privacy posts on CNET - Page 105


Report: RIM offers monitoring tools to India

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has offered the Indian government information and tools to help government agencies monitor communications sent via the BlackBerry's email and messaging services, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The Journal said that according to the minutes of a July 26 meeting between RIM and government officials--part of an ongoing series of negotiations--the company said it had "a setup to agencies in tracking the messages in which security agencies are interested."

The Journal also reported that an Indian-penned summary of one of the discussions said RIM had agreed it could provide … Read more

Facebook loophole reveals names, pictures with sign-on errors

It looks like there's yet another little bug that compromises the privacy of Facebook users--all 500 million of them--and it doesn't matter how a user has set the account's privacy settings.

The bug can be found in the error page that comes when a user attempts to sign in but types in the wrong password. The system automatically populates the error page with that user's first and last names, along with the profile picture, and gives the user the chance to re-enter the password.

Now, that's kind of helpful--not can't-live-without-it helpful--but still a nice … Read more

EU's Kroes: 30 percent of Europeans are 'digital virgins'

TRUCKEE, Calif.--Privacy concerns need to be further addressed if Europe is to lure the 30 percent of its population that remain "digital virgins" onto the Internet.

"There are still digital virgins as I am always saying," European Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, speaking Friday at the Techonomy conference here. One of the big hurdles, she said, is trust. And while the elderly are the least likely to be online, she said that it is not strictly an age issue.

Kroes was blunt when asked if there were any downsides to Europe's comparatively stricter policies regarding … Read more

HP Labs imagines your computer watching you

TRUCKEE, Calif.--Imagine your own PC watching your every click and reporting back every song you listen to, every movie you watch, or every book you read.

That may sound like a nightmare scenario to some, but that is exactly the reality that HP Labs director Prith Banerjee is preparing for.

In an interview Thursday, Banerjee told CNET that gathering that information--with a device owner's consent--has the potential to tailor devices to be much more useful.

"When you think about it, HP sells 75 million PCs per year," he said. "That is an incredible place through … Read more

Report: In IE8, Web ads won out over privacy

Efforts to build Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 with more robust privacy settings were reportedly stifled by the needs of online advertisers to track user activity, according to a story in Monday's Wall Street Journal.

In designing the browser in early 2008, IE8's development team, led by manager Dean Hachamovitch, wanted to implement new privacy features that would limit third parties from easily tracking mouse clicks and other user activity, according to the Journal. The effort was seen as an attempt to distinguish Internet Explorer from up-and-coming rivals like Firefox, which had gradually been grabbing more of IE'… Read more

Detergent uses GPS to stalk customers

Do you ever feel like you're being followed? Do you ever wonder whether someone (other than Google) knows your every move because they see it?

Well, a delightfully progressive marketing promotion in Brazil from Unilever's Omo detergent tries to bring some joy to that troubling sensation.

According to AdAge, some fine, free-thinking commercial minds decided to slip a GPS tracking device into 50 boxes of this extremely popular detergent. This is not an attempt to pursue shoplifters--though what an excellent idea that might be.

No, this is actually a promotion. This is a step into the ideal future, … Read more

Did we pronounce privacy dead this week?

PHILADELPHIA--Does privacy exist anymore? Do we even know what it is? A conversation between digital academics Jeff Jarvis and Danah Boyd on Friday morning at the Supernova conference capped off a week in which many peoples' perceptions of the tension between public and private data online were shaken (and stirred).

"We have no definition of privacy," said Boyd, a charismatic Microsoft researcher who says she has spent the past two months working on a data-intensive analysis of news stories pertaining to Facebook's ongoing privacy controversy. The massive social network has been criticized by bloggers, advocates, and lawmakers … Read more

In D.C., digital transparency has grown messier

PHILADELPHIA--There are few words in digital-media jargon that are more weighted than "transparency."

Though it was overshadowed by talk about the complexities of broadband access policy, government transparency was one of the topics highlighted in a set of "Policy Workshop" panels on Thursday at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business as part of the Supernova 2010 technology conference. But, as is one of the downsides of a 45-minute panel, the speakers were barely able to scratch the surface.

These calls to action on access and openness come at an uneasy time for Washington … Read more

Searchable Facebook user data posted to Pirate Bay

LAS VEGAS--A researcher has compiled a list of more than 170 million Facebook users and the Web address of their profile page on the site and released it on a file-sharing site, meaning it is making the rounds of thousands of computers instead of just being accessible via a search on Facebook.

Ron Bowes wrote a script to download all Facebook profiles listed in the social network's public profile directory, which only includes people who have configured their settings for Public Search Listings to be available on Facebook.

In a blog post earlier this week on Skull Security, Bowes said he downloaded information on 171 million Facebook users, roughly one third of the estimated total of 500 million. (The Skull Security site was inaccessible Thursday morning, but a cached version showed the contents.)

"I realized that this is a scary privacy issue," Bowes wrote. "I can find the name of pretty much every person on Facebook."

Bowes said Facebook users can change their settings so they do not appear in the public directory going forward, but even people who do that now will have their information available via Bowes' torrent file available on the file-sharing site Pirate Bay. There have been more than 10,000 downloads of the file.… Read more

Facebook launches Questions product in beta

After it was spotted, Yeti-like, by a few eagle-eyed observers this spring, Facebook has officially launched its Facebook Questions product in a limited beta test--and it may have some big implications for the Web.

"Millions of people ask their friends questions on Facebook every day. What new music should I listen to? Where's the best sushi place in town? How do I learn to play the piano?" a Facebook blog post announcing the new feature explained. "With this new application, you can get a broader set of answers and learn valuable information from people knowledgeable on … Read more