When We Fail To Understand Privacy As A Set Of Trade-Offs, Everyone's 'Solutions' Are Unhelpful

from the not-going-to-fix-anything dept

Last week, Karl wrote up a fascinating post about a NY Times effort to use a dataset that a whistleblower at a data broker firm gave them to track the whereabouts of President Trump, by spotting the location data of what appears to be a Secret Service agent detailed to the President. Karl included two quotes from two different Senators in the article, and I found both of them amusing, as they both basically took the story and responded with their own "hobby horse" solution to the problem, even though neither one of them seemed to accurately understand or describe it:

"This is terrifying,” said Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, who has called for the federal government take a tougher stance with tech companies. “It is terrifying not just because of the major national security implications, what Beijing could get ahold of. But it also raises personal privacy concerns for individuals and families. These companies are tracking our kids."

“Tech companies are profiting by spying on Americans — trampling on the right to privacy and risking our national security,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat running for president, told us. “They are throwing around their power to undermine our democracy with zero consequences. This report is another alarming case for why we need to break up big tech, adopt serious privacy regulations and hold top executives of these companies personally responsible.”

The Hawley quote is classic Hawley, because he immediately jumps to the claim that these companies are tracking our "kids." Many of his attempts at regulating big tech has resulted in "but think of the children" arguments. Even when he was directly asked to respond to a Techdirt article, he ignored the question and went on a rant about how much damage tech is doing to the children. Except, this story is entirely about location data on phones. So, um, maybe don't give your kid a phone and then they're not directly tracking your kid anymore? Yes, obviously it's more complicated than that, and with the kind of data at issue you could probably identify adults who were with certain kids and track them. So there are legit concerns as is clear from the initial report. But, it's kind of a weird thing to focus on "the children" when the companies themselves focusing on location data -- as bad as they are -- are not actually tracking kids unless you, the parent, give them a phone with location sharing turned on.

Hawley sometimes likes to pretend he's against big government and especially against government taking over for parents. And, yet, here's a simple way that parents can take control in this situation: don't give your kid a phone with location info turned on.

The Warren quote is a similar thing. She immediately latches onto her idea that the correct answer is to break up big tech. But... while the NY Times does not say exactly where it got the data from to make this report, they do explicitly say that this data is not from the big internet companies Warren has suggested breaking up (i.e., Google, Facebook, Amazon, or Apple). Those companies aren't in the business of selling or sharing your location data with third parties. Indeed, with Google and Apple, they actually tell you what data your phone is sharing and allow you to block services from accessing that data. The data appears to be coming from a smaller data broker firm who got it from elsewhere (most likely a sketchy app provider selling your location data). Yet Warren uses it as evidence that internet companies need to be broken up.

Even if the data did come from such a company, it's difficult to see how breaking them up would solve any of the issues laid out in the report. Indeed, by cutting off ancillary and complementary lines of business, it's only likely to make such data collection efforts more central to a business, and push companies to rely even more heavily on such activity.

So, yes, obviously the NY Times' reporting here raises all sorts of alarm bells and concerns -- and it's nice to see some Senators concerned about all of this as well. Except it would have been a hell of a lot nicer if they were actually concerned about what the report said, and didn't use it as an opportunity to spew nonsense, make a non-existent connection to their own personal stump speech talking points, and ignore what's actually happening. But, hey, I guess that's asking too much of our elected officials these days.

Of course, all of this is just a symptom of a larger issue. As I've been talking about for years, we still don't fully understand what "privacy" means. Everyone seems to have a different conception of what privacy means, and that makes it quite difficult to talk about it -- but even more difficult to regulate it. This is why so many attempts at regulating privacy have insane unintended consequences. The quotes from Hawley and Warren just serve to illustrate all that. Neither are offering actual solutions to the issue of data brokers selling granular location data that can easily be de-anonymized. They're just pushing the same plan they've pushed in the past that vaguely speaks of "tech bad."

Filed Under: elizabeth warren, josh hawley, privacy, trade-offs


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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 24 Dec 2019 @ 1:30pm

    Solutions

    Neither [Senator Josh Hawley nor Senator Liz Warren] are offering actual solutions to the issue of data brokers selling granular location data that can easily be de-anonymized.

    So what kind of solutions would you suggest? I'm not trying to troll; I'm genuinely interested.

