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20th January

 Offsite Article: Beauty is only skin deep, it's what underneath that counts...

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meitu A Chinese selfie app from Meitu installs a privacy horror show

See article from cnet.com

 

15th January

 Offsite Article: It even shouts 'bingo' if it finds any bad taste joke emails featuring animal sex...

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cellebrite phone snooper British police have been buying in mobile phone data analysis devices for a rapid scan at downloading kiosks set up in police stations

See article from thebristolcable.org

 

9th January

  The Age of PC Censorship...

CD Universe - Buy Music CDs, TV on DVD, DVDs, Video Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

IMDb challenges Californian ban on websites revealing ages in bios
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imdb logoLast year the state of California passed a new law that banned sites that offer paid subscriptions, and allow people to post CVs and bios, from publishing individuals' ages. The law came into effect on 1st January 2017, and it is now being challenged by IMDb who have not taken down celebrity birthdays.

The state of California introduced the new law as a politically correct move against age-discrimination. Perhaps they would have done better to frame the birthday ban more in terms of privacy protections, date of birth is quite a key piece of information enabling identity fraud.

MDb believes that the law is a violation of the First Amendment and it says the state has chosen instead to chill free speech and to undermine access to factual information of public interest rather than trying to tackle age-discrimination in a more meaningful way. IMDb has now filed a lawsuit against the Californian law.

 

29th December

  Echoes of Concern...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

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Video Universe
 

Amazon in court battle to refuse police access to the always on microphone in the home via its Echo device
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Amazon Echo - BlackAmazon has refused to hand over recordings from an Echo smart speaker to US police investigating a murder in Arkansas. Police issued a warrant to Amazon to turn over recordings and other information associated with the device.

Amazon twice declined to provide the police with the information they requested from the device, although it did provide account information and purchase history.

Although the Echo is known for having always-on microphones to enable its voice-controlled features, the vast majority of the recordings it makes are not saved for longer than the few seconds it takes to determine if a pre-set wake word (usually Alexa ) has been said. Only if that wake word has been heard does the device's full complement of microphones come on and begin transmitting audio to Amazon.

However the police pursuit of the data suggests there is more of interest up for grabs than Amazon is admitting.

Amazon's reluctance to part with user information fits a familiar pattern. Tech companies often see law enforcement requests for data as invasive and damaging to an industry. It is clearly an issue for sales of a home microphone system if it is easy for the authorities to grab recordings.

Other devices have also been good data sources for police investigations.  Wristwatch-style Fitbit activity trackers have cropped up in a few cases eg for checking alibis against sleep patterns or activity.

A smart water meter has also been used in a murder case as evidence of a blood clean up operation,

 

27th December

 Offsite Article: Does anyone know what their Facebook address is anyway?...

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homeland security logo US authorities introduce policy to ask visitors to reveal their social media accounts

See article from theguardian.com