The Conversation: What do TikTok, Bunnings, eBay and Netflix have in common? They’re all hyper-collectors

The Conversation: What do TikTok, Bunnings, eBay and Netflix have in common? They’re all hyper-collectors . “Consumer data is big business. In 2019, a report from digital marketers WebFX showed that data from around 1,400 loyalty programs was routinely being traded across the globe as part of an industry worth around US$200 billion. That same year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s review of loyalty schemes revealed how many of these loyalty schemes lacked data transparency and even discriminated against vulnerable customers. But the digital environment is making data collection even easier.”

TechCrunch: New documents reveal ‘huge’ scale of US government’s cell phone location data tracking

TechCrunch: New documents reveal ‘huge’ scale of US government’s cell phone location data tracking. “It’s no secret that U.S. government agencies have been obtaining and using location data collected by Americans’ smartphones. In early 2020, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bought access to millions of smartphone users’ location data to track undocumented immigrants and suspected tax dodgers. However, new documents obtained by the ACLU through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit now reveal the extent of this warrantless data collection.”

The Register: Tracking cookies found in more than half of G20 government websites

The Register: Tracking cookies found in more than half of G20 government websites . “A study by IMDEA, a research facility in Madrid, Spain, evaluated more than 118,000 URLs of 5,500 government websites – think .gov, .gov.uk. .gov.au, .gc.ca, etc. – hosted in the twenty largest global economies (the G20) and discovered a surprising tracking cookie problem, even among countries party to Europe’s GDPR and those with their own data privacy regulations.”

9to5 Google: Firefox now automatically removes tracking parameters from URLs to enhance privacy

9to5 Google: Firefox now automatically removes tracking parameters from URLs to enhance privacy. “According to an article from Bleeping Computer, companies like Facebook, Marketo, and HubSpot use custom URL query parameters to track links on clicks. Companies do this in order to provide users with a more personalized ad experience online. Called Query Parameter Stripping, these sites can no longer track what links you click when browsing on Firefox; once you’ve enabled the feature.”

WIRED: Google Warns of New Spyware Targeting iOS and Android Users

WIRED: Google Warns of New Spyware Targeting iOS and Android Users. “IN HEARINGS THIS week, the notorious spyware vendor NSO group told European legislators that at least five EU countries have used its powerful Pegasus surveillance malware. But as ever more comes to light about the reality of how NSO’s products have been abused around the world, researchers are also working to raise awareness that the surveillance-for-hire industry goes far beyond one company.”

Concordia University: Government websites and apps use the same tracking software as commercial ones, according to new Concordia research

Concordia University: Government websites and apps use the same tracking software as commercial ones, according to new Concordia research. “It’s no secret that the commercial websites and mobile apps we use every day are tracking us. Big companies like Facebook and Google depend on it. However, as a new paper by a team of Concordia researchers shows, businesses are not the only ones gathering up our private data. Governments across the world are incorporating the same tracking tools and empowering large businesses to track users of government services, even in jurisdictions where lawmakers are enacting legislation to restrict commercial trackers.”

WIRED: Spyware Vendors Target Android With Zero-Day Exploits

WIRED: Spyware Vendors Target Android With Zero-Day Exploits. “NSO GROUP AND its powerful Pegasus malware have dominated the debate over commercial spyware vendors who sell their hacking tools to governments, but researchers and tech companies are increasingly sounding the alarm about activity in the wider surveillance-for-hire industry. As part of this effort, Google’s Threat Analysis Group is publishing details on Thursday of three campaigns that used the popular Predator spyware, developed by the North Macedonian firm Cytrox, to target Android users.”

Study: How Amazon uses Echo smart speaker conversations to target ads (The Register)

The Register: Study: How Amazon uses Echo smart speaker conversations to target ads. “Amazon and third-party services have been using smart speaker interaction data for ad targeting, in violation of privacy commitments, according to researchers at four US universities. Academics at the University of Washington, University of California-Davis, University of California-Irvine, and Northeastern University claim ‘Amazon processes voice data to infer user interests and uses it to serve targeted ads on-platform (Echo devices) as well as off-platform (web).’”

Washington Post: Why is the U.S. still probing foreign visitors’ social media accounts?

Washington Post: Why is the U.S. still probing foreign visitors’ social media accounts?. “The government has never adequately explained, let alone provided evidence of, the need for this policy. Obama-era pilot programs failed to show that social media screening is a useful visa vetting tool. And during the early days of the Biden administration, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which analyzes the cost and benefits of regulations, rejected a previous DHS proposal to expand the State Department policy; it concluded that DHS had failed to demonstrate the policy’s ‘practical utility’ and to justify its ‘monetary and social’ costs. And yet the Biden administration is now doubling down on the Trump-era policy by expanding it.”

Bloomberg Law: Postal Service Social Media Tracking Tests Crime Unit’s Power

Bloomberg Law: Postal Service Social Media Tracking Tests Crime Unit’s Power. “Tracking by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s online investigative program has coincided with Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in 2021, according to government reports. In certain cases, it has exceeded the agency’s legal powers over postal crimes, according to a recent watchdog report by the USPS Office of Inspector General. The report calls for a review of the program by September.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison: You’re muted — or are you? Videoconferencing apps may listen even when mic is off

University of Wisconsin-Madison: You’re muted — or are you? Videoconferencing apps may listen even when mic is off. “Kassem Fawaz’s brother was on a videoconference with the microphone muted when he noticed that the microphone light was still on — indicating, inexplicably, that his microphone was being accessed. Alarmed, he asked Fawaz, an expert in online privacy and an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, to look into the issue.”

Motherboard: Police Records Show Women Are Being Stalked With Apple AirTags Across the Country

Motherboard: Police Records Show Women Are Being Stalked With Apple AirTags Across the Country. “Attach an AirTag to your purse, keys, wallet, or even your car, and if you lose it, the device will ping every nearby Apple product with Bluetooth turned on to triangulate its location. Those devices send its location back to you on a map, showing where the AirTag has been and its current location. Police records reviewed by Motherboard show that, as security experts immediately predicted when the product launched, this technology has been used as a tool to stalk and harass women.”

Washington Post: The FBI is spending millions on social media tracking software

Washington Post: The FBI is spending millions on social media tracking software. “Social media users seemed to foreshadow the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — and the FBI apparently missed it. Now, the FBI is doubling down on tracking social media posts, spending millions of dollars on thousands of licenses to powerful social media monitoring technology that privacy and civil liberties advocates say raise serious concerns.”