But what these services show us is even more alarming: US telcos appear to be selling direct, non-anonymized, real-time access to consumer telephone data to third party services — not just federal law enforcement officials — who are then selling access to that data.
Microsoft does not intend to gather sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, email addresses, or other similarly sensitive information for Linguistic Data Collection. We guard against such events by using technologies to identify and remove sensitive information before linguistic data is sent from the user’s device. If we determine that sensitive information has been inadvertently received, we delete the information.
The tactics Microsoft employed to get users of earlier versions of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10 went from annoying to downright malicious. Some highlights: Microsoft installed an app in users’ system trays advertising the free upgrade to Windows 10. The app couldn’t be easily hidden or removed, but some enterprising users figured out a way. Then, the company kept changing the app and bundling it into various security patches, creating a cat-and-mouse game to uninstall it.
And while users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so.
Known as Silverpush, the software is designed to monitor consumers’ television use through the use of “audio beacons” emitted by TVs, which consumers can’t hear but can be detected by the software. The letters note that the software would be capable of producing a detailed log of the television content viewed while a user’s mobile device was turned on for the purpose of targeted advertising and analytics.
When you open an app or look at a browser page, there’s a very fast auction that happens where different advertisers bid to get to show you an ad. Their bid is based on how valuable they think you are, and to decide that, your phone sends them information about you, including, in many cases, an identifying code (that they’ve built a profile around) and your location information, down to your latitude and longitude.
Sign into Windows with your Microsoft account and the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the company’s servers. That includes your browser history, favorites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.
The updated terms also state that Microsoft will collect information “from you and your devices, including for example ‘app use data for apps that run on Windows’ and ‘data about the networks you connect to.’”
If you have AT&T’s gigabit Internet service and wonder why it seems so affordable, here’s the reason—AT&T is boosting profits by rerouting all your Web browsing to an in-house traffic scanning platform, analyzing your Internet habits, then using the results to deliver personalized ads to the websites you visit, e-mail to your inbox, and junk mail to your front door.
Use https. They may know which sites you visit but they won’t know any of the http fields because that is all encrypted. Most big sites like Google and Facebook use https by default nowadays.
Another is Ekko.net, a privacy-focused service that is currently invite-only. It gives users the ability to create policies that govern specific accounts or even communications, explains Ekko.net founder Rick Peters. For example, a user might decide to assign a password to protect a specific e-mail thread, text message, or social media communication. Or they might set a “self destruct” date for a message, causing it to be erased at a predetermined time.
Will tools such as Blur and Ekko.net tilt the playing field in favor of consumers and their privacy?
Privacy experts say: Probably not.
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party,” the policy reads.
But on Monday – four days after learning the Guardian intended to publish this story – Whisper rewrote its terms of service; they now explicitly permit the company to establish the broad location of people who have disabled the app’s geolocation feature.
Whisper has developed an in-house mapping tool that allows its staff to filter and search GPS data, pinpointing messages to within 500 meters of where they were sent.
Whisper, which was recently valued at over $200m, has grown rapidly since its launch two years ago. It is among the fleet of confessional apps, such as Secret and Yik Yak, which backers say enable users to be more candid than they are on other social media platforms.