercriminals are getting smarter, and everyone needs to start taking measures to protect themselves online from malicious cyber attackers. It is 2019. VPNs were once highly recommended, but now they are all but mandatory for Internet use. Ad blockers are also a huge defense for consumers online. Amongst younger people, the use of ad blocks is typically to combat against the constant and annoying ads they see attached to YouTube videos. But that’s not all they do. You know how when you go to a website to read an article and your screen gets bombarded with a bunch of pop up ads? You try to exit out of them or go back to a previous page but keep getting redirected to the same ads? Ad blockers can help with that. Standard ad blockers don’t work on Hulu video ads, but hey, we can’t have everything right?

And don’t think for a second that it’s just the standard cybercriminal who is out to invade your privacy. The big tech companies who provide you with the technology you know and love have also gotten really nosy too. At the rate they are going, tech companies like Amazon will know your breathing and eating patterns. No one knows for sure what they do with our data (aside from selling it to third-parties for advertisement purposes), but they kind of want all our data and it’s really unnerving.

Luckily, the companies who try to invade your privacy also provide you with the means of maintaining your privacy, and it is important for you to know how to make your technology truly work for you.

Key privacy settings for Windows 10
Windows 10 was not well-received upon release for a number of reasons. One of those reasons that Windows 10 invades your privacy. By default. For this reason alone, people in the tech community put off upgrading to Windows 10 for years. But casual users likely have no idea how invasive Windows 10 is. That’s where we come in.

Windows 10 is (unfortunately) the best Microsoft operating system so far right now, so users are going to need to use it sooner or later. And if you don’t know how to keep yourself protected while using Windows 10, that’s where we come in.

Here’s how to keep your privacy intact and your data safe from cybercriminals and nosy tech companies.

1. Don’t choose the Express Settings Installation option when installing Windows 10
This point actually applies to all technology moving forward. Taking advantage of express options that take care of the process for you, strips you of your agency and can make you complacent. Tech companies cannot be trusted, and you have no idea what you’re agreeing to because you’re too busy enjoying not having to do anything. As stated earlier, Windows by default is looking to invade your privacy and harvest your data. When you install Windows 10, be sure to select Custom Settings and do everything yourself.

The next step is heading into your Privacy settings. You can do so by simultaneously pressing the Windows key and the I key. One thing to keep in mind here is that the following tips apply to general Windows 10 settings, but for apps, you will have to adjust a lot of the privacy settings individually. Keep that in mind before you download a bunch of apps or you’ll be in the settings more than the apps themselves!

2. Get rid of Cortana. Or at least restrict her.
Cortana from the Halo series of video games is pretty cool. Microsoft’s Cortana? Not so much. If you don’t want Cortana knowing all of your business, then you need to adjust her settings. If you want to shut Cortana out entirely, head into the Cortana Settings of your PC and select the ‘Clear Cortana Data’ option to leave Cortana completely in the dark.

If you’d like to have Cortana around in a limited capacity, simply uncheck the information that you don’t want her to know such as your contacts, location, communication history, and Internet history.

3. Turn off your location
Windows 10 automatically tracks your location at all times. They keep this information for up to 24 hours and can share this information with any third-party app that has location permission (Remember to adjust the privacy of your apps!) That’s a little too uncomfortable for my part, and for a lot of other people. You can prevent this by turning your location off in the privacy settings.
4. Get rid of ad tracking
By default, every Windows user has an advertising ID that tracks your browsing/shopping history. Windows sends this data over to their advertising partners and said partners use this data to personalize the ad campaigns directed towards you.

Sound kind of weird? You can turn off ad tracking by checking off for the option that says “Let apps use my advertising ID”.

5. Disable your camera access
For those of you who have played Grand Theft Auto 5, you remember the scene where Lester says he is going to reverse engineer a webcam and spy on those sorority girls again? That’s a real thing that can actually happen. It’s not hard to highjack a simple camera. Up until now, we have been discussing the invasion of your privacy online, but here, someone could actually see you personally if they wanted to. That’s terrifying.

Even Mark Zuckerberg tapes up his camera just as a safety precaution. You don’t need to go that far (Unless you want to), but you can at least turn camera access off for your device and apps in the privacy settings. A lot of people don’t even use their camera, so there’s no need to take on an unnecessary privacy risk. And if you ever need to turn it back on, that’s easy to do.

6. Disable microphone access
In case you were wondering, Mark Zuckerberg tapes up his microphone too. Now granted most people aside from politicians, secret agents, and business executives probably don’t need to go this far, more safety never hurt anyone right? If you don’t want to be an unintentional radio show host, turn off your microphone in your privacy settings to keep anyone from tuning in.

7. Manage your App Access
Head into the ‘Account Info’ tab of your privacy settings, and you’ll see that by default apps are allowed access to your name, picture, and other account info. Other account info being intentionally vague to keep users in the dark and as many exploitable loopholes open as possible. Do yourself a huge favor and close these holes up by turning this default setting off. As is standard, you can select individual apps to have access to your account info.

8. Get rid of Timeline tracking
Timeline tracking is Windows recording all of the websites that you have visited. Turn off timeline tracking in your privacy settings to keep this from happening. You obviously won’t browse the internet once and then never do so again, so you will have to do this regularly. You also need to manually delete your browsing history, but I am sure this is something most people are used to doing.

9. Fix your privacy settings after every major update. You have no choice.
What if I told you that after all the work you did on customizing your privacy settings, that you will have to do it all over again from time to time? Well, I am telling you.

Whenever there is a major update, Microsoft resets all privacy settings to default and it’s back to data harvesting they go. Sounds very consumer friendly right? Despite constant complaints about this, Microsoft has not fixed this annoyance.

What’s worse, is you probably have automatic updates turned on, which means a major update could occur, your privacy settings have been reset, and you will have no idea. Microsoft keeps users in the dark about all of this because of course, they do.

So, unfortunately, this process will not be a one-time thing. You can, however, fight back a little. There is a way to prevent automatic updates from occurring which means you can decide when you want to start this rodeo all over again.

Conclusion
Technology is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a huge pain. If you want to stay safe online, you will have to take a very active role in maintaining your privacy. It’s unfortunate that we cannot trust tech companies to behave themselves, but that’s just the way it is. It’s a nasty game, but now that you know the rules, you can beat them at it. Stay safe!

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Chinese deepfake app Zao sparks privacy row after going viral
September 3, 2019

Critics say face-swap app could spread misinformation on a massive scale A Chinese app that lets ...

Read more
1463600977631262
Google tightens grip on some Android data over privacy fears, report says
August 19, 2019

The search giant ends a program that provided network coverage data to wireless carriers. BY CARR...

Read more
4000
Wikipedia co-founder slams Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and the ‘appalling’ internet
July 8, 2019

Elizabeth Schulze Wikpedia Co-Founder Larry Sanger said in an interview social media companies ...

Read more
venmo_pub_priv
Why America Needs a Thoughtful Federal Privacy Law
June 26, 2019

More than a dozen privacy bills have been introduced in this Congress. Here’s what it needs to do....

Read more
privacy-coins-and-bitcoin-dominance-guide
9 Important Privacy Settings for Windows 10
June 3, 2019

Matt Powell On Jun 3, 2019 At first glance, the Digital Age may seem like a wonderful thing. And ...

Read more