Tag Archives: privacy

Colleges Are Tracking Applicants’ Browser History, According to New Report

AJ Dellinger
Mic

(October 15, 2019)

If you’re in the process of applying for college, be warned that it isn’t just your grades and extracurricular activities that are being reviewed by schools. According to a report from the Washington Post, at least 44 public and private universities across the United States have started to work with third-party companies to collect and track data on prospective students, including web browsing activity and financial history. These practices could lead to schools favoring students based on financial incentives for the school, placing students from low-income backgrounds at a disadvantage.

According to the Post, the tracking process begins as soon as a student first directs their browser to a school’s website. Many schools have started to implement tracking software on their sites that are able to identify a person based on other online activity. This type of software, often called a cookie, is typically associated with online advertising. When you visit a site searching for boots, for instance, and all of a sudden start seeing advertisements for boots on other sites, it’s because of tracking cookies. In the case of these schools, those cookies are used to gauge a person’s interest in the university. It tracks their activity, on site and off, and can use data about the person’s location and interests to determine who the student is. That information is given to the admissions office to pair with existing data about the student, including their name, contact information, and additional details about their life like when they are graduating and what areas of the school they showed interest in based on activity on the site, and where the student lives.

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Israel accused of planting mysterious spy devices near the White House

Daniel Lippman
Politico

(September 12, 2019)

The U.S. government concluded within the past two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cellphone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said.

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cellphones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols. POLITICO reported in May 2018 that the president often used an insufficiently secured cellphone to communicate with friends and confidants. The New York Times subsequently reported in October 2018 that “Chinese spies are often listening” to Trump’s cellphone calls, prompting the president to slam the story as “so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it.” (A former official said Trump has had his cellphone hardened against intrusion.)

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Amazon’s Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats

Matthew Guariglia
Electronic Frontier Foundation

(August 21, 2019)

Doors across the United States are now fitted with Amazon’s Ring, a combination doorbell-security camera that records and transmits video straight to users’ phones, to Amazon’s cloud—and often to the local police department. By sending photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of a household under siege. It turns what seems like a perfectly safe neighborhood into a source of anxiety and fear. This raises the question: do you really need Ring, or have Amazon and the police misled you into thinking that you do?

Recent reports show that Ring has partnered with police departments across the country to hawk this new surveillance system—going so far as to draft press statements and social media posts for police to promote Ring cameras. This creates a vicious cycle in which police promote the adoption of Ring, Ring terrifies people into thinking their homes are in danger, and then Amazon sells more cameras.

Map of Ring partnerships with police compiled by Shreyas GandlurSee full screen

How Ring Surveils and Frightens Residents

Even though government statistics show that crime in the United States has been steadily decreasing for decades, people’s perception of crime and danger in their communities often conflict with the data. Vendors prey on these fears by creating products that inflame our greatest anxieties about crime.

Ring works by sending notifications to a person’s phone every time the doorbell rings or motion near the door is detected. With every update, Ring turns the delivery person or census-taker innocently standing on at the door into a potential criminal.

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FAU Police Sued For Illegally Accessing Professor’s DMV Records

Officers Repeatedly Filched Targeted Faculty Member’s Personal Information

Florida Civil Rights Coalition
(August 23, 2019)

West Palm Beach—The Florida Civil Rights Coalition, P.L.L.C. has initiated civil actions on behalf of former Florida Atlantic University (“FAU”) Professor James Tracy against four FAU law enforcement officers for illegally accessing Tracy’s driver’s license information in 2015 and 2016.

The lawsuits allege that FAU’s current and former law enforcement personnel, Rickey Leon Bethel Jr. [Case No. 9:19-cv-81189], Tracy Clark Haynie [Case No. 9:19-cv-81190], Amy Grande [Case No. 9:19-cv- 81191] and Gia Shaw [Case No. 9:19-cv-81193] violated the Drivers License Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”), a federal law with criminal and civil penalties against individuals who obtain, disclose or use drivers’ license information without an authorized purpose or consent.

Public records show Bethel, Haynie, Grande and Shaw accessed Tracy’s confidential personal information using the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Driver and Vehicle Information Database, also known as “DAVID.” The inquiries began the morning of December 17, 2015, less than two days after FAU officials announced termination proceedings against the tenured communications professor. The records reveal Bethel, Haynie, Grande and Shaw combined for twenty six (26) unlawful DAVID inquiries to obtain Tracy’s confidential personal information.

Record of searches on Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles “DAVID” database conducted by FAU Police for then-FAU Professor James Tracy.

The four lawsuits demand jury trials and request liquidated damages under the DPPA, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, court costs and injunctions against Bethel, Haynie, Grande and Shaw and anyone acting in concert with them.

Dr. Tracy was hired by FAU as a tenure-track faculty member in 2002 and awarded tenure in 2008. Following Tracy’s unlawful termination in 2016, the Florida Civil Rights Coalition filed a civil rights lawsuit [Case No. 9:16-cv-80655] on Tracy’s behalf against FAU and various officials who conspired to terminate Tracy in retaliation for his constitutionally protected speech. After a federal jury returned a verdict favoring FAU in 2017, Tracy appealed. The case [Case No. 18-10173] is presently scheduled for oral argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia on September 19, 2019.

Inquires may be directed to info (at) floridacivilrights.org.

Download PDF

Initial pleadings/exhibits are viewable here.

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“Want To Freak Yourself Out?” Here Is All The Personal Data That Facebook/Google Collect

 By Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge
03/27/2018

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was never really about Cambridge Analytica.

As we’ve pointed out, neither Facebook nor Cambridge Analytica have been accused of doing anything explicitly illegal (though one could be forgiven for believing they had, based on the number of lawsuits and official investigations that have been announced).

Instead, the backlash to these revelations – which has been justifiably focused on Facebook – is so severe because the public has been forced to confront for the first time something that many had previously written off as an immutable certaintyThat Facebook, Google and the rest of the tech behemoths store reams of personal data, essentially logging everything we do.

Continue reading “Want To Freak Yourself Out?” Here Is All The Personal Data That Facebook/Google Collect

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