Facebook Settlement With FTC Could Run Into the Billions

Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are discussing a settlement over privacy violations that could amount to a record, multibillion-dollar fine, according to three people with knowledge of the talks.

The company and the F.T.C.’s consumer protection and enforcement staff have been in negotiations over a financial penalty for claims that Facebook violated a 2011 privacy consent decree with the agency, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is private.

You can read more in an article by Cecilia Kang in the New York Times at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/technology/facebook-ftc-settlement.html.

India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship

Personal privacy seems to be dying in India as the country moves to increased censorship by the government. Sadly, this trend is occurring worldwide, including here.

According to an article by Vindu Goel in the New York Times:

“India’s government has proposed giving itself vast new powers to suppress internet content, igniting a heated battle with global technology giants and prompting comparisons to censorship in China.

“Under the proposed rules, Indian officials could demand that Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok and others remove posts or videos that they [the government censors] deem libelous, invasive of privacy, hateful or deceptive. Internet companies would also have to build automated screening tools to block Indians from seeing “unlawful information or content.”

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Why You Might Want to Run Your Own Email, Address Book, and Calendar Server at Home

In case you never thought about it, companies that offer “free” email services are not charities. Everything they do is designed with one primary objective in mind: make a profit for the company that offers the service.

Yes, this applies to Google Gmail, Yahoo, AOL Mail, Mail.com (owned by the 1&1 web hosting service), Yandex.Mail (a Russian company), iCloud.com (owned by Apple), and Outlook.com (previously called HotMail and some other names, all owned by Microsoft).

Many of these services also offer additional so-called “free” services, such as storing your address book or your personal appointment calendar.

Why would a for-profit company offer free email services? For one simple reason: to make a profit.

At first glance, that appears to be contradictory statements. However, the companies offering these free services all know how to convert the expense of adding servers, routers, and more hardware, software, and support personnel into profits for the company. In short, they spy on you and all the email messages you send as well as messages received from friends, relatives, companies, and more. Yes, they read your email messages and look at your address book and appointment calendars. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? It should.

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Roughly 17,000 Android Apps Collect Identifying Information from Your Device

According to Laura Hautala’s article in the C|Net web site, some apps may track your activity over time, even when you tell them to forget the past. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

The apps can track you by linking your Advertising ID — a unique but resettable number used to tailor advertising — with other identifiers on your phone that are difficult or impossible to change. Those IDs are the device’s unique signatures: the MAC address, IMEI and Android ID. Less than a third of the apps that collect identifiers take only the Advertising ID, as recommended by Google’s best practices for developers.

“Privacy disappears” when apps collect those persistent identifiers, said Serge Egelman, who led the research.

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California Law could be Congress’ model for Data Privacy. Or it could be Erased

An interesting article by Tal Kopan Feb in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Under California’s law, which takes effect next year, web users can demand that a business tell them what personal information it is collecting about them and whether it is selling or sharing it, and if so to whom. Consumers can also demand that a company delete their information. The law will allow people to sue companies whose negligence leads to breaches of personal data.”

There’s more at https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/California-law-could-be-Congress-model-for-13604213.php.

What Does Facebook Know About You? Facts About Facebook’s Privacy Policy

Have you ever wondered why images or things you want to purchase keep on appearing on your news feed? In the middle of the Facebook privacy policy stir, how much do you know and how much does the conglomerate know about you?

An article by Reya Buenaventura at http://bit.ly/2GEKcQ2 probably doesn’t reveal everything but it does “lift the curtain” on some of the things the online service is doing to your rights to privacy.

Basically, Facebook records all your activity and then shares your information with advertisers. The violation of your privacy rights are not limited to the primary site at Facebook.com. The other Facebook-owned platforms (Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) all have the same problems.

Apple Fixes the iPhone FaceTime Eavesdropping Bug

About two weeks ago, I published an article with the title of Apple iPhone Allows Anyone to Eavesdrop on Your Conversations Without Your Knowledge. That bug had to be very embarrassing for Apple which had heavily promoted advertisements claiming that “what happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.”

Apple did not waste much time in getting the problem fixed and is now rolling out the fix to all iPhone users.

The original problem was first discovered by 14-year-old Grant Thompson. His mother promptly reported the bug to Apple.

Apple has now done “the right thing.”  The company said it would pay the Thompson family for reporting the bug and will also make a gift toward Grant’s education. Apple did not say how much it would give.