The Amazon Kindle Fire just hit shelves last week, and Amazon increased their order from 4 million to 5 million tablets in anticipation of the holidays. This hot-seller is already a success, especially as it’s a better and more updated model to the highly popular Kindle. But just like any new technologically advanced device, it’s important to be aware of all the power that is packed into that little tablet.
For starters, the Kindle Fire uses the same operating system as Google Android. And in regards to mobile device operating systems, Android is always under attack. Android hackers are intent on discovering new malware for the system, and who wouldn’t want to find vulnerabilities in the new Kindle Fire?
Fortunately, Amazon is adopting Apple’s highly successful walled garden approach toward app management. With this method, app developers have to submit their app before it is approve by Amazon and available for download. If handled properly, managing the apps this closely will lower the risk of malware, as it has with Apple.
That said, it’s difficult to say which approach Amazon will take when protecting the Kindle Fire from security threats. Since the Android system is more vulnerable to attacks, there’s no doubt that Amazon will need a game plan in place. Will they take a lesson from Apple’s book and steer clear of antivirus talk, or will they allow for security applications that can put more power, user privacy and safety from malware in the hands of the user?
There is one thing we do know for sure and that is the type of cloud that Amazon uses. Cloud computing is commonplace with all networks and stores everyone’s information so that it can be shared and accessed with everyone. With the Kindle Fire, Amazon uses their Elastic Compute Cloud, which stores lists of websites that are visited by the user. With more focus on this type of tracking history, Kindle Fire could be a target for privacy issues.
Nevertheless, the Amazon Kindle is everything you’d want it to be and offers a range of practical features and is the first tablet reader to go beyond standard ebooks, offering a range of magazines, music, videos and apps.
A young Connecticut couple is setting the stage for future divorce and custody hearings. The couple has been going through a rough divorce, and the judge ordered both parties to exchange their Facebook and dating site passwords.
Stephen Gallion, 24, noticed his wife, Courtney Gallion, 22, acing suspicious around him and their two children. When he spied some of her comments online, he discovered that she had been using the internet to set up dating accounts and post incriminating comments on Facebook. After looking at the comments, Stephen feared the worst: His wife’s social life was more important than her family. Even more disturbing is that she used pictures of the children on her dating site.
During the deposition, Stephen Gallion’s lawyers asked Courtney Gallion for her passwords, and although she said yes, she quickly texted her friends to change them immediately. When the lawyers went to access her accounts, the passwords had already been changed. The lawyers also didn’t want Courtney destroying her online information before they were able to see it.
In the end, both parties agreed to exchange their passwords, and Courtney wasn’t happy about giving up her personal records, stating, “My privacy was completely invaded. It’s embarrassing to have someone read messages that you thought were private and confidential.” This information could potentially hurt her in gaining full custody of her two children.
In lieu of this incident, more lawyers and judges feel that couples are going to have to give up their secret passwords in divorce and custody cases, especially when there are discriminating comments and photographs going around online. What’s more intimidating is that something you posted months or even years ago could be misinterpreted and perhaps even be damaging to the portrait of your character.
Privacy advocates always warn not to post too many photographs of your children online, tag locations or write full names and birth dates. But you also want to be careful not to post anything negative about your parenting or your child, even if it’s all in good humor. You just never know when your private records may be accessed and what could be found.
Source: NY Post
Internet cookies are fast becoming one of the biggest causes for online privacy concerns. Most large websites, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon, use Internet cookies to temporarily track consumer data online. They then use this information to suggest products, make purchase recommendations, or promote specific advertisements based on your previous web search activity.
This past week, the Federal Trade Commission settled a privacy dispute with another website, ScanScout, over opt-out promises. The company had been promising site visitors they could opt out of ads if they chose to block cookies in their browser settings. Sounds fair, right? It wasn’t. ScanScout wasn’t using traditional HTTP cookies that could be blocked. Rather, the company was using Flash cookies, which store user information in a completely different place than HTTP cookies. That means that users couldn’t actually block those cookies, since they weren’t controlled by the browser.
