Curious about Everything

Category: Privacy

Documentary » China is “the most ambitious Orwellian project in human history”

China has the world’s largest digital surveillance system. The state collects massive amounts of data from citizens in an effort to control behaviour. Critics call it “the most ambitious Orwellian project in human history.”

In the so-called “brain” of Shanghai, for example, authorities have an eye on everything. On huge screens, they can switch to any of the approximately one million cameras, to find out who’s falling asleep behind the wheel, or littering, or not following Coronavirus regulations. “We want people to feel good here, to feel that the city is very safe,” says Sheng Dandan, who helped design the “brain.” Surveys suggest that most Chinese are inclined to see benefits as opposed to risks: if algorithms can identify every citizen by their face, speech and even the way they walk, those breaking the law or behaving badly will have no chance. It’s incredibly convenient: a smartphone can be used to accomplish just about any task, and playing by the rules leads to online discounts thanks to a social rating system.

Big Brother is in our schools » Facial recognition cameras arrive in UK school canteens

Cynthia O’Murchu, Financial Times 🔒 »

Many British schools have used other biometric systems, such as fingerprint scanners, to take payments for years, but privacy campaigners said there was little need to normalise facial recognition technology, which has been criticised for often operating without explicit consent.

“It’s normalising biometric identity checks for something that is mundane. You don’t need to resort to airport style [technology] for children getting their lunch,” said Silkie Carlo of the campaign group Big Brother Watch.

Swanston said cameras check against encrypted faceprint templates, which are stored on servers at the schools and 65 school sites had signed up.

More »

More bad news for Facebook » Personal information of more than 1.5 billion Facebook users For Sale on popular hacker forum

Privacy Affairs »

The private and personal information of over 1.5 billion Facebook users is being sold on a popular hacking-related forum, potentially enabling cybercriminals and unscrupulous advertisers to target Internet users globally.

This constitutes the biggest and most significant Facebook data dump to date.

It is seemingly unrelated to an earlier 2021 Facebook data dump, where 500 million users were affected.

Highlights:

  • Data scrapers are selling sensitive personal data on 1.5 billion Facebook users.
  • Data contains users’: name, email, phone number, location, gender, and user ID.
  • Data appears to be authentic.
  • Personal data obtained through web scraping.
  • Data can be utilized for phishing and account takeover attacks.
  • Sold data claimed to be new from 2021.

Fresh concerns over WhatsApp privacy and encryption

“Encrypted” WhatsApp messages sent between users can be read by Facebook’s content review contractors.

End-to-end encryption would prevent a 3rd party from reading the message.

Peter Elkind, Jack Gillum, and Craig Silverman, ProPublica »

Zuckerberg’s vision centered on WhatsApp’s signature feature, which he said the company was planning to apply to Instagram and Facebook Messenger: end-to-end encryption, which converts all messages into an unreadable format that is only unlocked when they reach their intended destinations. WhatsApp messages are so secure, he said, that nobody else — not even the company — can read a word. As Zuckerberg had put it earlier, in testimony to the U.S. Senate in 2018, “We don’t see any of the content in WhatsApp.”

Those assurances are not true. WhatsApp has more than 1,000 contract workers filling floors of office buildings in Austin, Texas, Dublin and Singapore, where they examine millions of pieces of users’ content. Seated at computers in pods organized by work assignments, these hourly workers use special Facebook software to sift through streams of private messages, images and videos that have been reported by WhatsApp users as improper and then screened by the company’s artificial intelligence systems. These contractors pass judgment on whatever flashes on their screen — claims of everything from fraud or spam to child porn and potential terrorist plotting — typically in less than a minute.

ProtonMail removed “we do not keep any IP logs” from its privacy policy

ProtonMail has come under heavy fire lately.

Jim Salter, ARS Technica »

This weekend, news broke that security/privacy-focused anonymous email service ProtonMail turned over a French climate activist’s IP address and browser fingerprint to Swiss authorities. This move seemingly ran counter to the well-known service’s policies, which as recently as last week stated that “by default, we do not keep any IP logs which can be linked to your anonymous email account.”

After providing the activist’s metadata to Swiss authorities, ProtonMail removed the section that had promised no IP logs, replacing it with one saying, “ProtonMail is email that respects privacy and puts people (not advertisers) first.”

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