privacy

AT&T patents anti-piracy measures to “protect” file sharers from selves

AT&T patents anti-piracy measures to “protect” file sharers from selves

AT&T has been awarded a patent that would let the company track subscriber browsing behavior, assign them a "reputation score", and then block "high-risk" subscribers from being able to access file-sharing services. The patent is called "Methods, devices and computer program products for regulating network activity using a subscriber scoring system". In other words, the blocking system could rely on tracking software installed on subscriber computers. The patent was spotted by TorrentFreak and relayed by Gigaom.

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Snowden sitting on 1.5 million more documents, NSA estimates

Snowden sitting on 1.5 million more documents, NSA estimates

And now for your weekend Snowden update. Edward Snowden, as you may know if you haven't been living in Plato's cave, is the 30-year-old former NSA employee who stole and leaked "thousands" of documents revealing some of the incredible extent to which the NSA and other international spy agencies go to spy on Americans, Chinese, Germans, and the rest of the world. Last month the NSA said Snowden had leaked 200,000 documents to journalists. Now we're hearing estimates from the NSA itself that Snowden is sitting on 1.5 million additional documents -- but the agency admits even that figure is more-or-less a shot-in-the-dark.

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Pension fund sues IBM for torpedoing China sales with NSA spy program

Pension fund sues IBM for torpedoing China sales with NSA spy program

A pension fund has sued IBM for $12.9 billion in revenue losses caused by the recent revelation of its partnership with the US Congress and the NSA to spy on Chinese customers. Many of China's companies pulled out of business arrangements with IBM after it became known that IBM was using its technology to collect customer information for the NSA. The suit cites IBM's open lobbying effort to persuade Congress to pass the bill allowing the spying program known as Prism.

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Boston police halt license plate scanning due to media leak

Boston police halt license plate scanning due to media leak

The Boston Police Department has suspended their use of license plate scanners for now. It seems the optical character recognition technology was working just fine, but the department wasn't following up on all of the hot crime fighting leads the technology was generating. The scanners collected about four million plate IDs a year, prompting onlookers to ask whether the inherent privacy issues were outweighed by the law enforcement benefits.

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Twitter turnaround on block backlash highlights social shortcomings

Twitter turnaround on block backlash highlights social shortcomings

Twitter's decision to make an abrupt about-face on blocking policy after user outcry has highlighted little-understood shortcomings in how social services handle privacy and bullying, sending the 140-character message service back to the drawing board to refine its procedure. Twitter had thought it was improving the relatively blunt blocking process users were offered when it quietly changed the system on Thursday morning; by the evening, however, the company had been forced to restore the old approach, following criticisms that the amended tools in fact victimized those affected by bullying, rather than the bullies themselves. Meanwhile, the turnaround raises questions around the blocking and privacy tools other popular social networks offer their users.

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Android slammed for removed privacy permissions tool

Android slammed for removed privacy permissions tool

A beneath-the-scenes change in Android 4.4.2 has prompted questions around Google's opt-out policies for personal data, with power users and privacy advocates angry that an accidentally included tool was removed. Google's decision to quietly remove the so-called "App Ops" permissions feature, which had allowed more granular control post-installation of what data on the phone or tablet third-party applications could access, saw it blasted as a result by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which accused it of overlooking a "massive privacy problem."

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Advocacy groups say AT&T violated Communications Act by selling records to CIA

Advocacy groups say AT&T violated Communications Act by selling records to CIA

A lot of technology companies, social networks, and wireless carriers are under fire from consumer advocacy groups for selling or sharing private consumer data on phone calls and online habits with the federal government. A group of consumer advocacy firms led by a company called Public Knowledge filed a petition this week with the FCC. The petition hopes to get the FCC to say that AT&T violated a privacy rule in the Communications Act.

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AT&T wants to buy your privacy with its gigabit internet service

AT&T wants to buy your privacy with its gigabit internet service

AT&T is offering to trade permission to track internet browsing in return for a cut on DSL subscription fees, infuriating privacy advocates in the process. The offer, part of AT&T's gigabit fiber broadband rollout, offers potential subscribers "AT&T Internet Preferences" as part of their U-Verse with GigaPower service, which allows the company to dig into individual browsing information - such as searches and webpages visited - so that it can tailor adverts and offers accordingly.

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MetaPhone Stanford University crowdsourced project shows NSA’s three-hop reach

MetaPhone Stanford University crowdsourced project shows NSA’s three-hop reach

The NSA, through means by which the average citizen cannot tread, has been collecting vast amounts of phone metadata that is intended to help locate and track terrorists and related activity. Though not always keeping up to standard, what the NSA does is not illegal and has been the subject of intense criticism across the globe. In response, Stanford University launched a crowdsourced project to prove the extent of information that can be revealed through the collection of metadata, and using this information has posted a lengthy write up on the three-hops procedure.

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