The FTC alleged that by promising to provide consumer privacy controls that weren’t really available, ScanScout misrepresented its services and tricked users into believing they could keep their information private when they couldn’t really do so. An even bigger cause for concern is the fact that ScanScout got away with this for over three years, from April 2007 and December 2010.
Since the company didn’t charge any fees for this service, the FTC settlement is not a financial one. However, ScanScout will be required to display a message that clearly explains the company’s use of private user data and gives site visitors a defined way to opt out of the service. The FTC will decide whether to make this decision final on December 8.
Image c/o: anomalous4
Are you on Facebook? If so, prepare to have your entire Facebook past broadcast over the wild World Wide Web. The massively popular social networking site is preparing to launch Facebook Timeline, a visual history of each user’s history on FB. That means that your previous pictures, posts, statuses, and links from as far back as 2004 will be available for viewing to all of the people in your friends list. If you have a profile that is open to the public, however, everyone who’s on the Internet can see your history, drunken wall posts and all.
According to the company, Timeline will allow you to “tell your life story with a new kind of profile”. But privacy experts and some FB users are worried about the possible effects of such a sweeping change. For example, if you have previously posted an explicit message or an ill-advised picture of yourself, this information may be available to anyone through Timeline. These changes could cause trouble for college students entering the workforce or for people in intimate relationships who have done things they regretted.
While the system will allow all users to decide who sees what parts of their history, those who have hundreds of friends may find it tedious to go through each aspect of their profile and choose who can see it. In the meantime, Facebook benefits from the increased brand exposure and the ability to target marketing ads directly to previous aspects of your profile. Posted a picture of yourself downing a Bud Light? Expect to see a Bud Light ad in your sidebar soon.
Overall, though, this shift demonstrates the need to exercise caution when posting anything online. Generally, users should be discreet about what they share, especially since they may be unable to remove it later. As one expert put it “If…you wouldn’t say something about yourself in a pub, you shouldn’t share it on Facebook.”
Image c/o: Sean MacEntee
Does the U.S. government have the right to use GPS devices to monitor the movements of a suspected criminal? The United States Supreme Court is hearing a case this month that may give a definitive answer to this question. The relevant case involves Antoine Jones, a club owner that police suspected was involved in selling and distributing cocaine.
Without Jones’ knowledge, police placed a GPS device underneath his vehicle. For over a month, law enforcement officials tracked his movements and used that information to compile a case against him. Jones was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison, largely based on the evidence obtained from the GPS device. On appeal, however, Jones’ conviction was reversed after the appellate court expressed concern about the privacy rights of suspects in these cases. The United States government appealed that decision and now the case sits before the Supreme Court.
While police officers have long been able to use methods to track the movements of suspects such as stakeouts, more comprehensive techniques such as wiretaps require a search warrant signed by a judge. In the Jones case, officers did not get a warrant before installing the GPS device on Jones’ vehicle. The key issue for the High Court is deciding whether officers violated the Fourth Amendment, which entitles individuals to protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures”.
According to the federal government, the use of GPS is essential for tracking the movements of suspected drug dealers, terrorists, and organized crime members. However, privacy analysts and civil liberties experts express fear that a carte blanche for the government in this matter may lead to intrusion on the lives of private individuals.
Image c/o: mroach
If you have a cellphone, you’ve likely appreciated the fact that telemarketers, bill collectors, and businesses cannot contact you without your express consent. In the face of a proposed federal law that would remove that safe haven, the state of Indiana is fighting to keep consumers’ cellphones private.
The United States government is considering passing the Mobile Informational Act of 2011. This act would allow telemarketers and businesses to contact anyone they’ve ever done business with on their cellphone. According to some special interest groups, the waning number of landline users means that businesses must be able to call cellphones in order to stay competitive.
