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Tag Archives: Privacy

Facebook Sends Some Guy A CD With 1,222 PDFs Of His History On The Site

By David Ponce

Privacy laws in Europe are a little tougher than in North America, and if you request that Facebook send you everything it has ever logged of your activity on the site… it has no choice but to comply. That’s exactly what 24-year-old Max Schrems of Vienna, Austria did. And sure enough, he received a CD in the mail containing 1,222 PDF documents listing in excruciating detail just what he’d been doing on the site since he joined. While we’ve known for some time that this was going on, it’s interesting to see just how much data is actually collected.

Collected together were records of when Schrems logged in and out of the social network, the times and content of sent and received messages and an accounting of every person and thing he’s ever liked, posted, poked, friended or recorded. The archive captured friend requests, former or alternative names and email addresses, employment and relationship statuses and photos, in some cases with their GPS locations included, to name a few.

As we said this practice is nothing new, and maybe Zuckerberg was onto something when he declared last year that the age of privacy was over. Yet there is this feeling that there isn’t enough transparency and education with regards to just how much of our lives are leaving digital footprints, and just how exposed we truly are. Maybe privacy is dying, but it would be nice if it did with our informed consent.

VIA [ More Info ] VIA [ DVice ]

How’s This For Karma, Mark? Facebook Bug Reveals Zuckerberg’s Private Photos

By David Ponce

Mark Zuckerberg’s progressive views on privacy have gotten Facebook in trouble with more than just its angry users: it recently had to agree to 20 years of privacy audits with the FTC. But in a fine example of karma, a recent bug with Facebook that made it possible to see other users’ private photos resulted in several pics of Mark being released into the wild. So here we present them to you, for a brief and somewhat harmless moment of zen.

VIA [ TechEBlog ]

DIY Privacy Monitor

By David Ponce

An Instructables user by the name of dimovi has created a privacy monitor in a most ingenious way. He basically disassembled the monitor, removed the polarizing film and glued a cutout made from this film to an old pair of glasses. Once reassembled, only people with the special glasses can see what’s on the screen while everyone else just sees a white monitor.

Of course, people will think you a little strange for staring at a white screen for hours on end, but that sort of stuff never stopped you before, did it?

There’s a more detailed step by step at the link below.

[ DIY Privacy Monitor ] VIA [ Hackaday ]

Yamaha’s VSP-1 Noise Generator Masks Your Conversations

Yamaha VSP-1 Noise Generator (Image courtesy Yamaha)
By Andrew Liszewski

Some people complain about the crappy music they play at restaurants, but they fail to realize it’s not always there just to provide a bit of ambience. Background music can also serve to keep conversations at a crowded restaurant private, which is what Yamaha’s VSP-1 is also designed to do, though on a much smaller scale. In essence it’s not that different from those Hammacher-esque white noise generators designed to make it easier to fall asleep, except that the 8 included sounds it plays, like babbling river, forest or even ‘urban clutter’ are specifically engineered to effectively mask other sounds like a conversation between two people.

In fact in the company’s the testing the VSP-1 was able to mask up to 89% of a conversation at best, and at its worst it was still able to block out about 48% of what was being said. And since it’s just under 9 inches tall, it’s not unreasonable to have a few of them working together to increase their overall effectiveness. Available sometime in April in Japan for ~$1,200 (¥105,000).

[ PR - Yamaha VSP-1 ] VIA [ Akihabara News ]

Live3D Gives Google Earth Live Updates, Adds Potential For Creepiness

By Evan Ackerman

Google Earth lets you view the entire world. It’s sweet. But most of the time, you’re viewing the entire world as it was a year ago or more. If you’ve played with Google Earth, the first thing you probably did was go find your house. The second thing you probably did was go find your ex-girlfriend’s house and then get really disappointed when you couldn’t actually peek in the windows.

Now you can! (Maybe.)

A project called Live3D, brought to you by the Media and Machines lab of Washington University in St. Louis, takes live webcam images and overlays them on Google Earth. This is something that you could do before, but Live3D makes it fast and easy and integrates the images onto Google Earth’s 3D models. There’s a database of live webcam images, and it’s super easy to add your own via drag ‘n drop tools in Google Earth itself. So as long as there’s a webcam operating in the area, you get a constantly updating view of whatever the webcam sees (in stills, not video yet). Cars driving, people walking, everything, with a level of detail limited only by the resolution of the webcam.

