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Privacy Issues All Over the Place This Week

Are You Concerned About Any of These Privacy Topics?

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There has been a lot of discussion about privacy in the news this past week, and surprisingly, not a whole lot of it has had to do with Facebook. Is the Facebook privacy concern fading? Feel free to discuss your concerns with that in the comments

To be fair, there is at least one current story that is related to Facebook privacy, and that is the upcoming release of Diaspora. This has been billed as an open alternative to Facebook, that would protect the privacy of users. There is naturally a great deal of skepticism about the idea that this will be a significant threat to Facebook, but it has managed to generate a fair amount of hype. It’s scheduled to debut next week (Sept. 15). 
 
Do you think Diaspora has the potential to put a dent in Facebook’s user base? Let us know

One of the biggest stories of the web this past week has been the release of Google Instant, Google’s new feature, which provides search results as you type your query. This has generated a mix of positive and negative reactions, and some have been concerned with privacy issues related to the feature.  

Google uses personal information to deliver you search results, but it has done that for some time. The company maintains that it does nothing different in this regard, when it comes to Google Instant. Still, another issue has been raised, related to this feature. 
 
Maureen O’Connor at Valleywag writes, "The new Google Instant guesses what you’re searching for while you’re typing, and retrieves results before you finish. It’s the T-9 of search engines. And it means buying an "erector set" will make everyone think you have ‘erectile dysfunction.’"

If you do attempt to search for "erector set" and and pause long enough in the middle of typing to where erectile dysfunction results appear long enough, a SERP for erectile dysfunction can appear in your browser history. I’ve seen it. I’ve actually emailed Google inquiring about this (I suspect it goes by the 3 second rule that the ad impressions do), but I haven’t heard back yet. I will explore this further after I get more info. Update: Google’s response here.

 
Google updated its privacy policy last week, though the update was more in the language than practice. 
 
Are you worried about Google Instant from the privacy perspective? Comment here

 This past week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that federal law allows judges the discretion to require that the government obtain a probable cause search warrant before accessing cell phone location data, according to a report from the EFF.

Thoughts on this? Let us know

Also this past week, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s policy allowing border agents to search laptops or other electronic devices at the border without reasonable suspicion.  

"These days, almost everybody carries a cell phone or laptop when traveling, and almost everyone stores information they wouldn’t want to share with government officials – from financial records to love letters to family photos," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. 
 
Something to say about this subject? Go ahead.

PCWorld reports that e-commerce trade group NetChoice is saying proposals in Congress that would create new rules for sites collecting personal data would "cripple the online advertising and publishing industries." 

The group maintains that one proposal would allow individual Internet users to sue some sites and ad networks if they fail to comply with the legislation’s rules on getting permission for collecting personal data.
 
Discuss this topic here

Finally, Time reports that sheriffs in North Carolina are looking to be able to access state computer records that identify people  who have prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs. Naturally, this has raised some privacy concerns.  

Should the police be able to access this info? Let us know what you think.
Privacy Issues All Over the Place This Week
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  • Guest

    Google is killing the web and themselves in the process. You see, Microsoft, Yahoo are very cautious on their every move. They have to have lawyers review every move. Those are responsible companies. Google, doesn’t review s…t! They say, GO GET THEM BOYS AND WE’LL SEE IF IT IS PROBLEM IF THEY SUE!!” They think they are above the law. Unfortunately this behavior is going to can their a.. and make it difficult for other companies to do business on the web. They are attracting attention from people you just don’t mess with, the government.

    • Chris

      Yes, insane isn’t it.. http://prisonplanet.tv/video-reports/google-plans-to-kill-web-in-internet-takeover-agenda.html .. You need to be a member to access the secret videos, they might be on you tube, I dont know..

  • Stupidscript

    Since you’re linking out to other news sites … here’s one to ARSTechnica.com:

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/09/rldguid-tracking-cookies-in-safari-database-form.ars

    In re: How RingleaderDigital (among others) is using HTML5 and Safari’s internal database to lodge tracking information in your iOS device … and there ain’t nothing you can do about it. You can remove their “cookie”, but as soon as you visit any site that uses RingleaderDigital’s advertising tracking service, it comes back. They say you can opt-out, but they require another cookie on your machine to be able to recognize that you opted-out.

    My concern is the increasing number of businesses that believe it is acceptable to start their enterprise using an opt-out policy, as RingleaderDigital does with their drive-by tagging.

    In my opinion (http://jamesbutler.net/blog) they are being unethical by taking this approach, and our government should take up legislation to forbid opt-out in favor of consumer-driven opt-in.

    Let US decide which lists we want to be on … make your product compelling and deliver value to US in exchange for our personal data. And, no, “better” ad targeting is NOT valuable to me.

    • Stupidscript

      The above dovetails nicely with your note about the NetChoice article.

      About the ONLY companies that I can think of that would be hurt by having to report what data they collect would be those that profit exclusively from that data … and that’s an entire slice of the industry we could do with less of.

      Like patent trolls, if the only way you can think of to make money is by profiting from other people’s behavior, then you don’t deserve to be in business at all. Particularly when you complain about having to tell anyone what data you are collecting, or how you are using that data.

      Opt-IN is the only ethical way to go. Opt-OUT is for scoundrels and thieves.

  • http://online-privacy-guide.com/ Michael

    Google seems to be doing a good job not letting the people know what they are doing. It looks like many people are not thinking about why Google puts all these apps out for free. Why think about it? IT’S FREE! The average internet user still knows Google as the great search engine. Maybe they will start changing their behavior once their image is totally wracked!

