Tag Archive | Information Privacy

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Contemporary Privacy Theory Contributions to Learning Analytics


With the continued adoption of learning analytics in higher education institutions, vast volumes of data are generated and “big data” related issues, including privacy, emerge. Privacy is an ill-defined concept and subject to various interpretations and perspectives, including those of philosophers, lawyers, and information systems specialists. This paper provides an overview of privacy and considers the potential contribution contemporary privacy theories can make to learning analytics. Conclusions reflect on the suitability of these theories towards the advancement of learning analytics and future research considers the importance of hearing the student voice in this space.

Behavior Data vs. Patron Privacy: Productive Discomfort


I bring this up because of a strong tension I noticed at the recent Library Technology Conferencebetween library notions of privacy and academic libraries’ salutary desire to use various forms of patron behavior data to improve websites and other services. How much are we willing to snoop to get better at what we do? How do we gauge potential (not actual, let us pray) harm to patrons? When we do decide that snooping is worth the risks, how do we protect our patrons from data breaches (making the news at too many higher education institutions of late) and reidentification attacks? How do we avoid participating in today’s sinister commercial and political nightmare of greedy, thoughtless, not-always-disclosed physical and digital surveillance? Does performing surveillance in our much-trusted libraries not legitimize the other surveillance regimes?

Information Fiduciaries in the Digital Age


A fiduciary duty would limit the rights the company would otherwise enjoy to collect, collate, use and sell personal information about the end user. In particular, there would be no general First Amendment right to disclose sensitive data or use sensitive data to the disadvantage of the end user. (To be sure, such a right might exist in certain circumstances depending on how strong the fiduciary duty was and whether the duty allows waiver or consent to disclose in certain circumstances.) The online service provider would also have to consider whether its information practices created a conflict of interest and act accordingly. Moreover, the online service provider’s duties of loyalty and care might require it to disclose how it was using the customer’s personal information.

Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries


My source told me, and I can confirm, that Adobe is tracking users in the app and uploading the data to their servers.

And just to be clear, I have seen this happen, and I can also tell you that Benjamin Daniel Mussler, the security researcher who found the security hole on Amazon.com, has also tested this at my request and saw it with his own eyes.

Adobe Responds to Reports of Their Spying, Offers Half Truths and Misleading Statements


They may be a day late and a dollar short, but Adobe has finally responded to yesterday’s news that they were using the Digital Editions 4 app to spy on users.

Adobe hasn’t addressed all of the evidence against them, but they did admit that they were gathering info from users. They won’t admit to scraping my library, but they did admit to tracking a user’s activities. Adobe claims that it was covered by the their privacy policy and by the TOS for the app:

Adobe Digital Editions allows users to view and manage eBooks and other digital publications across their preferred reading devices—whether they purchase or borrow them. All information collected from the user is collected solely for purposes such as license validation and to facilitate the implementation of different licensing models by publishers. Additionally, this information is solely collected for the eBook currently being read by the user and not for any other eBook in the user’s library or read/available in any other reader. User privacy is very important to Adobe, and all data collection in Adobe Digital Editions is in line with the end user license agreement and the Adobe Privacy Policy.

Adobe Responds to ALA on Spying Scandal With Fictitious and Misleading Statements


The American Library Association reported yesterday that Adobe has responded to the ALA’s concerns about the recent revaluations of Adobe spying on users.

You can find the AlA’s press release here, but the short version is that Adobe is still claiming that sending a user’s reading logs in the clear met the standards of Adobe’s privacy policy. Adobe also continues to pretend that they weren’t also scanning user’s libraries and uploading that info as well.

White House Publishes Big Data and Privacy Report


The White House released a long-awaited report Thursday on how the technology industry’s collection of big data affects the online privacy of millions of Americans.

The report, authored by a group led by White House counselor John Podesta, makes several recommendations on how the government can grapple with the way widespread data collection affects the online privacy of average Americans.

The report recommends that Congress pass national data breach legislation, extend privacy protections to non-U.S. citizens, and update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which controls how the government can access e-mail.

Yahoo’s Privacy Team Decides to Not Respect Your Privacy Choices


Yahoo is watching you, whether you like it or not.

Yahoo said this week that the company will stop honoring “Do Not Track” requests made by a user’s browser. It will now actively attempt to track your interactions with its site and its content.

“Here at Yahoo, we work hard to provide our users with a highly personalized experience,” the ironically named “Yahoo Privacy Team” wrote in a blog post. “We keep people connected to what matters most to them, across devices and around the world. We fundamentally believe the best web is a personalized one.”

Yahoo’s team claimed that Yahoo was originally the first major tech company to implement “Do Not Track,” which, in reality, is more of a request from the browser to the Web site than an order. Yahoo said it had yet to see a single privacy standard that is “effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.” For that reason, as well as its desire for “personalized” experiences, Yahoo changed its policy.

Director of NSA Wants “Partnership” with Silicon Valley Despite Tall Hurdles


“It is unrealistic to expect the private sector to withstand the actions of nation-states,” Admiral Rogers said. “I think it is also unrealistic to expect the government to deal with this all by itself. How do we create the partnerships that allow us to work together as a team.”

A partnership with Silicon Valley corporations is likely to be an uphill battle. At a recent Apple event, Timothy D. Cook, the company’s chief executive, said that the company’s priority was to protect consumer privacy and that it would not loosen security or encryption for intelligence-gathering efforts.

“There’s been some comments from some law enforcement types that said, ‘Hey, this is not good, we don’t have the flexibility we had before,’ ” Mr. Cook said. “If law enforcement wants something they should go to the user and get it. It’s not for me to do that.”

“Header Enrichment” Tracks Mobile Phone Usage Behavior, Creates Dossier


Wired and Forbes reported earlier this week that the two largest cell phone carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, are adding the tracking number to their subscribers’ Internet activity, even when users opt out. The data can be used by any site—even those with no relationship to the telecoms—to build a dossier about a person’s behavior on mobile devices, including which apps they use, what sites they visit, and how long. MoPub, acquired by Twitter in 2013, bills itself as the “world’s largest mobile ad exchange.” It uses Verizon’s tag to track and target cellphone users for ads, according to instructions for software developers posted on its website.

Twitter declined to comment. AT&T said that its actions are part of a test. Verizon says it doesn’t sell information about the demographics of people who have opted out.

This controversial type of tracking, known in industry jargon as header enrichment, is the latest step in the mobile industry’s quest to track users on their devices. Google has proposed a new standard for Internet services that, among other things, would prevent header enrichment.