television will be watching its viewers

Reuters / Steve Marcus Think Google ad targeting is crossing the line? Verizon filed a patent for a cable television box that uses sensors to record what you’re doing and target you with specific advertisements that relate to your mood. … Continue reading

Reuters / Steve Marcus

Think Google ad targeting is crossing the line? Verizon filed a patent for a cable television box that uses sensors to record what you’re doing and target you with specific advertisements that relate to your mood.

The telecom giant Verizon wants to know you better. Much better. The company just registered a patent for its DVR of the future. The set-top box would use a depth sensor, an image sensor, an audio sensor and a thermal sensor to determine what those watching television are doing. If a couple is having an argument in front of the TV, a marriage counseling ad may come up. If two people are cozying up, Verizon may put up an ad for contraceptives or a romantic getaway.

The sensors would also be able to detect where someone is looking. If the viewer is watching a certain ad, Verizon might use that as an indicator to play similar ads in the future.

“If detection facility detects one or more words spoken by a user (e.g. while talking to another user within the same room or on the telephone), advertising facility may utilize the one or more words spoken by the user to search for and/or select an advertisement associated with the one or more words,” Verizon wrote in its application.

Rather than watching television, television will be watching its viewers.

But even pets and inanimate objects could become a part of the targeted advertising. The detection facility would in some cases be able to identify animals (such as dogs, cats, and birds), retail products with brand images or words (such as a bag of chips or a soft drink), furniture and decorations. Verizon would then stream ads that would correspond to the viewer’s style or interests.

Even more intrusive might be the DVR’s ability to detect and communicate with mobile devices held by viewers. If Verizon senses a mobile phone being used, it may “communicate with the mobile device to limit the content accessible by the way of the mobile device”, as well as stream advertisements that correspond to what the viewer is looking at on his or her phone.

If Verizon proceeds with its plans, the technology may bring Big Brother into the households of millions of Americans, giving the tech company a strategic advantage over what Americans watch on their devices.

The company would always know whether a user is “eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, playing a musical instrument, performing any other suitable action, and/or engaging in any other physical activity during the presentation of the media content,” according to the patent.

The paperwork was filed by Verizon in 2011, but the patent filings weren’t required to be released by the US Patent and Trademark Office for 18 months.

Verizon officials declined to comment on the patent when questioned by the media source FierceCable, but released a statement to CBS Radio about the issue of privacy.

“Verizon has a well-established track record of respecting its customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information. As a company that prizes innovation, Verizon takes pride in its innovators whose work is represented in our patents and patent applications. While we do not comment on pending patent applications, such futuristic patent filings by innovators are routine, and whatever we might do in the future would be in line with our well-established track record of respecting our customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information,” the statement reads.

While the patent may not represent plans for current technology, it may provide a glimpse into the future – a future where every private action becomes the interest of a major corporation.


Skype as a phone company

In 2009 it was reported that organised criminals, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings in Milan, Italy, were using Skype in order to frustrate investigators who regularly tapped their phones. Mr Geddes says the encryption of Skype has brought … Continue reading

In 2009 it was reported that organised criminals, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings in Milan, Italy, were using Skype in order to frustrate investigators who regularly tapped their phones.
Mr Geddes says the encryption of Skype has brought about a “fundamental change in the balance of power between governments and people” because they cannot tap or bug VoIP calls.
That may explain why India, China and Saudi Arabia have been threatening to close down Skype services.
Other countries too want the power of lawful intercept for anti-terror purposes or, like Germany, for local police reasons, according to Mr Wolff. But Skype is resisting.
“Skype is trying hard from a regulatory perspective not to be treated like a phone company,” he says.
In future, he foresees Skype or one of its rivals developing a record button which would allow a witness to record images from the other side of the world in an emergency situation.
But for now, Martin Geddes says: “Skype and all these other companies are getting away without having to address the ethical and moral issues, which they like to brush under the carpet.


Facebook passwords

SEATTLE (AP) — Two U.S. senators are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law, their offices announced Sunday. Troubled by reports of the practice, Democratic Sens. Chuck … Continue reading

SEATTLE (AP) — Two U.S. senators are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law, their offices announced Sunday.

Troubled by reports of the practice, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said they are calling on the Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch investigations. The senators are sending letters to the heads of the agencies.

The Associated Press reported last week that some private and public agencies around the country are asking job seekers for their social media credentials. The practice has alarmed privacy advocates, but the legality of it remains murky.

On Friday, Facebook warned employers not to ask job applicants for their passwords to the site so they can poke around on their profiles. The company threatened legal action against applications that violate its long-standing policy against sharing passwords.

A Facebook executive cautioned that if an employer discovers that a job applicant is a member of a protected group, the employer may be vulnerable to claims of discrimination if it doesn’t hire that person.