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Dec 2019 @ 2:07pm

      The lawmakers should look in a mirror

      Wasn't it congress that mandated GPS be installed in all phones? Maybe they should look to their own behaviors that contributed to this mess. Being able to turn off the 'required' GPS wouldn't help with cell tower location, but it could be a start.

      Making the collection and sale of location information would be a good second step. There are two different infractions in that thought, the first is the collection, and that should apply to both the phone companies and pure internet companies (aka Big Tech, or even Small Tech). The second is the sale, which involves two entities, the sellers and the buyers. Both should incur serious penalties. Company busting penalties and possible jail time for executives and principles.

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      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 24 Dec 2019 @ 2:38pm

        Re: The lawmakers should look in a mirror

        Thank you. Those are great ideas. But Mr. Masnick frequently points out that legislation dealing with Tech has unintended negative consequences. Perhaps we could experiment on the state and local level with what works and what does not.

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Dec 2019 @ 3:13pm

          Re: Re: The lawmakers should look in a mirror

          The issue I see with that idea is that under normal circumstances state law cannot overcome federal law.

          Now some will point out state marijuana legalization as an exception, except that it hasn't actually killed the federal law, and in some instances the feds have continued to enforce their law, though they seem to have backed down on that somewhat.

          Another exception that might be pointed to could be that State AG's are suing over net neutrality, except that the revocation of net neutrality isn't actually a federal law, yet, it is, or was, an FCC rule.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2019 @ 3:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: The lawmakers should look in a mirror

            Marijuana legalization is more calling their bluff on being able to enforce it federally. Spending national money on maintaining drug laws that they don't want enforced isn't a winner even in prohibitionist states as they don't want "free riders" in terms of opting out and forcing federal takeover without any added taxation. They may have been able to for one outlier but it is getting to half of them at this point.

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          • identicon
            Agammamon, 25 Dec 2019 @ 3:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: The lawmakers should look in a mirror

            The issue I see with that idea is that under normal circumstances state law cannot overcome federal law.

            That's not really true. There are tons of areas - in fact its normally the default - where state law trumps Federal. Its been a bone of contention that CA, for example, can 'impose' legal requirements on the rest of the country when it comes to vehicles simply because they are a massive single market and its cheaper to just build to their requirements and sell everywhere than to produce non-CA variants.

            Its generally only in a few, fairly well-defined, areas where Federal law trumps state. In most cases the Federal government gets state cooperation by tying the return (or the giving of money taken from other states) of money's taken through the massive bite of Federal taxation to complying with some Federal directive.

            That's how we got things like the 'national speed limit' and the 'national drinking age' and part of how the Federal government is slowly putting into place the 'national ID card'.

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            • identicon
              Guy, 25 Dec 2019 @ 5:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: The lawmakers should look in a mirror

              Federal law invariably trumps State law under the Supremacy Clause, but the Federal government is constrained in what sorts of laws it can pass, with most of them relying on some extension of the power to regulate interstate commerce. This includes regulating emissions standards under the Clean Air Act, but California has been granted a waiver allowing them to set stricter standards.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Dec 2019 @ 6:56pm

      Re: Solutions

      A correct solution (in my opinion) would be to criminalize the data collection period. No exceptions.

      People buying products and services should not be forced into whoring themselves out for a company on top of the payment given at the point of sale. Even if they haven't paid for the product / service, the "implicit prostitution to advertisers and data brokers" business strategy should not be permitted by law. It's entire purpose is to take advantage of ignorant masses and through them everyone else due to lack of alternatives. It's a predatory business practice that needs to be abolished.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 5:16am

        Re: Re: Solutions

        Maybe the country needs to lay down a referendum and vote overwhelmingly to turn the district of columbia into the fifty-first state of the United States of America and that might throttle down those feeling high and mighty. Maybe lets see them run themselves like a state with all the world watching.

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      • identicon
        Michael, 26 Dec 2019 @ 5:46am

        Re: Re: Solutions

        That seems like an awfully big "nanny state" solution. Making something illegal because people cannot handle or understand it is pretty pessimistic.

        Forcing companies to make these practices clear and only having opt-in options for them seems like a better solution to me. I am sure there are a lot of people that would willingly give up some information on themselves for other benefits. People make those kinds of choices every day. We just have to make sure it really is an informed choice.

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      • identicon
        Agammamon, 26 Dec 2019 @ 7:38am

        Re: Solutions

        Who is being forced?

        And how is making it illegal going to be effective?

