AT&T obviously is helping the U.S. government in its mass surveillance operations. The company claims that divulging such spying would almost certainly be classified by the U.S. government. This comes despite leaks that suggest a close relationship with the telecoms industry and federal intelligence agencies.
AT&T said it complies with government data requests “only to the extent required by law.”
On Thursday, AT&T announced it was stopping the sale of its customers’ real-time location data to all third parties, in response to a Motherboard investigation showing how data from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint trickled down through a complex network of companies until eventually landing the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. To verify the existence of this trade, Motherboard paid $300 on the black market to successfully locate a phone.
Google, whose Google Fi program offers phone, text, and data services that use T-Mobile and Sprint network infrastructure in the United States, told Motherboard that it asked those companies to not share its customers’ location data with third parties. “We have never sold Fi subscribers’ location information,” a Google spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement late on Thursday. “Google Fi is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) and not a carrier, but as soon as we heard about this practice, we required our network partners to shut it down as soon as possible.“
I own a Ring doorbell that has a built-in video camera that (1.) allows me to see who is at my door and/or on the walkway leading to the door as well as (2.) recording all visitors’ actions in the cloud where the videos can be later reviewed by me and I can even forward the videos to by law enforcement officers, if necessary. I also have a Ring camera in the garage where it keeps an eye on my sports car and other possessions, as well as monitoring access to the second entrance into my home.
I purchased the Ring doorbell a few months ago because I thought it would improve my home’s security by helping to identify would-be burglars as well as “porch pirates” who steal FedEx or UPS or Amazon packages from the front door. Now it looks like my belief was wrong. In fact, the Ring devices are spy devices that save video records of ME, my family members, and my visitors and make the videos available to Ring, a division of Amazon. Instead of improving home security, Ring REDUCED my security.
Of all the major corporations in the computer industry, Apple appears to be the one leading the fight for individual privacy, challenging both government spies and the corporations that collect and sell private data of their customers. Now Apple has recruited a former employee and vocal critic of Facebook to join its privacy team.
Sandy Parakilas, who spent a year and a half monitoring privacy and policy compliance by software developers before leaving Facebook in October 2012, will reportedly become a privacy manager on Apple’s policy team.
When working at Facebook, Mr. Parakilas warned senior executives of the potentially damaging consequences of the company’s data-sharing policies, but felt his concerns were played down. He soon left the company, apparently because he was unable to change Facebook’s predatory practices.
It is not enough for government to pass laws that protect consumers from corporations that harvest and monetize their personal data. It is also necessary for these laws to have bite, to ensure companies do not ignore them. The best way to do so is to empower ordinary consumers to bring their own lawsuits against the companies that violate their privacy rights. Such “private rights of action” are among Electronic Frontier Foundation’s highest priorities in any data privacy legislation.
An article in the Electronic Frontier Foundation web site explains the issues and describes actions being done by that organization. See http://bit.ly/2ADWi8p for the details.
If you are concerned about your privacy, delete the so-called free Weather Channel app from your smartphone right now.
Why? It isn’t really free. It steals your personal information.
The Weather Channel app records the 45 million monthly active users’ locations every time the app is used, then sells the information to as many as 40 third-party companies without telling any users what is happening to their private information that was unwittingly supplied. The companies that purchase the stolen information are then free to use that information for whatever purposes they want.
“It seems obvious at this point that China is building a massive database of information on American individuals and companies, which they can then use for various purposes—including espionage, intellectual property theft, extortion, and other types of coercion.”
Daniel Miessler provides numerous examples that illustrate China’s recording of your private information and mine in an article in his blog at: http://bit.ly/2F7c3YB.