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Posts Tagged: "Privacy Concerns"

A Look At Facebook Patents Covering ‘Big Brother’ Data Collection Technologies

Facebook users continue to be shocked at the amount and kind of data being collected by the social media platform, including recent reports about call and SMS text messaging data which Facebook has been collecting from Android mobile users. Along with the political heat Zuckerberg continues to take, Facebook itself could be on the hook for a record fine from the Federal Trade Commission if it’s found that the company’s data practices violate terms of a 2011 consent decree between Facebook and the FTC. With all of this focus on Facebook’s data collection practices, we decided to take a look at some of the social media technologies patented by Facebook at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which may give readers a better idea of just how this American social media giant leverages user data.

Are Today’s Social Media Tech Giants the Big Brother that Orwell Warned Us About?

Dystopian novels and science fiction often return to the subject of the loss of personal privacy which is often encouraged by the use of technology enabling constant, omnipresent surveillance. Perhaps the most famous example of this in the science fiction canon of the 20th century is George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. First published in 1949, Orwell’s novel conceives of a world where government surveillance is so complete that the vast majority of citizens don’t mind being watched by two-way telescreens in their own apartments. Even the novel’s rebellious protagonist Winston Smith comes around at the end to fall prey to the same cult of personality that allows the government overseer — Big Brother — to remain in power… With concerns over the use of personal data fresh in the mainstream news, we’ll run a series of articles that will take a closer look at U.S. tech giants both in terms of the types of data they track and the purposes for which that data is used.

When Kids’ Toys Are Listening, the FTC is Watching

Chinese toymaker VTech recently settled charges with the FTC in the first-ever case involving internet-connected toys. VTech became a victim of cyber attackers back in 2015, when hackers got access to the company’s online database and compromised accounts of over 11 million, which included data for about 6.37 million children… Today, the key to compliance when dealing with IoT is to “know thyself,” Bahar explained. In other words, take the time to understand what truly is in these smart components, not only from a technical perspective but a legal one. In addition, make sure to make good on your promises. If you tell consumers that you are protecting their data or their privacy in certain ways, make sure you are making good on that commitment.

Privacy and Security in the Age of the Driverless Car

The privacy implications of the driverless car are significant. The data that such a vehicle could collect and the potential uses of that data could be extraordinarily intrusive. Driverless cars could provide both historic and real-time, continuous geolocation data. Companies could utilize this data to determine not only your current location and destination but also every place that you have been. This data could lead to commercially valuable, but extremely sensitive and intimate information about individuals being discovered. Advertisers may be able to discern the purchasing patterns of individuals by tracking what stores they frequent. Insurers may be able to determine what the lifestyle of individuals is like by following their daily activities (e.g., constant trips to the gym) and dining habits (e.g., persistent trips to fast food restaurants).

Business interests and consumer concerns clash at Senate hearing on FCC’s broadband privacy rules

On the morning of Tuesday, July 12th, members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation convened for a hearing on a notice of proposed rulemaking recently issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The hearing, titled How Will the FCC’s Proposed Privacy Regulations Affect Consumers and Competition, did much to talk about the potential effects of the FCC’s increased oversight of broadband Internet service providers even as partisan viewpoints among committee members were exposed.

Hulk Hogan, Gawker case shines light on controversial bond requirement for right to appeal

Without getting into the substance of the Hogan vs. Gawker lawsuit, the issue of posting bonds to appeal is a contentious one, and if you ask me there is something fundamentally unfair about requiring a party to pay in order to challenge what they believe is an erroneous or unfair ruling. It seems particularly wrong in the patent space where we know that strange and mysterious things transpire in the name of “efficiency,” but which over the years increasingly seem like code for nothing short of denying property rights to patent owners. Yet, pending patent legislation would impose a bond requirement to exercise what seems like a fundamental right — to seek redress for an incorrect, unfair or unjust ruling.

From Safe Harbor to Privacy Shield: Making order from chaos on data protection

To replace the now-defunct Safe Harbor agreement, last week the European Commission published the first details of its transatlantic Privacy Shield. The Privacy Shield is meant to strengthen obligations on US companies to protect European personal data, and improve regulations regarding data monitoring by US government agencies. With the release of the draft Privacy Shield, many are skeptical that it will ensure proper privacy protection and some believe that it may be challenged after implementation.

