Built by Nicole He and Eran Hilleli.
Invisible Roommates is an augmented reality (AR) application that would make visible how the devices in your home interact with one another. The application would make use of existing technology to portray the different devices connected to your network as little living characters, playfully illustrating how these pieces of technology communicate while making it easier for you to understand what is happening in your home.
Jonathan Levinson: Police in Oregon are searching cellphones daily and straining civil rights (OPB)
Over the past decade, MDFT use has quickly proliferated across the country. Records obtained by OPB show the Portland Police Bureau adopted the technology as early as October 2014 and has invested at least $270,629.96, outspending significantly larger departments.
By contrast, since 2015, the similarly-sized Seattle police department has spent at least $240,837 on MDFTs. The Houston police department, with five times more officers than PPB, has spent at least $210,255, and the Los Angeles police department spent around $358,426 despite being almost 10 times the size of the Portland police.
Warrants reviewed by OPB going back to 2018 show PPB searching phones to investigate a wide array of crimes ranging from attempted murder, bank fraud and robbery to lower level crimes like bike theft. And for years, the bureau was conducting digital searches with no policies in place regulating the practice.
“People, when faced with authority figures in particular, are very likely to agree to whatever they’re asked to do,” he said. “I don’t think people understand how extracting works ... but on the other hand, I’m not entirely convinced that they wouldn’t consent even if they did just because people consent to all sorts of police invasions of their privacy without a second thought in order to acquiesce to their authority.”
Fraidycat is a desktop app or browser extension for Firefox or Chrome. I use it to follow people (hundreds) on whatever platform they choose - Twitter, a blog, YouTube, even on a public TiddlyWiki.
There is no news feed. Rather than showing you a massive inbox of new posts to sort through, you see a list of recently active individuals. No one can noisily take over this page, since every follow has a summary that takes up a mere two lines.
You can certainly expand this 'line' to see a list of recent titles (or excerpts) from the individual - or click the name of the follow to read the individual on their network.
A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector
Who is peeking over your shoulder while you work, watch videos, learn, explore, and shop on the internet? Enter the address of any website, and Blacklight will scan it and reveal the specific user-tracking technologies on the site—and who’s getting your data. You may be surprised at what you learn.
Parker Higgins: Microsoft Won't Fix TikTok's Problems (Vice)
A real solution lies not in banning TikTok or transferring its ownership to Microsoft, but in reevaluating the relationship between social media users and the platforms we create.
The app may collect too much data about users, but that's true of every other app users are likely to have on their phones. That data may end up in government hands, but we've known since at least the earliest Snowden revelations in 2013 that data stored with major American tech companies was also vulnerable to government capture. And while it's possible that TikTok could subtly shape its users timeline to push some secret agenda, we also know that YouTube and Facebook algorithms have been doing the same, intentionally or otherwise, for years. TikTok may censor some valuable speech or cut users off without due process or a clear appeal, but so does Amazon.
Ultimately, arguments that TikTok is “worse” than the major U.S.-based social media networks assume that users are at the mercy of tech firms no matter what. The only question is whether the invisible hands shaping the code you run and the content you can see are based in San Francisco or Beijing.
That's too limited a view. Once you realize that TikTok suffers from the same kinds of problems as the other social media platforms (along with a dash of presidential ego-bruising and a scoop of xenophobia), it's clear that a real solution lies not in banning the software or transferring its ownership to Microsoft, but in reevaluating the relationship between social media users and the platforms we create, more broadly.
When you strip away the vague invocations of “the Chinese” and a general distaste for Gen Z politics, the criticisms of TikTok that remain are the ones that apply to Facebook, to YouTube, to Twitter, even to Amazon and Google Search and others. The way out is not by changing the name of the service or the country of its operator, but by empowering users to avoid that kind of platform subjugation in the first place.
This is a tool for anonymizing photographs taken at protests.
It will remove identifying metadata (Exif data) from photographs, and also allow you to selectively blur parts of the image to cover faces and other identifiable information.
Kashmir Hill: The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It (NYT)
A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says.
“It’s creepy what they’re doing, but there will be many more of these companies. There is no monopoly on math,” said Al Gidari, a privacy professor at Stanford Law School. “Absent a very strong federal privacy law, we’re all screwed.”
Mr. Ton-That said his company used only publicly available images. If you change a privacy setting in Facebook so that search engines can’t link to your profile, your Facebook photos won’t be included in the database, he said.
But if your profile has already been scraped, it is too late. The company keeps all the images it has scraped even if they are later deleted or taken down, though Mr. Ton-That said the company was working on a tool that would let people request that images be removed if they had been taken down from the website of origin.
Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University in Boston, sees Clearview as the latest proof that facial recognition should be banned in the United States.
