The Belgian Big Brother Awards 2016 yesterday unanimously granted the title of 'ultimate privacy villain of the year' to Facebook, as decided by the public and a professional jury.
"We nominated Facebook for the award because their default settings are noxious for privacy," explained Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights. He later remarked, "Facebook is a multi-billion dollar company that has one commodity - you!"
Digital rights and freedoms association EDRi describes Facebook as having "access to a wide range of personal data, and it tracks your movements across the web, whether you are logged in or not."
It shouldn't be surprising - but it really is, that Yahoo secretly build a custom software program to search through all of its users' incoming emails for information - all on behalf of the US intelligence sector. Yeah... Yahoo spied on your emails, before you had even read them, for the NSA, according to sources of Reuters.
Yahoo complied with classified US government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts "at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events", reports Reuters. The site continues: "Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency's request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real-time".
Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer gave the order, which pissed some senior executives off to the point that in June 2015, Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, left the company, joining Facebook. Yahoo said to Reuters: "Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States". Yeah Yahoo, you sure are - a snitching little traitor (my words).
Germany's privacy regulatory body has taken issue with Facebook collecting WhatsApp user data, ordering the company to delete the data and cease the practice, calling it "an infringement of national data protection law."
"It has to be [the user's] decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook," says Hamburg data protection commissioner Johnnes Caspar. "Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened."
Germany -- which boasts 35 million WhatsApp users -- isn't the only European country to take issue with Facebook's approach: France and Britain have both done so, with the former stating it would monitor the situation "with great vigilance."
Does your PC or laptop have a front-facing webcam? Put tape over it immediately, and treat it like locking your doors or setting up an alarm system, says FBI boss James Comey.
During the Center for Strategic and International Studies conference, Comey said: "There's some sensible things you should be doing and that's one of them. You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen. They all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so that people who don't have authority don't look at you. I think that's a good thing".
We shouldn't be surprised of this warning, as Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg was pictured with the camera on his laptop taped over. Comey has also admitted that he uses tape on his webcam.
Edward Snowden has leaked out some new information about the NSA having a spy base in the UK that has been intercepting satellite and other wireless communications around the world.
The base is Snowden has revealed is the Menwith Hill Station (MHS) in North Yorkshire, a 545-acre base that fronts as the Royal Air Force facility that is capable of "rapid radio relay and conduct communications research". The base had seen protestors, journalists and even terrorists interested, and now Snowden's new leak details what is happening at the base.
In a report by The Intercept, the NSA has been intercepting international communications from the base in two ways: the first is FORNSAT. FORNSAT uses the huge golf ball-shaped domes with powerful antennae to intercept transmissions between foreign satellites. The second method is called OVERHEAD, which has US government satellites finding, and monitoring smartphone calls and Wi-Fi signals on the ground.
Feature-wise, agreeing to the new terms will mean notifications from other services you use, like your bank when a fraudulent transaction comes up, or your airline when a flight is delayed. It also means better friend suggestions and more relevant advertising.
A hacker named Peace has their hands-on the login credentials of 200 million Yahoo accounts, throwing them onto a dark web marketplace 'The Real Deal' for just three Bitcoins, or around $1800 USD.
Yahoo said in a statement to Motherboard that they "are aware of a claim" that Yahoo login credentials were on The Real Deal, but Yahoo has said that while it's aware of the hack, it hasn't confirmed or denied its legitimacy. Motherboard got its hands-on a sampling of the data, which includes usernames, hashed passwords, birth dates and even some backup email addresses.
The data was reportedly stolen in 2012, with the hacker adding they have traded the data privately for a while, but only decided to put it on the market recently. Yahoo hasn't pushed out a mandatory password reset announcement, which is definitely strange.
The US government requested a new record of user data from Google in the second half of 2016, with 40,677 requests impacting as many as 81,311 user accounts, reports ZDNet.
From July through to December 2015, the US government requested the 40.677 requests, an 18% increase from the first half of the year. Most of the requests are coming from the US, with 12,523 data requests in the three-month period, with requests impacting 27,157 users or accounts.
Google says it has been reporting the number of user data requests in a 6-month period going back to the second half of 2009, while it has been detailing the users and accounts it has impacted in the first half of 2011. Google notes: "Usage of our services have increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers".
Privacy is a perpetual concern with Facebook and Facebook Messenger, but it gets a little less so today as the company rolls out its 'Secret Conversations' feature.
Built on Open Whisper Systems' Signal Protocol, Secret Conversations means you can create a conversation with someone that can only be seen by you and on the device of the person you're talking to, as opposed to Facebook or any potential hackers. As well, you can set your messages to disappear within a set amount of time.
As for downsides, you have to take extra action to start such a conversation, you can't view the conversation on multiple devices like you can currently, and fancy features like GIFs, videos, payments aren't supported.
One month after publicly supporting Apple in its fight for encryption, chat app company WhatsApp now features end-to-end encryption in its client. In essence, whether you're calling someone, sending a file, messaging, hosting a group chat, or anything else, you can be rest assured it's completely private from hackers, WhatsApp, and anyone else you might be paranoid about.
"We live in a world where more of our data is digitized than ever before," company CEO and founder Jan Koum says of the change. "Every day we see stories about sensitive records being improperly accessed or stolen. And if nothing is done, more of people's digital information and communication will be vulnerable to attack in the years to come. Fortunately, end-to-end encryption protects us from these vulnerabilities."