Voter data security lapses call federal data protection, encryption practices into question

Much of the data security world has been abuzz since a blog post at the digital privacy website DataBreaches.net reported the disconcerting news that the personal information of 191 million voters participating in U.S. elections going back to the year 2000 was made available on the Internet by a party who is yet unknown. These records include voter information which is requested at the time of registration, which in many cases includes home addresses, date of birth, telephone number and state voter identification. Making these voter records available online violates confidentiality restrictions on accessing records put in place by California and other states.

China’s new anti-terror law highlights tensions between national security and digital privacy

Chinese legislators have attempted to enact anti-terror legislation purportedly designed to protect Chinese citizens against terrorist threats. In late December, China passed a law requiring both telecommunications and Internet companies operating in the country to provide decryption, technical interfaces and other assistance to public and state security organizations to conduct investigations of potential terrorist activities. The tech sector has misgivings about Chinese regulations that would force the handing over of sensitive data. Imagine a leak of encryption keys leading Chinese hackers to degrade performance of a foreign tech provider, all in the name of promoting indigenous innovation. That’s a pretty extreme scenario, but one that’s not completely unimaginable considering recent cybersecurity headlines.

U.S., EU work towards safe harbor replacement that balances privacy, surveillance concerns

Safe harbor in the world of international digital data transfer has been a major topic of discussion in the tech world in recent weeks. Since 1998, data transferred from European citizens to American shores by U.S. tech companies have been regulated by the U.S.- EU safe harbor agreement. Under these rules, American companies have been able to make international data transfers if they can self-certify that they can keep the personal data of European citizens secure to the privacy standards of the European Union, which operates a much different data security regime than is implemented in the United States. These rules have come under the crosshairs of a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, which has invalidated the safe harbor agreement in light of revelations made by Edward Snowden on the data surveillance tactics of America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Tech News Roundup: Bezos and Musk Square Off, LED ‘Li-Fi’ Internet and VTech Data Breach

Our latest Tech Round-Up here on IPWatchdog takes a brief glance at many of the stories which have caught our attention in recent days. As he often does, Elon Musk takes center-stage in a couple of news items regarding challenges he’ll be facing in the realms of space travel as well as electric vehicles. In Europe, the first successful installation of light-based wireless Internet could be the first step in a new age of Internet connectivity. Data breaches and genetically modified foods round out our discussion of recent events in the worlds of high-tech and science.

Tech Round-Up: Toyota Invests in AI, EU Safe Harbor Invalidated, New Android Chip Designs

American business interests could be adrift at sea after the European Court of Justice invalidated the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor agreement, which governs the transfer of data from European citizens to data centers outside of Europe. Meanwhile, the high tech world of Silicon Valley is getting a new, well-heeled neighbor when Japanese automaker Toyota Motors Corp. (NYSE:TM) realizes its plans of establishing a new five-year corporate venture focused on developing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Google is also undertaking the push to develop its own processing chips in an effort to stem fragmentation of Android device development.

The ‘right to be forgotten,’ an EU regulation washing up on American shores

In June, authorities in France served a formal notice to Google that it must delete certain links from it’s Google.com domain on a legal basis known as ‘the right to be forgotten.’ The right to be forgotten is implicated when an individual contacts a search engine company, such as Google, asking for a search result to be de-listed, essentially taking it out of their available search results. The provider assesses whether the privacy issue at stake has enough merit to de-list the link. If they don’t, the individual then has another avenue to take with a regulatory agency which may overturn the search engine provider’s decision.

Google surveillance programs bring out the creepier side of tech

The mainstream media has been aflame over a recently unveiled Google innovation which poses an Orwellian challenge to family privacy in the eyes of some critics. A patent application published May 21st by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes a smart toy developed by Google which can respond to a child’s voice or gestures. Some of the creep factor inspired by this invention might simply be the result of Google’s ability to create products which naturally ingratiate themselves with users. For instance, the patent application cites the benefits of the anthropomorphic device taking on a “cute” and “toy-like” form, specifically where it comes to attracting the attention of young children.

Uber’s $50 billion valuation propped up by data mining practices

Is Uber really a technology company? Essentially, Uber runs a car service and at first glance the company is no more a technology company than any other company that happens to have an app, such as your local grocery store. But as you dig deeper you start to see that Uber’s value is not in running a car service, but rather in mining all kinds of data from the devices of those using its service. In fact, Uber’s privacy policy, which governs the information users allow them to collect from their devices, is substantially longer than the document labeled “terms of service.”