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    Amazon studio plans lighthearted show of Ring surveillance footage

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 August - 22:13

Amazon's combining its endless reach with its constant surveillance—but for laughs.

Enlarge / Amazon's combining its endless reach with its constant surveillance—but for laughs. (credit: Getty Images)

For some people, the term "Ring Nation" might evoke a warrantless surveillance dystopia overseen by an omnipotent megacorp. To Amazon-owned MGM , Ring Nation is a clip show hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes, featuring dancing delivery people and adorable pets.

Deadline reports that the show, due to debut on September 26, is "the latest example of corporate synergy at Amazon." Amazon owns household video security brand Ring, Hollywood studio MGM, and Big Fish, the producer of Ring Nation

Viral videos captured by doorbell cameras have been hot for a while now. You can catch them on late-night talk shows, the r/CaughtOnRing subreddit, and on millions of TikTok users' For You page. Amazon's media properties, perhaps sensing an opportunity to capitalize and soften Ring's image, are sallying forth with an officially branded offering.

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    FTC aims to counter the “massive scale” of online data collection

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 August - 18:09 · 1 minute

FTC Chair Lina Khan said the commission intends to act on commercial data collection, which happens at "a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts."

Enlarge / FTC Chair Lina Khan said the commission intends to act on commercial data collection, which happens at "a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts." (credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission has kicked off the rulemaking process for privacy regulations that could restrict online surveillance and punish bad data-security practices. It's a move that some privacy advocates say is long overdue, as similar Congressional efforts face endless uncertainty.

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking , approved on a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, was spurred by commercial data collection, which occurs at "a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts," FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a press release . Companies surveil online activity, friend networks, browsing and purchase history, location data, and other details; analyze it with opaque algorithms; and sell it through "the massive, opaque market for consumer data," Khan said.

Companies can also fail to secure that data or use it to make services addictive to children. They can also potentially discriminate against customers based on legally protected statuses like race, gender, religion, and age, the FTC said. What's more, the release said, some companies make taking part in their "commercial surveillance" required for service or charge a premium to avoid it, employing dark patterns to keep the systems in place.

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    Amid backlash from privacy advocates, Meta expands end-to-end encryption trial

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 August - 17:46

Meta is ever so slowly expanding its testing of end-to-end encryption

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Meta is ever so slowly expanding its trial of end-to-end encryption in a bid to protect users from snoops and law enforcement.

End-to-end encryption, often abbreviated as E2EE, uses strong cryptography to encrypt messages with a key that is unique to each user. Because the key is in the sole possession of each user, E2EE prevents everyone else—including the app maker, ISP or carrier, and three-letter agencies—from reading a message. Meta first rolled out E2EE in 2016 in its WhatsApp and Messenger apps, with the former providing it by default and the latter offering it as an opt-in feature. The company said it expects to make E2EE the default setting in Messenger by sometime next year. The Instagram messenger, meanwhile, doesn’t offer E2EE at all.

Starting this week, the social media behemoth will begin testing a secure online storage feature for Messenger communication. For now, it’s available only to select users who connect using either an iOS or Android device. Users who are selected will have the option of turning it on.

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    Small businesses count cost of Apple’s privacy changes

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 9 August - 13:29

Small businesses count cost of Apple’s privacy changes

Enlarge (credit: Kentaroo Tryman | Getty Images )

Small businesses are cutting back marketing spending due to Apple’s sweeping privacy changes that have made it harder to target new customers online, in a growing trend that has led to billions of dollars in lost revenues for platforms like Facebook.

Apple last year began forcing app developers to get permission to track users and serve them personalized adverts on iPhones and iPads in changes that have transformed the online advertising sector.

Many small companies which are reliant on online ads to attract new customers told the Financial Times they did not initially notice the full impact of Apple’s restrictions until recent months, when price inflation squeezed consumer demand in major markets worldwide.

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    Ring Gives Videos to Police without a Warrant or User Consent

    news.movim.eu / Schneier · Monday, 1 August - 08:16 · 1 minute

Amazon has revealed that it gives police videos from its Ring doorbells without a warrant and without user consent.

Ring recently revealed how often the answer to that question has been yes. The Amazon company responded to an inquiry from US Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), confirming that there have been 11 cases in 2022 where Ring complied with police “emergency” requests. In each case, Ring handed over private recordings, including video and audio, without letting users know that police had access to—and potentially downloaded—their data. This raises many concerns about increased police reliance on private surveillance, a practice that has long gone unregulated.

EFF writes :

Police are not the customers for Ring; the people who buy the devices are the customers. But Amazon’s long-standing relationships with police blur that line. For example, in the past Amazon has given coaching to police to tell residents to install the Ring app and purchase cameras for their homes—­an arrangement that made salespeople out of the police force. The LAPD launched an investigation into how Ring provided free devices to officers when people used their discount codes to purchase cameras.

