How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash

Nerval’s Lobster writes: “Forbes offers up a comforting little story about how Nest and FitBit are planning on turning user data in a multi-billion-dollar business. ‘Smart-thermostat maker Nest Labs (which is being acquired by Google for $3.2 billion) has quietly built a side business managing the energy consumption of a slice of its customers on behalf of electric companies,’ reads the article. ‘In wearables, health tracker Fitbit is selling companies the tracking bracelets and analytics services to better manage their health care budgets, and its rival Jawbone may be preparing to do the same.’ As many a wit has said over the years: If you’re not paying, you’re the product. But if Forbes is right, wearable-electronics companies may have discovered a sweeter deal: paying customers on one side, and companies paying for those customers’ data on the other. Will most consumers actually care, though?”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dutch Student Sells All of His Personal Data for 350 Euros



A Dutch student has taken the bold decision to sell all his data at auction. It’s a decision that should make us think about the future of our own information.

In an auction on April 12, Shawn Buckles sold his complete “data soul” — his location records, his medical records, his personal calendar, the content of his emails and all the information from his social media communications. He sold his online conversations, his consumer preferences and his Internet browsing history. The lot. And for his soul he received €350.

Like Buckles, we all generate vast amounts of data on a daily basis and it is used by various companies for various purposes, such as to tailor online advertising. People don’t generally understand the value of their data, which is partly what Buckles was commenting on when he sold his. Read more…

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Ironically, Anonymous App Secret Is Hatching IRL Meetups



On anonymous social media app Secret, you can be anyone you want — even yourself.

My new acquaintance, whom we’ll call Steve, has just organized one of the first Secret IRL meetups, which began with this simple Secret: “Starting yet another expensive, consumption habit: artisanal whiskey. San Francisco, you can keep your $4 toast.”


The Secret appeared in my feed because Steve is a “friend of friend,” meaning a contact saved in my phone book is also saved in his. It could easily be someone we exchanged numbers with for an OKCupid date or to purchase furniture via Craigslist. The social filtering is what makes Secret unique from other anonymous apps Yik Yak and Whisper — there’s no guarantee you’ll see all posts from friends, because each user only sees a few new posts each day. Read more…

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Report: NSA Knew About Heartbleed Bug for 2 Years and Said Nothing



The NSA knew about the Internet security bug Heartbleed and regularly used it to gather intelligence for at least two years, anonymous sources told Bloomberg.

If the report is true — both the White House and the NSA say it’s not (see below) — the NSA could have collected information like passwords and private communications from hundreds of thousands of websites, since Heartbleed is a bug in the popular open-source encryption software OpenSSL, used to secure data flowing from users’ computers to hundreds of thousands of websites, including Gmail and Facebook. Almost two-thirds of all sites on the Internet use OpenSSL, according to estimates, making this bug possibly one of the most dangerous the Internet has ever seen and potentially allowing the NSA to access information on millions of users. Read more…

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FTC Says Facebook Will Need Permission From WhatsAppers To Use Their Data

Facebook Seal Screen Facebook will need the “affirmative consent” of WhatsApp users in order to use their data for advertising or anything. The ruling comes from Federal Trade Commission alongside its approval in US for Facebook to acquire WhatsApp. The $19 billion deal announced in February will still have to get past international regulators. Facebook’s business model is based on mining… Read More

In-Flight Wi-Fi Provider Going Above and Beyond To Help Feds Spy

An anonymous reader sends in a report from Wired that GoGo, a company the provides in-flight Wi-Fi access to airline passengers, seems to be making every effort to assist law enforcement agencies with wiretaps. From the article: “Gogo and others that provide Wi-Fi aboard aircraft must follow the same wiretap provisions that require telecoms and terrestrial ISPs to assist U.S. law enforcement and the NSA in tracking users when so ordered. But they may be doing more than the law requires. According to a letter (PDF) Gogo submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, the company voluntarily exceeded the requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, by adding capabilities to its service at the request of law enforcement. The revelation alarms civil liberties groups, which say companies should not be cutting deals with the government that may enhance the ability to monitor or track users.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Top EU Court Rejects Metadata Collection Law, Cites Privacy Concerns



The European Union top court struck down a law that required telecom providers to collect subscriber’s personal metadata and hold it for up to 2 years, saying it goes against citizens’ right to privacy.

The decision, issued by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Tuesday, addresses the conflict between citizens’ civil liberties and the law enforcement agencies’ need to access information to investigate crimes. In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, countries all over the world are struggling to strike that balance

The ECJ found that the 2006 European Data Retention Directive directive, issued after the terrorists attacks in Madrid and in London, leaned to far on the side of law enforcement. Read more…

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NSA Spied On Human Rights Groups, Says Snowden

Snowden NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed that U.S. government intelligence agencies spied on NGOs and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as part of its dragnet mass surveillance programs. Read More

Europe’s Top Court Rules 2006 Telecoms Data Retention Law Is Invalid

The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the top court in the European Union, has ruled that an EU-wide law that requires telecoms companies to store user-data for up to two years so it can be handed over to law enforcement authorities is invalid. Read More

Google Pays Another Tiny Fine In Europe — $1.4M — For Street View Privacy Concerns

Google has paid a €1 million ($1.4 million) fine in Italy levied by the country’s data protection watchdog for complaints relating to its Street View street-level image capturing cars that date back to 2010. At issue was a failure by Google to make its Street View cars clearly identifiable. In 2010, the watchdog ruled that the Street View cars must carry signs or stickers to indicate that… Read More