Privacy news update, 7-12

Cyber-Senate’s cyber-security cyber-law cyber-scares cyber-rights cyber-fighters

Man Sues Feds After They Target Him for Photographing Rainbow Art

5 Californians sue to overturn government watch list

The airborne panopticon: How plane-mounted cameras watch entire cities

Drone protesting grandmother gets a year in prison in Syracuse

Should We Stop Talking About National Security?

How cop cams can help ordinary citizens

Protecting privacy from U.S. spies

On the NSA, Hillary Clinton Is Either a Fool or a Liar

The Privacy Implications Of NSA Searches Should Not Be Minimized

Glenn Greenwald on Why the Latest Snowden Leak Matters

The Ex-Google Hacker Taking on the World’s Spy Agencies

The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control

Officials Defend N.S.A. After New Privacy Details Are Reported

New Snowden leak: Of 160,000 intercepted messages, only 10% from official targets

Will the Washington Post Destroy “Incidental” NSA Intercepts When It’s Done With Them?

Edward Snowden or the NSA: Who Violated Your Privacy More?

NSA tracked email accounts of leading Muslim Americans, report says

If you read Boing Boing, the NSA considers you a target for deep surveillance

Australian Police Use Telcos For Cell “Tower Dump” of All Connected Users’ Data

U.S. Offered Berlin ‘Five Eyes’ Pact. Merkel Was Done With It

Germany Demands U.S. Honesty on Spying After Expulsion

Ties Strained, Germans Press U.S. to Answer Spy Allegation

Britain seeks data-retention law after EU verdict

Cowardice meets arrogance in UK surveillance stitch up

Use apps anonymously? We’ll help make that happen – Amazon techie

The Ultra-Simple App That Lets Anyone Encrypt Anything

7 best practices for smartphone security

Your favorite mobile apps leave a trail of cookie crumbs

Apple adds privacy-protecting MAC spoofing (when Aaron Swartz did it, it was evidence of criminality)

Not all ad blockers are the same. Here’s why the EFF’s Privacy Badger is different

Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You

Rex Smith: The privacy line in the Digital Age

AT&T’s GigaPower plans turn privacy into a luxury that few would choose

Privacy vs personalization: The risks and rewards of engineered serendipity

Privacy group to FTC: Facebook ‘purposefully messed with people’s minds’

Privacy news update, 7-6-14

The Supreme Court:
Supreme Court Rejects Appeal By Google Over Street View Data Collection

Ron Wyden applauds Supreme Court ruling on cellphone privacy, wants same for GPS

Between the Lines of the Cellphone Privacy Ruling

The One Supreme Court Decision We Can Celebrate

State of WA:
Washington state goes in circles over drone regulations

Seven ISPs Take Legal Action Against GCHQ

Court Allowed NSA To Spy On All But 4 Countries

Suspected double agent spied on German NSA committee for the US, reports claim

Report: NSA targeted German privacy activist

More NSA BS:
Report: Rare leaked NSA source code reveals Tor servers targeted

Shocking! Obama’s privacy board OKs massive NSA surveillance

Big push this month for more widespread cybersecurity effort

iCloak Stik Aims To Put Robust Online Privacy In The Hands Of The Many, Not The Few

The Privacy Paradox, a Challenge for Business

For the FTC, privacy is an ecosystem issue

You Can Now Buy the Super-Private Blackphone for $630
Pro-Privacy Blackphone Now Shipping
Ars Takes an Early Look At the Privacy-Centric Blackphone

XCurrency unveils industry-leading cryptographic privacy technology

7 Things You Need to Know About Tor

Your Android May Be Broadcasting Your Location (and How to Stop It)

People don’t want search engine tracking – big surprise?

From the Seattle PI:

“…The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 73 percent of search users said they would “not be okay” with an online search engine keeping track of their searches even if the data provides personalized search results in the future.

And 68 percent said they were “not okay” with targeted advertising because they don’t want their online activities tracked and analyzed.

The report could bolster criticism by consumer groups and government officials over the online privacy policies of companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook. President Obama has proposed a “privacy bill of rights” to give consumers control over how their data is collected, stored and shared.