        1. That only applies to companies operating inside that jurisdiction - how much respect do you think TikTok has for US laws?

        2. How effective have things like the 'do not call' registry been?

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        • icon
          Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 27 Dec 2019 @ 3:56am

          Re: Re: Solutions

          1. As much as it makes commercial sense to.
          2. Random digit dialling gets around ex-directory and do not call. I suppose you could make it illegal but how many times have any of us mis-dialled and called some random person by accident? Such a law would have to be very narrowly crafted.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 2:37am

      Re: Solutions

      Until this government is taught to mind its own business, good luck getting anything else into its collective brain regarding privacy. Its about to tell adults they can't smoke until they are twentyone years old.. "Oh but do please go and defend this nation with your life, the life we don't want you to be inhaling tobacco with. Its bad for your health."

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    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Solutions

      I’d say mandating transparency with data collection (what data is collected, why it gets collected, who has access, how access is granted, and where it gets stored) and making it so that all services that collect user data and send it to the company are opt-in (If optional) or made clear that it’s required before any data collection occurs (allowing the user/potential user to choose to not use the service without any of their data being collected) would be the best solution, IMO. The aforementioned information in data collection should be readily accessible even by non-users, and the prompt to opt-in/exit before data collection occurs should include certain information to make it clear to users what data is being collected and who has access.

      As for the selling of data, again this should be made clear up front whether the company in question is doing or may later choose to do so with the data being collected.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2019 @ 3:38pm

    Really better a dead monkey with Ebola than Trump in the White House but Warren has killed any enthusiasm I might have with her moronic sloganeering attempt of break them up as panacea. It feels targetted at rivals and makes anti-Trust enforcement a clear political farce instead of anything 0remotely following laws or precedents.

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  • identicon
    bobob, 24 Dec 2019 @ 5:40pm

    Try being less dependent on using your phone to run your life. I don't know a single person whose life has actually been made simpler by a smartphone or the use of all of those pointless apps that do nothing but help you rely on them for something no one ever had any reason to consider doing before.

    Do you really need a fitbit to tell you that you should go to the gym or an app to tell you whether or not the last time you had sex was all it should be? If you want a camera on your door, just intall a camera that has a video connection instead of a network connection and that sends data somewhere it never needs to go. If you're stupid enough to transmit your whole life through the internet, what did you think would happen?

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    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 24 Dec 2019 @ 7:50pm

      Re:

      I don't know a single person whose life has actually been made simpler by a smartphone or the use of all of those pointless apps that do nothing but help you rely on them for something no one ever had any reason to consider doing before.

      Speak for yourself. The calendar app helped me maintain a schedule whereas I was unable to do so before. I can also watch movies (including DRM-free movies), listen to music and podcasts on the go, and go to many different websites, such as this one. And that’s off the top of my head! Just because you or nobody you know has no use for these apps doesn’t mean nobody at all does.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 25 Dec 2019 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      I don't know a single person whose life has actually been made simpler by a smartphone

      Unless you have actually asked everyone you know, that's probably not true. Just because nobody has told you about how a smartphone has made their lives better or simpler doesn't mean it hasn't. I used to carry a phone, a camera, a notepad, and paper maps and a phone book in the car, and now I can do all that and more with just a phone. Much simpler.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 7:00am

      Re:

      Boy, the myriad problems created by changing technology are so much easier to deal with when your solution to everything is "Get off my lawn."

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 7:50am

      Re:

      I don't know a single person whose life has actually been made simpler by a smartphone or the use of all of those pointless apps that do nothing but help you rely on them for something no one ever had any reason to consider doing before.

      Google Maps: GPS navigation at my fingertips.

      Web browser: The sum of the world's knowledge at my fingertips.

      Podcast player and music player: Entertainment on demand.

      Camera and flashlight: Incredibly useful to have in your pocket at a moment's notice for all sorts of random occasions.

      Contact list: Store basic information about interesting people you meet without having to manage stacks of business cards.

      Car insurance app: Just in case anything goes wrong, it's 10,000x simpler than dealing with paperwork and phone calls.

      Skype: Make video phone calls to arbitrary people; literal Star Trek technology in your pocket!

      Need I go on?

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    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 12:22pm

      Re:

      I don't know a single person whose life has actually been made simpler by a smartphone or the use of all of those pointless apps that do nothing but help you rely on them for something no one ever had any reason to consider doing before.

