Privacy is Dead

People Trust Social Media Less Than Any Other Form of Communication

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No matter how much Facebook messes with our emotions and pressures us to give up our data to their advertisers, they’ve hardly done anything serious enough to drive us away. Most people trump it up to apathy — we don’t care how much we’re violated if we get to use the service for free. But a new study poses another possible answer.

Last week, Pew Research Center released a report on privacy in the “post-Snowden era” and how Americans see government surveillance, social media sites and advertisers. Unsurprisingly, 91 percent of everyone surveyed believe “consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.” Read More

Cybercrime

Tor Foundation Can’t Figure Out How Police Took Down Silk Road 2.0

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At a time when online privacy seems all but impossible, one refuge we’ve had for browsing the Internet anonymously has been Tor, the browser thats keeps your identity and location hidden. But with every passing week, it’s becoming harder to trust that Tor is perfectly secure—especially considering that not even the Tor Project can be sure of their security anymore.

Last week, European police bragged that an international sting — now called Operation Onymous — pulled down over 400 deep web services and put 17 people behind bars. In response, Tor put out this explanation on their blog of how these services were found and shut down: Read More

NYC Disrupts Disruptors

Airbnb Finally Adds a ‘Don’t Secretly Film Guests’ Policy

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Update: Airbnb has responded to our request for comment, which we’ve included in full at the bottom of this story.

Imagine you’re staying in an Airbnb, and you wake up in the morning to discover a discreet video camera. Has your host been recording you? Worse, what if you and your traveling companion were tearing up the sheets all night, and now your host has some guest porn on their hard drive? Is that even illegal?

In September, we examined how Airbnb had no policy that said you couldn’t film guests, or even a single mention of guest privacy in its hosting policies. Turns out, Airbnb quietly updated their policies shortly after our reporting. Read More

Ello

Ello Finally Rolls Out Privacy Features, Races To Finish Beta and Secure the Site

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The past week has been a gauntlet for the team behind Ello, the elegant Anti-Facebook, as the seven founders to hold tight to the reins of what is likely the fastest growing social network in history. Perhaps the biggest upset around Ello, besides cynical griping about their business model or manifesto, is the fact that even as Ello explodes in popularity, it’s still in beta — a totally unfinished product.

As of today, Ello has checked off the first couple of boxes on their most-wanted features list — the first updates to the site since their sudden acceleration. Since shoring up user privacy is Ello’s new top priority for building out new features, today’s additions are “blocking” and “muting,” both triggered by a little icon next to a user’s Friend/Noise buttons. Read More

Campus Crackdown

University Demands Students, Faculty Submit Invasive Sexual History Survey

Clemson University are requiring that students and faculty give up personal information to a third-party site (Wikipedia).

Students and faculty at Clemson University in South Carolina recently opened their emails to find that they must complete a sexual history survey or face disciplinary action.

The survey — which asks invasive questions such as, “How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?” and “With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?” — is part of an hour long Title IX training course that must be completed by November 1 to avoid violation of the Code of Conduct, according to Campus Reform. Read More

Privacy is Dead

Say Cheese: The FBI’s Facial Recognition System Is Now Fully Operational

FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Wikimedia Commons)

Remember that Big Brother-esque facial recognition software the FBI has been developing for a few years? It’s finally ready to go.

The FBI announced yesterday that its Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is now fully operational, the Verge reports. Among other features detailed here, NGI features the oft-fear-inducing Interstate Photo System (IPS), which stores millions of citizens’ photographs, and is designed to help law enforcement pair names and faces associated with criminal activity. Read More

Mad Data Science

OkCupid Brags About Manipulating Online Daters in Secret Tests

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After all of the furor over Facebook’s invasive experiments on users’ news feeds, other startups running the same plays had to be thinking: “What do we do now?” In the case of OkCupid, their version of ass-covering is to come out loud and proud about the games they’ve been playing with their users’ hearts.

OkCupid posted a snarky, image-loaded essay on their blog today called “We Experiment On Human Beings!” where they make a list of hijinxes they’ve pulled on their users without them knowing, all in the name of science. In the post, OkCupid cofounder Christian Rudder points to how offended people were that Facebook published a research report based on manipulating users’ news feeds. Read More