"eff" entries

Keep me safe

Security is at the heart of the web.

Locks image: CC BY 2.0 Mike Baird https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/2354116406/  via Flickr

We want to share. We want to buy. We want help. We want to talk.

At the end of the day, though, we want to be able to go to sleep without worrying that all of those great conversations on the open web will endanger the rest of what we do.

Making the web work has always been a balancing act between enabling and forbidding, remembering and forgetting, and public and private. Managing identity, security, and privacy has always been complicated, both because of the challenges in each of those pieces and the tensions among them.

Complicating things further, the web has succeeded in large part because people — myself included — have been willing to lock their paranoias away so long as nothing too terrible happened.

I talked for years about expecting that the NSA was reading all my correspondence, but finding out that yes, indeed they were filtering pretty much everything, opened the door to a whole new set of conversations and concerns about what happens to my information. I made my home address readily available in an IETF RFC document years ago​. In an age of doxxing and SWATting, I wonder whether I was smart to do that. As the costs move from my imagination to reality, it’s harder to keep the door to my paranoia closed. Read more…

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Strata Week: We give up more data than we realize, but CA residents soon may have access to all of it

Alessandro Acquisti's data research, the CA Right to Know Act of 2013, big data signal issues, and big data battles fraud and theft.

A look at personal data research and new government legislation

In a post at the New York Times this week, Somini Sengupta took an in-depth look at the work of Alessandro Acquisti, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Acquisti studies the choices we make when deciding what and how much data we’re willing to share and the things that cause us to often give up more data than we realize. Sengupta reports:

“Our browsing habits, search terms, e-mail communication — even our offering of our ZIP codes at the supermarket checkout — reveal bits of information that can be assembled by data companies, usually for the purpose of knowing what sorts of products we’re most likely to buy. The online advertising industry insists that the data is scrambled to make it impossible to identify individuals.

“Mr. Acquisti offers a sobering counterpoint. In 2011, he took snapshots with a webcam of nearly 100 students on campus. Within minutes, he had identified about one-third of them using facial recognition software. In addition, for about a fourth of the subjects whom he could identify, he found out enough about them on Facebook to guess at least a portion of their Social Security numbers.”

Read more…

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Locational Privacy: The EFF Weighs in on Safeguarding Your Location

Increasingly our devices know where we are and are able to share that information. This is a trend that will enable many new services, but at the same time puts the consumer and the service provider at risk. The consumer is at risk of their "future self" forgetting that they are being tracked and then having their location being recorded unintentionally. The company is put at risk just by having this data stored. If they have user data then it is subject to subpoena or unintentional releases. The EFF has weighed in on this trend with a timely whitepaper.

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EFF's Concerns About the Google Book Search Settlement

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes that the Google Book Search settlement accomplishes a degree of access that litigation might have taken years to develop, but it also observes areas of concern: fair use, innovation, competition, access, public domain and privacy. Innovation: It seems likely that the "nondisplay uses" of Google's scanned corpus of text will end up being…

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EFF Looks at the Big Questions Surrounding Digital Books

At the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a post on what the future of digital books portends for pubishers and consumers: Skeptics should remember that it wasn't long ago that many predicted that CDs would never replace vinyl, and later that MP3s would never replace CDs. You can still find great record stores that specialize in vinyl, but the trend…

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