“We’ve relied on industry efforts to self-police and not embrace such a risky technology, but now those dams are breaking because there is so much money on the table,” Mr. Hartzog said. “I don’t see a future where we harness the benefits of face recognition technology without the crippling abuse of the surveillance that comes with it. The only way to stop it is to ban it.”
gathio is a quick and easy way to make and share events which respects your privacy.
You don't need to sign up for an account - we just use your email to send you a secret link you can use to edit or delete your event. Send all your guests the public link, and all your co-hosts the editing link. A week after the event finishes, it's deleted from our servers for ever, and your email goes with it.
Aric Toler: Guide to Using Reverse Image Search for Investigations (Bellingcat)
Reverse image search engines have progressed dramatically over the past decade, with no end in sight. Along with the ever-growing amount of indexed material, a number of search giants have enticed their users to sign up for image hosting services, such as Google Photos, giving these search algorithms an endless amount of material for machine learning. On top of this, facial recognition AI is entering the consumer space with products like FindClone and may already be used in some search algorithms, namely with Yandex. There are no publicly available facial recognition programs that use any Western social network, such as Facebook or Instagram, but perhaps it is only a matter of time until something like this emerges, dealing a major blow to online privacy while also (at that great cost) increasing digital research functionality.
If you skipped most of the article and are just looking for the bottom line, here are some easy-to-digest tips for reverse image searching:
• Use Yandex first, second, and third, and then try Bing and Google if you still can’t find your desired result.
• If you are working with source imagery that is not from a Western or former Soviet country, then you may not have much luck. These search engines are hyper-focused on these areas, and struggle for photographs taken in South America, Central America/Caribbean, Africa, and much of Asia.
• Increase the resolution of your source image, even if it just means doubling or tripling the resolution until it’s a pixelated mess. None of these search engines can do much with an image that is under 200×200.
• Try cropping out elements of the image, or pixelating them if it trips up your results. Most of these search engines will focus on people and their faces like a heat-seeking missile, so pixelate them to focus on the background elements.
• If all else fails, get really creative: mirror your image horizontally, add some color filters, or use the clone tool on your image editor to fill in elements on your image that are disrupting searches.
Melanie Pinola: Get your digital accounts ready in case of death (NYT)
Preparing for your eventual demise is a gift your loved ones will appreciate even as they mourn your loss — and it will give you peace of mind in the present, too. Most people have thought about setting up a will and doing other estate planning, but you should also arm your family with the most essential information they’ll need in the immediate days and weeks after you’re gone, preferably in one easy-to-access place. Here’s how to set up a digital version of Myrna’s “little black book” for simple and secure information sharing with family members and trusted friends.
By expanding the definition of what constitutes personal data—and by extension, what constitutes a breach of personal data—and applying a standardized notification requirement to the entire EU, the GDPR appears to have generated a much larger data set of reported incidents and thereby significantly widened our window into what types of breaches are occurring.
The vast majority of companies are still not being fined for failing to protect their customers’ data, and the vast majority of fines are still too small to register with the companies that are being penalized. (Arguably, even 50 million euros is a fairly trivial sum to Google, which brought in $136.8 billion in revenue in 2018. For comparison, 50 million euros is equivalent to roughly $57 million, or 0.04 percent of Google’s 2018 revenue.)
Security Tips Every Signal User Should Know (The Intercept)
Here’s how to maximize the security of your most sensitive conversations — the ones that could be misinterpreted by an employer; be of interest to snooping governments; or allow a hacker to steal your identity.
Makerbase was built to allow anyone to edit it — here’s how we’ve tried to stop abuse of that power before it starts.
The biggest lesson here is that it is possible to build social platforms where abuse and harassment are not the norm.
Walter Kirn: If You're Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy (The Atlantic)
As government agencies and tech companies develop more and more intrusive means of watching and influencing people, how can we live free lives?
It awed me, the Utah Data Center at night. It awed me in an unfamiliar way—not with its size, which was hard to get a fix on, but with its overwhelming separateness. To think that virtually every human act, every utterance, transaction, and conversation that occurred out here—here in the world that seemed so vast and bustling, so magnificently complex—could one day be coded, compressed, and stuck in there, in a cluster of buildings no larger than a couple of shopping malls. Loss of privacy seemed like a tiny issue, suddenly, compared with the greater loss the place presaged: loss of existential stature.
The gun show was not about weaponry, primarily, but about autonomy—construed in this case as the right to stand one’s ground against an arrogant, intrusive new order whose instruments of suppression and control I’d seen for myself the night before. There seemed to be no rational response to the feelings of powerlessness stirred by the cybernetic panopticon; the choice was either to ignore it or go crazy, at least to some degree.
