So suddenly you find yourself in an ad for their sister site, KinkedIn

So I was wondering about some weird LinkedIn emails, but they seemed harmless.  However, Steve Woodruff, Connection Agent, found that some of LinkedIn’s recent changes are far more obnoxious.

Apparently, LinkedIn has recently done us the “favor” of having a default setting whereby our names and photos can be used for third-party advertising.

*UPDATE: After you finish with Account, check the new default settings under E-mail Preferences (such as Partner InMails); and Groups, Companies & Applications (such as Data Sharing with 3rd-party applications). It’s a Facebook deja vu!

I was pretty much done with LinkedIn as I’ve seen no value from it in three years, but had kept my account due to inertia.  That’s changed.

Go and check your settings:

Google Group Members to Use Facial Recognition to Identify London Rioters


A new Google Group called “London Riots Facial Recognition” has appeared online, in the wake of the riots that rocked the U.K. capital over the weekend. The group’s goal is to use facial recognition technologies to identify the looters who appear in online photos.

The group appears to be thoughtfully considering its actions, in threads titled “Ethical Issues,” and “Keeping Things Legal,” for example. They’ve also stated that “it’s important we only use legal sources for images.”

However, there’s a major “creepy” factor to this undertaking, too. The idea that a group of people would team up online to use (misuse?) facial recognition technologies in this way, notably outside professional law enforcement channels, seems like a modern take on vigilante style justice, where the torches of the angry villagers have turned into APIs and algorithms.

In one newer thread, started just this morning, a commenter offers their assistance in building a tool using the Face.API, which could help identify people in photos posted on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. There is even talk of using the Facebook Graph API and the Twitter API in conjunction with the one to help better identify the criminals.

While clearly, we have nothing against criminals being brought to justice, there still may be some concerns involved with this type of online behavior. As argued here on Hacker News, this method could incriminate people who were not participating, but were bystanders, or simply trying to get home. Whether their actions here are legal, whether or not they involve public photos, the question is – do we want to crowdsource justice in this way?

California ruling on identity theft

In California, a recent ruling appears to define making false comments on someone else’s Facebook as identity theft. Rolando, a juvenile resident, accessed the account information for another person, and like any good prankster, couldn’t just let it go to waste. As a result, he logged onto the account, impersonated the rightful owner and made some public statements proclaiming a certain fondness of fellatio. As a result, he was charged with identity theft. Now, if you’ve had one of your “friends” do the same thing to you, as you likely have, identity theft may seem like a little bit of a jump, so Geekosystem breaks down the specifics.

Crazy Random Happenstance

Facebook blocked a Chrome extension today that let you export all your data (including contact info about your FB friends) to your computer.

I’m sure this has NOTHING to do with the many beta users of Google + utilizing this extension in the last few days.


It does raise a question:  To whom does your identity information belong?  To you?  What about to friends with whom you’ve shared it via Facebook or another tool?  To the tool you used?

This is the same model that has made me crazy for years, whenever Equifax or a similar credit agency charged me for access to my information.

It’s possible that we should split data from information:  I own my data (my gender, name, age, address) and can share it with my friends or businesses or the government and they can do whatever they want with it (Friend A can tell his Friend Q my birthdate).  When they turn it into information (“we’ve analyzed your gender, age, residency, and search terms, and think you’ll like these ads”), then that info is theirs and I’d have to pay to get it or to keep them from using it or selling it.

the Fake Mark Zuckerberg?

Those of us who made it into the Google+ beta before they shut down invites (or got hacked into it afterwards) had a good laugh when we discovered that Zuckerberg was in the beta.

There was instant doubt.  Is it really him?

I think it is – I mean, why wouldn’t he?  If I were him I’d be in the beta.  But I think it’s interesting that the reaction is immediate suspicion of identity.  “Fake until proven real” seems to be the rule for folks who spend a lot of cycles on social media.

Sadly, “real until proven fake” seems to be the starting point for everyone else.

EFF Applauds New Electronic Privacy Bill That Tells the Government: Come Back With a Warrant!

(via EFF)

Today, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced much-needed legislation to update the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986, a critically important but woefully outdated federal privacy law in desperate need of a 21st century upgrade. This ECPA Amendments Act of 2011 (S. 1011) would implement several of the reform principles advocated by EFF as part of the Digital Due Process (DDP) coalition, and is a welcome first step in the process of providing stronger and clearer privacy protections for our Internet communications and location data. Here is the bill text, along with a summary of the bill.

The upshot? If the government wants to track your cell phone or seize your email or read your private IMs or social network messages, the bill would require that it first go to court and get a search warrant based on probable cause. This is consistent with DDP‘s principles, builds on EFF’s hard-won court victories on how the Fourth Amendment applies to your email and your cell phone location data, and would represent a great step forward for online and mobile privacy protections.

The bill isn’t absolutely free of problems: although it clearly would require a warrant for ongoing tracking of your cell phone, it would also and unfortunately preserve the current statutory rule allowing the government to get historical records of your location without probable cause. It also expands the government’s authority to use National Security Letters to obtain rich transactional data about who you communicate with online and when, without probable cause or court oversight. You can count on EFF to press for these problems to be fixed, and for all of the DDP principles to be addressed, as the bill proceeds through Congress.

However, as the start of the process of updating ECPA for the always-on, location-enabled technology of the 21st century, Senator Leahy’s bill represents an incredibly important step in the right direction, and we at EFF look forward to working with Senator Leahy and others in Congress as they work to create new laws to better protect your online and mobile privacy. In the meantime, stay tuned for more commentary and analysis from EFF as the ECPA reform process moves forward.