From Pine View Farm

Running Naked through the Internet category archive

“Next on the Auction Block . . . You!” 0

The Republican Party strips your browsing habits nekkid. El Reg comments on the recent bill to allow your ISP to sell you to the highest bidder (emphasis added):

This approval means that whoever you pay to provide you with internet access – Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, etc – will be able to sell everything they know about your use of the internet to third parties without requiring your approval and without even informing you.

Your ISP already knows quite a lot about you: your name and address, quite possibly your age, and a host of other personally identifiable information such as your social security number. That’s on the customer information side. On the service side, they know which websites you visit, when, and how often.

That information can be used to build a very detailed picture of who you are: what your political and sexual leanings are; whether you have kids; when you are at home; whether you have any medical conditions; and so on – a thousand different data points that, if they have sufficient value to companies willing to pay for them, will soon be traded without your knowledge.

There may be a bright side. Perhaps someone will leak Congresscritters’ browsing histories.

Picture This 0

Phishers have been snaring the sharing:

Security researchers have discovered 13 new Instagram credential-stealing apps on Google Play.

The malicious apps, which pose as tools for either managing or boosting Instagram follower numbers, are actually designed to phish for Instagram credentials. The stolen credentials allow hackers to abuse compromised accounts in order to distribute spam and ads, enriching crooks in the process.

Altogether the malicious apps have been installed by up to 1.5 million users, software security firm ESET reports.

The applications have been removed from the Play Store.

Details at the link.

No Place To Hide 0

It’s probably not a good idea to fly blindly into a cloud just because you can.

No Place To Hide 0

More news from the IoT (that’s “Internet of Targets,” per Tom Lawrence).

Don’t Brick Your Furby 0

News from the “Internet of Targets.”

H/T to Tom Lawrence for the phrase, “Internet of Targets.”

Listeners 0

We invite these gadgets into our homes without a thought to the implications.

Here’s another lawyer’s opinion (more at the link):

I struggle to see how the Echo evidence is not discoverable. If they have a warrant, they can toss your house. The Echo is part of the house. It’s a thing where information is stored. “Alexa, turn on the hot tub so I can drown this motherf**ker” seems like something that should be used as evidence against you.

You know what the Echo is not? Your wife. I don’t care how sexy the Echo voice is, you have no marital privilege with it. Your expectation of privacy when telling Echo to unlock the murder room should be no more than your expectation of privacy when writing down “I’ma kill that fool” in your diary.

No Place To Hide 0

“Don’t say anything. The refrigerator is listening.”

No Place To Hide 0

Larry the Croc is building a wall.  Son asks,

Click to see the image at its original location.


I am cautious about who wants to collect all my data on the inner webs, but I realize I must deal with them in today’s world. The alternative is to cut your shoes off, learn to play the flute, and live in a tree.

Google is more trustworthy than many of its counterparts. One indication of this is that their TOS are in (at least relatively) plain language and short enough to display on one webpage.

(Open tag fixed.)

No Place To Hide 0

In the snares of the snaring economy:

In a declaration in support of his suit, Ward Spangenberg, 45, states he reported to Uber higher-ups that the company’s “lack of security regarding its customer data was resulting in Uber employees being able to track high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.”

Spangenberg, who was hired by Uber in March 2015 as a forensic investigator, goes on to say, “Uber collected data regarding every ride a user requested, their username, the location the ride was requested from, the amount they paid, the device used to request the ride, the name and email of the customer, and a myriad of other data that the user may or may not know they were even providing Uber by requesting a ride.”

And that’s just for starts.

Uber, natch, is shocked! just shocked! that anyone would think there is gambling in their establishment . . . .

One More Time, the Internet Is a Public Place . . . 0

. . . and it never forgets.

Two Sets of Rules 0

Writing at The Observer, Evgeny Morozov explores self-serving double standards of tech titans who would have you run naked through the internet while, secluded behind high walls with turrets and towers, they watch you cavort.

Here’s just a couple of examples; follow the link for much, much more.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, tells us that if we have something to hide, maybe we shouldn’t be doing it in the first place; he himself prefers to live in a luxury building without a doorman – so that no one can see him come and go. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants us to practise openness and radical transparency; he himself purchases neighbouring houses to get as much privacy as possible.

They are digital carrion crows; under cover of providing a “service,” they pluck the bodies of their users and sell them for profit.*

In their world, openness is for others, a commodity to mined and traded.


*As the regards the “services” they provide, I would argue that Google’s search is far more valuable and useful to those who use it–it is an actual “service”–than, say, Facebook’s or Instagram’s nattering nurseries of narcissism.

Facebook Frolics 0

Froma Harrop, reacting to the recent right-wing charges that Facebook is somehow jiggering its news feeds to favor liberal points of view,* finds a larger issue (emphasis added):

On the subject of political speech, let’s address reports that Facebook employees have been jiggering the site’s trending news to favor liberal political views. The claims are hard to assess in that the former Facebook news curators making them have gone nameless.

