Privacy Pioneers Plan ‘Zero Tracking’ Rival to Facebook, to be called Openbook

The recent exposure of Facebook’s business practices seems to be creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs: creating privacy-oriented alternatives to Facebook. For one, see my earlier article, A Message for Facebook Users: Do You Want Real Online Privacy? at https://privacyblog.com/2018/07/17/a-message-for-facebook-users-do-you-want-real-online-privacy/. However, the two services mentioned in that article are not alone; dozens of others are scrambling to attract former Facebook users who have become dissatisfied with the social network after the huge data leak to Cambridge Analytica as well as to others.

One new platform being developed in Europe and designed to be fully compliant with the European privacy laws is called Openbook. The venture is backed by security and privacy experts including Philip Zimmermann, who created PGP, the most widely used email encryption software, and Jaya Baloo, chief information security officer for Dutch telecoms company KPN Telecom. The site will be “open source, zero tracking, zero spying, zero ads”, and give 30 per cent of its revenue to charitable causes.

Continue reading

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Personal Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates

A future in which everything you do — the things you buy, the food you eat, the time you spend watching TV — may help determine how much you pay for health insurance. With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans.

The companies are tracking your race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth, and more. They’re collecting what you post on social media, whether you’re behind on your bills, what you order online. Then they feed this information into complicated computer algorithms that spit out predictions about how much your health care could cost them.

Continue reading

A Message for Facebook Users: Do You Want Real Online Privacy?

Let’s “face” it: Facebook is a huge success despite all its privacy-invasive business practices. The company became a multi-billion dollar success story by exploiting the personal data of two billion people. If you are a Facebook user, your approximate income, your religious preferences, political leanings, ethnic origins, how many children you have, and even sexual preferences probably are available to anyone who wishes to pay for that information. Yes, even representatives of various governments around the world can purchase your personal information, as can credit reporting agencies, private detective agencies, the Republicans, the Democrats, the American Nazi Party, or any other political group. Many people, including myself, think there’s something wrong with that.

I have read many online articles, newsgroups, newspapers, and magazines with articles suggesting the governments of the world should stop Facebook from collecting and selling the personal data of all its members. I suspect that effort will go nowhere. First of all, defining “personal data” is a fuzzy challenge. Just what should be legal to collect and sell versus what should be illegal? Any potential laws would need to define what constitutes “personal data,” and that alone seems like Herculean challenge.

Next, the multi-billionaire CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has an army of lawyers and highly-paid lobbyists whose sole job is to make sure that Facebook can continue to conduct its business in any manner that Zuckerberg wishes forever. After all, Zuckerberg is the one who stated in public: “privacy is a social norm of the past.” Now that he is a multi-billionaire, you know he wants to protect the business he has created. If any legislation concerning collecting and selling personal information ever appears in the U.S. Congress or elsewhere, Zuckerberg and his minions will soon make it disappear. Yes, lawyers and highly-paid lobbyists have long proven they do have that much influence.

I will suggest there is a better solution, and it is very simple: take our business elsewhere.

Continue reading

Hackers are Selling Backdoors into Windows PCs for just $10

If you use Windows, you want to know about this problem that apparently has been around for some time. Cyber criminals are offering remote access to IT systems for just $10 via a dark web hacking store — potentially enabling attackers to steal information, disrupt systems, deploy ransomware and more. Some of the products sold for $10 allow access to tens of thousands of compromised systems.

Systems advertised for sale on the forum range from Windows XP through to Windows 10, with access to Windows 2008 and 2012 Server most common.

Details may be found in an article by Danny Palmer in the ZDNet web site at: https://tinyurl.com/y7xuxp8d.

How a Startup Is Using the Blockchain to Protect Your Privacy

This is an interesting article about protecting your privacy, especially if you are familiar with the use of blockchains:

Dawn Song, a Berkeley computer-science professor and MacArthur fellow, is a fan of cloud computing. She also thinks it needs a major rethink. “The cloud and the internet have fundamentally changed our lives mostly for good,” she says. “But they have serious problems with privacy and security—users and companies lose control of their data.”

Outsourcing data storage and processing over the internet has given companies new flexibility and consumers the power to hail rides, find dates, and socialize from a slab of glass in their pocket. The same technologies have also enabled data theft, corporate prying on our personal lives, and new forms of election manipulation.

Continue reading

Popular Facebook App Timehop Suffers Data Breach That Affects 21 Million Users

Here is still another theft of personal information from Facebook users. This time it wasn’t a theft from Facebook itself. Instead, a hacker stole information personal information about 21 million users from Timehop, a separate company. However, Timehop is a popular application that runs on Facebook which accesses users’ photos and posts and resurfaces them. All 21 million people who suffered the data theft are both Timehop and Facebook users.

You can read more at: http://bit.ly/2u6lWQ4.