Tag Archive: privacy


AdBlock Plus to Allow Ads

In a strange turn-about, AdBlock Plus will now allow “acceptable ads.”  Why?

Starting with Adblock Plus 2.0 you can allow some of the advertising that is considered not annoying. By doing this you support websites that rely on advertising but choose to do it in a non-intrusive way. And you give these websites an advantage over their competition which encourages other websites to use non-intrusive advertising as well. In the long term the web will become a better place for everybody, not only Adblock Plus users. Without this feature we run the danger that increasing Adblock Plus usage will make small websites unsustainable.

It’s an interesting idea.  It allows users to support their favorite sites, without having to deal with obnoxious advertisements.  This also encourages sites to only choose these acceptable or not-obnoxious ads.

(hat tip: Linear Fix)

Smart Gadget Sleeper Cells

Smart Gadgets are Like Sleeper Cells in Your Kitchen: Most people don’t know their gadgets can already talk to one another, and even be controlled remotely by their utility company.”

GE has been shipping appliances for the past three years that are “smart.”  Smart meaning that they are equipped with ZigBee wireless capabilities so that your appliances can communicate with each other—and more ominously, with your utility company or anyone over the Internet.  Most of the ZigBee capable appliances aren’t even labeled as such.

This is potentially a huge privacy breech.  It seems that few of these appliances communicate back… yet.

(hat tip to the blogfather)

In San Francisco, defense attorneys are using the ubiquitous video cameras to support their clients’ cases.

They have also become a tool exploited by defense lawyers who often seek footage from the cameras to exonerate falsely accused clients. The footage is not monitored in real time, but can be reviewed upon request by attorneys, police and prosecutors.

Nearly one-third of 109 requests for footage made last year came from defense attorneys, according to data supplied by The City in response to a public records request by The San Francisco Examiner.

Criminal defendants have been cleared or had charges reduced when footage proved their alibis or disproved police or witnesses’ accounts of incidents.

Interesting use of technology; particularly one designed to assist the other side of the bar.

Dropbox

The hottest cloud computing application right now is DropboxDropbox stores your selected files “in the cloud,” or (more accurately) on its servers.  More than that, Dropbox can be used to sync files across computers.  It comes with 2 GB of free storage and there are upgrades available.  It’s a pretty useful tool.

I use it with 1Password to sync my password database across devices and to back up some important files.  Lifehacker has published a number of articles including how to Use Dropbox for More Than Just File Syncing and How to Use Dropbox as a Killer Collaborative Work Tool.

(Oh, and if you use my referral link, you and I will both get an additional 250 MB of storage free)

Its increased popularity has increased its scrutiny, and there have been security problems discovered.  Agile, the makers of 1Password, have posted their opinions here.

Dropbox has 25 million users so far, and GigaOM predicts that it’s just the start.

Recently, at Ars Technica, there was an article on the data that the Pandora app for Android sends to Pandora and its advertisers.  It links to a WSJ article on a federal investigation about the privacy issues.

Collecting this information the whole point of many of these apps.  Many of these sites that put out apps for the mobile platforms don’t put out mobile compatible web sites.  (For example, IMDB has apps available for multiple platforms, but I don’t think it has a mobile site.)  As a counter example, WordPress automatically generates mobile versions of its blogs.  Many web sites have mobile versions of their sites in lieu of or in addition to apps.

So why don’t they just make mobile compatible web sties?  Then they wouldn’t be able to collect the data.

These apps try to get your exact GPS location for either advertising or location-based services.  The vast majority of these services could be accomplished with less intrusive methods, such as asking for a local city or zip code.

The privacy policies of many of these companies are often buried in their terms of service—which few users actually bother to read.  Policing adherence to these policies has been nonexistent up to this point.  This federal investigation and its results should be interesting.

I think we’re only at the tip of the iceberg of the privacy backlash against these mobile apps.

%d bloggers like this: