The Google Glass Privacy Debate: What’s Real & What’s Overblown Hype

google-glass-glow-featured To hear some people tell it, Google Glass is leading us down a path toward a world where every citizen is a walking, hidden spy, surreptitiously recording videos and photos of everything -- and everyone -- we see. What's more, they're afraid that those videos and images are being posted on the Internet for all the world to see, warts and all. Some are afraid that Glass is auto-recording (or will) everything it can see or hear, and each word you've ever spoken within earshot of Glass will be available in Google's search index. These fears typically come from people that don't know how Gla [...]


Google Tells Congress: We’re Not Changing Our Privacy Policy For Google Glass

glass-orange-featured Google says it has no plans to change its company-wide privacy policy for the eventual public launch of Google Glass. That's one of the discoveries in a four-page letter dated June 7th that Google sent to Congressman Joe Barton, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus -- the group that sent Google a letter back in May with numerous questions about privacy and Google Glass. The fifth of eight questions that the caucus presented to Google mentions the "sensory and processing capabilities" that Glass has, and asks if Google has "considered making any additions or refinements [...]


FTC Commissioner Surprises Marketers With “Reclaim Your Name” Proposal

ftc-logo The debate over online and data privacy in the US is intensifying in the wake of the NSA surveillance revelations. However the effort to do something about data privacy has largely stalled in Congress -- despite many blustery pronouncements and calls for investigations. There are also private initiatives that are seemingly deadlocked, including the WC3's effort to come to agreement on Do Not Track. This morning, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill addressed the Computers Freedom and Privacy Conference and made remarks that reportedly caught many marketers and online ad trade groups off guard. B [...]


Europe: Google Wins “Censorship” Battle, Slammed On Antitrust Proposals

Google Europe legal Google's struggles in Europe continue. However the company apparently has won something of a reprieve in its battle against the emerging "the right to be forgotten," which Google largely regards as censorship. But on the antitrust front, Google faces stepped up criticism of its settlement proposals from critics and opponents. On Monday, an advisory (non-binding) opinion from Niilo Jaeaeskinen of the EU Court of Justice found that Google cannot (or should not) be compelled to de-index material that was originally legally posted on third-party publisher sites. According to an article appe [...]


Google Has 35 Days To Delete UK “SpyView” Data Or Face “Criminal Action”

google-street-view-car The UK data protection authority Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served notice that Google must destroy personal information obtained from its Street View WiFi "payload" data collection within 35 days. While Google has a right to appeal the decision, a refusal to comply (absent an appeal) is considered a "criminal office" and could result in prosecution. The ICO letter (.pdf and below) is dated June 11, so the deadline would be mid-July. This ultimatum is the culmination of a UK investigation that began in 2010 following the "WiSpy" revelations that launched investigations [...]


Google Given Privacy Ultimatum By French: Fix It Or Face Fines

google-privacy-200 The French have given Google what amounts to a privacy ultimatum. The company now has three months to make changes or "fixes" to its privacy policy that satisfy French and broader European data protection laws. The immediate consequences for failure to do so could be fines of several million euros according to Bloomberg. Many nations in Europe have lined up behind the French who are taking the lead in trying to get Google to offer more transparency to users about what data are being collected and how those data are being used. European privacy rules are much more stringent than those in the U [...]


Survey: 96 Percent Say “Do Not Track” Should Be Respected

privacy-security-online-computer A new survey from a group called Consumer Action has an unequivocal message for marketers: do not track us. The telephone survey was conducted in May among 1,000 US adults. The findings are pretty negative, even ominous, for publishers and ad networks. However, they should come as no surprise. In numerous past surveys consumers have consistently expressed ambivalence and even outright hostility to the idea of being tracked and targeted by online marketers, ad networks and publishers. This survey was partly funded through "a grant from Microsoft." Below I highlight some of the findings bu [...]


Canadian Govt. Asks Google To Explain Google Glass Privacy

google-glass-logo-200px Google Glass isn't publicly available yet, and even the Explorer edition is supposed to only be for US residents, but that's not stopping the Canadian government from getting out in front of what it considers to be several privacy issues surrounding the device. Data protection authorities in Canada sent a letter today to Google CEO Larry Page, asking the company to take part in a "real dialogue" about the "significant privacy issues" related to Google Glass. Here's a portion of the letter, which is signed by Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and 36 provincial and internatio [...]


Yahoo: We Take User Privacy Seriously Too!

yahoo-legal Following missives from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple over the past 72 hours, Yahoo issued its own disclosure statement last night about law-enforcement data requests. Signed by CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell, the statement said that there had been "between 12,000 and 13,000" data requests during the past six months: We’ve worked hard over the years to earn our users’ trust and we fight hard to preserve it. To that end, we are disclosing the total number of requests for user data that law enforcement agencies in the U.S. made to us between December 1, 2012 and [...]


Apple: iMessage, FaceTime More Secure Than Cell Phones

Apple logo Following the NSA-PRISM surveillance revelations last week and "direct-access rebuttals" by other major tech firms, Apple has released a similar statement denying that the government has unfettered access to its users' data. Apple said, "We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order." The company said it was "authorized [by the US] to share" and that in the past six months "Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. Between 9,000 and [...]


