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taestell

Security and Privacy

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The security of our data and privacy of our communications is a topic I have been thinking about a lot over the past few years, but even more so in the last few weeks. At some point in the future I will write up some sort of longer post of the changes I have made and how other people can do the same.

 

I'll start off the thread with this:

 

Police seek Amazon Echo data in murder case

 

"You have an expectation of privacy in your home, and I have a big problem that law enforcement can use the technology that advances our quality of life against us," defense attorney Kimberly Weber said.

 

[...]

 

As a refresher, Echo only captures audio and streams it to the cloud when the device hears the wake word "Alexa." A ring on the top of the device turns blue to give a visual indication that audio is being recorded. Those clips, or "utterances" as the company calls them, are stored in the cloud until a customer deletes them either individually or all at once. When that's done, the "utterances" are permanently deleted.

 

^ In this case the police just asked for the audio and Amazon refused to give it. But I suspect it won't be long until a court tries to subpoena the audio and Amazon will have to hand it over.

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I'm a defense lawyer and I care about privacy a lot.  But this isn't a case of the government taking it away, this is people surrendering privacy to corporations in exchange for convenience.  The government isn't doing anything here it wouldn't normally do, just seeking out relevant records.  The issue is people causing new types of records to exist.  If you willingly put listening devices in your home, what do you expect?  You might be heard.  Similarly... if you walk around with a network node in your pocket, what do you expect?  You might be tracked.  Science fiction has been warning us about these tradeoffs for a very long time.

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Right. People are voluntarily bugging their own homes by installing internet-connected microphones. And we have seen in recent weeks that many of these Internet Of Things (IOT) devices are pretty easily hackable. The products from Google and Amazon are probably a bit more secure, but many of these "smart" devices from smaller companies have much poorer security.

 

To your other point, I have always found it extremely bizarre that some people freak out about government surveillance yet are willing to turn over so much information about themselves to not only Facebook and Google but virtually every retailer or grocery where they shop. I've always been more concerned about what corporations are doing with my data.

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I want no part of the internet of things.  I do want an intranet of things.  I don't understand why those things need to beam data around the world.  And enough with web apps, and web dashboards.  Garbage!

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I work for SHI International and I sell companies their servers/networking/hyper-converged/cloud storage/software services ... I had a meeting with a counterpart of mine and he informed me that a local company in the Cincy area was a victim of a ransom-ware hack. The company folded and paid the asking price. After that, it went on a list that informed other hackers it was willing to pay and since then has fallen to ransom-ware attacks 3-4 times.

 

 

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It's amazing how many people don't realize that their cell phones are tracking them.  Recently the guy who set his house on fire in Indian Hill saw his flimsy alibi upended by cell phone pings at the house when he claimed he was in Blue Ash. 

 

As for me I got a smart phone because people were telling me I was being old and obnoxious.  Well I've now had one for 3-4 years and I don't use almost any of its functions and it's costing me money so I'm going to get rid of it as soon as my plan runs out and go back to a dumb phone.  I've also thought about cutting my home internet service so that I just go back to reading books. 

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Last year, the FBI demanded that Apple make a special version of their operating system that would be easier to break in to, so that the FBI could access data on the iPhones of the terrorists behind the San Bernardino attack. The problem is that once you make a weakened operating system or install a "back door" for the good guys, the bad guys can use it too. Apple rightfully resisted this demand, and ultimately the FBI went to a company called Cellebrite to get help hacking the phone. Well, now a hacker has obtained Cellebrite's iPhone hacking tools and released them to prove this point. If you make a tool to allow the good guys to hack, the bad guys will eventually get it too.

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Consumer Reports to Begin Evaluating Products, Services for Privacy and Data Security

 

One day in August 2015, Jared Denman got a frightened phone call at work from his wife, who was home with their 2-year-old daughter. A song was playing through the couple’s baby monitor—the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” The monitor was the kind that connects to the internet so that parents can see and talk to their baby or caregiver when they’re away from home. The device had been taken over by a malicious hacker, and the song’s lyrics were particularly ominous: “Every game you play, every night you stay, I'll be watching you.”

