What information did you give the last website where you made an account? What permissions did the new app on your phone request? Most people are faced with giving away their privacy just to have access to articles or food delivery, trading in their data for small services. If you have accounts on any websites or if you use any apps, you’re feeding this insatiable data-collecting beast, same as the rest of us. However, attitudes are changing and now is the prime time for us to limit what we give away. …
Targeted ads have been a huge force in shaping how we experience the internet. Collecting our private info through cookies and trackers, companies feed that to algorithms that determine what we see, when we see it and how often. But, as the internet became less of a wonder and more of a mundane thing, people started to pick its processes apart more, leading to a higher focus on privacy. At this point, any user can decimate the number of ads they see by simply installing Firefox with a few add-ons that block trackers and hide third-party advertisements.
Today, I want to take apart WhatsApp’s decision and try to highlight why this one is such a dangerous turn. Let’s look at the facts.
It’s no secret that ads have been getting smarter and smarter since the inception of the internet. Targeting algorithms know us better than we do, sometimes to the point of scaring people. However, even an algorithm that predicts your future isn’t the last stop in the march of ad progress. This is the first part of a two-chapter look at what the advertising world has in store for you and your privacy, starting with FLoC.
This Tuesday, Signal, the encrypted messaging app, announced the start of a beta test for a pretty simple feature — users in the UK can now send and receive payments in MOB, an altcoin cryptocurrency. But, in a “how it started, how it’s going” twist, the masses have turned against them, calling this the start of a downfall and a blow to the service’s integrity. Today, I’ll explain what exactly prompted such strong reactions and whether or not they’re really warranted.
On September 9, 2020, Portland’s city council passed the strictest ban on facial recognition in the United States. It joins bills passed by San Francisco, Boston and Oakland. The difference is that the other three cities only barred the use of facial recognition for government agencies. The Portland bill is tougher as it prevents private businesses from using facial recognition as well, pushing the technology out of the city entirely. This change means that, starting in January 2021, Portland will be free of facial recognition.
Back in 2016, the world was rocked by a huge privacy scandal: Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal information of 87 million Facebook users through a quiz app. At that point, Facebook acted like one of the victims in this leak, sympathetic to the users whose data was sold for a profit but not taking any blame.
Now, after 4 long years, Facebook seems unable to keep itself out of privacy scandals for even a few months. Its ‘secure VPN’ app Onavo was pulled from the app stores for sharing the supposedly secured data with Facebook, its purchase of WhatsApp famously…
For the past month or so, much noise has been made about TikTok — a video-sharing platform that spawns viral hits, meme dances and long discussions about its connections to China’s ruling party. At this point, TikTok has consistently been blamed for harvesting user data and funneling it into the wrong hands. The current debate is around banning TikTok, and even that is focused not on the ethics of banning an app but rather the scope of the ban and ways to enforce it.
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