Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Facebook spends more than a decade expressing contrition for its actions and avowing its commitment to people’s privacy – but refuses constructive action



“It is untenable that organizations are allowed to reject my office’s legal findings as mere opinions. Facebook should not get to decide what Canadian privacy law does or does not require.[Canandian Privacy Commissioner  Daniel Therrien, 25 April 2019]

Facbook Inc. professes that it  has taken steps to ensure the intregrity of political discourse on its platform, but rather tellingly will not roll out transparency features in Australia that it has already rolled out in the US, UK, Eu, India, Israel and Ukraine.

The only measure it commits to taking during this federal election campaign is to temporarily ban people outside Australiabuying ads that Facebook determines are “political”.


So it should come as no surprise that Canada issued this three page news release…….

Office of the Privacy Commission of Canada, news release, 25 April 2019:

Facebook refuses to address serious privacy deficiencies despite public apologies for “breach of trust”

Joint investigation finds major shortcomings in the social media giant’s privacy practices, highlighting pressing need for legislative reform to adequately protect the rights of Canadians

OTTAWA, April 25, 2019 – Facebook committed serious contraventions of Canadian privacy laws and failed to take responsibility for protecting the personal information of Canadians, an investigation has found.

Despite its public acknowledgement of a “major breach of trust” in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook disputes the investigation findings of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia. The company also refuses to implement recommendations to address deficiencies.

“Facebook’s refusal to act responsibly is deeply troubling given the vast amount of sensitive personal information users have entrusted to this company,” says Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien. “Their privacy framework was empty, and their vague terms were so elastic that they were not meaningful for privacy protection.

“The stark contradiction between Facebook’s public promises to mend its ways on privacy and its refusal to address the serious problems we’ve identified – or even acknowledge that it broke the law – is extremely concerning.”

“Facebook has spent more than a decade expressing contrition for its actions and avowing its commitment to people’s privacy,” B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy says, “but when it comes to taking concrete actions needed to fix transgressions they demonstrate disregard.”

Commissioner McEvoy says Facebook’s actions point to the need for giving provincial and federal privacy regulators stronger sanctioning power in order to protect the public’s interests. “The ability to levy meaningful fines would be an important starting point,” he says.

The findings and Facebook’s rejection of the report’s recommendations highlight critical weaknesses within the current Canadian privacy protection framework and underscore an urgent need for stronger privacy laws, according to both Commissioners.

“It is untenable that organizations are allowed to reject my office’s legal findings as mere opinions,” says Commissioner Therrien.

In addition to the power to levy financial penalties on companies, both Commissioners say they should also be given broader authority to inspect the practices of organizations to independently confirm privacy laws are being respected. This measure would be in alignment with the powers that exist in the U.K. and several other countries.

Giving the federal Commissioner order-making powers would also ensure that his findings and remedial measures are binding on organizations that refuse to comply with the law. 

The complaint that initiated the investigation followed media reports that Facebook had allowed an organization to use an app to access users’ personal information and that some of the data was then shared with other organizations, including Cambridge Analytica, which was involved in U.S. political campaigns.

The app, at one point called “This is Your Digital Life,” encouraged users to complete a personality quiz. It collected information about users who installed the app as well as their Facebook “friends.” Some 300,000 Facebook users worldwide added the app, leading to the potential disclosure of the personal information of approximately 87 million others, including more than 600,000 Canadians.

The investigation revealed Facebook violated federal and B.C. privacy laws in a number of respects. The specific deficiencies include:

Unauthorized access

Facebook’s superficial and ineffective safeguards and consent mechanisms resulted in a third-party app’s unauthorized access to the information of millions of Facebook users. Some of that information was subsequently used for political purposes.

Lack of meaningful consent from “friends of friends”

Facebook failed to obtain meaningful consent from both the users who installed the app as well as those users’ “friends,” whose personal information Facebook also disclosed.

No proper oversight over privacy practices of apps

Facebook did not exercise proper oversight with respect to the privacy practices of apps on its platform.  It relied on contractual terms with apps to protect against unauthorized access to user information; however, its approach to monitoring compliance with those terms was wholly inadequate.

Overall lack of responsibility for personal information

A basic principle of privacy laws is that organizations are responsible for the personal information under their control. Instead, Facebook attempted to shift responsibility for protecting personal information to the apps on its platform, as well as to users themselves.

