Privacy Policy and the EU’s GDPR

Privacy Policy Overload

Oh. My. Goodness!  Another Privacy Policy in my email inbox!  What is going on? And why is every single company all of a sudden updating their Privacy Policy?!

Well, the European Union has just enacted a new law called the General Data Protection Regulation.  The GDPR governs what companies can do with your data. It also governs how they can ask you for your consent to those new policies.  Right now it is only in effect in the EU, but so many companies have a global presence that they do need to make sure they are in compliance.

In my opinion, this could not have come at a better time.  It seems to me that so many companies are just running roughshod on our information.  It is perfectly reasonable to ask:

  1. Who has my data – my email, my age, my address, my phone, my likes, etc.?
  2. What are they doing with my data?

GDPR

Under GDPR, and if you live in the EU, companies must disclose in their Privacy Policy, what data they are collecting and retaining about you, AND, receive your direct permission to do this.  You can also request the data that a company has compiled about you.  It is only a matter of time before something similar to GDPR goes into effect globally, so many US companies are jumping the gun to update their Policies and Procedures now.  However, it doesn’t appear that US companies are actually providing that info to people in the US.  They do need to comply if the person lives in the EU.   There was an interesting article in the NY Times last week where two journalists, one in the US, and one in Britain, requested their data from a number of different tech firms.  The difference in the data provided to each was astounding.  From one source, the person in the US received one piece of data.  The person in the UK received 543 lines of data!privacy policy

As far as I can see, Twitter has made it relatively easy to get all of your data from them.  Click on your account, then on “Settings and Privacy”.  Near the bottom, you can click on “Request Your Archive”.  You’ll receive an email when the archive is ready to be downloaded.

Did you recieve an updated Privacy Policy or two?  How many?! Did you read any of them?  Let us know!


Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $119/year ($59 for students!), but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)  If you’d like to receive our newsletters in your email, please click here.

Private Search Engines & Your Internet Safety

When we first started using Google, who would have thought that we’d want Private Search Engines in 2018? Privacy on the internet is something we used to take for granted. No one knew that we were logging into weird sites or making questionable purchases.  That’s all changed now.  Google tracks us.  Facebook tracks us. Even Amazon knows that we bought those pink Ugg boots at Marshalls.

Last year I learned about a search engine that doesn’t track our searches. I have installed it on my phone, my tablet, and my laptop.  It was easy to do.  While my level of trust with technology is somewhat lower than it was five years ago, I do feel good about using DuckDuckGo.

But as I started researching this article, I wondered what other search engines are out there. It turns out that there are several from which to choose.

PRIVATE SEARCH ENGINES:

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is the one of the first private search engines I became aware of.  I found that the app was easy to install on all of my devices.  I like their privacy policy which is described on their website:Private Search Engines

DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.”

However, SearchEncrypt doesn’t think DuckDuckGo is as secure as it could be.  Here’s a description of its major flaw on the SearchEncrypt website:

DuckDuckGo is a private search engine. It is adamant about spreading privacy around the internet. However, there is one issue we discovered that raises privacy concerns. Your search terms, while they may be sent over your network in an encrypted form, show up in plain text in browsing history.  DDG may work well for reducing advertiser tracking, avoiding filter bubbles, and limiting data profiling, however as this post explains, it may not offer the protection from surveillance organizations that some think.”

StartPage:

StartPage was originally developed in New York as the Ixquick private search engine.  It was then acquired by a Dutch company and so most of its growth was in Europe.  Now, they are becoming more well known around the world, including the US. They do utilize Google to get their results. I like how they define “Personal Information”

“Information is regarded as personal when it tells something about a human being who is or can be (uniquely) identified.
This definition stems from European law, which applies to StartPage, and is intentionally broad in order to provide a high level of privacy protection. This means, for example, that not just names and e-mail addresses can be personal information, but also numbers or other identifiers, such as your IP-address, to the extent that they link other information to a specific human being.”

SearchEncrypt:

According to HackerNoon, this is a newer edition to the private search engines. But SearchEncrypt is gaining users.  Here is HackerNoon‘s description:

“This private search engine uses local encryption to secure your searches. It combines with AES-256 encryption with Secure Sockets Layer encryption. Search Encrypt then retrieves your search results from its network of search partners. After you’re done searching, your search terms expire so they are private even if someone else has access to your computer.  Search Encrypt is a relatively new addition to this list, but it is growing quickly. Its Alexa Traffic Rank of 878 indicates that it receives millions of visitors daily.”

More About Private Search Engines:

If you’re looking for other private Search Engines, you can find a few listed in this article.

How do you do your Internet searches?  Are you using Google, Yahoo!, or something else?

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call on 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 days for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

(Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

 

Facial Recognition – History and Privacy

Have you been hearing more about Facial Recognition technology?  I have, especially with the new iPhone coming out, I’ve been wondering how well it works and what the implications to our privacy are.  But first, a little history.

History of Facial Recognition:

The first facial recognition programs were developed in the 1960’s.  The scientist’s names were Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson.  (There are two surprises to me here.  First that scientists were working on this more than a half century ago, and secondly that one of the scientists – in the 1960’s! – was a woman.)  “Their programs required the administrator to locate features such as the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth on the photograph. It then calculated distances and ratios to a common reference point which was then compared to reference data.”

