privacy | KUOW News and Information

privacy

Facial recognition software has the potential to transform our surveillance ability: for better or for worse.
Flickr Photo/Sam Cox (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/S7S39Y

So you're walking down the street - probably not making eye contact with anyone, if you're from Seattle. But with Amazon's help, even if you're not looking at anyone, law enforcement might be looking at you.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Flickr Photo/Alessio Jacona (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/EixX1V

"Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?"

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemed taken aback by the question, but eventually stammered out a "No." That delivery was in marked contrast to the smooth admission that his data had been exposed to Cambridge Analytica, along with that of 87 million other Americans. Zuckerberg is the head of the world's most successful tech company - why does he seem to think about privacy differently if it's online?

FILE - In this May 25, 2017, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is appearing on Capitol Hill for a second day of hearings about protecting its users' data.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing follows hours of questioning by lawmakers in the Senate.

Facebook is under scrutiny after revelations that the data-mining and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained the data of tens of millions of Facebook users. The company is accused of using that data to target American voters in the 2016 election.

FILE - In this May 25, 2017, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying on Capitol Hill to answer questions about protecting user data. (Live coverage is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday on KUOW.)

The hearing held by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees follows news that the data-mining and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users. The firm is accused of using that information to target Facebook users with political advertising in 2016. 

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET

Personal information of up to 87 million people — mostly in the United States — may have been "improperly shared" with Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm used by the Trump campaign that has recently come under fire.

Dan Shefet is an unlikely tech revolutionary. He's not a young math geek who builds driverless cars, nor does he promise to make a tech product for the masses. His crusade is different. The 63-year-old year old Shefet has staged an astonishingly effective campaign in Europe to thwart the torrent of fake news and damaging personal attacks that course through the Internet by taking on the tech giants.

The Facebook scandal over misuse of user information has reached a Canadian data analytics company. And a whistleblower says he believes the firm, which has ties to the Trump presidential campaign, may have swayed the U.K.'s 2016 Brexit vote.

NPR Survey: Still On Facebook, But Worried

Mar 21, 2018

Facebook has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of revelations that election data company Cambridge Analytica accessed the private Facebook data of 50 million users. The social media giant is facing questions from U.S. and British regulators, and withering criticism in the press.

But the scandal is grounded in everyday America — after all, it was the millions of women, men, parents, grandparents, friends and old acquaintances on the site who had their data accessed.

Mary Haddish, 14, left, shops with her father, Daniel Ghebre at Amazon Go on Monday, January 22, 2018, on 7th Ave., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Nobody likes to wait in line. So today, Amazon removed that unpleasantness from the neighborhood grocery store. At Amazon Go, you walk in, pick up your groceries and walk out.

Facebook
Flickr Photo/Franco Bouly (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6rk2Qf

Bill Radke talks to Anna Lauren Hoffmann, associate professor at the University of Washington's Information School, about the implications of Facebook's idea to stop revenge porn and nude pictures from circulating on their site. 

A box containing an order from Amazon.com is shown after it was delivered to a house in Etters, Pa, Wednesday, Sept 16, 2005.
AP Photo/John Zeedick

Bill Radke talks with Washington Post opinion columnist Christine Emba about Amazon Key, a new delivery service from Amazon that drops off packages inside customer's homes.

Emba's latest column in titled "Amazon Key is Silicon Valley at its most out of touch."

Author Franklin Foer at The Elliott Bay Book Company
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

If you find yourself checking your phone — a lot — or feeling phantom vibrations, there’s a good reason. Big technology companies (Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook to name a few) want your attention. They want to know what you’re thinking about, what you’re doing, and what you’re likely to do next.

The health insurer Aetna is facing criticism for revealing the HIV status of potentially thousands of customers after it sent out a mailer in which information about ordering prescription HIV drugs was clearly visible through the envelope's clear window.

For example, in a letter sent to a customer in Brooklyn, N.Y., the window revealed considerably more than the address. It also showed the beginning of a letter advising the customer about options "when filling prescriptions for HIV Medic ... "

phone listen headphones
Flickr Photo/Christoph Spiegl (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/99y97M

Smart devices like your phone or tablet could be used to track your movements. A group of computer science researchers at the University of Washington recently demonstrated this.

They turned smart devices into active sonar systems using a new computer code they created called CovertBand and a few pop songs.