 

[...]

 

You can’t create an online bank account without creating a secure password; that should be true for a camera that transmits video from inside your home as well.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU of California joined forces with California State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) on Tuesday to testify in favor of S.B. 712 (text), a bill that would have allowed drivers to cover their license plates when parked in order to protect their travel patterns from private companies operating automated license plate readers (ALPRs).

 

The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee heard testimony on how private ALPR companies are collecting massive amounts of data on innocent people's driving patterns and selling it for profit. Despite learning how this data may be misused to target vulnerable communities by the federal government, a Democratic majority voted to kill the bill 5-6.

 

The bill would have adjusted current law, which allows drivers to cover their entire vehicles (for example with a tarp), so that a driver can cover just a portion: the plate. Police would still have the ability to lift the cover to inspect the plate, and since the measure only applied to parked vehicles, it would not have affected law enforcement's ability to collect data on moving vehicles.

 

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/05/california-senate-committee-votes-against-privacy-our-travel-patterns

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A friend works in advertising. Yes, he says your phone listens to you. Yes, we can market based on key words, locations, spoken word, etc. It allows for greater one-to-one marketing. But it is creepy, though. He says that, in some cities in 2019, you will see interactive billboards. You have FB, Twitter open on your phone that is sitting next to you in your car. Sensors pick up you driving down the road and show you ads based on your profile when you pass the billboard 2 minutes later.  Better hope you don't have any wants or warrants for that old marijuana offense back at 1990 or a wanted poster may show up on that billboard!

 

Privacy? Consider these two recent stories shared just this morning....

 

My friend Don shared this story....

File this under creepy.  I was flying back from Boston on Thursday, and while I was at Logan airport, I was talking to my co-workers about TSA Pre-Check. A few of them had it and was talking about how great/worthwhile it is. So, I called Cara while I was at the gate from my iPhone and was telling her I was thinking about getting it.  ....Fast forward to today, and I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and what do I see, an advertisement for TSA Pre-Check.

 

So his friend Erin relayed this story....

We were talking about the salt mines under Lake Erie.  Not one of us searched on our phones. When I went to bed that night, the first article that came up on FB was about salt mines under Lake Erie.


"Nearly every problem that we have in the USA -- unaffordable health care, prison overpopulation, hyper militarization, climate change, racism, gun violence, poverty, poor education, urban sprawl and others -- cannot be positively addressed because bribery and conflicts of interest are legal under campaign finance laws which protect the uber-wealthy and the narrow self-interests who grossly benefit from our afflictions."

 

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A friend works in advertising. Yes, he says your phone listens to you. Yes, we can market based on key words, locations, spoken word, etc. It allows for greater one-to-one marketing.

 

There will be a massive backlash against this. Maybe.

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There won't be any backlash outside of litigation.

 

As I try to brand myself as "Cleveland's Cyber Attorney", I deal with these issues quite frequently. Without saying too much, we will likely have a case against a certain vacuum manufacturer resulting from a home invasion.

 

Long story short, this vacuum learns the dimensions of your home and then comports to them. That data is then stored at HQ. If this data is compromised, hackers are able to obtain information about the dimensions of your home, the times in which the vacuum turns on (indicative of no one being home), and other information that will make a home invasion more successful.

 

Additionally, Alexa listens to everything you say, just waiting for you to say Alexa.

 

And, in the fall, a pacemaker was used to debunk a man's alibi in a case. Because the data from the pacemaker is stored by a third party and the man's alibi involved physical activity, Prosecutors were able to obtain that the man had a resting heart-rate during this time and debunk his alibi.

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Facebook turns your mic on, listens to you and uses keywords in your conversation to match you with the ads or 'suggested post.' The other day my brother was talking to me about customizing his motorcycle. We had maybe a 3 minute conversation about motorcycles. The next day on Facecbook, I got a bunch of motorcycle ads. I've never in my life Googled motorcycles or have had anything to do with motorcycles but I had a ads for motorcycle parts, popping up.

