Exciting new smartphone tech trumps Google Now, predicts where you’re going

By on July 9, 2012 at 1:55 PM.

Exciting new smartphone tech trumps Google Now, predicts where you’re going

Mobile GPS Tracking Future Smartphones

Mobile devices can track where you are, where you have been and soon may be able to predict where you are going. Researchers in the U.K. have created an algorithm that can predict where smartphone users will go, even before they get there, Technology Review reported. The tech tracks a user’s mobility patterns and adjusts for anomalies by factoring in the patterns of friends as well as friends of friends. The method was found to be remarkably accurate and on average was less than 20 meters off when predicting a user’s location 24 hours in advance. When the algorithm didn’t take into consideration the previous location of friends and mutual friends, it was found to be an average of 1,000 meters off when predicting a user’s future location. More →

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‘Big brother’ black boxes to soon be mandatory in all new cars

By on April 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM.

‘Big brother’ black boxes to soon be mandatory in all new cars

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 →

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Ex-Google employees embark on mission to stop Google from tracking users

By on March 23, 2012 at 10:25 AM.

Ex-Google employees embark on mission to stop Google from tracking users

“Don’t be evil” is an unofficial motto first uttered by a Google executive during a meeting years ago, and while it started as a playful slogan Google used to jab at its rivals, the three little words have come back to haunt the company on countless occasions. The press and users alike often resurrect the credo when discussing the company’s mission to collect as much information about its users as possible, thus allowing it to target advertising more effectively for its clients. Not all Googlers are on board with this mission, however. In an effort to help users protect their privacy, two former Google employees have created a company with the aim of stopping Google and other sites from tracking users. Read on for more. More →

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Android apps with ads found to pose privacy and security risks

By on March 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM.

Android apps with ads found to pose privacy and security risks

Researchers from North Carolina State University have found that mobile applications that integrate advertisements pose privacy and a security risks. The team conducted a study that examined 100,000 apps from the Google Play market and noticed that more than half contained “ad libraries,” while 297 of the apps included “aggressive ad libraries” that could download and run code from remote servers. Researchers also found that more than 48,000 of the apps that were examined could track location via GPS, while others could access call logs, phone numbers and a list of all the apps a user has stored on his or her phone.  Read on for more. More →

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How to stop Google ads from tracking you on the web

By on February 28, 2012 at 1:30 PM.

How to stop Google ads from tracking you on the web

It was recently revealed that Google and a number of advertisers had found a way to bypass some privacy features in modern web browsers, allowing them to forgo third-party cookie policies and serve targeted ads regardless of a user’s privacy settings. The report caused a stir among privacy advocates and consumers alike, and it prompted Google and other companies to agree to honor browsers’ do-not-track policy by the end of the year. Some users may not want to wait up to nine months to know they’re not being tracked, however, and Google has a solution for privacy-conscious web users who don’t want to be followed. Read on for more. More →

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Microsoft claims Google is bypassing Internet Explorer privacy settings

By on February 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM.

Microsoft claims Google is bypassing Internet Explorer privacy settings

Last week, it was revealed that Google and other leading advertising companies had been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of unknowing Safari users. The Mountain View-based company maintained its innocence and claimed it “used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled.” Microsoft is now claiming that the search giant has used a similar technique to bypass privacy settings in Internet Explorer. By default, IE blocks third-party cookies unless the site provides a “P3P Compact Policy Statement” indicating how the cookies will be used and agreeing to not track the user. Microsoft claims that Google is improperly representing certain cookies, which allows them to pass through IE’s security without disclosing the company’s intent. Google has not responded to Microsoft’s claims. More →

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Google and other advertisers used ‘a special code’ to bypass Safari privacy restrictions

By on February 17, 2012 at 9:05 PM.

Google and other advertisers used ‘a special code’ to bypass Safari privacy restrictions

Google and other leading advertising companies have been bypassing the privacy settings of millions of unknowing Safari users, reports the Wall Street Journal. Using “a special code,” the companies were able to bypass the browser’s privacy restrictions and install cookies on a user’s computer, even when such actions were supposed to be blocked. Companies such as Google use cookies to track browsing habits across websites that it places advertisements on. Apple’s Safari Web browser blocks these third-party cookies by default, only allowing them on a website that a user directly interacts with. Read on for more. More →

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Carrier IQ revealed to be installed on 26 million Sprint phones and 900,000 AT&T phones

By on December 16, 2011 at 1:35 PM.