Of course, this brings up all kinds of potential privacy issues, since you can set a webcam up wherever you want and have it pointed wherever you want and make the image accessible on Google Earth. People have always been able to do this, but somehow when it’s easy, it tends to become a problem.

[ Live3D ] VIA [ New Scientist ]

Freecom Hard Drive Secure Might Protect Your Data With RFID, Probably Won’t


By Evan Ackerman

While sheer paranoia isn’t the best thing to have dictating your gadget purchases, there are some instances where paying a small premium for that extra level of comfort and security might make sense. Freecom’s Hard Drive Secure is a run of the mill external HD, except that you can’t access the data on it without swiping an encrypted RFID card the size of a credit card past the drive. Swipe the card again and the drive locks itself. It’s not too terribly expensive at $120 for a 500 gig drive, although $410 for a 2TB drive it just a little crazy.

What Freecom doesn’t make clear is just how the encryption on the drive works… It sort of sounds like while the encrypted keycard locks and unlocks the drive, the data on the drive itself is not actually encrypted. This sort of system might keep your porn stash safe from your kid brother, but anyone with a mediocre amount of computer experience (which your kid brother probably has) will just remove the drive from the case and access it directly. Even having the locking system on the drive itself won’t thwart someone who is casually determined. And irrespective of the encryption on the drive, having to swipe your card a second time to lock the thing is just stupid. It should be set up so that if the RFID card leaves, the drive locks itself. And of course, I won’t even get started on the security flaws in RFID.

So yeah, there are some instances where paying a small premium for an extra level of comfort and security might make sense, but this is probably not one of them.

[ Bit-Tech ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Dell Latitude E6400 Includes Software Privacy Screen Option

Dell Latitude E6400 (Image courtesy Dell)
By Andrew Liszewski

Tired of people trying to sneak a peek at your screen while you’re surfing at the airport? Or maybe you have a penchant for clicking NSFW links even while at work? If that’s the case, the next time you upgrade your laptop you might want to seriously consider the Latitude E6400 from Dell. It’s the first in their lineup to include an electronic privacy screen that can be quickly activated or deactivated using a keyboard shortcut, or with Dell’s ControlPoint bloatware. The privacy screen is actually software based, and it creates a pixel-based pattern on the screen that dramatically reduces the side viewing angles, while having a minimal impact on the screen’s brightness. Unfortunately the privacy screen is a ridiculous $139 option, but since it’s a software solution, I would just wait for the inevitable third-party alternatives that should be popping up for download any minute now.

[ Dell Latitude E6400 ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

3M’s Mobile Identity Reader

3M Mobile ID Reader (Image courtesy Wired Gadget Lab)
By Andrew Liszewski

Check out this new Mobile ID Reader from 3M that you might soon see in use at a major event or other public gathering where security and safety is a big concern. It looks similar to the portable credit card machines you see the employees at Apple stores now carrying, but instead of taking your money, it’s used to scan your passport or Visa and check your credentials against a local or international ‘watch’ list. The scanner runs Windows Mobile 6 and is able to wirelessly check your ID thanks to built-in Wifi and GSM/GPRS EDGE, and it even features a capacitive fingerprint sensor should you not have any printed ID on you. It’s also got 8GB of storage onboard for keeping detailed logs of who’s been scanned, but all of that info is supposedly encrypted to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

[ Wired Gadget Lab - Give Away Your Identity Faster Than Ever, in a Single Swipe ]

Portable Universal Cell Phone Jammer

Hand-held Portable Universal Cell Phones Jammer (Image courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

I don’t have anything wrong with people using cellphones, I just don’t understand why so many of them feel that they have to talk so loud on them. On a daily basis the idiots across the hall from where I work will wander out into the hallway and talk on their phones like they’re in the middle of a noisy construction site. And on a daily basis I wish I had access to a device like this portable cell phone jammer so I could interrupt their completely inane conversations.

As you can see, the device is not much bigger than an iPhone (though probably thicker) but will create a dome of cellular silence for about 32 feet in all directions. The blocked frequencies include GSM850, EGSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900, CDMA800, WCDMA/CDMA2000, PHS, DECT and even 3G. The battery’s only good for about 1.5 hours of jamming, but you probably only need it to operate long enough for people to realize that they’ll have to go somewhere else to find ‘better reception.’ And as GeekAlerts points out, the $246 price tag unfortunately means you’ll actually be spending more to block an iPhone, than to buy one.

[ Hand-held Portable Universal Cell Phones Jammer ] VIA [ GeekAlerts ]