The failures identified in the investigation are particularly concerning given that a 2009 investigation of Facebook by the federal Commissioner’s office also found contraventions with respect to seeking overly broad, uninformed consent for disclosures of personal information to third-party apps, as well as inadequate monitoring to protect against unauthorized access by those apps.

If Facebook had implemented the 2009 investigation’s recommendations meaningfully, the risk of unauthorized access and use of Canadians’ personal information by third party apps could have been avoided or significantly mitigated.

Facebook’s refusal to accept the Commissioners’ recommendations means there is a high risk that the personal information of Canadians could be used in ways that they do not know or suspect, exposing them to potential harms.

Given the extent and severity of the issues identified, the Commissioners sought to implement measures to ensure the company respects its accountability and other privacy obligations in the future. However, Facebook refused to voluntarily submit to audits of its privacy policies and practices over the next five years.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada plans to take the matter to Federal Court to seek an order to force the company to correct its privacy practices.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. reserves its right under the Personal Information Protection Act to consider future actions against Facebook.  

Related documents:

* Note: my yellow highlighting

Nor should this alleged 'mistake' made by Facebook cause surprise.......

The New York Times, 25 April 2019:

SAN FRANCISCO — The New York State attorney general’s office plans to open an investigation into Facebook’s unauthorized collection of more than 1.5 million users’ email address books, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The inquiry concerns a practice unearthed in April in which Facebook harvested the email contact lists of a portion of new users who signed up for the network after 2016, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiry had not been officially announced.

Those lists were then used to improve Facebook’s ad-targeting algorithms and other friend connections across the network.

The investigation was confirmed late Thursday afternoon by the attorney general’s office.

“Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data,” said Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, in a statement. “It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal information.”…

Users were not notified that their contact lists were being harvested at the time. Facebook shuttered the contact list collection mechanism shortly after the issue was discovered by the press…..

Facebook Inc's rapacious business practices has been the death of online privacy and now threatens the democratic process.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Something to think about - Part One



September 2015 to January 2019

8501.0 - Retail Trade, Australia, Jan 2019  

* All images from Twitter.


Monday, 17 December 2018

Once again peak scam is here for the summer


Throughout the year there are periods where I receive scam calls up to twice a week.

Sometimes I am warned about my imminent arrest for tax evasion, sometimes I am informed that I have compensation money coming to me from a motor vehicle accident in which I was allegedly involved, but most often I am told by a fake Telstra representative that there is something wrong with my computer [substitute various alternative scenarios here] and that my Internet service will be cancelled unless I power up my PC and follow instructions.

I stopped listening to their spiel years ago and now simply hang up.

However, telephone and email scamming is now ubiquitous and peak scam is on us for another holiday season.......

ACCC ScamWatch, 11 December 2018:

Watch out for holiday season scams

Scamwatch is warning people to be careful about being caught out by holiday season scams.

“Scammers will take advantage of special days or major events like Christmas to fleece people of their money or personal information,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Here are three common holiday season scams people should look out for:

Online shopping scams: scammers will set up fake online stores or post goods for sale in buy‑swap-sell groups or online classified sites to trick people into buying items that don’t exist. This scam has cost Australians nearly $3 million in 2018, with more than 8,700 reports.

Travel scams: scammers trick people into believing they’ve won a holiday or scored a really good deal on a travel package, like a cruise. Unfortunately the prize or the cheap accommodation are phony. In 2018, nearly $135,000 has been lost to this scam.

Parcel delivery scams: scammers may ask you to print off a label, do a survey, claim a prize, or view the status of your delivery by clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. Some scammers may even call or text with claims about an unsuccessful delivery. These scams are aimed at getting people to download malware onto their computer, or give up their personal information. People have lost about $31,000 to these scams in 2018.

“Scamwatch has also seen a massive influx of reports and money lost to tax scams. In November we received 7,500 reports of these scams and $400,000 was reported lost,” Ms Rickard said.

“This isn’t a usual holiday season scam, however a lot of people are getting calls from scammers pretending to be from the tax office or the police and threatening them with arrest over unpaid tax debts.”

“This is a scam. If you ever get a call or email containing threats like this, hang up the phone or delete the email,” Ms Rickard said.