  • wxman

    I ended up disabling the instant feature, just because of the same reason as the remark in the article:
    “If you do attempt to search for “erector set” and and pause long enough in the middle of typing to where erectile dysfunction results appear long enough, a SERP for erectile dysfunction can appear in your browser history.”
    I don’t type, so that bit of a pause between words causing the results to be changed was really getting annoying.

  • BP

    For once I agree with the ACLU. If the feds have solid leads that you have something bad on your laptop or other device, then get a warrant. Otherwise they don’t have a right to just stop you and look at everything.
    It’s bad enough that Google, YouTube, Windows, everything you touch makes a record of everything you do. We’re so used to it by now, we don’t even think about it since we’re so desensitized by it all. With all the garbage that can get on your PC without you even knowing it, it’s scary to think about what could show up.
    Another thing. We’re not all techies out here. Some of us just want to enjoy the internet (in a good way) and be left alone. We shouldn’t have to worry about caches and histories and cookies and everything else.
    Enough.

  • Guest

    I have no concern about privacy, except when done to purposely attack someone or when used improperly. Bill Clinton had the stolen FBI confidential files of those he hated brought to the White House. Of course he resigned as President. Oops, that was Nixon who resigned for getting the top secret info of the Democrats. I guess Nixon didn’t read their literature.

  • Guest

    Google is in bed with our out of control socialist government. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google has made 15 or more trips to the white house and data continues to disappear from the search engines.

  • Chris

    I appreciate this great article about privacy.. Even though it confirms blow your mind conspiracy theories.. I dont think they really are conspiracy theories any way.. Too many things going on.. It seems prisonplanet.com is at the very forefront of all this craziness by the government… This article confirms that this stuff is really going on..

  • Guest

    This sucks. You have to opt out every time you upgrade the browser.
    I will not be getting an iPhone or iPad.

  • Guest

    I think we need to revamp the news media. I know about every problem in the world but nothing good.The privacy issue was brought about by the media. The more you talk about it the more people get worried and the more the government sticks their noses in our business.. People please think. ID stealing did not become a big deal until it was presented to everyone on the media.
    If we just use common sense, which I know is not common we will be much better off

  • http://www.poormansurvival.com Poor Man

    The feds have never been keen on respecting the Bill of Rights or the Constitution unless of course, it fits into their corporate masters’ gameplane. Look at how the ‘un-Patriot Act’, No Knock Warrants, Asset Seizure, RICO, Echelon, and thousands of other laws violate your rights…they don’t call them Big Brother for nothing and the sheep all go along with it in the name of security and freedom – rather ironic.

  • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

    Other than people who seem unhappy if they don’t have something to be unhappy about, I think most don’t seem to care as much about privacy as other people would like them to.

    Other than information that could be used for identity theft, how many people actually have or will publish ‘private’ information anyway?

    Browser history tracking, who really cares, on both sides?

    Most should be more concerned about what people they know will do with private communications of theirs than what services by people they don’t know will.

  • TiffanyD

    All of the data that Google collects on us is very concerning.

    Every time you use a regular search engine, such as Google, your search data is recorded. Your search terms, the time of your visit, the links you choose, your IP address and your User ID cookies all get stored in a database.

    But there is an alternative. Startpage.

    Startpage believes you have a right to your privacy. Startpage does not record your IP address, your searches, or leave tracking cookies on your browser. We offer an SSL (HTTPS) option. In addition, Startpage’s new proxy service enables you to surf the web in total privacy and anonymously.

    You can visit us at www.Startpage.com

    Cheers!

  • Ryan Kempf

    I know People may be puzzled by the subject line I tell you why I put it there I know from experience from teaching computer classes over 9 years to Senor Citizens I have come to realize for them the simpler the better. I know people are so scared about privacy can you imagine if all the inventors before us would been so concerned with privacy they wouldn’t not have made much progress at all now I do agree it does need attention yet we must stop being overly concerned about it

  • Ryan Kempf

    I know People may be puzzled by the subject line I tell you why I put it there I know from experience from teaching computer classes over 9 years to Senor Citizens I have come to realize for them the simpler the better. I know people are so scared about privacy. can you imagine if all the inventors before us would been so concerned with privacy?? They wouldn’t not have made much progress at all now I do agree it does need attention yet we must stop being overly concerned about it.

  • http://viktoriamichaelis.com Viki

    Privacy on Facebook is, for me, not such a great problem. Each individual decides what they wish to publish on the site and who they are going to allow access to. If they don’t wish specific people to see what they are offering it lies entirely in their hands to make the necessary adaptions to a system which is already in place.

    Of far greater concern should be the reaction of Facebook to reports of violation. Here I am specifically refering to child pornography which has, at least once last week to my knowledge, found its way onto Facebook. A violation report took more than two hours to receive a reaction, and the page containing child pornography videos and tagged photographs existed for at least five hours.

    The reporting system by Facebook has no fast track for matters which should receive immediate attention. An individual can report pornography or nudity on the site, but child pornography and other illegal actions are not separately listed to allow such immediate action. In fact, Facebook also clearly states that they will take no action at all if it is merely a matter of opinion or if someone merely doesn’t like a pornographic entry.

    I do not doubt but that other sites are equally effected by this new(ish) problem, but a concern with five hundred million users must bring some form of safeguards – a fast track reporting system – into operation to prevent the further transmission of child pornography.

  • http://www.nauka-jezyka-angielskiego.com.pl/nauka-jezyka-angielskiego-dzieki-czytaniu-ksiazek/ Nauka jezyka angielskiego

    I like what you guys are up also. Such smart work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my web site :)

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