Google fired engineer for privacy breach

Google confirmed on Tuesday that it fired an employee earlier this year for violating its policies on accessing the accounts of its users.

Earlier in the day, Gawker reported that David Barksdale, an engineer in Google's Seattle offices, used his position as a key engineer evaluating the health of Google's services to break into the Gmail and Google Voice accounts of several children. After parents of the children complained to Google, Gawker said Barksdale--who was not accused of anything with sexual overtones--was dismissed, and Google confirmed that move late Tuesday.

"We dismissed David Barksdale for breaking Google'… Read more

India wants local servers from RIM, Google, Skype

After its recent conflict with Research In Motion over access to customer data, India is expanding its reach to include Google and Skype.

The Indian government is asking all three companies to install local servers in the country so that it can more easily tap into encrypted e-mail and other communications, according to Bloomberg and other sources.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told reporters on Wednesday that notices were being sent to Google and Skype to provide "lawful access" of data to security agencies. The country sees access to such communications as vital in its fight against militants … Read more

Twitter plans to record all links clicked

By the end of the year, Twitter expects to be recording and analyzing every link users click on when using its Web site or any of the thousands of third-party microblogging apps.

An e-mail announcement Wednesday night said "all users" will soon be switched over to Twitter's link-shortening service and, once that happens, "all links shared on or third-party apps" will use it. In addition, the company said, when anyone clicks "on these links from or a Twitter application, Twitter will log that click."

Wednesday's news … Read more

China requires cell phone subscriber IDs

Mobile phone users in China are now being asked to provide identification when they set up a new account and existing accounts will eventually need to provide ID, according to reports.

The new rules, which took effect on Wednesday, apply to everyone buying a phone or SIM (subscriber identity module) card, including foreigners and short-term visitors. The requirement was adopted to curb rampant spam, porn, and telecom fraud, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said, according to Xinhuanet, the Web site of the official Chinese government news agency.

But the move also will give the government, already criticized for … Read more

Controlling where Facebook Places puts you

In designing its new Places geolocation service, Facebook seems to have learned from its past privacy blunders. The new service has multiple layers of privacy control, but as with other aspects of Facebook privacy, users need to put some thought about whether and how they want to disclose their location. Facebook has also created an extra level of privacy for its under-18 users, prohibiting them from displaying their location to anyone other than their friends.

The first thing to know about Places is that it's not fully automatic. You have to "check in" or be tagged at … Read more

Shots already fired over Facebook Places privacy

The first question for many when Facebook finally unveiled its Places geolocation product on Wednesday didn't have to do with how quickly the social network's 500-million-plus users would catch on, but rather how privacy advocacy groups--who have had Facebook in their crosshairs for months now--would react to the announcement.

It appears to be progressing as expected: A handful of privacy groups are voicing concerns about how much data is collected, how many controls users need to wade through to disable features, and how much may be exposed to third parties. Facebook, in turn, says they're missing the … Read more

What should your new Google name be?

These are exciting times for young people.

How can they even sleep at night wondering whether the economy will ever change, hence allowing them to secure something that used to be called a job? And now they have something even greater to think about: a new identity.

I myself have barely been able to attain 15 winks over the last 48 hours, as I have been considering what name to adopt to get away from the barely spellable and entirely unpronounceable name I have carried for far too long.

Should you be wondering why this thought might have entered my … Read more

Spanish judge summons Google over Wi-Fi data

Google's legal representatives will have to appear before a Spanish court in October to explain the company's collection of details of people's Wi-Fi networks and transmissions.

The Spanish Legal Advanced Communications and Computer Crime Association (Apedanica), an Internet rights group, said on Monday that a Madrid court had ordered the appearance for October 4. Google will have to give details of the instruments used in its Street View program to collect the data, the nature of the data itself and the number of customers affected.

"We are working with the relevant authorities in Spain to answer … Read more

CNET live Q&A: Ex-Facebook exec Chris Kelly

We're pleased to announce that CNET will broadcast a special live interview on Wednesday of Chris Kelly, Facebook's first chief privacy officer and previously a California attorney general candidate.

Tune in online at 9 a.m. PT (noon ET) on Wednesday, when I'll be interviewing Kelly about privacy, identity, and security. Both of us will be in CBS Interactive's San Francisco headquarters, and the video will be shown at the PrivacyIdentityInnovation conference in Seattle, aka pii2010.

Here's the place to find our live video feed, which will start a few minutes after 9 a.m. … Read more

Suit alleges Disney, other top sites spied on users

A lawsuit filed in federal court last week alleges that a group of well-known Web sites, including those owned by Disney, Warner Bros. Records, and Demand Media, broke the law by secretly tracking the Web movements of their users, including children.

Attorneys representing a group of minors and their parents filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, records show. The suit alleges that Clearspring Technologies, a software company that creates widgets and also offers a way to serve ads via widgets, is at the center of the wrongdoing.

Web site operators … Read more