 

 

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How did we get to the point, as a society, where we are largely OK with all this stuff? We're allowing ourselves to be spied on by companies so they can try to sell us more stuff we don't need. Do companies that participate in such methods have higher sales than companies that don't? It all seems so messed up.

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How did we get to the point, as a society, where we are largely OK with all this stuff? We're allowing ourselves to be spied on by companies so they can try to sell us more stuff we don't need. Do companies that participate in such methods have higher sales than companies that don't? It all seems so messed up.

 

In the post-terrorism age we've become apathetic to these issues, unfortunately.

 

I have a working relationship with Hector Monsegur, a.k.a. "Sabu". He has told me personally in the past that he believes the modern age will make the 4th Amendment nearly impossible to comply with, from a government standpoint. Americans used to be extremely unique globally in their unwillingness to surrender privacy rights. We've become less staunch in our beliefs and we will soon be at a crossroads.

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Would setting the FB app mic or the Alexa mic to “off” negate this?

 

Nope. Not for surveillance purposes at least. But, generally, if they have access to the mic, they can also control it. I have scotch tape over my cam and also over my mic.

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It's kind of amazing thinking back to being a kid before cell phones and the internet...every once in awhile someone went out to run errands and forgot to buy cat food or whatever.  Every once in awhile someone couldn't find a field where their kid's team had a scheduled game.  Every once in awhile you couldn't find a party you were invited to in college because the directions weren't good. 

 

But those things were like 1-in-10-years events.  All of this technology is causing people to be sloppier in their planning while sacrificing so much to avoid extremely rare mini-problems. 

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Prosecutors now argue that we have all willfully assented to loss of privacy simply by using these devices and services.  Definitions of "contract" get looser and looser every day, used to be you had to know what you were agreeing to or it didn't count.  Now many contracts allow the drafter to change the terms unilaterally at any time.  Just like Darth Vader.  Never mind that this violates society's underlying rationale for enforcing contracts in the first place. 

 

The right to privacy itself is nothing more than an urban myth; our constitution has never granted any such thing.

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I have a working relationship with Hector Monsegur, a.k.a. "Sabu". He has told me personally in the past that he believes the modern age will make the 4th Amendment nearly impossible to comply with, from a government standpoint. Americans used to be extremely unique globally in their unwillingness to surrender privacy rights. We've become less staunch in our beliefs and we will soon be at a crossroads.

 

My Ukrainian wife is stunned at how little privacy Americans have. As in, every little traffic offense, court case or ownership record is on the internet for everyone to see. And if some celebrity, business leader or politician stubs their toe, it's all over TV as well as every little misdeed they've done in the past. Culturally, Ukrainians find it personally offensive to discuss another person's private life, even if it is a well-known person.

 

 

Nope. Not for surveillance purposes at least. But, generally, if they have access to the mic, they can also control it. I have scotch tape over my cam and also over my mic.

 

Knowing what you do for a living and what you are aware of, that scares the crap out of me.


"Nearly every problem that we have in the USA -- unaffordable health care, prison overpopulation, hyper militarization, climate change, racism, gun violence, poverty, poor education, urban sprawl and others -- cannot be positively addressed because bribery and conflicts of interest are legal under campaign finance laws which protect the uber-wealthy and the narrow self-interests who grossly benefit from our afflictions."

 

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^ KJP[/member]  I am usually a pretty mellow guy. Not much keeps me up at night. But working in this field has changed the way I live. Not by choice. My fiance gets mad at me when I tell her to turn off the location feature on Snapchat, but it's all very real and prevalent. My clients have had their lives flipped upside down simply by being a regular 21st century human.

 

With regards to your wife. To the converse, my buddy from college married a girl from Singapore that went to school with us. She's stunned at how much privacy Americans DO have.

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It's kind of amazing thinking back to being a kid before cell phones and the internet...every once in awhile someone went out to run errands and forgot to buy cat food or whatever.  Every once in awhile someone couldn't find a field where their kid's team had a scheduled game.  Every once in awhile you couldn't find a party you were invited to in college because the directions weren't good. 

