privacy

A list of hacked private data belonging to 537 customers, posted anonymously on the internet on Friday led Dutch telecoms company KPN to shut down email access for two million clients for two days while it reinforced security, writes Matt Steinglass in Amsterdam.
But it soon turned out that the hacked data didn’t come from KPN at all; it came from an online baby-products store called Baby-Dump (baby-dump.nl).

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This week, Path, the social networking app, faced criticism for storing users’ information after Arun Thampi, a developer, discovered his iPhone’s address book was uploaded to Path’s servers without his permission.

While Dave Morin, CEO of Path, apologised in a post and vowed to delete the contacts from Path’s servers, tech commentators debated how iOS developers and Apple should deal with access to user data. Read more

Maija Palmer

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One thing Facebook’s IPO filing documents make clear is that the company is taking privacy risks seriously. Privacy is mentioned 35 times, mainly as a risk factor.

The company acknowledges that media coverage of privacy lapses, for example, could affect profits. Read more

Richard Waters

Microsoft, which often lobbies intensively behind the scenes against Google, has for the first time taken its campaign into print. It began a three-day series of adverts in US newspapers on Wednesday taking aim at Google’s latest moves to integrate its services and standardise its privacy policies.

The message: You can no longer trust Google to put its users first. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Google was dragged over the coals by a British parliamentary committee on Monday afternoon, as the technology company’s approach to removing illegal content from its search results again came under scrutiny. Read more

Maija Palmer

Add an ImageNorwegian public sector organisations will be banned from using Google Apps after the Norwegian data protection authorities ruled that the service could put citizens’ personal data at risk.

The data protection authority said Google Apps did not comply with Norwegian privacy  laws because there was insufficient information about where data was being kept. The decision came from a test case in Narvik, where the local council had chosen to use Google Apps for their email. Read more

Facebook’s release of 60 new lifestyle apps that let users track the recipes they cooked, the dresses they bought, and the trip to Paris they want to take, are turning the social network into a personal online scrapbook.

The apps, plus Facebook’s opening of its platform to any developer that wants to build on it, are clearly aimed at diversifying the experiences people can have on the site – to stem boredom, and to keep people participating. That’s a sensible business move ahead of the company’s IPO, as it keeps engagement rates up, and that keeps marketers optimistic and spending money.

But is seamlessly sharing the most minute details of daily life truly a way to stay connected with people, even within the limited confines of the internet? Read more

Maija Palmer

Facebook has taken the unusual step of making public the names and personal details of five men it believes to be behind the Koobface computer worm that attacked hundreds of thousands of computers through the social network’s profiles.

The alleged gang appear to be living in St Petersburg and were tracked by Facebook and a team of researchers over three years. Read more

Maija Palmer

ICO logoThe rhetoric over cookie legislation ratcheted up a notch on Tuesday, as the Information Commissioner’s Office told companies they “must try harder” in working out how to comply with the new rules on online privacy.

Christopher Graham, the commissioner, suggested that very few companies had yet come up with ways to get permission from online users to collect their details, as required by the new law. Read more

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Facebook users can rest easier. This week, the social networking site settled a privacy complaint from the Federal Trade Commission.

While Mark Zuckerberg admitted “a bunch of mistakes” had been made in the past, he wrote that the company is “committed to being transparent”. But skeptics questioned whether sharing information on Facebook and user privacy can coexist. Read more

On the heels of launching a series of new products that has Facebook users spilling more details of their lives online, the company has now announced a series of new ad products that give advertisers more information about their prospective customers and expands the tools advertisers can use to turn users’ ordinary Facebook activities into paid endorsements. Read more

Spotify has been forced to introduce new privacy features to its music streaming software after complaints by users about its Facebook integration.

It’s the first climbdown by an app maker after last week’s f8 introduced “frictionless sharing”, whereby every song listened to is shared on Facebook by default. Read more

Richard Waters

Facebook’s decision to put more privacy controls into its members’ hands while they are actually using the service – not just tucked away on a separate privacy settings page – should be welcomed. But as often with such developments on Facebook, there are also reasons for caution. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Google remains on notice from the UK’s data protection watchdog after an audit found that it had taken “reasonable steps” to improve its privacy practices. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Well, that was fast. Just 48 hours after the FT flagged a loophole that “resharing” on Google+ could in a couple of clicks make a “limited” post visible to anyone, Google has announced a fix will be in place early next week. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

A big part of Google’s pitch for its new social networking service is that it’s easier for users to manage who sees what they post on the site.

Privacy has never been a strong suit for either Facebook or Google, but the Circles feature on Google+ is a simpler way to categorise groups of friends than is available on Facebook. Users are given the option of which Circles of contacts to share a piece of content with, each and every time they post something. Google has today been able to bathe in the rare warmth of widespread praise for its approach to privacy.

But this is a beta and there are going to be bugs. One appears to be in Google+’s “resharing” feature, which works a little like a retweet on Twitter or reblogging on Tumblr. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Facebook has admitted that it hired a public-relations firm in the US with the aim of placing stories critical of Google’s approach to privacy in the media.

The embarrassing disclosure is the latest sign of the increasing rivalry between Facebook and Google, as they go head-to-head over internet users’ time and advertisers’ budgets. Read more

Joseph Menn

Multiple members of the US Congress fired off letters to Apple this week about reports that iPhones not only store data about their owners whereabouts but leave unencrypted copies of the information on users’ main computers. Read more

Under pressure from regulators, two more browsers are taking steps to help users avoid having their internet activity tracked–if the websites they visit cooperate. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Glee and gloom in equal measure for Facebook today.

The latest forecasts by eMarketer pitch its global 2011 ad revenues at more than $4bn globally this year – double last year’s sales, and another eye-popping feat of scale.

But at the same time, Facebook is fending off another privacy outcry after allowing developers to access users’ addresses and phone numbers. Read more