Ring, like other surveillance companies that sell directly to the general public, continues to provide free services to the police, even though they don’t have to. Ring could build a device, sold straight to residents, that ensures police come to the user’s door if they are interested in footage—­but Ring instead has decided it would rather continue making money from residents while providing services to police.

CNet has a good explainer .

Slashdot thread .

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    San Francisco Police Want Real-Time Access to Private Surveillance Cameras

    news.movim.eu / Schneier · Friday, 15 July - 02:51 · 1 minute

Surely no one could have predicted this :

The new proposal—championed by Mayor London Breed after November’s wild weekend of orchestrated burglaries and theft in the San Francisco Bay Area—would authorize the police department to use non-city-owned security cameras and camera networks to live monitor “significant events with public safety concerns” and ongoing felony or misdemeanor violations.

Currently, the police can only request historical footage from private cameras related to specific times and locations, rather than blanket monitoring. Mayor Breed also complained the police can only use real-time feeds in emergencies involving “imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.”

If approved, the draft ordinance would also allow SFPD to collect historical video footage to help conduct criminal investigations and those related to officer misconduct. The draft law currently stands as the following, which indicates the cops can broadly ask for and/or get access to live real-time video streams:

The proposed Surveillance Technology Policy would authorize the Police Department to use surveillance cameras and surveillance camera networks owned, leased, managed, or operated by non-City entities to: (1) temporarily live monitor activity during exigent circumstances, significant events with public safety concerns, and investigations relating to active misdemeanor and felony violations; (2) gather and review historical video footage for the purposes of conducting a criminal investigation; and (3) gather and review historical video footage for the purposes of an internal investigation regarding officer misconduct.

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    New Browser De-anonymization Technique

    news.movim.eu / Schneier · Thursday, 14 July - 14:31 · 1 minute

Researchers have a new way to de-anonymize browser users, by correlating their behavior on one account with their behavior on another:

The findings, which NJIT researchers will present at the Usenix Security Symposium in Boston next month, show how an attacker who tricks someone into loading a malicious website can determine whether that visitor controls a particular public identifier, like an email address or social media account, thus linking the visitor to a piece of potentially personal data.

When you visit a website, the page can capture your IP address, but this doesn’t necessarily give the site owner enough information to individually identify you. Instead, the hack analyzes subtle features of a potential target’s browser activity to determine whether they are logged into an account for an array of services, from YouTube and Dropbox to Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and more. Plus the attacks work against every major browser, including the anonymity-focused Tor Browser.

[…]

“Let’s say you have a forum for underground extremists or activists, and a law enforcement agency has covertly taken control of it,” Curtmola says. “They want to identify the users of this forum but can’t do this directly because the users use pseudonyms. But let’s say that the agency was able to also gather a list of Facebook accounts who are suspected to be users of this forum. They would now be able to correlate whoever visits the forum with a specific Facebook identity.”

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    Post-Roe Privacy

    news.movim.eu / Schneier · Tuesday, 12 July - 20:03 · 2 minutes

This is an excellent essay outlining the post-Roe privacy threat model. (Summary: period tracking apps are largely a red herring.)

Taken together, this means the primary digital threat for people who take abortion pills is the actual evidence of intention stored on your phone, in the form of texts, emails, and search/web history. Cynthia Conti-Cook’s incredible article “ Surveilling the Digital Abortion Diary details what we know now about how digital evidence has been used to prosecute women who have been pregnant. That evidence includes search engine history, as in the case of the prosecution of Latice Fisher in Mississippi. As Conti-Cook says, Ms. Fisher “conduct[ed] internet searches, including how to induce a miscarriage, ‘buy abortion pills, mifepristone online, misoprostol online,’ and ‘buy misoprostol abortion pill online,'” and then purchased misoprostol online. Those searches were the evidence that she intentionally induced a miscarriage. Text messages are also often used in prosecutions, as they were in the prosecution of Purvi Patel, also discussed in Conti-Cook’s article.

These examples are why advice from reproductive access experts like Kate Bertash focuses on securing text messages (use Signal and auto-set messages to disappear) and securing search queries (use a privacy-focused web browser, and use DuckDuckGo or turn Google search history off). After someone alerts police, digital evidence has been used to corroborate or show intent. But so far, we have not seen digital evidence be a first port of call for prosecutors or cops looking for people who may have self-managed an abortion. We can be vigilant in looking for any indications that this policing practice may change, but we can also be careful to ensure we’re focusing on mitigating the risks we know are indeed already being used to prosecute abortion-seekers.

[…]

As we’ve discussed above, just tracking your period doesn’t necessarily put you at additional risk of prosecution, and would only be relevant should you both become (or be suspected of becoming) pregnant, and then become the target of an investigation. Period tracking is also extremely useful if you need to determine how pregnant you might be, especially if you need to evaluate the relative access and legal risks for your abortion options.

It’s important to remember that if an investigation occurs, information from period trackers is probably less legally relevant than other information from your phone.

See also EFF’s privacy guide for those seeking an abortion.