 

But those things were like 1-in-10-years events.  All of this technology is causing people to be sloppier in their planning while sacrificing so much to avoid extremely rare mini-problems.

 

This isn't really a fair characterization of the benefits of having mobile/smartphones, though. Getting real-time transit info, for example, allows you to plan much more dynamically than waiting for a bus that is late or had its run canceled. No amount of non-sloppy planning would fix that, and it's not an infrequent occurrence for many who rely on transit daily. That's just one example of many tangible benefits.

 

Adoption of technology and services is a trade-off. I only recently got a smartphone, and I do not use Facebook. Both of these have noticeable effects on inclusion in social circles, among other things.

 

Nope. Not for surveillance purposes at least. But, generally, if they have access to the mic, they can also control it. I have scotch tape over my cam and also over my mic.

 

Knowing what you do for a living and what you are aware of, that scares the crap out of me.

 

Can't you guys deny microphone access to the FB app through app permissions? Or just use the website instead of the FB app? Using websites in lieu of apps is a small but helpful way of making smartphone use less intrusive.

 

How did we get to the point, as a society, where we are largely OK with all this stuff? We're allowing ourselves to be spied on by companies so they can try to sell us more stuff we don't need. Do companies that participate in such methods have higher sales than companies that don't? It all seems so messed up.

 

One big step toward allowing it is by preferring "free" services that are paid for by advertising and data collection. The advertising part has been part of the meatspace/analog world for a long time (e.g. CityBeat), but the data collection part is new. It's invisible, so the creep of it over time went unnoticed. And the "nothing to hide" attitude was cultivated by politicians exploiting terrorism.

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^ KJP[/member]  I am usually a pretty mellow guy. Not much keeps me up at night. But working in this field has changed the way I live. Not by choice. My fiance gets mad at me when I tell her to turn off the location feature on Snapchat, but it's all very real and prevalent. My clients have had their lives flipped upside down simply by being a regular 21st century human.

 

With regards to your wife. To the converse, my buddy from college married a girl from Singapore that went to school with us. She's stunned at how much privacy Americans DO have.

 

Curious if you can share any non-identifying info/stories/parables.

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It's kind of amazing thinking back to being a kid before cell phones and the internet...every once in awhile someone went out to run errands and forgot to buy cat food or whatever.  Every once in awhile someone couldn't find a field where their kid's team had a scheduled game.  Every once in awhile you couldn't find a party you were invited to in college because the directions weren't good. 

 

But those things were like 1-in-10-years events.  All of this technology is causing people to be sloppier in their planning while sacrificing so much to avoid extremely rare mini-problems. 

 

I can't get the planning bug out of my system. I work with people that are anywhere from 10-20 years younger than me and they think that my need for planning is silly. Even people my own age can get a little cranky sometimes when I want to verify things days ahead of time.

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Would setting the FB app mic or the Alexa mic to “off” negate this?

 

Nope. Not for surveillance purposes at least. But, generally, if they have access to the mic, they can also control it. I have scotch tape over my cam and also over my mic.

 

If true, this should be a major security scandal.  The operating system is supposed to control access to those devices, and the apps aren't supposed to be able to override that.  I'd have to think for this to be true Google and/or Apple would have to be working in coordination with FB. 

 

This is a good argument for open source software, so that things like this could be audited by privacy advocates.

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This is a good argument for open source software, so that things like this could be audited by privacy advocates.

 

We can't even get open-source software for voting machines.

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Facebook does not turn on your mic and listen to you. Here's an episode of the Reply All podcast talking about this. However, that podcast also goes on to explain the various different ways that Facebook tracks you and causes certain ads to "follow you around" ... currently just on the Internet, but in the future, maybe on billboards, internet radio services, etc., like KJP[/member] suggested.

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How did we get to the point, as a society, where we are largely OK with all this stuff? We're allowing ourselves to be spied on by companies so they can try to sell us more stuff we don't need. Do companies that participate in such methods have higher sales than companies that don't? It all seems so messed up.