The assault rifles and grenade launchers (I handled one, I hope for the last time) for sale were props in a drama of imagined resistance in which individuals would rise up to defend themselves. The irony was that preparing for such a fight in the only way these people knew how—by plotting their countermoves and hoarding ammo—played into the very security concerns that the overlords use to justify their snooping. The would-be combatants in this epic conflict were more closely linked, perhaps, than they appreciated.
There are so many ghosts in our machines—their locations so hidden, their methods so ingenious, their motives so inscrutable—that not to feel haunted is not to be awake. That’s why paranoia, even in its extreme forms, no longer seems to me so much a disorder as a mode of cognition with an impressive track record of prescience.
Eli Hodapp: "We Own You" - Confessions of an Anonymous Free to Play Producer (Touch Arcade)
And if you are a whale, we take Facebook stalking to a whole new level. You spend enough money, we will friend you. Not officially, but with a fake account. Maybe it’s a hot girl who shows too much cleavage? That’s us. We learned as much before friending you, but once you let us in, we have the keys to the kingdom. We will use everything to figure out how to sell to you. I remember we had a whale in one game that loved American Football despite living in Saudi Arabia. We built several custom virtual items in both his favorite team colors and their opponents, just to sell to this one guy. You better believe he bought them. And these are just vanity items. We will flat out adjust a game to make it behave just like it did last time the person bought IAP. Was a level too hard? Well now they are all that same difficulty.
At some point, employers will have to face up to the unavoidability of hiring people whose first Google image is a shirtless selfie. Demographics will demand it. They’ll have to get used to it just as surely as they’ll have to get used to nose rings and, god help us, neck tattoos. It’s a shame, though, that it’ll be compulsory and reluctant. We should no more have to censor our electronic conversations than whisper in a restaurant. I suspect that as my own generation and the one after it finally manage to boot the Boomers from their tenacious hold on the steering wheel of this civilization that they’ve piloted ineluctably and inexorably toward the shoals, all the while whining about the lazy passengers, we will better understand this, and be better, and more understanding. And I hope that the kids today will refuse to heed the warnings and insist on making a world in which what is actually unacceptable is to make one’s public life little more than series of polite and carefully maintained lies.
Will Oremus: Instagram privacy uproar: Why it's absurd, in three nearly identical sentences. (Slate)
On the bright side, by interpreting the confusing policy in the most alarming possible light, the tech press has forced Instagram to toe the line more carefully than it otherwise might have. That's a win for users
First, the value of anonymity decreases as the cost of criticizing those in power goes down. Protecting the anonymity of others becomes a whole lot less important when the only consequence of their speech is that they’ll have to live with people knowing what they said. Second, protecting anonymity is not a virtue in itself. As with other things, the value of protecting something hinges on the value of what you’re protecting.
Without detracting from current discussion, I want to emphasize the inadequacy of the “But It’s Legal” argument applies much more broadly. We can consider corporate immoral-but-maybe-legal actions through the Creepshots Lens. Environmental destruction, unsafe labor conditions, predatory lending, inhuman wage practices and discriminatory membership policies don’t become okay if they’re technically legal.
The Atlantic: The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy: The Case of WikiLeaks
“The flip side of responsibly held secrets, however, is trust. A perfectly open world, without secrets, would be a world without the need for trust, and therefore a world without trust. What a sad sterile place that would be: A perfect world for machines.”
“This browser extension stops Facebook social plugins—including those within iFrames—from running on sites other than Facebook itself. This includes ‘Like’ buttons, ‘Recommended’ lists, and should also stop any Facebook scripts from tracking your browsing history.”
Sites using Facebook’s ‘social plugins’ have been chewing up memory in my Safari (stemming from, I think, based on looking at the ‘Activity’ window, a blocked request returning an error and being requested over and over again). I’m still not sure what the issue was (AdBlock or Facebook Cleaner extension conflict, probably?), but with this extension the plugins don’t have a chance to load in the first place, which is fine because I never use them and I think they’re worthless and annoying.
“There are uncountable numbers of groups on Facebook called ‘lost my phone!!!!! need ur numbers!!!!!’ or something like that. Most of them are marked as ‘public’, or ‘visible to everyone’. A lot of folks don‘t understand what that means in Facebook’s context — to Facebook, ‘everyone’ means everyone in the world, whether they’re a Facebook member or not. That includes automated programs like Evil, as well as search engines.”
Interconnected: This Isn't a Story I Tell Many People
Why privacy persists. "Along with new visibilities comes social understanding of those new visibilities." "If the end of privacy comes about, it's because we misunderstand the current changes as the end of privacy, and make the mistake of encoding this misunderstanding into technology. It's not the end of privacy because of these new visibilities, but it may be the end of privacy because it looks like the end of privacy because of these new visibilities."