Personal information such as gender, race, religion and age are often displayed on a Facebook profile — all details that are protected by federal employment law.

“We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users,” Facebook said in a statement.

Not sharing passwords is a basic tenet of online conduct. Aside from the privacy concerns, Facebook considers the practice a security risk.

“In an age where more and more of our personal information — and our private social interactions — are online, it is vital that all individuals be allowed to determine for themselves what personal information they want to make public and protect personal information from their would-be employers. This is especially important during the job-seeking process, when all the power is on one side of the fence,” Schumer said in a statement.

Specifically, the senators want to know if this practice violates the Stored Communications Act or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Those two acts, respectively, prohibit intentional access to electronic information without authorization and intentional access to a computer without authorization to obtain information.

The senators also want to know whether two court cases relating to supervisors asking current employees for social media credentials could be applied to job applicants.

“I think it’s going to take some years for courts to decide whether Americans in the digital age have the same privacy rights” as previous generations, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Catherine Crump said in a previous interview with the AP.

The senators also said they are drafting a bill to fill in any gaps that current laws don’t cover.

Maryland and Illinois are considering bills that would bar public agencies for asking for this information.

In California, Democratic Sen. Leland Yee introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from asking current employees or job applicants for their social media user names or passwords. That state measure also would bar employers from requiring access to employees’ and applicants’ social media content, to prevent employers from requiring logins or printouts of that content for their review.

In Massachusetts, state Democratic Rep. Cheryl Coakly-Rivera also filed a similar bill Friday that also expands to include personal email. Her measure also bars employers from “friending” a job applicant to view protected Facebook profiles or using similar methods for other protected social media websites.

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Manuel Valdes can be reached at https://twitter.com/ByManuelValdes.


Google Privacy Policy

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple … Continue reading

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.
We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at http://www.google.com/policies. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.
Got questions?
We’ve got answers.
Visit our FAQ at http://www.google.com/policies/faq to read more about the changes. (We figured our users might have a question or twenty-two.)

Privly

A new tool under development by Oregon State computer scientists could radically alter the way that communications work on the web. Privly is a sort of manifesto-in-code, a working argument for a more private, less permanent Internet.

The system we ha…

A new tool under development by Oregon State computer scientists could radically alter the way that communications work on the web. Privly is a sort of manifesto-in-code, a working argument for a more private, less permanent Internet. The system we have now gives all the power to the service providers. That seemed to be necessary, but Privly shows that it is not: Users could have a lot more

Privly

A new tool under development by Oregon State computer scientists could radically alter the way that communications work on the web. Privly is a sort of manifesto-in-code, a working argument for a more private, less permanent Internet. The system we have now gives all the power to the service providers. That seemed to be necessary, […]

A new tool under development by Oregon State computer scientists could radically alter the way that communications work on the web. Privly is a sort of manifesto-in-code, a working argument for a more private, less permanent Internet.

The system we have now gives all the power to the service providers. That seemed to be necessary, but Privly shows that it is not: Users could have a lot more power without giving up social networking. Just pointing that out is a valuable contribution to the ongoing struggle to understand and come up with better ways of sharing and protecting ourselves online.

“Companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook make you choose between modern technology and privacy. But the Privly developers know this to be false choice,” lead dev Sean McGregor says in the video below. “You can communicate through the site of your choosing without giving the host access to your content.”

Through browser extensions, Privly allows you to post to social networks and send email without letting those services see “into” your text. Instead, your actual words get encrypted and then routed to Privlys servers (or an eventual peer-to-peer network). What the social media site “sees” is merely a link that Privly expands in your browser into the full content. Of course, this requires that people who want to see your content also need Privly installed on their machines.

Google Privacy Policy

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and …

We're getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that's a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of

employers asking for Facebook passwords

SEATTLE (AP) — Two U.S. senators are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law, their offices announced Sunday.

Troubled by reports of the practi…

SEATTLE (AP) -- Two U.S. senators are asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether employers asking for Facebook passwords during job interviews are violating federal law, their offices announced Sunday. Troubled by reports of the practice, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said they are calling on the Department of Justice and the U.S

Skype is trying hard not to be treated like a phone company

In 2009 it was reported that organised criminals, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings in Milan, Italy, were using Skype in order to frustrate investigators who regularly tapped their phones.
Mr Geddes says the encryption of Skype has brought about a "fundamental change in the balance of power between governments and people" because they cannot tap or bug VoIP calls.
That may

In 2009 it was reported that organised criminals, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings in Milan, Italy, were using Skype in order to frustrate investigators who regularly tapped their phones. Mr Geddes says the encryption of Skype has brought about a "fundamental change in the balance of power between governments and people" because they cannot tap or bug VoIP calls. That may