How to use Zello, the Walkie-Talkie App people are Downloading Ahead of Hurricane Florence

If Hurricane Florence is coming to your area, you need to download Zello in your smartphone. Details may be found in an article by Avery Hartmans in the Business Insider web site at:

Also, see the earlier articles about Zello published here in the PrivacyBlog by starting at:

U.S. Government Reportedly Wants to Wiretap Facebook Messenger

According to an exclusive report from Reuters, Facebook may be about to receive one of its stiffest challenges yet from the U.S. government. The U.S. government is trying to force Facebook Inc. to break the encryption in its popular Messenger app so law enforcement may listen to a suspect’s voice conversations in a criminal probe, three people briefed on the case said, resurrecting the issue of whether companies can be compelled to alter their products to enable surveillance. Such a mandate would be a clear violation of the company’s and the customers’ First Amendment speech and expression rights.

The encrypted text messaging and voice conversation applications, such as Facebook Messenger, Signal, WhatsApp, and others are so secure that even the employees of the producing company cannot wiretap the conversations and listen in. These highly secure, end-to-end encrypted, communications go directly from one user to another user without revealing anything intelligible to providers or to anyone who wiretaps the conversations.

The U.S. Government reportedly wants to change that, despite the fact that such an order appears to be unconstitutional.

Continue reading

Tutanota’s Open Source Email App Now Available on F-Droid

TutaNota is a secure email service that focuses on security and privacy. Tutanota’s encrypted open source email app recently became available on F-Droid, making it the go-to secure email service that enables everybody to stop using Google. To date, no other email service has published their Android app on F-Droid, the number one platform for free and open source apps.

NOTE: F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The client makes it easy to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device. Since the applications are available on F-Droid, not on Google’s Play Store, they are not constrained by Google’s privacy-invasive policies. The main repository, hosted by the project, contains only free libre software apps. In addition, the source code is also available for all the applications available via F-Droid. The result is that anyone can examine the source code to verify there are no viruses or other malware (malevolent software) embedded in the apps.

With the app release on F-Droid, Tutanota now proves that it is possible to build a secure email service that is completely Google-free, giving people a real open source alternative to the data-hungry market leader Gmail. So far, Tutanota’s open source email service is the first Android app to get rid of Google and Google’s tracking mechanisms.

You can learn more in TutaNota’s blog at

Faces are Being Scanned at US Airports with No Safeguards on Data Use

Taking a flight soon? A great convenience may be available to you: step up to the boarding gate, get your photo taken, and proceed onto the plane. There is no paper ticket or airline app. Thanks to facial recognition technology, your face can become your boarding pass. In fact, the photos are already being taken without your knowledge or permission at some airports although those photos have not yet replaced boarding passes.

However, there is a privacy and security problem with that: few companies participating in the program, called the Traveler Verification Service, give explicit guarantees that passengers’ facial recognition data will be protected. In fact, we can assume that Big Brother government agencies are already tracking your travel. If past history is any indication, hackers, government contractors, and foreign governments also will eventually gain access to that information (either legally or illegally) and your private movements will soon be known by all sorts of people and agencies without any controls.

Continue reading

Comcast Security Flaw Exposes Partial Addresses, Social Security Numbers of 26 Million Users

Are you a Comcast customer? If so, it is time to change all your passwords, notify the credit card companies where you have accounts, and more. It seems that a security flaw in the Comcast Xfinity online portal exposed social security numbers and partial home addresses of more than 26.5 million subscribers, according to security researcher Ryan Stevenson. If you do not take actions now to protect your data, it is possible that hackers could drain your bank accounts, charge items in your name, and possibly commit identity theft.

Details may be found at:

Facebook Sold Our Privacy For A Quick Buck, How Can Blockchain Help?

From an article by Jim Preissler in Forbes:

“With the recent revelation that Russia may be still trying to influence U.S. elections, and Facebook announcing that there are ongoing attempts to target its users with “fake news” using fake accounts, it is clear that this ongoing social manipulation is not going away any time soon. Facebook sold not only our privacy but also our electoral future in order to enrich themselves. The impact of these indiscretions have materialized in weaker user and advertising growth. and the market has consequently punished the stock in the largest selloff in corporate history.”


“Every bit of data about you is for sale via traditional marketing databases and the hacked data sets. This includes address, email, home phone, cell phone, passwords, names and ages of your children, social security numbers, where you work, what you like to buy, possible political affiliations, religion, your income, shows and music you like, and the list goes on to give a very complete picture of the vast majority of the U.S. population. When combined, the data set on almost every individual is extensive, complete and frightening. In unfriendly hands, it is powerful and dangerous.”

Continue reading

BurnBox Makes Hidden Files Look Like You’ve Deleted Them

From an article by Louise Matsakis in the Wired web site at:

Imagine you’re a human rights activist, pulling up to a border crossing. The on-duty customs agent requests that you hand over your phone and unlock it, without a warrant—an increasingly common practice for US Customs and Border Protection.

Your phone holds sensitive photographs documenting abuses abroad, but the agent can’t find them. At most, he might notice that you’ve deleted some files recently. Once you’re back on your way, you immediately call a colleague, who provides you with a special passcode. You then open your phone, enter the code into an app, and the photos you “deleted” have returned to the same cloud-storage folder where you last saw them.

That’s the scenario enabled by BurnBox, a new prototype designed by researchers from Cornell University, Cornell Tech, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which will be presented at the USENIX Security conference next month. Designed to work on top of existing cloud storage services like Dropbox, BurnBox is a form of what the researchers call “self-revocable encryption,” which allows users to temporarily revoke access to some content on their device.

You can read the full article at: