News, Politics, Privacy, Social Media, Technology

Facebook gave data about 57bn friendships

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Before Facebook suspended Aleksandr Kogan from its platform for the data harvesting “scam” at the centre of the unfolding Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media company enjoyed a close enough relationship with the researcher that it provided him with an anonymised, aggregate dataset of 57bn Facebook friendships.

Facebook provided the dataset of “every friendship formed in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level” to Kogan’s University of Cambridge laboratory for a study on international friendships published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2015. Two Facebook employees were named as co-authors of the study, alongside researchers from Cambridge, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Kogan was publishing under the name Aleksandr Spectre at the time.

Read more from The Guardian. Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Education, News, Privacy, Technology

New Girl Scout badges focus on cyber crime, not cookie sales

Cookie sales may take a back seat to fighting identity theft and other computer crime now that Girl Scouts as young as 5 are to be offered the chance to earn their first-ever cyber security badges.

Armed with a needle and thread, U.S. Girl Scouts who master the required skills can attach to their uniform’s sash the first of 18 cyber security badges that will be rolled out in September 2018, Girls Scouts of the USA said in a press release.

The education program, which aims to reach as many as 1.8 million Girl Scouts in kindergarten through sixth grade, is being developed in a partnership between the Girl Scouts and Palo Alto Networks (PANW.N), a security company.

The goal is to prevent cyber attacks and restore trust in digital operations by training “tomorrow’s diverse and innovative team of problem solvers equipped to counter emerging cyber threats,” Mark McLaughlin, chief executive officer of Palo Alto Networks, said in the release.

The move to instill “a valuable 21st century skill set” in girls best known for cookie sales is also aimed at eliminating barriers to cyber security employment, such as gender and geography, said Sylvia Acevedo, the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Read more at Reuters.

Image courtesy of Reuters.

A Girl Scout works on a laptop, as the Girl Scouts of the USA introduce 18 new Cybersecurity badges

Privacy, Technology

Research: Your aggregated consumer data may not be secure

Even anonymized and aggregated consumer data may not be as anonymous as people have been led to believe, according to new academic research.

Researchers concluded that aggregated data — big batches of information on things like mobile devices’ movements, compiled for use in summarized form — can be unraveled to reveal the actual movements of specific individuals with about 73% to 91% accuracy, even from pools combining hundreds of thousands of users.

Read more at Ad Age.

Image courtesy of Ad Age.

Education, News, Privacy

A new resource to help parents protect their children’s privacy

parent toolkit ccfcToday’s schools are more connected than ever: most education records are stored digitally, and students and staff use apps and websites for daily instruction, homework, and administrative tasks. These apps, websites, and digital storage vendors collect a wide variety of data about students, including kids’ names, birth dates, internet browsing histories, grades, test scores, disabilities, disciplinary records, family income information, and more—often without parental consent or clear, adequate security protections.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has teamed up with the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy (PCSP) to create The Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy: A Practical Guide for Protecting Your Child’s Sensitive School Data from Snoops, Hackers, and Marketers.

The kit offers clear guidance about parental rights under federal law, helps parents ask the right questions about their schools’ data policies, and offers simple steps parents can take to advocate for better privacy policies and practices in their children’s schools. And, thanks to a generous grant from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, it’s free!

To download the toolkit now, or for more information, click here, or on the image above.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) supports parents’ efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children and ending the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing. In working for the rights of children to grow up—and the freedom for parents to raise them—without being undermined by corporate interests, CCFC promotes a more democratic and sustainable world. Learn more at www.commercialfreechildhood.org.

Net Neutrality, News, People, Privacy

F.C.C. chairman pushes sweeping changes to net neutrality rules

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday outlined a sweeping plan to loosen the government’s oversight of high-speed internet providers, a rebuke of a landmark policy approved two years ago to ensure that all online content is treated the same by the companies that deliver broadband service to Americans.

The chairman, Ajit Pai, said high-speed internet service should no longer be treated like a public utility with strict rules, as it is now. The move would, in effect, largely leave the industry to police itself.

Read more at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

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News, People, Privacy

New Seattle cable rule to protect internet data privacy

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has directed that curbs be imposed on internet providers to protect customers’ data privacy.

Under a new rule scheduled to take effect May 24, the three companies that have cable franchise agreements with the city must get customer permission if they want to sell personal information or web browsing details.

The city privacy protections come after President Donald Trump signed a bill last month rolling back upcoming federal measures that would have stopped internet companies from collecting and selling customer information without permission.

Read more at The Seattle Times.

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Net Neutrality, News, Politics, Privacy, Take Action

Verizon accuses net neutrality advocates of lying to rile their base

Net neutrality is under threat and advocacy groups such as Free Press, Fight for the Future and others are pushing to save it. That’s not how Verizon, one of the Internet Service Providers hoping for a reversal of Federal Communications Commission rules enabling net neutrality, sees it.

“You gotta understand, there are a lot of advocacy groups out there that fundraise on this issue,” said Craig Sillman, executive VP-public policy and general counsel at the telco giant. “So how do you fundraise? You stir people up with outrageous claims. Unfortunately, we live in a time where people have discovered that it doesn’t matter what’s true, you just say things to rile up the base.”

Sillman spoke in a PR video released by Verizon on Friday in which he is interviewed by an apparent Verizon employee who calls himself “Jeremy.” Sillman argued the FCC is not planning to kill off net neutrality, it’s merely altering its legal footing.

View the video below, or read more at Ad Age.

Net Neutrality, News, Privacy

The ‘fix’ for net neutrality that consumers don’t need

Netflix and Amazon have been nominated for hundreds of Emmys and Golden Globe awards in recent years, and that is a testament to both the quality of those companies and the transformation of television. But some of the credit is also due to “net neutrality,” the legal regime that nurtured and protected the open internet and streaming TV in the first place.

Streaming, after all, is a cheaper and better form of television. For that reason, it is something the cable industry would not have allowed to thrive had it been left to its own devices. Fortunately, net neutrality rules prevented cable companies from killing or interfering with streaming television during its infancy.

Read more at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

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Net Neutrality, News, People, Privacy, Take Action

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai just got “rickrolled”

During today’s agency meeting a group of Net Neutrality activists disrupted the chairman by singing and dancing along to the Rick Astley song, and classic internet meme, “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

That’s because we’re never gonna give up fighting for Net Neutrality. Today’s protest is only our latest effort to protest the chairman’s plans to destroy the open internet.

Read more at Free Press.

View the original music video that inspired the Rickroll meme below.

Bill Update, News, Places, Politics, Privacy

House Bill 2200: A bill to create internet privacy protections

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Washington State is trying to pass a bill that would create internet privacy protections.

Check out this bill here!

The bill would create new internet privacy protections enforceable under the Washington Consumer Protection Act, including:

  • Compelling transparency by making ISP privacy policies available to customers so they know what to expect.
  • Protecting privacy by prohibiting ISPs from selling or using private information (such as a person’s browsing history) without consent.
  • Requiring ISPs to report to customers when they have been hacked and personal data has been breached so customers can protect themselves.
Please consider supporting this bill. It is important that consumers should have the option to keep their personal browser history private!
Net Neutrality, News, Politics, Privacy, Social Media

Silicon Valley is beginning to fight the Trump administration’s net neutrality plan

A lobbying group representing Facebook, Google, Twitter and other web giants told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission yesterday that it shouldn’t weaken net neutrality rules — an early warning shot at the ideas contemplated by the agency’s new Republican chairman, Ajit Pai.

Under Pai’s draft plan, which he has not yet presented publicly, internet providers like AT&T, Comcast*, Charter and Verizon could soon escape tough regulation: They would only have to promise in writing that they won’t block web pages or slow down their competitors’ traffic, sources have said.

Read more at Recode.

Image courtesy of Recode.

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Net Neutrality, News, Politics, Privacy, Take Action

Net neutrality: Trump can’t ignore this

While Congress is on recess over the next two weeks, we will be mobilizing people like you to flood congressional offices and town halls and speak out about this issue. Your support will help lift up the voices of everyday people whose lives are most impacted in this fight, including media makers, communities of color and resistance fighters. Your ability to connect and communicate shouldn’t be up for sale, and we’re ready to activate the masses to save the internet you love.

To take action on this issue and save net neutrality, please consider donating to the Free Press Action Fund.

The Free Press Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization fighting for your rights to connect and communicate. The Free Press Action Fund does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Learn more at www.freepress.net.

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Advertising, News, Politics, Privacy, Technology

Comcast-funded civil rights groups claim low-income people prefer ads over privacy

The House of Representatives joined the Senate Tuesday in voting to repeal new Federal Communications Commission rules that would have stopped internet service providers (ISPs) from using and selling consumers’ web browsing data without their consent.

But a look at the comments submitted to the FCC reveal that many of the opponents of the privacy regulation came not from any “community” but from groups with extensive financial ties to phone and cable companies — with some of their claims hinging on the absurd.

For instance, the League of United Latin American Citizens and OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, two self-described civil rights organizations, told the FCC that “many consumers, especially households with limited incomes, appreciate receiving relevant advertising that is keyed to their interests and provides them with discounts on the products and services they use.”

Read more at The Intercept.

Image courtesy of The Intercept.

Fake News, Net Neutrality, News, Privacy, Technology

Internet privacy protections must be upheld

Republican senators moved Thursday to dismantle landmark internet privacy protections for consumers in the first decisive strike against telecommunications and technology regulations created during the Obama administration, and a harbinger of further deregulation.

The move means Verizon, Comcast or AT&T can continue tracking and sharing people’s browsing and app activity without permission, and it alarmed consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers. They warned that broadband providers have the widest look into Americans’ online habits, and that without the rules, the companies would have more power to collect data on people and sell sensitive information.

Read more about this recent ruling at The New York Times.

Take action! Net neutrality is essential to everything we need in our society and democracy — from educational and economic opportunities to political organizing and dissent. Millions of people fought for over a decade to secure lasting Net Neutrality protections. We will not accept anything less. We urge you to reject any attacks on real Net Neutrality.

To make your voice heard in telling lawmakers that net neutrality is not negotiable click here.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

Net Neutrality, News, Politics, Privacy, Technology

Court win gives FCC the power to protect net neutrality

There’s big news about the legal battle that has been waging over the issue of net neutrality. A panel of judges has now ruled in favor of the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement about the decision:

“Today’s ruling is a great victory for the millions and millions of internet users who have fought for years for Net Neutrality. They have fought to ensure that the FCC has the power to protect everyone’s right to connect and communicate online. The court upheld the agency’s clear authority to prevent internet service providers from unfairly interfering with our communications. It confirmed that this authority stands on bedrock communications law and recognized the vital role that the open internet plays in our society.

Read the entire June 13 Free Press announcement.

For information about the ruling see the June 15, read more at the New York Times.