Here's what we've been told about passwords:

  • Make them complicated.
  • Use numbers, question marks and hash marks.
  • Change them regularly.
  • Use different passwords for each app and website.

These guidelines often leave users frustrated and struggling to remember them all.

A privacy watchdog group has filed a complaint with the FTC over Google's system for tracking purchases Internet users make in person, at physical store locations.

Mute button on an Amazon Echo
Flickr Photo/Rob Albright/(CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/C6Ae3S

Bill Radke speaks with WIRED senior writer Emily Dreyfuss about her article that asks the question if Amazon's Echo should be able to call the police and what implications that could have on our privacy. 

http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2200&Year=2017

Lawmakers in Washington state, California and potentially Oregon are moving quickly to reimpose internet privacy rules repealed by Congress. President Donald Trump on Monday signed off on rolling back regulations that would have forbidden broadband service providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from selling your personal browsing data without your permission.

The House of Representatives has gone along with the Senate and voted 215-205 to overturn a yet-to-take-effect regulation that would have required Internet service providers — like Comcast, Verizon and Charter — to get consumers' permission before selling their data.

President Trump is expected to sign the rollback, according to a White House statement.

As President Trump prepares a new executive order on vetting refugees and immigrants, one idea keeps cropping up: checking the social media accounts of those coming to the U.S.

In fact, such a program was begun under the Obama administration more than a year ago on a limited basis and is likely to be expanded. But social media vetting is a heavy lift, and it's too early to tell how effective it will be.

Yahoo is warning some of its users that their accounts might have been breached by intruders using forged cookies, allowing them to access private information without knowing users' passwords.

Cookies are pieces of code stored by browsers to, among other things, keep track of whether a user is logged into a password-protected account. They're also used for innocuous functions, such as keeping track of online shopping cart contents.

A suburban Portland fire district has a valentine for potential heart attack victims. And if it makes hearts un-flutter, you could see the messages shared more widely across the region and country in coming years via a lifesaving smartphone app.

In this March 12, 2015, file photo, Seattle police officer Debra Pelich, right, wears a video camera on her eyeglasses as she talks with Alex Legesse before a small community gathering in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

On Thursday, a dozen Seattle police officers strapped on body cameras for the first time.

By the end of 2017, 850 officers will be using them. 

Amazon's personal assistant device called Echo was one of the most popular gifts this Christmas. But this week, the device grabbed headlines for another reason: Police in Arkansas are trying to use its data in a murder investigation.

Ken Yeh thought his school was buying software to keep kids off of certain websites.

What he didn't know was that it could help identify a student who might be considering suicide.

Yeh is the technology director at a private K-12 school near Los Angeles. Three years ago, the school began buying Chromebook laptops for students to use in class and at home. That, Yeh says, raised concerns from parents about what they'd be used for, especially outside of school.

Updated at 7:00 p.m. ET

Yahoo says hackers stole names, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers from more than 1 billion accounts.

In a statement posted to its website on Wednesday, the company said it had "taken steps to secure user accounts and is working closely with law enforcement."

The statement continued:

There are some big companies out there that you've probably never heard of, that know more about you than you can imagine.

They're called data brokers, and they collect all sorts of information — names, addresses, income, where you go on the Internet and who you connect with online. That information is then sold to other companies. There are few regulations governing these brokers.

When Sean Meyers was in a car accident on a November evening three years ago, he was flown by air ambulance to the emergency department at Inova Fairfax Hospital, in Northern Virginia. With his arm broken in four places, a busted knee and severe bruising to his upper body, Meyers, 29, was admitted to the hospital. Though he was badly hurt, his injuries didn't seem life threatening.

When you ride on buses or trains in many parts of the United States, what you say could be recorded. Get on a New Jersey Transit light rail train in Hoboken or Jersey City, for example, and you might notice an inconspicuous sign that says "video and audio systems in use."

A lot of riders are not happy about it.

"Yeah I don't like that," says Michael Dolan of Bayonne, N.J. "I don't want conversations being picked up because it's too Orwellian for me. It reeks of Big Brother."

Saying its customers "have a right to know when the government obtains a warrant to read their emails" — and that Microsoft has a right to tell them about gag orders — the tech giant has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department.

Microsoft is asking a judge to declare part of a federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. § 2705(b), unconstitutional under both the First and Fourth Amendments.

As NPR's Aarti Shahani reports for our Newscast unit:

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