Privacy Police

Privacy Police

With 1.3 Million Data Requests in 2011, Police Really Love Reading Your Text Messages

(Photo: Sunset and Fireworks)

Be prepared to have whatever nominal notions of privacy you entertained about your cell phone usage shattered: A report produced by cell phone carriers in response to a congressional inquiry shows an alarming uptick in data requests by law enforcement over the last five years.

The New York Times obtained a copy of the report, stating that this is the first time data about cell surveillance has been collected on this scale, and that carriers are responding to thousands of requests daily. Read More

Privacy Police

Your Cell Phone is a Robot That Wants to Destroy You, Says Eben Moglen

Mr. Moglen, robotic soothsayer. (Photo: Columbia)

FreedomBox cofounder and Columbia law professor Eben Moglen is widely recognized for his controversial ideas about the Internet and privacy, so it was unsurprising when we learned that he’s not really that into Facebook and Twitter. But did you know that he thinks your cell phone is out to kill you? Or maim, at the very least.

Mr. Moglen certainly believes that smartphones are more foe than friend. This is because, according to Forbes, smartphones still don’t have the first rule of robotics encoded into their technological makeup. That rule, written by scifi writer Isaac Asimov, is, “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” Read More

Privacy Police

Facebook Changes Everyone’s Email Addresses Without Their Permission

Zuck listening to the Black-Eyed Peas' "I Got a Feeling." (Photo: In the Capital)

You know the old adage, “With great power comes great responsibility?” Well, to quote a storied tech reporter, “Hahahahhaha lol,” apparently that doesn’t apply to Facebook. Fuck responsibility, y’all!

On Friday, Facebook changed the email address for all users from whatever they had listed to a mysterious email address. Since this reporter never selected a Facebook email address, that meant that ours appeared as a string of random numbers, which wasn’t going to be very helpful if anyone wanted to contacted us. “The only way to kill Gmail is to mess with everyone’s contact info!” said someone at Facebook, apparently. Read More

Privacy Police

Senator Schumer Greatly Alarmed by Google’s Ability to Spy on New York’s Sunbathers

"Uh uh, Google." (Photo: Blogger)

Sassy hand-gesturer and potentially technophobic New York Senator Charles Schumer has some serious concerns about the privacy of New Yorkers’ backyards. In a letter to Google and Apple published yesterday on his website, the Senator concern-trolled the tech companies over their 3D map technology, which uses fly-over cameras to construct the images.

“Barbequing or sunbathing in your backyard shouldn’t be a public event,” said Senator Schumer in a statement while presumably wearing a “Kiss the cook!” apron and brandishing a six-pack of hot dogs. “People should be free from the worry of some high-tech peeping Tom technology violating one’s privacy when in your own home.” Read More

Privacy Police

Microsoft’s Surprising Move to Protect User Privacy

Mr. Lynch (

We’re pretty sure that the vast majority of Betabeat users not only don’t use Internet Explorer, but also passionately despise it. But we’ll give props when props are due, and despite Microsoft’s one out of four star rating from the EFF on privacy, the company now appears to be taking a stronger stand on the issue.

Microsoft announced on its blog yesterday that Mozilla’s Do Not Track feature would be automatically implemented within all copies of Internet Explorer 10. The move, Microsoft says, will empower users to make more informed decisions about the way third parties handle their data. Read More

Privacy Police, Twitter Top EFF’s List of Companies With Best Privacy Policies


The Electronic Frontier Foundation is continuing its fight for the rights of Internet users with its recently published annual study of the privacy policies of top Internet companies. The EFF ranked 18 major Internet companies based on four standards: their openness with data demands, transparency regarding government requests, whether or not they fight in court for users’ privacy requests and whether or not they do so in Congress. Read More

Privacy Police

Twitter Now Supports Mozilla’s ‘Do Not Track’ Privacy Feature

(Photo: Scott Beale, Laughing Squid)

The Mozilla Foundation has been working hard to combat privacy issues spotlighted by sites like Facebook, which aggressively tracks and saves user data. Recently, Mozilla announced a “Do Not Track” feature that can be deployed through the Firefox browser that better protects your information. According to the Do Not Track site, “When the feature is enabled, Firefox will tell advertising networks and other websites and applications that you want to opt-out of tracking for purposes like behavioral advertising.” Read More

Privacy Police

New Consumer Reports Study Says Facebook Users are Cranking Up Their Privacy Settings, Finally [UPDATED]

Hang in there just like that kitten on the poster, Mr. Zuckerberg. (

Remember the halcyon days of Facebook, when no one was concerned with who might peep their drunken pictures and angsty missives, and discussions of privacy settings were met with a mix of dismissiveness and apathy? Those days are quickly becoming a thing of the past, at least according to a new study from Consumer Reports, that states that more than a quarter of Facebook users lie on their profiles to protect their privacy.

Writes the New York Times, “About a fourth of respondents said they lied: They chose to ‘alter personally identifiable information’ such as their dates of birth…A majority of those who were asked what steps they took to protect their privacy said they tweaked their privacy settings to control who can access their profile page.”

But not to worry, apparently one in four users still have publicly available Walls and photos, which means your days of stalking defriended exes probably aren’t over just yet. Read More

Privacy Police

Sen. Charles Schumer Sics the F.T.C. on Apple and Android

Sen. Charles Schumer

Well-known foe of fun and fan of probes Senator Charles Schumer has asked the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.) to examine claims Apple and Android can spy on your application data. The Senator’s request was made public Sunday. In it he referenced recent reports that certain smart phone and tablet applications can look at user photos and upload contacts to Apple and Google servers. Read More