“Search engines are increasingly important to people in their navigation of information spaces, but users are generally uncomfortable with the idea of their search histories being used to target information to them,” said Kristen Purcell, author of the report “Search Engine Use 2012.”……” (more from the report directly here)


Obama’s new Consumer Privacy proposal

Time will tell whether it’s a political ploy, a genuinely good first step, or something else. And as David Gerwitz and Dan Mitchell point out, it STILL lacks any sort of privacy protection (that is, restoring our privacy rights!) from the worst offenders (the US Government!) – again, time will tell……Number Six

Yahoo News:
White House Unveils Privacy ‘Bill of Rights’

White House’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is misleading, doesn’t solve the real problem

Yahoo Finance:
Big Tech, Obama And The Politics Of Privacy

The problem with Obama’s privacy ‘bill of rights’

Time to Get Down to Business on Privacy

And the Google browser privacy saga continues….

This time, with Internet Explorer – but the plot thickens along the way…  Number Six

From CNN Money:
Microsoft: Google violates our users’ privacy too

“…NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Last week, Google was caught circumventing Apple’s Safari browser privacy settings. Microsoft chimed in Monday with a “me too” complaint, saying that Google is also dodging around Internet Explorer’s privacy settings.

But the Microsoft/Google standoff is especially complicated, and spotlights the technical swampland that surrounds online privacy issues.

In a blog post, Microsoft browser chief Dean Hachamovitch revealed that Google bypasses a feature in IE designed to let users set their cookie preferences. “Cookies” are files that are used to follow users’ movements and log-ins as they travel through the Web.

Hachamovitch suggests that Google is purposefully tricking Microsoft’s browser into accepting cookies that users would have otherwise blocked. The implication is that Google could track some IE users even if their privacy settings ask Google not to. Google slammed Microsoft’s criticism, calling it disingenuous.

“It is well known — including by Microsoft — that it is impractical to comply with Microsoft’s request while providing modern web functionality,” Rachel Whetstone, Google’s head of policy, said in a written statement. “We have been open about our approach, as have many other websites.”

The problem is that Microsoft made an outdated and commonly ignored standard the cornerstone of its browser’s privacy controls……”

Google busted on privacy – AGAIN.

big surprise – not! – Number Six

From the Seattle PI:

“….“Unlike every other browser vendor, Apple enables cookie blocking by default. Every iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac ships with the privacy feature turned on,” Mayer pointed out in his paper.

Apple advertises this like so: ”Some companies track the cookies generated by the websites you visit, so they can gather and sell information about your web activity. Safari is the first browser that blocks these tracking cookies by default, better protecting your privacy. Safari accepts cookies only from the current domain.”

But it turns out there are a few ways for companies to get around these limitations. The one that Mayer’s paper focused on was inserting special code to place trackable cookies in Safari. He found four companies doing this: Google, Vibrant Media, Media Innovation Group and PointRoll.  This all sounds really bad.

Google discontinued the practice after being contacted by the Journal, which makes it sound even worse.  At the very least, Google and the other companies had no business doing this without making it crystal clear to users. It seems at odds with the reasonable expectations of savvy users who either choose Safari because of its default privacy protections, or were under the impression that they couldn’t be tracked while using it….”

And the followup rebuttal to Google from Mayer – a choice excerpt below (more if you click through), emphasis added is mine:

“…Rachel Whetstone, senior vice president of communications and public policy at Google, started the statement by saying:

The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Mayer responded:
This was technically possible, therefore it was OK? What? I sure hope Google isn’t making an argument like that. There are all kinds of things we know are technically possible.

Whetstone’s statement continued:
Unlike other major browsers, Apple’s Safari browser blocks third-party cookies by default. However, Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as (Facebook’s) ‘Like’ buttons.

Mayer said:
Google’s response …  is it’s unfair that Facebook gets to do this and we don’t, because they host the services from and we split ours between Google and DoubleClick.

There are three responses to that. The first is, so what? You’re still circumventing a privacy feature. If you wanted to do this, you could have hosted this off of

The second is, this isn’t a social feature like Facebook, admittedly it blurs the line between social and advertising. But we’re not talking about social widget that exists for sharing with friends.   The purpose of this conduit is just to put the ‘+1′ button on ads. It seems like a lot of energy for what is unambiguously a lame feature. I don’t know how many users have clamoured for ‘+1′ ads.

The user is giving up some privacy in exchange for lining Google’s pockets.

Third, when has any good privacy counterargument begun with, well, Facebook does it too?….”