Privacy: Europe vs the USA

On a day when the likelihood is you’ve been bombarded with GDPR emails from companies you’ve done business with, or just whose websites you’ve registered with, there is no better comparison of the difference between how the European Commision and the USA are dealing with our privacy.

While the new General Data Protection Regulation comes into force tomorrow (May 25th), which isn’t as many think, a reaction to the Facebook privacy scandal, the regulation which took seven years of negotiation, and will force changes in a braod range of industries, including, but not limited to technology, advertising, medicine and banking.

Here in America, we learned this month that a company called LocationSmart is buying the real time cell phone location data obtained from the country’s largest cell giants, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

We only learned, because Securus, a prison technology company, who use the data from LocationSmart, had their website tested by a researcher who was able to access the cell phone location of anyone, without consent. Apparently, while the explicit selling of cell phone location data to the Government is banned/illegal, selling it otherwise is not. We don’t even know who they are selling it to, or what it is used for.

Big business is just about making a buck. In the same way as Facebook mostly didn’t care who got your data, and what they did with it, provided facebook got their money, that made it OK. The same has been true for decades for the cable and telephone, cell phone companies.

Europe vs Facebook

The questions that Zuckerberg never answered, including this:

How will you be remembered: As one the three big internet giants along with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who have enriched our world, or as the genius who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracy and society?

https://gizmodo.com/mark-zuckerberg-played-parliament-for-fools-and-theyre-1826227452

The Popularity Of ‘Westworld’ Points To Our Anxiety About AI

“If things play out with AI the way that they have done with Facebook, we’re in a lot of trouble.” Jonathan Nolan

Source: The Popularity Of ‘Westworld’ Points To Our Anxiety About AI, The Show’s Creators Say | Here & Now

The Data that Google has

In the push-back over the Facebook privacy scandal, many are also asking questions about the data other platforms have. Many commentators draw a parallel to Google. For my part, this is valid at least as far as tracking, visiting locations etc. goes. Since I have a Google Phone, with a Google Fi service, and I use Google Maps, I pretty much expect them to track me.

GoogleIn addition, in my prior home I had Google Fiber, plus add in all the Youtube videos, if you watch movies or listen to music on Google Play; they have my calendar; all my files in Google Drive; as much as I try not to have my photos in the cloud, they’ve almost certainly got some of them in Google Photos. I typically avoid using Google Search directly, as for the most part, my search history seems a definitive list of things I’m interested in, but it’s much more subjective than that. I prefer startpage for search.

I don’t read ebooks, but they’d have them if I did; of course I use a few Google Groups; and so on. So, it’s a pretty exhaustive list. You do need to take care if you decide to download your Google information from google.com/takeout – It can get pretty big, pretty quickly if you’ve purchased books, films, music and make extensive use of drive, in addition to all the metadata, you’ll also get all the content.

Despite all this, I feel like Google have not crossed the trust boundary. They may be using and aggregating all this data to sell to advertisers, but it’s not all clear how. It certainly isn’t obvious from the adverts. So for now, I trust Google to “Don’t be evil“.

The Data that Facebook has

Much has been written about the facebook data, Cambridge Analytica sh*t show. I was among those years ago who were warning friends not to play games that require users to permit the game access to their friends Facebook profile.

However, even I couldn’t have foreseen how the data would be used. Stunning. I have my Facebook archive from yesterday, and will be going over it in the next few days. I’ll finally #deletefacebook – deleting permanently my Facebook ID later today. In another week or so, I’ll create a new ID, strictly limited to family as friends.

The worst, in privacy terms, aspect of the Facebook data privacy failure, is the accusation that Facebook was collect phone data from android phone for years. Of course, everyone accepted the facebook app permission to access the phone, but again I suspect few thought that the Facebook would track and keep data on all calls made, even those that got a busy signal, or no answer.

I went hunting for a list of all the data Facebook collected, and found this. It appears to only be available to logged in Facebook users. I thought it worth copying over here. It’s a huge list.