Google, Facebook In Transparency Battle Over PRISM Disclosures

online privacy Last night, what might be called a "transparency battle" erupted between Google and Facebook following Facebook's disclosure of government-related user-data requests: For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a p [...]


As Early As 2000 NSA Set Out To “Live On The Network”

Great Seal of US An enormous amount has already been written about the National Security Agency's (NSA's) "domestic spying" since The Guardian's initial revelations about the secret collection of telco company records just a couple of days ago. That was followed 24 hours later by even more explosive revelations from The Washington Post of supposedly direct NSA access to the servers of major US Internet companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo and Facebook. Almost all the companies named in top-secret slides exposed by The Washington Post have issued strong denials -- in the case of Google, multiple denials [...]


PRISM, The Tech Companies & Monitoring Versus Requests

online privacy Tech companies are hand-in-hand cooperating to let the US government perform on-going monitoring of people, or at least their data. Right? Probably not. They are probably doing something very different, providing data when legally compelled to on a case-by-case basis. Understanding these two things is helpful to avoid some of the PRISM hysterics going on right now. The PRISM Monitoring System Around this time Thursday, the Washington Post and the Guardian had made the case that major tech companies were involved in a PRISM program that, to quote the whistleblower who provided the information [...]


Did Tech Companies Have Checkout & Delivery System For Gov’t Access To Their Data?

NSA PRISM Slide Tech companies named in reports to be part of the NSA's "PRISM" data gathering program have strongly denied participating in programs giving "direct access" to their servers. But the New York Times is now reporting this may be because they provided indirect ways for the system to at least selectively request and receive data, after legal review. The New York Times story, Tech Companies, Bristling, Concede to Federal Surveillance Program, may give the impression that all the named companies were part of the PRISM system, for those who have been following the story. But it never names PR [...]


Imaginary Letter: Google CEO Larry Page Writes Congress, Asks “What’s Up With PRISM?”

google-congress-featured Over the years, Google has received several letters from the US Congress worried that it is somehow invading people's privacy. Now Congress, along with the Obama Administration and the US judicial system, is accused of invading the privacy of people who use Google's services. I thought the turnabout would be fair play, a letter from Google back to Congress. The letter below isn't real, but the points and unanswered questions are. I've written in the style of the latest letter Google received from Congress, last month about Google Glass. As Google professes it is not part of any data g [...]


Google & Facebook CEOs To Users: We’re Not Part Of PRISM & Government Needs More Transparency

data-privacy-featured Both Google and Facebook gave the press statements yesterday denying involvement with the US National Security Agency's PRISM data gathering program. Today, both are making that statement more strongly and taking it directly to its users. Google To Users Writing today on the Google blog, Google CEO Larry Page and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said: We have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our d [...]


Scope of Alleged Spying On Americans’ Internet Activity Massive, “Beyond Orwellian”

privacy-security-online-computer It turns out that for the past roughly 6 years, the US government has been "collecting" or "mining" US citizens' personal data and communications from telcos and Internet companies -- effectively "spying" on US citizens. Those data, it has been alleged, come in large part from direct access to the servers of most of the Internet's biggest brands: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL and others. (Dropbox was apparently cited in leaked documents as “coming soon.”) These bombshell disclosures follow yesterday's discovery that the US government was collecting Verizon telephon [...]


Google, Apple, Facebook & AOL Deny Participating In Alleged NSA “PRISM” Program

NSA PRISM Slide [caption id="attachment_47324" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Source: Washington Post, The Guardian[/caption] Both the Washington Post and The Guardian are out with stories saying that several major Internet companies gave the US National Security Agency direct access to user data on their servers by participating in what's been named as the PRISM program. But, Google, Apple & Facebook flat-out deny being in that program, while Yahoo and Microsoft have issued general denials. Google, it denied participation in PRISM to us, when asked specifically about the program, plus gave us the [...]


Google In Secret Legal Battle With Feds Over Consumer Data

In 2006, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo all complied with Bush Administration Justice Department (DOJ) subpoenas to turn over search records -- without a fight. The subpoenas were issued pursuant to the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, which the Supreme Court had previously ruled to be unconstitutional. The requests were made anyway, and Google was the only major search engine to resist. Whether the Bush Administration anti-child porn search subpoenas were a pretext for other types of inquiries we'll never know. But now, history is repeating itself. This time it's the Obama Administration see [...]


Congress Sends Google CEO Larry Page Letter Asking About Google Glass Privacy Concerns

google-glass In the midst of the 2013 Google I/O developer conference currently being held in San Francisco, Google CEO Larry Page received a formal letter from eight-members of congress addressing Google Glass privacy issues. The letter from Congress outlined eight specific areas of concern, asking specifically: Does Google have plans to prevent Google Glass from unintentionally collecting data about the user/non-user without consent? (After referencing  Google's agreement to settle charges in 2010 for collecting information from encrypted wireless networks without permission.) What proactive st [...]


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