 

I work in the digital marketing field as a software developer. The average person would be shocked at how much data is being collected about them and how much retailers are custom-tailoring their website and apps based on their profile of you. I remember when Kroger Plus cards first came out and people were freaked out that Kroger was going to track their shopping habits. Well, we are so far beyond that point now, and the general public does not seem to care anymore.

 

To answer your question, yes, this does result in higher sales. There is a lot of A/B testing that occurs, where the same information will be presented in two different ways (different headlines, different images, even different website layouts, etc.), and this will be dynamically tweaked based on the "conversion rates" for each. For example, I saw recently that the tech new website The Verge does this. The same article will be presented with two different headlines to different people. If Headline A starts to get more clicks than Headline B, they will start to increase the number of people who see Headline A. It can get even more complicated than that when you start to create even more "segments" based on demographics, and then do different A/B testing within each segment.

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Curious if you can share any non-identifying info/stories/parables.

 

I'll scrub this down.

 

But currently, a client of mine sent the down payment for his mortgage to a false bank account in Romania. Our contention is that the hacker was able to get to the escrow agent's email address and, through basic surveillance of the account, knew my client would be closing on his home very soon. As such, the hacker established a phone # in the area code and duplicated the escrow agent's email address, solicited the funds via email and called the client to confirm over the accuracy of the account info over the phone. It's all gone now.

 

.... for the moment at least.  ;)

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Would setting the FB app mic or the Alexa mic to “off” negate this?

 

Nope. Not for surveillance purposes at least. But, generally, if they have access to the mic, they can also control it. I have scotch tape over my cam and also over my mic.

 

If true, this should be a major security scandal.  The operating system is supposed to control access to those devices, and the apps aren't supposed to be able to override that.  I'd have to think for this to be true Google and/or Apple would have to be working in coordination with FB. 

 

This is a good argument for open source software, so that things like this could be audited by privacy advocates.

 

You're absolutely correct, the microphone should be able to be disabled on the operating system. But a company with the resources of FB will be able to own the functionality of your computer once you've used at least 1-2 of basic Facebook functions that we would normally presume to be innocuous, i.e. the microphone.

 

Further, imagine attempting to prove, in court, that Facebook went into your computer and turned your mic on. There's almost no recourse for behavior like that, that's what makes it so scary.

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Would setting the FB app mic or the Alexa mic to “off” negate this?

 

Nope. Not for surveillance purposes at least. But, generally, if they have access to the mic, they can also control it. I have scotch tape over my cam and also over my mic.

If true, this should be a major security scandal.

 

I feel the same way but I think we're in the minority on this.  The response I normally get from people is "whatever," especially younger people.  It's scary and I don't know what the answer is.  More and more people would sooner trust a machine, linked to a network of corporations, than their own neighbor. 

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^The response I always get when I give talks on this topic is... "If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?"

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^The response I always get when I give talks on this topic is... "If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?"

 

What's your reply?

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Facebook turns your mic on, listens to you and uses keywords in your conversation to match you with the ads or 'suggested post.' The other day my brother was talking to me about customizing his motorcycle. We had maybe a 3 minute conversation about motorcycles. The next day on Facecbook, I got a bunch of motorcycle ads. I've never in my life Googled motorcycles or have had anything to do with motorcycles but I had a ads for motorcycle parts, popping up.

 

 

 

What I've noticed that goes on with Facebook is that if you share a wi-fi network with someone that they will link that person to you. That's why a few years ago I creepily got "people you may knows" from my co-workers and even people from the mall management office. I was not connected in any way to these people in my friends list. Not friends of friends or friends of friends of friends. That then got transferred to Instagram years later... the person from the mall management office doesn't even work for the mall company any more but is still in my recommended list. It also transfers their ads to you. So if your brother had been looking at bike parts on the web, now you are into bikes too, maybe. For example, at home I now get ads for things other people were looking at on work computers.

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^The response I always get when I give talks on this topic is... "If you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?"

