July 9, 2019

Google suspends Trends emails after revealing murder suspect’s name

By Lisa Vaas

After violating a court suppression order and publishing a murder suspect’s name, Google has suspended its Trends alert emails in New Zealand.

In New Zealand, among other countries, the right to a fair trial includes a court’s being able to order people and organizations to refrain from publishing suspects’ names.

Google didn’t do that. It says it didn’t even mean to, but its Google Trends alerts went ahead and emailed out links to a media report that included the murder suspect’s name.

A few days after the December 2018 murder of British backpacker Grace Millane, Google had sent an email to anyone signed up for its “what’s trending in New Zealand” alert. After Google’s news-gathering algorithm picked up a British newspaper’s report of the suspect’s court appearance, it automatically forwarded the story to all subscribers, including the name of the accused killer in the subject line.

That action violated a suppression order prohibiting publication of the suspect’s name or identification details. Google’s violation sparked outrage in New Zealand, which, with its low serious-crime rate, had been shocked by the murder of the young tourist, believed to have been killed the night before her 22nd birthday.

According to a furious letter published by NZ Minister of Justice Andrew Little last week, when he met with Google representatives six months ago, Google said that the company took the issue seriously and that they’d look into what they could do to fix the problem.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2019/07/09/google-suspends-trends-emails-after-revealing-murder-suspects-name/

Firefox to include tracker blocking report feature

By Danny Bradbury

Mozilla has introduced a lot of tracker blocking protections into Firefox lately. Now, it is planning a new feature that will let you see how many online snoopers you’ve successfully evaded.

A new feature called the Tracking Protections Panel (aka the Protection Report) will tell users how many trackers Firefox blocked in the prior week, giving them a good sense of how well these protections are working.

To help understand why Mozilla is doing this, it’s worth looking at the tracker protections Firefox has recently added.

Mozilla released the full version of its Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) system in Firefox 67.0.1 in June. This introduced default blocking for cross-site trackers, which are the small pieces of code embedded in websites by advertising networks. They watch what you’re reading across the web to generate a profile of you.

Mozilla simultaneously released an updated version of its Facebook Container to stop the social media giant tracking people in a similar way. Those share and like buttons you see on various sites? They tell Facebook what you’re reading across the web – whether you click them or not. The updated container blocks those, along with all other connections to Facebook’s servers.

In May 2019, Firefox also introduced a feature to block any cryptomining scripts that the user runs across. These are JavaScript programs that use the browser’s host computer to mine for cryptocurrency (typically Monero). One or two are legit and ask the user’s permission. Most aren’t, and don’t.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2019/07/09/firefox-to-include-tracker-blocking-report-feature/

Apple aims privacy billboard at Google’s controversial smart-city

By Lisa Vaas

Some say that Apple’s strenuous Privacy-R-Us marketing campaign is hypocritical, but that’s not stopping it from continuing to troll Google over the issue.

In January 2019, it was the billboard it erected over Las Vegas during CES, blaring out that “what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”

The billboard depicted an iPhone and linked to apple.com/privacy: the spot where Apple proclaims that privacy is a “fundamental human right”.

It doesn’t gather and share your data, Apple promises, be it from taking a photo; asking Siri a question; getting directions; what your heart rate is after a run; what news stories you read; where you bought your last coffee; what websites you visit; or who you call, email, or message.

You can do it knowing that Apple doesn’t gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations.

Apple products are designed to protect your privacy – every Apple product is designed from the ground up to protect that information. And to empower you to choose what you share and with whom.

Quayside: prime site for privacy virtue signaling

But that billboard was then, and this is now: Apple has a new billboard and a far more specific target. This time, the company has erected a privacy billboard at the site of a developing “smart city” called Quayside. Some are calling the neighborhood, on Toronto’s eastern waterfront, a privacy dystopia in the making. It’s going to be sensor-thick, and it’s tangled up with the uber data-collecting Google: the developer is Sidewalk Labs, which is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2019/07/09/apple-aims-privacy-billboard-at-googles-controversial-smart-city/


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