Whether the charges are true or not, Facebook is a private company entitled to dish out the news as it chooses. What disturbs me more is that a not-very-skeptical public is more and more willing to submit to a single source for news.

Her comments about Facebook as a “single source of news” apply doubly to Fox News as a single source of news. If it is true that Facebook from time to time has tilted the news–and I have no basis for even guessing, as I avoid Facebook whenever possible and wouldn’t consider it a source of news in any event–Fox routinely upends the news.

Follow the link for more.

*The true problem facing the right is that, if coverage is unbiased, the facts lean left.

When the FBI Wants To Look at Your iJunk 0

At the Boston Review, Neil M. Richards has a long and reasonably even-handed look at the legal struggle between the FBI and Apple over cracking the San Bernadino shooters’ iPhone.

It defies excerpt or summary. If you want a clear and level-headed look, free of polemic, at this issue, give it a read.

The Cycle of “Sharing” 0

Yes, there is such a thing, and it doesn’t have to be–er–improper photographs.

An IT manager in Manchester, England, says thieves stole his bikes after a smartphone cycling app pinpointed the location of his garage.

Mark Leigh, 54, of Failsworth, said his two bicycles – worth £500 ($750) and £1,000 ($1,500) – were nicked shortly after he made his address and details of his bikes public on the popular biking app Strava, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The app includes an optional privacy setting that conceals the exact location of your home, but Leigh was not aware of this switch when he shared details of his bike rides via the software.

There’s a reason I keep the GPS in my cell phone turned off. Putting aside outlying possibilities such as the above, it’s nobody’s business which grocery stores I use.

Facebook Frolics 0

Used by Cruz.

No Place To Hide 0

The EFF explains its complaint about how Google spies on students using Google’s chromebook laptops. Here’s a bit (emphasis in the original):

Google has promised not to build profiles on students or serve them ads only within Google Apps for Education services. When a student goes to a different Google service, however, and they’re still logged in under their educational account, Google associates their activity on that service with their educational account, and then serves them ads on at least some of those non-GAFE services based on that activity.

In other words, when a student logs into their educational account, and then uses Google News to create a report on current events, or researches history using Google Books, or has a geography lesson using Google Maps, or watches a science video on YouTube, Google tracks that activity and feeds it into an ad profile attached to the student’s educational account—even though Google knows that the person using that account is a student, and the account was created for educational purposes.

The whole thing is worth a read, especially if you care about companies stripping you nekkid on the interwebs.

No Place To Hide 0

Computer security is always an afterthought when there’s money to be made.

Mattel’s latest Wi-Fi enabled Barbie doll can easily be hacked to turn it into a surveillance device for spying on children and listening into conversations without the owner’s knowledge.


. . . US security researcher Matt Jakubowski discovered that when connected to Wi-Fi the doll was vulnerable to hacking, allowing him easy access to the doll’s system information, account information, stored audio files and direct access to the microphone.

Play it safe. Give your kid a Raggedy-Ann, not a Mata Hari Barbie.

Details at the link.

“The Listener at the Hearth” 0

In The Guardian, Rory Carroll muses on his experiences with the Amazon Echo, which is sort of a stand-alone Siri. He suspects that it is compiling a list and checking it twice. Here’s a snippet:

A few days after my wife and I discussed babies, my Kindle showed an advertisement for Seventh Generation diapers. We had not mooched for baby products on Amazon or Google. Maybe we had left digital tracks somewhere else? Even so, it felt creepy. Quizzed, the little black obelisk in the corner shrugged off any connection. “Hmm, I’m afraid I can’t answer that.”

I am a long-time fan of H. P. Lovecraft. Granted, his plots have a certain sameness about them, but no writer I’ve encountered is more adept at creating atmosphere.

On wonders what horrors he could have imagined had he ever conceived of the Amazon Echo (or even Siri, for that matter).

Read more »

No Place To Hide 0

Warning: Language.

And, in other news of running naked through the internet,

The ad network (Facebook–ed.) is testing a feature in its Android app that will scan a user’s recent images for photos that look like their friends. If it spots a match, it’ll ask if the photos should be shared with other people in them.

The feature is being tested on Australian users first, with iOS to arrive by the end of the week, and if they don’t grab pitchforks and torches, The Social NetworkTM threatens promises to take it to the US soon.

The pic-scanning isn’t restricted to photos you’ve already uploaded to Facebook – the app scans your phone’s photo collection for new images, and will raise a dialogue asking if you want to post it to your friends.

Facebook Frolics 0

More larcenous frolics.

Remember folks, the internet is a public place. You can get your pocket picked there just as surely as you can get it picked in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.