Microsoft has embarked on a campaign claiming that they are concerned about your privacy on the internet. The campaign is a direct attack at Google who does not have the best track record when it comes to protecting people’s privacy. In fact Google is currently under investigation for establishing policies that violate EU privacy laws. Microsoft is taking advantage of commotion around Google’s privacy problems to try and bring people over to their side. This move, when looked at is as interesting as it is funny.
Remember the news we brought you about the FBI and other law enforcement agencies wanting more power to dig into your electronic communication? Well we have been forwarded an interesting follow on article today that looks like an opening shot in the campaign to get laws passed to extend these powers. The article was published on cnet and raises concerns about what our government is willing to do to get their way and require ISPs to put in real-time monitoring hardware and systems. These systems could potentially allow for broad harvesting of electronic communication without the need for a warrant (if CISPA and other bills are passed as well).
It looks like Facebook has already begun sharing user information with Law Enforcement; possibly without consent and in violation of some wiretapping laws. The news comes on the heels of a Reuters Interview with an investigator for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In this interview Jeffrey Duncan said that Facebook contacts law enforcement when they find a post or conversation (through the Facebook messaging system) that contains possible criminal activity.
Google has agreed to settle with the FTC over accusations that they bypassed security features in Safari to track users’ internet habits. Although Google often comments that they maintain the highest privacy and security standards for its users they have been repeatedly in the news for violations of privacy. Let’s face it, Google wants and needs data they really do not care so much about how they get it as long as they do. They have been in trouble over street view, Google Maps, Google Docs, Chrome, and now for tracking people when they specifically use features to prevent them from being tracked.
Last week we published an article that highlighted the work of a group of students at the University of Texas led by Professor Todd Humphreys. During an impressive demonstration they were able to bring a commercial drone (the same type is also used by Law Enforcement) down by spoofing the GPS data sent to it during navigation. The flaw was found in just about any Drone that uses the civil GPS system (which also could apply to many other devices) and does not include encrypted GPS applications yet although the research did show that with the right equipment even encrypted GPS systems could be vulnerable.
Google has been competing with Facebook for a long time. This goes back to before the launch of their Google+ social networking service. We have honestly never bothered to see what the original reasons for the competition are since the two companies originally did not even operate in the same market space. Google is all about ads and Facebook is really all about gathering… Ah there it is. So now that we have hit the nail on the head so to speak let’s talk about this little rivalry along with some of the fun stuff that is rumored to be going on and that is really going on.
It seems that Microsoft is working the PR angle again. First we saw this when it was obvious that public opinion was turning against it with SOPA and PIPA. They distanced themselves from the BSA (Business Software Alliance) and then released a statement saying that they could not support SOPA in its current incarnation. This time Microsoft is doing the PR shift with CISPA. They released a statement to CNET saying pretty much the same thing while not really opposing the actual bill or its ramifications.
The explosion of the smart phone tied to the sudden need for people to post where they are and what they are doing every minute of the day has led to some rather interesting consequences. We all have heard the numerous reports of applications that are taking your personal data right off of your phone and then either selling it or using it to push their own applications… which reminds us… what ever happened to all those congressional requests and demands? Anyway getting back to the point we have even heard how one application (now pulled from distribution) used public Facebook profiles combined with check-ins on the Facebook game Four Square to allow almost anyone to stalk nearby women.
Facebook has not always been on the side of user privacy. In fact they have gotten into hot water about many of the features that they want to, and indeed have implemented. These are features like auto-tagging and facial recognition, the use of user pictures for their targeted ads. Storing user information after the user deletes it and even keeping deleted profiles after the user leaves Facebook. Now in what could be a PR move (and probably is) or could really be their concern over a new issue Facebook is telling users not to disclose their Facebook account passwords to employers, potential employers or during interviews.
It looks like Google is having more problems today that just a security issue with Google Wallet. EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center) has filed suit against the Federal Trade Commission in order to force them to stop Google’s planned policy changes that will go into effect on March 1st.