What info is available? What is it? Where can I find it?
About Me Information you added to the About section of your Timeline like relationships, work, education, where you live and more. It includes any updates or changes you made in the past and what is currently in the About section of your Timeline. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Account Status History The dates when your account was reactivated, deactivated, disabled or deleted. Downloaded Info
Active Sessions All stored active sessions, including date, time, device, IP address, machine cookie and browser information. Downloaded Info
Ads Clicked Dates, times and titles of ads clicked (limited retention period). Downloaded Info
Address Your current address or any past addresses you had on your account. Downloaded Info
Ad Topics A list of topics that you may be targeted against based on your stated likes, interests and other data you put in your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Alternate Name Any alternate names you have on your account (ex: a maiden name or a nickname). Downloaded Info
Apps All of the apps you have added. Downloaded Info
Birthday Visibility How your birthday appears on your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Chat A history of the conversations you’ve had on Facebook Chat (a complete history is available directly from your messages inbox). Downloaded Info
Check-ins The places you’ve checked into. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Connections The people who have liked your Page or Place, RSVPed to your event, installed your app or checked in to your advertised place within 24 hours of viewing or clicking on an ad or Sponsored Story. Activity Log
Credit Cards If you make purchases on Facebook (ex: in apps) and have given Facebook your credit card number. Account Settings
Currency Your preferred currency on Facebook. If you use Facebook Payments, this will be used to display prices and charge your credit cards. Downloaded Info
Current City The city you added to the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Date of Birth The date you added to Birthday in the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Deleted Friends People you’ve removed as friends. Downloaded Info
Education Any information you added to Education field in the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Emails Email addresses added to your account (even those you may have removed). Downloaded Info
Events Events you’ve joined or been invited to. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Facial Recognition Data A unique number based on a comparison of the photos you’re tagged in. We use this data to help others tag you in photos. Downloaded Info
Family Friends you’ve indicated are family members. Downloaded Info
Favorite Quotes Information you’ve added to the Favorite Quotes section of the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Followers A list of people who follow you. Downloaded Info
Following A list of people you follow. Activity Log
Friend Requests Pending sent and received friend requests. Downloaded Info
Friends A list of your friends. Downloaded Info
Gender The gender you added to the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Groups A list of groups you belong to on Facebook. Downloaded Info
Hidden from News Feed Any friends, apps or pages you’ve hidden from your News Feed. Downloaded Info
Hometown The place you added to hometown in the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
IP Addresses A list of IP addresses where you’ve logged into your Facebook account (won’t include all historical IP addresses as they are deleted according to a retention schedule). Downloaded Info
Last Location The last location associated with an update. Activity Log
Likes on Others’ Posts Posts, photos or other content you’ve liked. Activity Log
Likes on Your Posts from others Likes on your own posts, photos or other content. Activity Log
Likes on Other Sites Likes you’ve made on sites off of Facebook. Activity Log
Linked Accounts A list of the accounts you’ve linked to your Facebook account Account Settings
Locale The language you’ve selected to use Facebook in. Downloaded Info
Logins IP address, date and time associated with logins to your Facebook account. Downloaded Info
Logouts IP address, date and time associated with logouts from your Facebook account. Downloaded Info
Messages Messages you’ve sent and received on Facebook. Note, if you’ve deleted a message it won’t be included in your download as it has been deleted from your account. Downloaded Info
Name The name on your Facebook account. Downloaded Info
Name Changes Any changes you’ve made to the original name you used when you signed up for Facebook. Downloaded Info
Networks Networks (affiliations with schools or workplaces) that you belong to on Facebook. Downloaded Info
Notes Any notes you’ve written and published to your account. Activity Log
Notification Settings A list of all your notification preferences and whether you have email and text enabled or disabled for each. Downloaded Info
Pages You Admin A list of pages you admin. Downloaded Info
Pending Friend Requests Pending sent and received friend requests. Downloaded Info
Phone Numbers Mobile phone numbers you’ve added to your account, including verified mobile numbers you’ve added for security purposes. Downloaded Info
Photos Photos you’ve uploaded to your account. Downloaded Info
Photos Metadata Any metadata that is transmitted with your uploaded photos. Downloaded Info
Physical Tokens Badges you’ve added to your account. Downloaded Info
Pokes A list of who’s poked you and who you’ve poked. Poke content from our mobile poke app is not included because it’s only available for a brief period of time. After the recipient has viewed the content it’s permanently deleted from our systems. Downloaded Info
Political Views Any information you added to Political Views in the About section of Timeline. Downloaded Info
Posts by You Anything you posted to your own Timeline, like photos, videos and status updates. Activity Log
Posts by Others Anything posted to your Timeline by someone else, like wall posts or links shared on your Timeline by friends. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Posts to Others Anything you posted to someone else’s Timeline, like photos, videos and status updates. Activity Log
Privacy Settings Your privacy settings. Privacy Settings Downloaded Info
Recent Activities Actions you’ve taken and interactions you’ve recently had. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Registration Date The date you joined Facebook. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Religious Views The current information you added to Religious Views in the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Removed Friends People you’ve removed as friends. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Screen Names The screen names you’ve added to your account, and the service they’re associated with. You can also see if they’re hidden or visible on your account. Downloaded Info
Searches Searches you’ve made on Facebook. Activity Log
Shares Content (ex: a news article) you’ve shared with others on Facebook using the Share button or link. Activity Log
Spoken Languages The languages you added to Spoken Languages in the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Status Updates Any status updates you’ve posted. Activity Log
Downloaded Info
Work Any current information you’ve added to Work in the About section of your Timeline. Downloaded Info
Vanity URL Your Facebook URL (ex: username or vanity for your account). Visible in your Timeline URL
Videos Videos you’ve posted to your Timeline. Activity Log
Downloaded Info

Zuckerberg/Facebook called to UK Parliament

Of course as a US Citizen, Zuckerberg can’t be compelled to attend. There can be so many serious consequences to not attending that Rubert Murdoch and other News International Executives attended when they were called.
 

Facebook has a lot of questions to answer

I teetered on the brink of deleting my facebook account last year. I removed the main app from my phone and a Windows tablet, and have never installed messenger. When it came down to it I balked at the final step. I did ulike pretty much all businesses and pages, as well as unfriended anyone not a real contact/friend etc.

The utility of facebook is still too great to remove myself completely. Although frankly I’ve had better results contacting businesses through Twitter and getting things done. Given it’s reach, facebook still remains useful. Delete the apps Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp.

If you want to delete your facebook account, it’s still relatively simple and you have 14-days to recover it, if you decide it was a mistake. Use this URL.

The Guardian published this over the weekend. It’s a long and important read that contains all the context and background detail into how Facebook was used to target people with advertising and social  profiling of potentailly millions of people to bias or persuade them to take a particular perspective.

Much of this data came through those terrible apps which ask you to confirm access to your facebook profile, and your friends profile. Even though you may have never used one of these apps, if your friends did, they likely gave away your data.

The New York Times is today reporting that Facebooks Chief Information Security officer is leaving the company. So this is obviously a big deal. Alex himself denies that, although with the share price drop already seen today, who knows the truth, the data misappropriation is still a big deal.

Charles Arthur has a daily email which goes out under the guise of The Overspill from his blog of the same name. It’s well worth the subscription. Todays included a link to Justin Hendrix blog for justsecurity.org on the Facebook data use, in it Justin poses seven key questions:

1. Why did Facebook take more than two years to inform the public of this massive breach?

2. Did the Trump campaign or Cambridge Analytica violate campaign finance laws?

3. Did Trump campaign or Cambridge Analytica employees lie to Congress, or to the British Parliament?

4. Did Facebook’s failure to disclose this breach to the public and notify its directly affected consumers break any laws?

5. Did any of the Facebook embeds in the Trump campaign know that stolen data was being used for targeting?

6. Did Facebook have evidence its own employees mishandled this situation? Was any disciplinary action taken?

7. Did other organizations or individuals exploit these apparent weaknesses, and are there other breaches we do not know about?

Irrespective of what you think about how the data was used, and the outcome, these questions need to be answered.

Why I’m Leaving Facebook

It’s not strictly true, I will have a facebook ID again in the coming months, but it will be an output only ID. By that I mean it will be an ID that I can post things to, but little more than that.

As I said in my “evil empire” post, I’ve become more and more concerned about not just what data they collect, but what you can learn from it. They sell our data, and it’s pretty easy to drill down on the data and learn all sorts of things, even though the data is supposed to be anonymous.

The problem with this is not just what facebook can tell, it’s that to a degree it is a very biased view of who we are. For the longest time, the standing joke was:

if it’s not on facebook, it didn’t happen

But you know that’s not true. When was the last time you posted about your intimate desires, or genuine mistakes, or arguments you had with important people in your life, or private details of your dealings with banks, managers and so on. These all go to make up who you are, what makes you tick.

What facebook has is a simple snapshot, someone who is vastly different online than offline. Yeah, facebook knows I’m liberal, likely not religious, I read the Guardian and the New York Times and probably trust them for news as I spend more time reading articles. Facebook knows I have a generally negative view of the new President and it thinks it know what products and brands I “like“. The data says my “psychological gender” is more male than feminine, but not by much; I’m pretty laid back but do get emotional.

Our data is sold in bulk, using specialised tools, you can target data geographically, based on numerous categories. It is supposed to be anonymised when sold, but it’s relatively simple to identify. This week in Ireland the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] was trying to defend our privacy rights, when facebook moves our data between Europe and the USA. Europe has much stronger data protection rights. Facebook of course argued against that.

If you are not convinced, watch this video from the creators of Data Selfie, a chrome extension, see how what you do [on facebook], leaves a data trail to the person you are [on facebook].

The lack of control over our data is seriously concerning. Even though I’ve already deleted the primary facebook app from my phone, as well as Messenger. You can’t even see the data, I fear that facebook has data I can’t control, can’t delete, and somewhere in a facebook data center, I have a twin, someone I don’t know.

Goodbye the evil empire?

I’ve become more and more concerned about posting on facebook, and being part of a massive data collection and analysis machine

A wordpress question to my blog followers, both by email, and especially on wordpress. Do you use any of the following reasonably new wordpress features?

If yes, can you post a link to your blog below. I’m looking for some examples. Why?

serveimageI think I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become more and more concerned about posting on facebook, and being part of a massive data collection and analysis machine. So I’m looking for ways to post the same sort of content I would post on Facebook, here. The main problem is I don’t want to clutter my blog post page with daily links, youtube videos, soundcloud and mixcloud audio etc.

It did think about adding an additional page, and adding an RSS feed to the page to pull saved links from paper.ly, instapaper, shareaholic, pinterest and so on, I’ve got a basic page going here, but there is no obvious way to control the RSS update frequency. I can’t add plugins to my site as it is hosted on wordpress.com. While it is a premium site, no plugins can be added.

I can subscribe via the sidebar to an RSS feed, but thats not really desirable, unless anyone knows how to increase(significanty) the size of the sidebar in the twentysixteen theme. So, what I’m looking for is examples, got one?

Post a comment below. I’ll add your blog to my blogroll, and if there are any really good examples and you are willing to share “how-to’s” via email or similar, I’d be willing to make a paypal or amazon gift card payment.