Beginning in 2015, all new cars in the United States will likely need to be fitted with data-recording “black boxes” very similar to the devices currently used in aircraft. The U.S. Senate has already passed a bill that will make the devices a requirement, and the House is expected to approve the bill as well. Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 states that mandatory event data recorders must in installed in all cars starting in 2015, and it outlines civil penalties that will be levied against violators, Infowars.com reports. While the primary function of the black box devices would be to record and transmit data that could be used to assist a driver and passengers in the event of an accident, the bill has legislation built in that would give the government access to the data with a court order, and it also gives authorities the ability to access the data as part of an investigation. According to the report, these caveats could potentially lead to Big Brother-like scenarios where citizens are monitored or even actively tracked without their knowledge or consent. More →
In a move that should surprise no one, Apple has banned the “Big Brother Camera Security” app that developer Daniel Amity used to swipe his customers’ passcodes. BGR reported on Tuesday about an application that attempted to trick users into setting a passcode identical to the pin used to lock their iPhones. The app then transmitted the PIN numbers in the background to the developer — albeit anonymously — who used them to publish a report covering the most commonly used iPhone passcodes. While the developer’s intentions hardly seemed malicious, there was no way Apple was going to sit back and watch while a developer published data about private PINs, even if they could not be directly tied to individual iPhone users. As such, the app has been banned from the App Store. “As of today at 4:58pm EST, Big Brother has been removed from the App Store,” Amity wrote in a blog post. “I’m certainly not happy about it, but considering the concerns a few people have expressed regarding the transfer of data from app to my server, it is understandable.” More →
If you didn’t already think the people behind the RIAA and MPAA were insane, we’re positive that your opinion on them will change as soon as your read what the two associations have proposed in a recent letter to the Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement. Here are but some of the changes the two have asked for:
- The installation of spyware on computers which would seek out and automatically delete illegally obtained media
- Censorship of the internet which would block the transfer of illegal files
- Giving border guards the authority to search one’s tech gear for illegal files
- The lobbying of foreign governments to follow suit
- Having the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security actively and swiftly enforcing copyright laws
Scary as hell, right?
With rising concerns for privacy these days, advertisers are having an increasingly difficult time gathering personal consumer data. MobileRL, an Israeli start-up, is looking to change or “revolutionize” the way information is collected for ad purposes. The Israeli company wants you to download software onto your phone which will allow them to turn it into an eavesdropping device. Your phone’s microphone can be turned on at any time, at MobileRL’s discretion, so it can listen to what’s going on at any given time. This new “data collection tool” is obviously going to need user consent since you have to download it yourself, so that might mitigate most legal issues (unless you live in a place where they can force something like this on you). But we know the real issue here, and if they can turn your phone’s microphone on at any time and run it for how long they want, how will that affect your phone’s battery life?
Palm’s location-based advertising patent likely sheds light on background location reporting in webOS
Remember last month when a developer revealed some hidden functionality in webOS that periodically reports a user’s location back to Palm? Well as it turns out, the reasoning behind the Big Brother-esque move may be even worse than you think. Drum roll please… Location-based advertising. We’ve uncovered a patent application filed by Palm in November of last year that could end up being one of the worst things to happen to webOS since its birth. As described within the application itself, the patent “provides a method and system thereof that can be used to more effectively target advertisements and other services to users of wireless communication devices.” More from the patent description:
Based upon the location data from the appointment and the location of device 310 (or other alternative location provided by the user), processor 340 may then provide advertisement data (step 386), for example, along the driving route between the location of the appointment and the current location of device 310 within a predetermined distance of the location of the appointment and/or the current location of device 310, and so on.
In other words, the system will keep tabs on your location in order to serve ads that will theoretically get you to spend money on the spot. Why not stop off for a coffee in this Starbucks? How about a tasty Angus Third Pounder from the McDonald’s down the block? But wait, it gets worse. Palm’s concept goes even further to pull appointment information out of your calendar in order to serve contextual ads based on your destination location in addition to your current location. While this concept is pretty brilliant, it’s also remarkably invasive and frankly, a bit frightening. Is the future of mobile advertising a gross invasion of our privacy?
Ruh roh. It looks like Palm may be pulling a Big Brother on Pre owners without their knowledge — until now, anyway. This morning, developer Joey Hess publicly examined a portion of webOS code that reports information back to Palm in order to determine exactly what info the manufacturer is retrieving behind the scenes. What he uncovered, loosely put, is pretty uncool. Pre handsets report at least the following info back to Palm daily:
- Your location
- Which apps you’ve used and for how long
- Your app crash logs
- Which apps you have installed
Now, this discovery raises all kinds of issues surrounding ethics, disclosure, privacy and a host of other touchy subjects. As with all privacy policies, Palm’s is BS sketchy shady unclear vague broad enough to likely cover such invasions of privacy. Hess does detail a relatively easy way to disable the transfer of personal data back to Palm’s servers but it requires Linux. More convenient methods of disabling this “feature” will likely surface in the coming days but the question as to why Palm needs this personal data remains. So, Pre users, are you guys cool with this?