Category Archives: Privacy

Google forces you to reveal age

I logged into Google today and they forced me to provide a date of birth. They then prompted to confirm my age.

They claim they need this to comply with the law.

They also say it is used for their dossier for “ad purposes”. Supposedly the use of this for ad purposes can be turned off.

Presumably one can also lie and give a fake date – although I assume that at some future date they will prompt you to enter your age again to confirm account access. Thus, you’d need to keep a log of what date you provide to Google.

Unfortunately, we cannot trust Google with any personal information.

Security: “Scheme Flooding Allows User Tracking Across Browsers”

A flaw that allows browsers to enumerate applications on a machine threatens cross-browser anonymity in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari and even Tor.

A security researcher has discovered a vulnerability that allows websites to track users across a number of different desktop browsers — including Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Tor — posing a threat to cross-browser anonymity.Called “scheme flooding,” the flaw “allows websites to identify users reliably across different desktop browsers and link their identities together,” Konstantin Darutkin, a researcher and developer at FingerprintJS, said in a blog post published Thursday. FingerprintJS is the publisher of a well-known browser-fingerprinting API.

Source: Scheme Flooding Allows User Tracking Across Browsers | Threatpost

Wi-Fi Access Points and privacy

Most Wi-Fi networks transmit a periodic station ID – such as “Home WiFi” or whatever you call your AP.

Many devices, including smart phones, can collect AP names and locations as they are moved about. Services like Google use this to provide enhanced location-based services.

Go to Wigle.net to see a map of Wi-Fi AP locations, globally (This is not based on Google’s system).

If you use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, that too can be intercepted by other nearby devices that forward the ID and location into global databases.

There are two ways to reduce this collection of your Wi-Fi data and location.

  1. Don’t use WiFi! Use wired Ethernet connections instead. You can also connect your phone via a USB-C to a computer that supports USB network connections. Or you can use a USB-C to Ethernet dongle – and avoid activating Wi-Fi.
  2. According to this news report at CNet, you can append _nomap to the end of your SSID and this should flag systems to not collect data on your AP. Google proposed use of the “_nomap” option as a way to comply with European privacy regulators.

Google has outright lied in the past about its use of Street View cars collection of personal data from open Wi-Fi systems as the cars drove around.

One year later: Smart phone, Bluetooth-based contact tracing apps remain AWOL

One year ago, the tech sector jumped in with a plan to develop smart phone based contact detection apps. These would use Bluetooth to estimate potential contacts with someone later testing positive for Covid-19.

I predicted at the time (see past posts) that this technology was not likely to be successful for many reasons.

Here we are, one year later, and we are only now developing testing criteria for these apps.

The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded $959,305 to the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory this week to create testing criteria for a COVID-19 digital contact tracing app. The award was granted … Read More »

Source: DHS taps University of Washington to create criteria for COVID-19 digital contact tracing app testing – Homeland Preparedness News

The media gave much attention to alleged privacy issues but that was never the problem – the problem was the nature of the technology and the high false negative and false positive rates and that huge numbers of people would need to use it for it to deliver mediocre results.

One year later, these apps are mostly non-existent and public health and has found very few potential cases through the technology. In spite of being a brain injured idiot, my analysis was correct.

Update: As of March 2021, essentially no one is using contact tracing apps in Canada either. In Alberta, the app has found 0.02% (that is 1% divided by 50!) of the positive Covid-19 cases. And some of those cases might have been determined by other means eventually anyway. The score card: 0.02% by contact tracing app and 99.98% by other methods.

“Hit and Run” will be a thing of the past

Microsoft joins GM in self driving vehicle initiative.

To unlock the potential of cloud computing for self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, to commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale. Microsoft, as Cruise’s preferred cloud provider, will also tap into Cruise’s deep industry expertise to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transportation companies across the globe through continued investment in Azure.Microsoft will join General Motors, Honda and institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing the post-money valuation of Cruise to $30 billion.

Source: Cruise and GM team up with Microsoft to commercialize self-driving vehicles – Stories

This past year, the FAA wanted to track toy remote controlled model airplanes in real time, once per second. If the government thought they needed real time tracking of toys, you can be sure they will demand real time tracking of all automobiles.

Every vehicle incident will be tracked – in real time. The era of people driving away in hit-and-run accidents will come to an end. So will privacy but what ever, right? It’s probably for the children anyway.

When was the last time the media hyped a “drone sighting”? I can’t even remember.

Reports to the FAA of “drone sightings”, used by Congress and the FAA to drive forth draconian remote identification and mandated national surveillance networks using drones, with the goal of pricing drone flying out of the public’s reach – were based on bad data and media hysterics, much of which was false reporting.

  • Remember the Aeromexico flight in late 2018 that had a collapsed nose cone? The media blamed that on a drone. Six months later the official investigation found it was due to a maintenance defect on the nose cone.
  • Remember the Gatwick Airport fiasco? The only confirmed drone sightings were of the fleet of surveillance drones operated by the Sussex Police over the airport.
  • Remember the temporary Newark Airport closure due to a “drone sighting”? That drone report was from 20 miles away from the airport and may not have even been a drone at all.

Take a look at this – drone sightings have magically disappeared: Drone Sightings: The Actual Non-Hyped Numbers Analyzed (Graphs, Trends, etc.)

After awhile, when the FAA isn’t stealing Youtube content, they seem to have been busy making up fake drone reports to justify a remote ID proposal that mandates all drones be connected to the Internet cloud, in real time, and used as part of a massive national surveillance program, collecting imagery and telemetry and potentially sending it to China. Brilliant. Not like any drones would so something like that.

The FAA’s primary goal is to make hobby flying of radio control model aircraft so expensive and cumbersome as to eliminate it entirely. The reason is to clear the low altitude airspace for AmazonGoogleUPS delivery drones. The FAA asserts that it and it alone owns the airspace in your front and backyards from the ground up. Literally, the airspace below your head when you stand outside is controlled by the FAA and they intend to use it for corporate delivery and surveillance networks. (See my comments to see how that works.)

Rite Aid used facial recognition in cameras in stores serving poor customers

Claims they’ve turned it off due to “industry conversation” about such technology. The tech is kinda useless when everyone is required to wear an airway restriction device over their face:)

In the hearts of New York and metro Los Angeles, Rite Aid deployed the technology in largely lower-income, non-white neighborhoods, according to a Reuters analysis. And for more than a year, the retailer used state-of-the-art facial recognition technology from a company with links to China and its authoritarian government.

Source: Rite Aid deployed facial recognition system in hundreds of U.S. stores