Carrier IQ revealed to be installed on 26 million Sprint phones and 900,000 AT&T phones

Documents related to a Senate inquiry into Carrier IQ and its smartphone software reveal that Sprint is by far the company’s biggest carrier client in the United States. Sprint stated in a letter to Senator Al Franken, which is now public record, that Carrier IQ software is installed on more than 26 million of its handsets. A similar letter from AT&T states that the mobile tracking software is installed on 900,000 AT&T phones, but the carrier said it is only collecting data from approximately 575,000 of them. Both companies reaffirmed earlier statements claiming they only use Carrier IQ software for diagnostic purposes and not to gather private user data or to track subscribers. “Sprint has not used Carrier IQ diagnostics to profile customer behavior, serve targeted advertising, or for any purpose not specifically related to certifying that a device is able to operate on Sprint’s network or otherwise to improve network operations and customer experiences,” Sprint wrote in its letter. AT&T made similar claims. A link to Senator Franken’s full response to the letters, which includes links to letters from Sprint, AT&T, Samsung and HTC regarding their use of Carrier IQ, follows below. Samsung states in its letter that Carrier IQ is installed on approximately 25 million of its smartphones, and HTC says roughly 6.3 million of its handsets shipped with the software pre-installed. More →

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Skype security flaw leaves user locations vulnerable

By on December 8, 2011 at 9:30 PM.

Skype security flaw leaves user locations vulnerable

New York University’s Polytechnic Institute has discovered a Skype security flaw that leaves Skype users’ locations and P2P sharing activity accessible to hackers. The security hole was discovered while NYU scientists monitored 10,000 Skype users and 20 volunteers during a two-week period. “A hacker anywhere in the world could easily track the whereabouts and file-sharing habits of a Skype user – from private citizens to celebrities and politicians – and use the information for purposes of stalking, blackmail or fraud,” professor Keith Ross from computer science NYU-Poly’s computer science program said. Hackers can also keep track of a Skype user’s movements as he or she places calls from various locations. The scientists were able to follow a Skype user during a vacation from New York to Chicago and then all the way home to France, Financial Post explained. “A fairly straightforward and inexpensive fix would prevent hackers from taking the critical first step in this security breach – that of obtaining users’ IP addresses through inconspicuous calling,” the scientists said. Skype chief information officer Adrian Asher said his company will work to improve the security of Skype’s software.  More →

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Apple, Samsung and six more companies sued over Carrier IQ scandal

By on December 5, 2011 at 11:30 AM.

Apple, Samsung and six more companies sued over Carrier IQ scandal

Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ have been sued in a federal court by what the lawyers involved have deemed a “cell phone tracking software scandal.” Law firms Sianni & Straite LLP, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. have jointly filed a class action complaint in a Delaware Federal Court related to the “unprecedented breach of the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users.” The complaint suggests that the aforementioned carriers and vendors violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The suit of course refers to the companies’ use of Carrier IQ, the carrier and vendor-implemented cell phone spyware discovered recently on a number of handsets from multiple manufacturers. Read on for more. More →

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Microsoft’s ‘Locationgate’ ends with Mango

By on September 30, 2011 at 4:20 PM.

Microsoft’s ‘Locationgate’ ends with Mango

Microsoft has updated its Windows Phone platform to address what is now presumed to have been a bug that caused phones to gather location data before a user opted in to such services. Windows Phone developer Rafael Rivera last week revealed that Microsoft’s mobile platform was exhibiting behavior that directly contradicted earlier claims the company made to the United States government. Microsoft’s new “Mango” update, however, appears to have remedied the matter. Read on for more. More →

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Microsoft gets its own ‘Locationgate’ scandal with accompanying class action lawsuit

By on September 1, 2011 at 12:25 PM.

Microsoft gets its own ‘Locationgate’ scandal with accompanying class action lawsuit

Apple has repeatedly accused Samsung of “copying” its products, but it looks like Microsoft is now the one following Apple’s lead. A class action lawsuit filed in Seattle on Wednesday accuses Microsoft of unlawfully tracking users of smartphones that run the company’s emerging Windows Phone 7 operating system. According to the complaint, the camera application in Microsoft’s Windows Phone software continues to track users’ locations and transmit that data to Microsoft even if users opt-out of Windows Phone’s tracking and feedback functions. The class action suit seeks an injunction as well as punitive damages. Earlier this year, Apple was caught tracking iPhone and iPad users’ locations and storing them in a hidden file on the devices. Apple would go on to state that the issue was caused by a bug, and the Cupertino-based company quickly issued a software update to remedy the problem. Numerous complaints were filed as a result of the scandal however, and while damages have been minimal so far, several cases are still outstanding. More →

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Apple fined by South Korean regulator following 'Locationgate' scandal

By on August 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM.

Apple fined by South Korean regulator following 'Locationgate' scandal

Apple has been fined by South Korea’s telecommunications regulator following the “Locationgate” scandal that caused public outrage earlier this year, Dow Jones reports. This marks the second time Apple has had to pay penalties resulting from the iOS location-tracking snafu. A South Korean lawyer sued Apple and was awarded $1 million won, or approximately $945 at the time, by a court this past June. It was discovered in April that the iPhone and some iPad models were secretly tracking users and storing their locations in a local file. Apple determined that a software bug was responsible for the collection of location data, and it promptly issued a fix. The damage had already been done, however, and lawsuits were filed. Apple’s prompt attention to the matter likely limited the damage, and Wednesday’s fine levied by the Korea Communications Commission is the first penalty we’ve seen issued by a regulatory body. So what’s the damage this time around? $3 million won, or approximately $2,829. More →

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