      It makes my life a whole lot easier by making it easier to check my email, as well as letting me surf the web, view emails, and play some small games almost anywhere at virtually any time. Plus, there are the alarms and calendar functions, the weather app, listening to music, watching videos, taking notes, taking, saving, copying, viewing, sharing, or editing photos, etc.

      Sure, some apps or devices are pretty unnecessary, and a lot of people put too much of their lives in public view or share data indiscriminately, but to be clear, there are uses for some parts.

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 27 Dec 2019 @ 2:04am

      Re:

      "Try being less dependent on using your phone to run your life. I don't know a single person whose life has actually been made simpler by a smartphone..."

      Sure, if you never needed to look something up online while out of the house, never needed real-time (if pseudoaccurate) translation, a fully-functioning map/GPS setup to show you where you are and how to get to where you want to go, at-hand calendar...etc etc.

      Now in the real world it's pretty much becoming damn hard to exist and act without having a smartphone along.

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  • icon
    Code Moneky (profile), 24 Dec 2019 @ 5:58pm

    "...here's a simple way that parents can take control in this situation: don't give your kid a phone with location info turned on..."

    Uh, having the location turned off absolutely does NOT prohibit companies from tracking you.

    (Before the trolls jump on me, I design web and phone apps for a living.)

    That is the only phrase in this entire article I take issue with. Everything else, as usual, is 100% spot on.

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    • icon
      Oninoshiko (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 2:47pm

      Re:

      It's actually worse then that. Even if the companies wanted to produce a phone that lacked the easy ability to track you, they are prohibited from doing so because that exact ability is what's required for the E911 roll-out!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2019 @ 7:15pm

    There are other technologies that can track people. You don't need to be carrying a phone. You underestimate the significant progress in personnel tracking radars and similar.

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    • identicon
      bobob, 24 Dec 2019 @ 7:42pm

      Re:

      Personal tracking radars? Be real. I'll call that and raise some magical stealth underwear to hide from the radar. If you have a phone hidden in a new car, you can have it removed, unless you aren't paying attention to what you purchase. Personally, I think if you don't have a basic grasp of how something works, you shouldn't use it.

      I don't underestimate anything, which is exactly why I realized that the internet would end up being a giant invasion of privacy long before anyone thought of facebook. Carrying a phone is about as intrusive as it gets and, no, it hasn't made anyone's life easier. It's just made most people easier to for their employers to get in touch with when they aren't at work and made people more obligated to answer.

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      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 24 Dec 2019 @ 7:54pm

        Re: Re:

        As I said before, my smartphone made my life a lot easier with its calendar and contacts features. I’m much more organize than I was before smartphones (at which I was more organized than before PDAs).

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2019 @ 11:42pm

        Re: Re:

        You can buy the magical stealth underwear but it doesn't work. Once you know where the target you are tracking is you can blast coherent, radar-laser, technology at the target and overwhelm the shielding materials ability to block/absorb the energy.

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        • identicon
          Duck Dodgers and the 21st century, 25 Dec 2019 @ 7:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Once you know where the target you are tracking is you can blast coherent, radar-laser, technology at the target and overwhelm the shielding materials ability to block/absorb the energy."

          Not if I have stolen your Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator

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        • identicon
          Agammamon, 25 Dec 2019 @ 3:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Man, you are way behind the state of the art.

          We've done got passive radar-laser jammers for decades now;) Cops don't even know they're being jammed.

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      • identicon
        Me, 25 Dec 2019 @ 11:34am

        Re:

        "Really better a dead monkey with Ebola than Trump in the White House but Warren has killed any enthusiasm I might have with her moronic sloganeering attempt of break them up as panacea."

        Maybe read Warren's plan for breaking them up before calling it sloganeering? That's been her idea from day one, and the fact that she puts it quickly and succinctly for media consumption doesn't make it "a slogan"...it's her idea and she has to hurry up and say it otherwise it won't "hit".
        On the other hand...a signal cannot be sent from one handset to another around the world without a satellite sending it to a tower which triangulates the location of the handset to it's proximity...in other words your phone HAS TO 'know' where you are and the satellites have to know where you are, otherwise the technology WON'T work...period. What DOESN'T have to happen is your apps don't need that data to do what they are supposed to do (unless it's a GPS app, or other limited exceptions of course).
        Tech companies and app developers are STEALING your location data, stealing your contact info (friends, relatives info), stealing info about your preferences, your shopping history, your wish list contents from commerce sites, your preferred credit cards and whether it's a secured card or a Black Card, whether you have children or dogs or cats (from the food purchases or the cat leash on your wish list) STEALING this info. And, they are using it to market more stuff to you, but also because you "agreed to it", this info becomes public and can be used by law enforcement or employers or anyone who wishes to stalk or steal from you. The agreements we used to see from iCloud and the Android store were long, but readable so they paid "wordsmiths" to craft the agreements in less organized and more opaque format to encourage they wouldn't be read, or understood...so that they could STEAL the aforementioned info for their ad purposes.

        You should think of it as if someone in GMC is telling every person in this country what kind of car you drive, and you have a constant set of door to door salesmen knocking on your door day and night to sell you custom floor mats for the car they have NO RIGHT to know you own in the first place.

        "What harm can it do" for people to know what you drive? How many kids/pets you have? I don't know...how many people have strong political opinions about a politician you believe would take revenge against his/her opposition if they could? How many made a mistake and ended up with some cray guy/girl 'in love' with you over a "tipsy tryst" one night after the bar closed? How many followers of said politician or guy girl are nutty and armed?

        The old "Nobody cares about your calls, emails or d**k pics, 'Paranoia Jones'" claim from the lazy, pudgy anti-privacy fools of the 00's has proven to be just mentally lazy people unwilling to pull their heads out of the sand since the Snowden revelations, the recent hacking and data breaching scandals and the near constant government overreach we continually have witnessed since the early aughts...isn't anyone tired of being fools yet?

        If you don't assert your rights over your OWN INFO, your own privacy, your own RIGHT to require a company to live up to SET, unchangeable (w/o both party consent) contract terms that are easily understood, why would you expect anyone else to defend those rights? With only 2 more mergers you could have one option for phone service, and they could basically say "we determine the price and terms at our discretion and if you don't like it, you don't get phone service" and none of you seem to mind, or understand that the American airwaves belong to The People, not the telephone companies. When will you all wake up?
        Apologies; I don't mean to be mean but "WHEN"?
        Assert. Your. Rights.

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      • identicon
        Me, 25 Dec 2019 @ 11:46am

        Re:

        " If you have a phone hidden in a new car, you can have it removed, unless you aren't paying attention to what you purchase. "

        Incorrect. The radios inside your car are inside the car stereo, both to send the music but also to update song info, inside the singular and separate "on star" or 'like' service and inside the PCU/ECU which can also be connected to a separate "black box" type recorder which also has a radio inside. In fact, several insurance companies are offering "good driver discounts" to plug their radio module into your ECM to monitor your driving...and by 'offering discounts to monitor driving" I mean "penalizing all the other drivers who don't allow monitoring modules".
        As of 2005 it was impossible to remove the software from most cars that can be used to monitor your location via GPS radio. Now? You'd have to disable vital engine systems; it can't be done.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 6:57am

          Re: Re:

          The radios inside your car are inside the car stereo
          it can't be done

          Are you telling me that I can not replace the radio with an aftermarket radio? This will make the vehicle inoperable?

          Many vehicles do not have OnStar

          Some older vehicles lack the fancy electronics of today's surveillance society

          Where there is a will, there is a way. I have read accounts of those who have removed or rendered inoperative those devices.

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    icon
    Zof (profile), 25 Dec 2019 @ 6:02am

    The Important Thing Is Knowing When Privacy Is A Concern.

    When the privacy issue effects a good ethical American tech company from getting data, it's a valid concern, as the story states. When some poor company is under attack, we must defend them.

    Conversely, It's not really a privacy concern if it involves people. At least, that's what the story is saying. It doesn't really matter unless one of our very important tech companies is being inconvenienced. They are our masters and should be protected always. Please vote for Biden.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Dec 2019 @ 7:20am

      Re: The Important Thing Is Knowing When Privacy Is A Concern.

      a good ethical American tech company
      Hahahahahahaha - that's funny

      It's not really a privacy concern if it involves people
      If it does not involve people it would not be a privacy concern either, I don't get it.

      You sound as if you are not being serious.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 3:46am

      Re: The Important Thing Is Knowing When Someone Dropped a Zof

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 12:33pm

      Re: The Important Thing Is Knowing When Privacy Is A Concern.

      I don’t think you understand what was said. In particular, this is about whether or not certain proposed solutions will solve this (perceived or real) privacy issue.

      One involves parenting decisions rather than company behaviors, so targeting the companies is unnecessarily invasive. We generally don’t want the government to override parents’ authority in these sorts of matters.

      The other involves breaking up big tech companies, which won’t solve the problem because, a lot of the time, small tech companies are the ones doing it. Breaking up big companies won’t fix anything when small companies are major contributors to the problem. The resulting smaller companies would probably just do the same things and we’d get the same results.

      This article isn’t saying that the privacy concerns are invalid. It’s just criticizing the proposed solutions as being heavy-handed and/or ineffective.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 25 Dec 2019 @ 9:57am

    Indeed, with Google and Apple, they actually tell you what data your phone is sharing and allow you to block services from accessing that data.

    "Investigation Finds Google Collected Location Data Even With Location Services Turned Off"

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171121/09030238658/investigation-finds-google-collecte d-location-data-even-with-location-services-turned-off.shtml?threaded=false

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  • identicon
    Agammamon, 25 Dec 2019 @ 3:51pm

    Remember - you can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated.

    • Mike Rogers

    https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/29/politics/nsa-hearing/

    Obviously the issue here is the whistleblowers like the NYT.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 7:00am

      Re:

      If you see something, say something
      ........ unless it involves me

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2019 @ 5:14pm

        Re: Re:

        I hate seeing all those signs posted in peaceful parks, "If You See Something, Say Something. Report Suspicious Activity." They get posted about fifty feet apart around the entirety of America's parks. Those signs look suspicious of a totalitarian government gone rogue.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 28 Dec 2019 @ 6:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          They get posted about fifty feet apart around the entirety of America's parks.

          No they don't. Maybe just the parks where you live.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 5:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It is the admin state mentality that assumes everyone is an idiot on the edge of breaking the law. You're right I haven't been in all the parks, so I can only speak for the parks I've seen. There are a lot of redundant unattractive signs with laws posted as if we were all so stupid we need to look at those signs detracting the beauty of nature. I hate being micro-managed by such a draconian authoritarian small group of unelected.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Designerfx (profile), 25 Dec 2019 @ 4:47pm

    so, is the opposite true as well?

    So does this mean any time a cop shoots anyone - rubber bullet, taser, actual bullet? Is also a hate crime?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 6:21am

    Does facebook not, still track your location even if you click do not track my location on the app .tech is complex ,parents have control over what kids watch on tv,
    they have to learn about setting privacy control,s and turning off location tracking.but the average parent is not a tech expert.
    Maybe the senator should look at how the telecom companys sell location data ,
    to anyone, who is willing to pay for it.
    everytime you log in toa website you give up a liitle bit of privacy,
    in return you can make a profile or comment on story,s
    or see video,s you might want to watch .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 12:52pm

      Re:

      Does facebook not, still track your location even if you click do not track my location on the app

      Regarding your question, when it comes to Apple or Android devices, certain data (such as location data) is not accessible by any apps by default. Instead, the user must expressly authorize a specific app to access data from a specific source (location data, photos, notes, etc.) Same goes for data from other apps, even if they’re on the same device. This permission is generally revocable.

      So if you access the Facebook app on an iPhone or Android-based smart phone and tell it not to allow location data to be shared with the Facebook app, the app cannot access the phone’s location data. So no, Facebook cannot track the location of your smartphone if you don’t let it.

      Now, if the app is allowed to access the Bluetooth connection to connect to some other device that tracks your location somehow, it’s possible that the app may be able to access location data that way. Same goes for allowing the app to access data from an app that is permitted to access your location data. That’s not to say that it is definitely possible or has ever happened (I don’t know), but I can’t rule it out.

      Furthermore, it’s not completely impossible for an app to deduce (correctly or incorrectly) your location without the phone’s location data. For example, through IP addresses.

      That said, for your specific question, explicitly disallowing the app to use your location data should prevent that specific app from accessing your phone’s location data.

      (Note: This information is solely regarding apps for iOS or Android-based smartphones or tablets as well as (possibly) websites accessed through such a device’s internet browser. It doesn’t necessarily concern other Android-based devices or any devices (including smartphones, tablets, laptops, or PCs) that do not use iOS or Android. Those may or may not work differently. It also doesn’t address whether or not the devices themselves or their manufacturers have access to the location data if you turn off that data-tracking.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    spamvictim (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 8:35am

    A phone company issue, not a "big tech" issue

    Your phone company knows where your phone is whenever it's turned on -- that's how mobile phones work. Even without GPS they get pretty close by what towers it's contacting.

    The problem is that the telcos can and do sell that info rather than limiting it to network operations. If we had an FCC chair who understood the difference between a Verizon lobbyist and a regulator, the path to fixing this problem would not be hard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    takitus (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 9:42am

    Trade-offs users don't know they're making

    But, it's kind of a weird thing to focus on "the children" when the companies themselves focusing on location data -- as bad as they are -- are not actually tracking kids unless you, the parent, give them a phone with location sharing turned on.

    I guess the point here is that mobile devices should very clear on whether location data is being shared, but this is still somewhat disengenous. Apparently it's the user's responsibility to (A) be aware of these location data abuses, and (B) figure out how to disable location sharing? Maybe so, but this doesn't give the location-sharing industry a pass. "If they didn't want us to us to collect it, they would have secured it" is a bankrupt ethical position.

    This is a familiar stance from some of Mike's other articles on privacy--while he is very right to stress the importance of giving users control over data sharing, there's also an annoying tendency to suggest that users who aren't proactive about privacy are at fault.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 27 Dec 2019 @ 2:17am

      Re: Trade-offs users don't know they're making

      "This is a familiar stance from some of Mike's other articles on privacy--while he is very right to stress the importance of giving users control over data sharing, there's also an annoying tendency to suggest that users who aren't proactive about privacy are at fault."

      Because at the end of the day although we can blame telcos for rampant abuse and politicians for caving to big business lobbies like wet tissues bombarded with bowling balls, the end user still needs to take some action to safeguard their own interests.

      What we CAN do is force tech companies towards transparency and make any use of personal data an opt-in process.
      What we can't do is make a utopia where the unwashed masses can safely forget WHY it's a good idea to lock their doors and safeguard their personal details.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 1:12pm

    No, Stop - Think of the Children

    "These companies are tracking our kids."

    Spoken with an self-servingly Krabappelian lack of sincerity.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMEQ7TYgXqE

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 1:29pm

    The issue is societal mass surveillance by governments and their corporate partners and what that means for democracy, civil society and human dignity. The issue isn't individual privacy. Framing the issue as being about individual privacy is a way of skewing the conversation so that people complaining obviously must be weirdos with “something to hide”. Behavioural data monetisation business models are cancerous. Part of the solution is to globally ban individual targeted advertising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2019 @ 5:22pm

      Re:

      America hasn't been a democracy since the mid eighties when a court ruling on Chevron vs EPA empowered unelected undemocratic agencies to interpret vague laws which essentially gave agencies of adminstration the power to write laws giving Congress time off from its duty. This is not America.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        R/O/G/S, 29 Dec 2019 @ 10:08am

        Re: Re:

        You somehow missed how family courts, for profit policing, and other DVIC apparatus and apparatchiks created an unconstitutional Two Tiered system of justice for the poor, and disadvantaged.

        Maybe you should get out (of your privileged and cloistered narrative ) and more often into the real world

        Corporations only kick in after populace is defused /diffused by the police state .

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 5:58am

        Re: Re:

        Everyone I knew in Valdez, Alaska in the mid eighties who thought that the tankers being loaded with crude were protecting the environment by recovering the vapors which are highly carcinogenic, found out there was no vapor recovery system that caught them. I learned that the EPA air quality monitoring stations were showing readings off the charts and it became common knowledge and printed in magazines that Valdez, that pretty magestic little Switzerland was the third most polluted city in all of America! At some point around that time the Air quality monitoring stations, I think two, were taken down. I don't know if that was part of the lawsuit between the EPA and Chevron. But geezow! I bet no one remembers that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    R/O/G/S, 29 Dec 2019 @ 9:58am

    I stopped reading at“what Beining could ge ahold of!”

    My oh my, is the American police state and its religious, neocon window ledge slobbering NEOCONS afraid of how the world- and Beijing- folliws its examples.

    Very closely, I might add. And good for them.

    Hopefully, Beijing can help the world to eradicate Abrahamic tribal supremacy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2020 @ 5:45am

      Re:

      God gave Abrahamic supremacy to them, so yeah, Beijing will try to eradicate them and may even be successful, but only here on earth. You'll have to wait for the rest of the show.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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