The technology continued to advance decade by decade until it was taken over by one of the US Defense agencies in 1993.  They named the project FERET or Face Recognition Technology Evaluation.  In 2006, “The Face Recognition Grand Challenge (FRGC) evaluated the latest face recognition algorithms available. High-resolution face images, 3D face scans, and iris images were used in the tests. … Some of the algorithms were able to outperform human participants in recognizing faces and could uniquely identify identical twins.”

More Recent Developments:

A big failure occurred in 2002.  Facial recognition was used to scan the crowds at Super Bowl 35 for known criminals.  Consequently, they found that the technology was not quite ready yet.  In the 15 years since then, the technology has been fine-tuned, and it has been accepted more by US consumers. Then, in 2010, Facebook began using the technology on uploaded photos.  Then in 2014, Law Enforcement Agencies began to adopt facial recognition in the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS). While ARJIS is currently only used in Southern California, it will probably be expanded in the future.Facial Recognition

Drawbacks:

The biggest problem with Facial Recognition software is its racial bias.  Software developed by Japanese and Chinese companies recognize Asian faces with a great degree of accuracy, but other races to a lesser degree.  European and US companies recognize Caucasian faces very accurately, but no so much blacks and other “non-white” faces.

Today:

Facial Recognition is being used today to identify a traveler in lieu of a boarding pass or passport.  In addition, a fast food restaurant in China is using “Smile to Pay”, a facial recognition software developed by ANT Financial to pay their bill. In a few months, Apple will release the iPhone x which uses your face, instead of your fingerprint, to unlock your phone.

Privacy Implications:

As I said to a friend recently, there is no privacy.  And we’ve helped with that.  As a result of uploading photos to social media, getting passports, and just appearing in public, we’ve provided plenty of photos of our face for anyone that wants them.  A recent article in the Economist stated that Facebook “could obtain pictures of visitors to a car showroom say, and later use facial recognition to serve them ads for cars.” The article also stated that “photographs of half of America’s adult population are stored in databases that can be used by the FBI.”

And the software is not just recognizing faces, in some cases it also has the ability to guess at a person’s sexuality and intelligence.  The Economist goes on to say that facial recognition can be used to enable “firms to filter all job applications for ethnicity and signs of intelligence and sexuality”.  As a result, corporations can deny jobs to qualified applicants based entirely on what their software learns from their face.

Research:

Since I had to do some research, here are some of the articles I used:

Was this explanation of Facial Recognition interesting?  Please forward to a friend!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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4 Articles about Online Privacy

If you have been reading my posts for any length of time, you know that my biggest bug a boo is privacy.  Second, of course, is security.  In hopes that others will want to learn a little about privacy, I’ve searched the interwebs for some of the best articles out there right now about why online privacy on your electronic devices is important.

As Marsha Blackburn of US News and World Report says:

“Online privacy is an issue that continues to rightfully concern Americans. According to research by IBM, over ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years alone. The explosion of smartphones and internet-connected devices has Americans utilizing online services to do everything from grocery shopping to tracking their health. However, increased reliance on online services has made Americans more conscious about how they share sensitive personal information…”

Who else besides me uses their phone for everything from buying coffee to checking Facebook to tracking steps?  That’s a lot of info that goes out into the “cloud”.  Is it safe?Online Privacy

It’s important to remember that the onus is on you to keep your own data secure as these people who sued Facebook found out.  They thought that once they had logged out of Facebook, it should not be able to track their browsing history.  In this article, the Judge presiding over the case said no.

“Judge dismisses lawsuit accusing Facebook of tracking users’ activity, saying responsibility was on plaintiffs to keep browsing history private. …. US district judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, dismissed the case because he said that the plaintiffs failed to show that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy or suffered any realistic economic harm or loss. …. Davila said that plaintiffs could have taken steps to keep their browsing histories private…”

And Alfred Ng reports in c|net that some of the bargain phones are sending info to a server in China.

“People have enough to worry about when it comes to privacy on their personal devices. Between government surveillance and security vulnerabilities, preinstalled software on the phone itself is an unexpected breach of both trust and privacy for millions of owners who are just looking for an inexpensive phone. ….. Having access to the command and control channel — a communications route between your device and a server — allowed Adups to execute commands as if it’s the user, meaning it could also install apps, take screenshots, record the screen, make calls and wipe devices without needing permission.”

Privacy has become such an issue that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case later this year.  This article in Reuters describes much of the case.

The case reaches the high court amid growing scrutiny of the surveillance practices of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies amid concern among lawmakers across the political spectrum about civil liberties and police evading warrant requirements.

The legal fight has raised questions about how much companies protect the privacy rights of their customers. The big four wireless carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, receive tens of thousands of requests a year from law enforcement for what is known as “cell site location information,” or CSLI. The requests are routinely granted.

The Supreme Court has twice in recent years ruled on major cases concerning how criminal law applies to new technology, on each occasion ruling against law enforcement. In 2012, the court held that a warrant is required to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle. Two years later, the court said police need a warrant to search a cellphone that is seized during an arrest.

Civil liberties lawyers have said that police need “probable cause,” and therefore a warrant, in order to avoid constitutionally unreasonable searches.”

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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