“This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site. While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered something distressing: Facebook also had about two years’ worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received,” the news outlet reported.
Facebook stores almost every single interaction you've had with the social network since you joined, including every time you've logged in, ads you've clicked, events you've been invited to, a list of the people you follow, your friends, your hometown, every time you've sent or received a message, every single status update and more.
The drumbeat to regulate Big Tech began pounding long before the Cambridge Analytica scandal rocked Facebook--six long years ago, the Obama administration pushed a “Privacy Bill of Rights” that, like most other legislative attempts to safeguard your data online, went nowhere. But this time, as they say, feels different. Thanks to repeated lapses from not just Facebook but all corners of Silicon Valley, some sort of regulation seems not only plausible but imminent.
It all started in September 2008 at a Kentucky Best Buy repair facility where the Geeks courted the FBI’s Cyber Working Group. The FBI has an interest in computer hacking, both to perform it on others as well as prevent it from happening to them. They also like an easy bust. Thanks to an FBI memo retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), we know the FBI, once again, went too far and broke the laws they are sworn to protect.
Edtech vendors should strive for clarity and specificity in their privacy policies to enable school administrators to make smart choices.
Human rights activists say they fear the authorities could use that power to track down dissidents, citing cases from more than a decade ago in which Yahoo Inc handed over user data that led to arrests and prison sentences for two democracy advocates. Jing Zhao, a human rights activist and Apple shareholder, said he could envisage worse human rights issues arising from Apple handing over iCloud data than occurred in the Yahoo case.
Imagine a society in which you are rated by the government on your trustworthiness. Your “citizen score” follows you wherever you go. A high score allows you access to faster internet service or a fast-tracked visa to Europe. If you make political posts online without a permit, or question or contradict the government’s official narrative on current events, however, your score decreases.
Last month, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Education held a workshop in Washington, DC. The topic was “Student Privacy and Ed Tech.” We at EFF have been trying to get the FTC to focus on the privacy risks of educational technology (or “ed tech”) for over two years, so we eagerly filed formal comments.
To make any real progress in advancing data privacy this year, we have to start doing something about Google and Facebook. Not doing so would be like trying to lose weight without changing your diet. Simply ineffective. The impact these two companies have on our privacy cannot be understated. You may know that hidden trackers lurk on most websites you visit, soaking up your personal information.
As we come to the close of 2017, it is increasingly evident that K-12 cybersecurity threats are neither hypothetical, nor imagined. In our rush to embrace technologies for teaching, learning and school operations, we may have made innocent, but ultimately faulty assumptions about the need and effort required to protect digital assets and data.