However, Indiana’s state government disagrees with this shift in policy and is trying to keep the state’s Do Not Call law in force. Indiana attorney general Greg Zoeller testified on Capitol Hill earlier this month about the need to protect the privacy of cellphone users. In May of this year, Indiana’s governor Mitch Daniels signed a law that expanded Do Not Call protection to cellphones, but if the federal law is passed, its permissions will override any state law protections, including Indiana.
While personal privacy and freedom from unwanted telemarketing are major reasons why many Indiana residents are opposed to the federal law, another factor is the potential price hike for cellphone users. Unlike home phone lines, many cellphone accounts have a monthly minute restriction. Those that have limited monthly minutes or prepaid cellphone accounts would, essentially, have to pay to allow companies to contact them, particularly if the unwanted calls cause them to exceed their monthly usage plan.
Image c/o: daryl_mitchell
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was established in 1998 and is a law that was passed by Congress to protect the online information of children from being shared with third parties. This law was well-intentioned and looks out for children under the age of 13, who may not have the best discretion and are often the biggest targets for marketing companies. Although privacy advocates and parents are continuously pushing for stricter laws on online privacy, it’s interesting to note that a recent study found that the majority of parents who had kids on Facebook knew it – and helped them get there.
The study was conducted by Harris Interactive and polled the parents of kids ages 10 to 14. Most were aware that their children had accounts on Facebook and actually helped them lie about their birth dates to create an account. Even though COPPA is designed to help protect kids, this law can’t carry out its full expectations when children and parents are outwardly going against its terms.
And for those who are on Facebook, you know that it’s not that hard to create an account, as a birth date is needed and just about anyone can tweak the year the child was born. Because of privacy issues, it’s difficult to check the birth date to ensure it’s legitimate, as there would need to be access to children’s birth records and other pertinent information.
As the internet grows to include more social media networking sites, COPPA rules have had to adjust their laws to protect children. However, the online privacy of children can never be truly protected when parents and kids are lying to get around them.
Most parents agree that they don’t find social networking sites like Facebook to be a threat to their child, which is why they allow them to overstep the boundaries. With the notion that ‘everyone’s on Facebook’, most parents feel that they can monitor their child just fine by watching over his or her account and being friends on Facebook.
The Federal Trade Commission doesn’t agree and warns that children under the age of 13 are not only targets of marketing companies, but also lack the awareness to watch over their information and protect themselves from predators. The best tactic – if the site isn’t designed for kids and pre-teens, let the rules speak for themselves. There’s no reason to lie to get around the hurdles, when your child will be 13 one day soon.
Source: CBS News
If you’ve ever wondered how the ads on your Google screen seem to know the types of products you’re interested in, you’re about to find out why. Google is being more transparent about how they collect and use information in response to pressure from such privacy groups as Consumer Watchdog and Electronic Frontier Foundation. The way this new system works is called “Why these ads”, and users will be able to click on them to find out how their information is used to target particular advertisements. More specifically, Google tracks geographic locations, language and search results to link users with particular ads.
When searching for a new flat panel television for example, you may search through such terms as ‘flat panel tv’, ‘flat panel HD’ and ‘flat screen television’. Google will pull these search terms to link you with flat panel television advertisements being sold in your local area or from online companies you like to shop at. To manage these advertisements, Google is placing more power in the hands of users. Not only can you click on “Why these ads” to find out how the ads were drawn with your search results, but also you can click on “Ads preferences manager” and manage the ads to better serve you.
Google believes that these tools allow users to be more in control of their tracking history, but privacy advocates feel that the general public won’t use the ad management features. In most instances, online users are too busy or just don’t care enough to actually manage their advertisements. What worries privacy advocates is that Google is actually gaining off these new features, as it appears to be that they’re more user-friendly and honest about their tracking and data collection, while in fact, the setup allows Google to keep tracking data at their convenience.