 

What's your reply?

 

"If it's not going to be disseminated, would you mind if your gym put cameras in the shower? There is a chance, though slim, that a violent crime would be committed there."

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Would setting the FB app mic or the Alexa mic to “off” negate this?

 

Nope. Not for surveillance purposes at least. But, generally, if they have access to the mic, they can also control it. I have scotch tape over my cam and also over my mic.

 

If true, this should be a major security scandal.  The operating system is supposed to control access to those devices, and the apps aren't supposed to be able to override that.  I'd have to think for this to be true Google and/or Apple would have to be working in coordination with FB. 

 

This is a good argument for open source software, so that things like this could be audited by privacy advocates.

 

You're absolutely correct, the microphone should be able to be disabled on the operating system. But a company with the resources of FB will be able to own the functionality of your computer once you've used at least 1-2 of basic Facebook functions that we would normally presume to be innocuous, i.e. the microphone.

 

Further, imagine attempting to prove, in court, that Facebook went into your computer and turned your mic on. There's almost no recourse for behavior like that, that's what makes it so scary.

 

Can the court subpoena code?  If so, then they should be able to have an expert examine the code and tell if it is capable of turning on the mic on it's own.  I'm not really sure if that's breaking any law, though.

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This isn't really a fair characterization of the benefits of having mobile/smartphones, though. Getting real-time transit info, for example, allows you to plan much more dynamically than waiting for a bus that is late or had its run canceled. No amount of non-sloppy planning would fix that, and it's not an infrequent occurrence for many who rely on transit daily. That's just one example of many tangible benefits.

 

I just look at the schedule (or know the schedule) and stand there until the bus shows up.  Looking at your phone doesn't make it get there any sooner. 

 

As someone who delivered food before and after cell phones, I can testify that cell phones DID NOT make the task any smoother.  Whatever problems it solved were replaced with many others.  For example, an incredible number of people immediately turn off their phones after ordering food. 

 

Hey, I just ordered a pizza -- I'd better turn my phone OFF. 

 

Driving for uber?  Same problem.  People requested a car, you show up, they turned their phone OFF.  Then they get in the car, insist that they switch your music to Taylor Swift, then manage TO LEAVE THE PHONE IN YOUR CAR.  So they couldn't be separated from the stupid thing for 20 minutes, then they leave it in the back seat.  Then, when you drive it back to them, their little rich ass blames it on you. 

 

 

 

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You're absolutely correct, the microphone should be able to be disabled on the operating system. But a company with the resources of FB will be able to own the functionality of your computer once you've used at least 1-2 of basic Facebook functions that we would normally presume to be innocuous, i.e. the microphone.

 

Further, imagine attempting to prove, in court, that Facebook went into your computer and turned your mic on. There's almost no recourse for behavior like that, that's what makes it so scary.

 

Can the court subpoena code?  If so, then they should be able to have an expert examine the code and tell if it is capable of turning on the mic on it's own.  I'm not really sure if that's breaking any law, though.

 

Yeah the code can be subpoena’d, certainly. Though that subpoena will be a major basis for appeal and tie up litigation for years.

 

Additionally, the code will show that Facebook had the capability, not that they actually did it. Without that specific action, there’s no damages. Without damages, very few attorneys outside of the ACLU etc will be interested in taking the case. The most radical thing to come out of a case like that would be an injunction, imo

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Further, most digital natives grew up with a sense that their privacy was compromised - via Facebook posts, etc. My generation was just on the cusp of being able to remember an existence off the grid.

 

I'd argue that in America right now, one does not have the right to be forgotten or left alone. Not if you want any semblance of a normal life at least.

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This isn't really a fair characterization of the benefits of having mobile/smartphones, though. Getting real-time transit info, for example, allows you to plan much more dynamically than waiting for a bus that is late or had its run canceled. No amount of non-sloppy planning would fix that, and it's not an infrequent occurrence for many who rely on transit daily. That's just one example of many tangible benefits.

 

I just look at the schedule (or know the schedule) and stand there until the bus shows up.  Looking at your phone doesn't make it get there any sooner. 

 

Notice the bolded part. The schedule won't tell you if a bus is running late or its run was canceled. Especially in the case that a run is canceled and the headways are long, it's a significant quality of life improvement to not be sitting at a bus stop twiddling your thumbs for 30+ extra minutes.

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Further, most digital natives grew up with a sense that their privacy was compromised - via Facebook posts, etc. My generation was just on the cusp of being able to remember an existence off the grid.

 

I'd argue that in America right now, one does not have the right to be forgotten or left alone. Not if you want any semblance of a normal life at least.

 

All you used to have to do was leave town.

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If you guys are truly concerned about apps and websites turning on your webcams and microphones, I hope you are using operating systems and hardware that prevent applications from doing so.

 

For example, on iOS, the permissions are very granular. You can go into your settings and verify which apps have permission to access your camera, microphone, photos, location, etc. When the apps are using those things, an icon is shown on the phone to indicate that. If you have not granted that permission, it is simply not possible for an application to bypass that. A lot of apps also request to know your location at all times, and I change the vast majority down to the lower "use my location only when I'm using the app" setting.

 

Similarly, on the last generation of MacBook Pro and iMac hardware, the webcam is controlled via a different internal chipset. Therefore it is impossible for any app to use the webcam without turning on the green LED right next to the webcam. Although it does not have an type of indicator light that comes on when the microphone is in use.

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Notice the bolded part. The schedule won't tell you if a bus is running late or its run was canceled. Especially in the case that a run is canceled and the headways are long, it's a significant quality of life improvement to not be sitting at a bus stop twiddling your thumbs for 30+ extra minutes.

 

Phone people are either screwing around with their phone indoors or outdoors.  If it's raining, you need an umbrella anyway for when you walk from the bus to wherever you're going. 

 

When I was a kid (again, no phones, no internet) one day the school bus didn't show up and we all stood around joking for about 15 minutes wondering if we actually had to go to school. Then a yellow mini bus showed up with an unknown driver and we all had to crowd on that thing, which was pretty funny.  Unfortunately we still ended up getting to school on time.  So FFWD 25 years...with the miracle of cell phones, we could have known the mini bus was coming and gone back to our houses to play with our phones for 10 minutes instead of playing with our phones for 10 minutes at the bus stop.  We could have snapchatted a photo of the mini bus.  Awesome.  Rad.  LIKES!

 

 

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If you guys are truly concerned about apps and websites turning on your webcams and microphones, I hope you are using operating systems and hardware that prevent applications from doing so.

 

For example, on iOS, the permissions are very granular. You can go into your settings and verify which apps have permission to access your camera, microphone, photos, location, etc. When the apps are using those things, an icon is shown on the phone to indicate that. If you have not granted that permission, it is simply not possible for an application to bypass that. A lot of apps also request to know your location at all times, and I change the vast majority down to the lower "use my location only when I'm using the app" setting.

 

Similarly, on the last generation of MacBook Pro and iMac hardware, the webcam is controlled via a different internal chipset. Therefore it is impossible for any app to use the webcam without turning on the green LED right next to the webcam. Although it does not have an type of indicator light that comes on when the microphone is in use.

 

From a few of my sources on the "other side", I'm not convinced of the effectiveness of these OS's

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From a few of my sources on the "other side", I'm not convinced of the effectiveness of these OS's

 

What are you implying? That if I go into my iOS settings and deny an app the ability to use my microphone, the app is figuring out some way to get around that restriction? If so, that would be a huge security vulnerability, and given how much people like to s**t on Apple any time they make a mistake, it would be front page news. I follow a lot of people in the information security field and have never heard anyone make an accusation like this.

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Stock Android (AOSP) is open source.

 

Does any phone manufacture release an AOSP only phone? I would guess that even the Nexus ships with proprietary Google code.

 

IOS and MacOS also have open source components.

 

KDE is trying to create a fully open source phone/tablet OS, but it's a ways off, if it ever works.

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