If Facebook and privacy had a relationship status, it might be “It’s complicated.” More or less every day, the company gets bombarded with user feedback demanding more privacy settings and greater choice in determining what other people can or can’t see.
So Facebook is rolling out some new features designed to help you understand who you’re sharing content with — and how their sharing behavior affects you. Some have already begun hitting newsfeeds; others will be released in coming weeks, according to Michael Novak, a Facebook product manager.
"Some people have felt Facebook privacy has changed too much in the past, or we haven’t communicated as well as we could have," said Novak. "Now we’re thinking about privacy not just as a set of controls or settings, but as a set of experiences that help people feel comfortable."
Google has clarified its email scanning practices in a terms of service update, informing users that incoming and outgoing emails are analysed by automated software.
The revisions explicitly state that Google’s system scans the content of emails stored on Google’s servers as well as those being sent and received by any Google email account, a practice that has seen the search company face criticism from privacy action groups and lawsuits from the education sector.
“We want our policies to be simple and easy for users to understand. These changes will give people even greater clarity and are based on feedback we’ve received over the last few months,” said a Google spokeswoman.
Today many people use multiple web services, such as social networking and messaging services. Some users explicitly show their identity in these services, but others visit those services separately–as unidentifiable, different users. To protect their privacy, the latter group might not want their accounts and activities on multiple services to be associated with each other. …
Microsoft is not unique in claiming the right to read users’ emails – Apple, Yahoo and Google all reserve that right as well, the Guardian has determined.
The broad rights email providers claim for themselves has come to light following Microsoft’s admission that it read a journalist’s Hotmail account in an attempt to track down the source of an internal leak. But most webmail services claim the right to read users’ email if they believe that such access is necessary to protect their property.
Microsoft’s own terms of service allow the company to access content “when Microsoft forms a good faith belief that doing so is necessary [to] protect the… property of Microsoft”. It made use of that right to read the email of an un-named journalist who had allegedly taken possession of the source code to Windows 8 thanks to an internal leak at the firm.
The new rules prevent the company from snooping on customers’ communications without first convincing two legal teams, independent of the internal investigation, that they have evidence sufficient to obtain a court order were one applicable.
An ex-Microsoft employee was recently arrested for allegedly leaking company secrets, all because Redmond found evidence against him in his contact’s Hotmail account. Hold on, is it even legal for the company to go through someone’s account without permission? Well, according to Microsoft, it sure is — in fact, Hotmail’s Terms of Service apparently states that the company can “access or disclose information about you” for a number of reasons. Since Microsoft’s actions are quite dubious, it was forced to defend itself (read the full statement after the break) when news of the arrest broke. The company says that while its ToS (which people don’t usually read) clearly states that it has the right to look through a user’s account, it does so “only in the most exceptional circumstances.” Microsoft also claims that it goes through a rigorous process when it wants access to someone’s digital missives. In this particular case, the company says that while it didn’t have a court order to search the user’s emails and chat logs, a legal team did a thorough review of the case beforehand.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Tor these days (with a shoutout on House of Cards!), but I’m not entirely sure what it does or why I’d ever use it. What exactly does Tor do?
We’ve talked a lot about Tor over the years because it’s the easiest way to browse the web anonymously, but it’s not always clear why that matters or why you’d need to use it. Let’s take a look at what Tor does, who uses it, and perhaps most importantly, what Tor doesn’t do.
Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.
In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
It’s no secret that apps like maps or local weather know your current location, and you’re probably cool with that because you want to use the handy services they provide in exchange. But chances are there are many other apps on your phone, anything from dictionaries to games, that are also geolocating your every move without your knowledge or permission. Now researchers are developing a new app to police these smartphone spies, by tracking which apps are secretly tracking you, and warning you about it.
Do you have an Android phone with Facebook installed? Like most people, I blindly clicked “accept” when prompted for new permissions on Facebook’s Android App update today (Jan 27). Something caught my eye, and after I cancelled the update, I look a screenshot. I figured maybe other people might be interested in what they agreed to earlier today if they updated: