Rewarded for sharing your data? Sign me up!

Rewarded for sharing your data? Sign me up!

Companies now starting to pay users for their data, in efforts to be more ethical. Large Bluetooth security flaw detected proving potentially harmful to millions. Blockchain’s future looking bright as privacy-preserving technology booms. Canadian federal elections being ‘watched’ for their history of ‘watching’ public.

Rewarded for sharing your data? Sign me up!

Drop Technologies has secured USD$44 million in investments towards growing a technology-based alternative towards traditional customer loyalty programs. With over three million users signed up already, as well as 300 brands on its platform, such as Expedia and Postmates, the company is headed in the right direction. 

Given that Facebook and other tech giants are monetizing data without user permission, getting paid for it doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all. “I’m a Facebook user and an Instagram user, and these guys are just monetizing my data left and right, without much transparency,” said Onsi Sawiris, a managing partner at New York’s HOF Capital.” At least if I’m signing up for Drop, I know that if they’re using my data I will get something in return, and it’s very clear” (Source).

This alternative to rewards programs basically tracks your spending with all of their 300+ brands, and lets you earn points that you can spend at certain companies such as Starbucks of Uber Eats. If it’s an alternative to credit card rewards, it will be beneficial to consumers looking for extra savings on their purchases. So don’t drop it till you try it!

Bluetooth proving to be a potential data breach vulnerability 

Researchers have discovered a flaw that leaves millions of Bluetooth users vulnerable to data breaches. This flaw enables attackers to interfere while two users are trying to connect without being detected, as long as they’re within a certain range. From music to conversations, to data entered through a Bluetooth device, anything could be at risk. “Upon checking more than 14 Bluetooth chips from popular manufacturers such as Qualcomm, Apple, and Intel, researchers discovered that all the tested devices are vulnerable to attacks” (Source). 

Fortunately, some companies such as Apple and Intel have already implemented security upgrades on their devices. Users are also advised to keep their security, software, and firmware updated at all times. 

Get ready for blockchain advancements like never before

For the past decade, blockchain has been used to build an ecosystem where cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer transactions are just a few of the many use cases. (Source).

Traditionally, data is shared across centralized networks, leaving systems vulnerable to attacks. However, with decentralization as an added security measure to blockchain, the threat of a single point of failure across a distributed network is eradicated. 

As more and more companies turn to blockchain to gain the benefits of more efficient data sharing and easier data transfers, privacy is overlooked.

In most public blockchains today, transactions are visible to all nodes of a network. Naturally, of course, the issue of privacy is raised due to the sensitive nature of the data, and this transparency comes at a cost. With digital transformation happening all around us, privacy protection cannot be ignored.

To address privacy, many blockchain companies are employing privacy-preserving mechanisms on their infrastructures, from zero-knowledge proofs to encryption algorithms such as Multi-Party Computation (MPC). These mechanisms encrypt data as it’s shared and only reveal the specific elements needed for a specific task (Source).

Costs efficiencies and a better understanding of consumer needs are just a few of the advantages of privacy-preserving mechanisms being introduced. As data and privacy go hand in hand in the future, equitability and trust will be our key to unlock new possibilities that enhance life as we know it (Source).

Upcoming Canadian elections could turn into surveillance problem

Once again, the Canadian federal elections are raising concerns about interference and disruption through the misuse of personal data. In the past, political parties have been known to use their power to influence populations who are not aware of how their data is being used. 

Since data has played a major role in elections, this could become a surveillance issue because experts who study surveillance say that harnessing data has been the key to electoral success, in past elections. “Politicians the world over now believe they can win elections if they just have better, more refined and more accurate data on the electorate” (Source).

A related issue is a lack of transparency between voters and electoral candidates. “There is a divide between how little is publicly known about what actually goes on in platform businesses that create online networks, like Facebook or Twitter, and what supporters of proper democratic practices argue should be known” (Source).

The officials of this upcoming election should be paying close attention to the public’s personal data and how it is being used.

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A deep dive into Facebook’s privacy today

A deep dive into Facebook’s privacy today

This week we take a deep look into what privacy looks like for Facebook. First, we will explore what user data Facebook is collecting. Then, we will look at how Facebook is invading users’ privacy…again. Finally, we will discuss the new privacy scam directed at Facebook.

See and control what Facebook collects from you

Last year, Facebook announced their upcoming release of a tool to ‘clear history’ and delete data that third-party websites and apps share with the social media giant. Fast-forward to today, the company has kept its word and has released the tool in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain. 

The tool, known as ‘Off-Facebook Activity’, allows you to see and control what information has been collected about you by apps and websites and sent to Facebook. It will show you information about your online activities, the questions you search on Google and your online shopping history. However, while it has the option to disconnect the data, it cannot delete it.

If you choose to clear your activity, Facebook will simply remove your identifying information from the data and unlink it to your account. It will not delete the data (Source).

This is the first step in the right direction, as this is the first time Facebook has allowed users to control or even see this information.

Facebook’s voice transcripts more invasive

Facebook has been transcribing users’ audio clips for quality control and to improve the accuracy of their services. Unlike Alexa or Google Home workers listening to user recordings, Facebook’s audio does not come from users giving smart assistants commands but from human-to-human communication. Bloomberg reported that Facebook contractors were kept in the dark with regards to where the audio came from and why these audio clips needed to be transcribed. 

While Google, Apple, and Facebook have temporarily suspended human audio reviews, Amazon has chosen to let its users opt-out (Source).

Another Facebook privacy scam, and this time it’s not Facebook’s fault

People have been reposting and resharing a viral message, that explicitly notifies Facebook of their rights as users.

“Don’t forget tomorrow starts the new Facebook rule where they can use your photos. Don’t forget Deadline today!!! It can be used in court cases in litigation against you. Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. It costs nothing for a simple copy and paste, better safe than sorry. Channel 13 News talked about the change in Facebook’s privacy policy. I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future. With this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute. NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tacitly allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. FACEBOOK DOES NOT HAVE MY PERMISSION TO SHARE PHOTOS OR MESSAGES.”

It is not real, it is a scam, and there are several reasons why. Firstly, the message is written poorly with no attention to capitalization and grammar. Secondly, there is no way you can end up in court by using social media. Thirdly, Facebook does not own your content, there are several discrepancies. Finally, posting a statement on your Facebook timeline that is contrary to Facebook’s privacy terms has no legal effect nor does it change Facebook’s privacy policies (Source).

However, if you are still wary about your privacy being at risk, take some measures to be safer. Change your privacy controls. Don’t post content that you don’t want being shared. Or, simply cancel your account for the best protection guaranteed. 

 

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Your Employer Is Watching You

Your Employer Is Watching You

Your employer has too much information about you, lessons to be learned from Facebook’s USD$5 billion settlement, and how Snap is different.

Think Facebook and Amazon have too much of your personal data? Think again.

The truth is, your employer has much more of your private data than your social media, banking, or e-commerce accounts. 

The majority of employees feel uncomfortable with their employers tracking their moves in the workplace, network, or devices. However, this is slowly evolving. A Gartner study has found that as employers become more transparent about monitoring their employees, employees are more willing to accept being watched. 

Regardless, there is still a significant power distance. Unfortunately,  employers have unlimited scope to install monitoring tools and tracking systems in their employee devices, and internet connection. There is yet to be federal regulation preventing workplace surveillance. 

There are three key ways employers monitor their employees. 

  1. Location tracking, via an employee ID badge or a company device.
  2. Communication tracking, by monitoring email, Slack messaging, and keystroke logging. 
  3. Health monitoring, such as sleeping patterns and fitness through wellness programs. 

Here are some steps employees can take to protect yourself from your employer’s surveillance systems:

  1. Assume you are always being watched. Anything you do on the company’s devices, Wi-Fi, email, messaging platform, etc. could be tracked. 
  2. Keep it professional. Keep your work and personal devices separate. Anything on the company Wi-Fi can be scanned.
  3. Understand what information you are giving to your employer. Carefully, read over documents and contracts, for example, the company’s privacy policy, union laws, and your employment contract.

Three takeaways from the USD$5 Billion FTC and Facebook settlement

Known as the largest fine imposed by the FTC, the settlement reached between the FTC and Facebook shine a light on three key takeaways from this settlement

  1. The impact of the settlement or fine amount itself. Keep in mind Facebook did have to agree to this amount, but is USD$5 billion significant enough for Facebook to make changes to their policies?
  2. The structural remedies made necessary in addition to the fine. For example, the company will need to create a committee that deals exclusively with privacy. 
  3. The definitions that appear at the beginning of the settlement order. Some of these may show the FTC’s approach to how they interpret current laws and regulations. For example, the settlement order defines and clarifies the meaning of ‘covered information’, or personally identifiable information (PII), which is understood differently across the world.

For more information on this settlement, click here to watch the IAPP video segment. 

Snap has risen above tech giants

Snap cares about your privacy way more than you can imagine. Their most used app, Snapchat, was originally designed for private conversations. It has unique features such as automatic content deletion, private posts, increased user privacy control and much more. “We’ve invested a lot in privacy, and we care a lot about the safety of our community,” CEO Evan Spiegel said in a quarterly earnings call. 

Several brand-safety conscious companies like Proctor & Gamble have boycotted Google and YouTube after inappropriate videos were posted openly and as a result, they are prioritizing brand-safety conscious companies. Currently, Snap is hoping to secure a venture with P&G, as their values on privacy and user safety are aligned. 

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FaceApp and Facebook: Under the Magnifying Glass

FaceApp and Facebook: Under the Magnifying Glass

FaceApp is Under Heavy Scrutiny After Making a Comeback

The U.S. government has aired its concerns regarding privacy risks with the new trending face-editing photo app, FaceApp. With the 2020 Presidential Elections campaigns underway, the FBI and Federal Trade Commission are conducting a national security and privacy investigation into the app.

Written in the fine print, the app’s terms of use and privacy policies are rather shocking, according to Information security expert Nick Tella. It states that as a user, you “grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you”. 

Social media experts and journalists don’t deny that if users are downloading the app, they are willingly handing over their data because of the above terms of use. However, government bodies and other institutions are aiming to make regulations stronger and ensure data protection is effectively enforced. 

On the other side, FaceApp has denied any accusations of data selling or misuse of user data. In a statement cited by TechCrunch, the company stated that “99% of users don’t log in; therefore, we don’t have access to any data that could identify a person”. Additionally, they made claims assuring the public that they delete ‘most images’ from their services within 48 hours of the image upload time. Furthermore, they added that their research and development team is their only team based in Russia and that their servers are in the U.S.

With everything going on in the world around privacy and user data misuse, we must ask ourselves; should we think twice before trusting apps like FaceApp? 

Facebook to Pay $5 USD Billion in Fines

On Friday, July 12th, the FTC and Facebook finalized a settlement to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data misuse from last year, for a fine of $5 billion U.S. dollars. Unfortunately, concerns still arise over whether or not Facebook will even change any of their privacy policies or data usage after paying this fine. “None of the conditions in the settlement will impose strict limitations on Facebook’s ability to collect and share data with third parties,” according to the New York Times. 

Although the FTC has approved this settlement, it still needs to get approved by the Justice Department, which rarely rejects agreements reached by the FTC. 

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Move Over GDPR and CCPA: Time for NYPA to Step in the Spotlight

Move Over GDPR and CCPA: Time for NYPA to Step in the Spotlight

Facebook privacy issues

Privacy regulations become more prominent as New York state considers their own version of CCPA. GDPR may help consumers and marketers more than you think. Facebook launching new app for data usage.

Move over CCPA? 

CCPA just became old news. Why? New York is considering a privacy act of their own: the New York Privacy Act, or the NYPA. Consumers protected in this act would receive a set of data privacy rights, and businesses affected by this act would receive a set of rules and duties to abide by.

Who does it affect? Similar to the CCPA, the NYPA applies to “legal entities that conduct business in New York” or that “intentionally target” residents of New York with their products or services.

Additionally, it will be an opt-in process where the user must provide express and consent.

Nonetheless, we look forward to seeing the status of this act progress from consideration to active leg

Why marketers and consumers should thank GDPR

Welcome to the new data privacy digital marketing reality.

It turns out, satisfying GDPR regulations not only helps the business stay compliant, but it also helps the business stay on the good side of the consumer.

Ad impressions have increased and costs have decreased. A marketer’s dream come true. One year after GDPR came into play, the results are informative and insightful. This new data privacy consciousness can be a win-win situation. Marketers can gain the insights and performance they need to achieve their objectives, while users can rely on privacy and greater control over their data. For example, Facebook users now have a new ‘clear history’ tool which anonymizes their off-Facebook web activity, and disables the Facebook tracking pixel. A happy consumer, is a happy government, is a happy business.

Facebook to launch new app for data collection

Facebook says the new app, called ‘Study’, will collect information about which apps people are using and for how long. Considering Facebook was under scrutiny for its previous two similar apps infringing on privacy, they have stated that this app is different.

Using the app, they plan to collect and analyze information including: which apps are installed on the user’s phone, user’s country, device and network type, as well as the time spent on each app.

“We have a responsibility to keep people’s information safe and secure. With this app, we’re collecting the minimum amount of information needed to help us build better products”, says Facebook product manager, Sagee Ben-Zedeff. “People often have a lot of apps on their phone, so we’ll periodically remind participants that they are a part of the program. They’ll also have the opportunity to review the information they’re sharing with us”.

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Ontario Takes Action Against Privacy Breaches and GDPR After One Year

Ontario Takes Action Against Privacy Breaches and GDPR After One Year

Facebook privacy issues

Ontario looking into stronger privacy control to further protect citizens. Facebook under scrutiny once again over data privacy issues. Taking a look at GDPR one year later. 

Ontario takes action to protect privacy and personal data

79% of surveyed Ontarians believe data about people and businesses in Ontario need stronger protection. “Our government recognizes that the tremendous economic potential of emerging data technologies needs to be balanced with thoughtful and robust protections for the privacy and personal data of all Ontarians,” said Bill Walker, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “We believe that Ontarians deserve to know and actively consent to the collection of data, how that data is used, and by whom”.

Three areas of focus include:

  • Promoting public trust and confidence
  • Creating economic benefit
  • Enabling a better, smarter, efficient government

Walker states that the Ontarian government is making sure the prime focus is the protection of personal privacy. He hopes our municipal and federal cohorts will do the same.

Judge orders Facebook to turn over records on data privacy

Facebook has been asked to turn over internal records regarding data privacy and access to user data by a judge in Delaware. This was the result of a lawsuit accusing Facebook’s mismanagement of data breaches. Furthermore, Facebook’s counter argument claiming that the investors had not stated a proper purpose for searching the company’s records, was rejected.

One year on, GDPR helps EU combat data privacy concerns, raises bar worldwide

The world as we know it changed when the GDPR came into action. Companies that were using data seamlessly were forced to invest in data centres and to regulate their data collection processes.

GDPR has introduced many new guidelines into the European consumer-business scene, such as the right to be forgotten, which simply means the company has to completely remove the user from their system altogether.

Every country or region is now trying to implement their own versions suitable for their own citizens. India was the first to come out with a similar law, followed by Brazil, Vietnam, China, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

This cascading effect from GDPR shows light to a promising future of consumer privacy and regulation against the misuse of data. We look forward to seeing what these laws will do for us!

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