Ms Rickard added that the key to avoiding a scammer’s con these holidays is a healthy dose of scepticism and research.

“We love snagging a great deal online for a loved one’s Christmas present and the idea of a bargain holiday is perfect for many after a long year. But don’t fall for it,” Ms Rickard said.

“Be sceptical about an online store you haven’t used before. Do some research to see if they’re legitimate and don’t be fooled by big discounts. With travel deals, call the accommodation provider directly, for example the cruise line or hotel, to check if the deal is legitimate.”

“If you see a seemingly great deal on an accommodation rental website like Airbnb, make sure you only communicate and pay through the official site to avoid getting stung by a fake listing,” Ms Rickard said.

“We’re all expecting parcels this time of year but be careful about online links and never download attachments. If you’re wondering if a delivery notice is legitimate, check the tracking number at the Australia Post or other delivery company website, or call them directly using a number you find from an online search or the phone book.”

“While with friends and family over the holidays, consider taking the opportunity to spread the warnings about these scams particularly to those loved ones who may be vulnerable.” Ms Rickard said.

Further information about holiday season scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au. People can also follow @scamwatch_gov (link is external) on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts to get up-to-date warnings.

The Daily Examiner, 15 December 2018; p.5:

When Jenny Hall had a missed call on her phone and a message claiming to be from Centrelink in relation to an adjustment to some payments, she didn’t give a second thought in calling back.

However Ms Hall was sceptical of the man who answered the phone when she called back and when he called her a “f------ b----” after his legitimacy was questioned, her suspicions were confirmed.

“I rang back and they gave me a number to call and a claim number so I thought it sounded real,” she said.

“I rang the number and some guy answered the phone and at one point we got cut off, so I called back and the same person answered and I thought that was strange.
“He claimed they went through some records and taxes which were linked to Centrelink, which I said was strange because I get an accountant to do my taxes.

“Then he started saying that I needed to get a lawyer because I had a big tax bill. I said wait there and I asked for his name and started asking him some questions.
“I said I wanted to talk to his superior and he said that he was in charge and that’s when I knew he was lying.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website revealed reports of tax scams threatening arrest or jail over unpaid debts have jumped significantly in the past month…..

The Daily Examiner, 15 December 2018; p.13:

A Casino woman has a message for shoppers after being scammed by a market stallholder at the Jacaranda Festival Markets.

Kelly-ann Oosterbeek bought a powdered anti-inflammatory product in Grafton, and paid the $80 by Eftpos.

Mrs Oosterbeek was then told the item would be posted to her.

“If you feel like anything is slightly off with any purchase you are making, walk away,” she warned.

The “supremely weird” transaction process made Mrs Oosterbeek feel nervous.
She was concerned enough to take photos of the stall, and she asked to see the stallholder’s business credentials. She also took photos of the registration, ABN and insurance, and got a signed receipt saying the product would be posted.

“I was standing there with my hubby, four of my six kids and my daughter’s partner – I had so many witnesses,” Mrs Oosterbeek said.

But the product never came.

“I want to warn people of the Northern Rivers because the lady told me she was heading north with her market stall,” Mrs Oosterbeek said.

Trying to give the stallholder the benefit of the doubt, Mrs Oosterbeek waited a few days before contacting her to make sure the product had been posted, but she claimed Mrs Oosterbeek had been given it on the day.

“They wouldn’t budge with their claims, saying I was trying to rip them off and eventually saying my husband had taken the product and not told me,” she said.

“I wasn’t too worried – I’d done everything right as a consumer and I felt really covered – so I took the case to Fair Trading.

“Even with all of my evidence, witness statements, and a signed receipt promising postage of the item there was nothing they could do.”


Saturday, 8 December 2018

Quotes of the Week



“in the Liberal Party, the problem is intellectual honesty, intellectual capacity, courage and integrity. Liberal Party politicians are not even game to attempt ideological coherence in their public pronouncements. They prefer simplistic slogans, message manipulation, outright lies, and varying levels of verbal bullying [Academic and blogger Ingrid Matthews writing in oecomuse, 27 November 2018]

“I note, and accept, advice that there is nothing in the bill that would abrogate parliamentary privilege. However, the main issue with covert access in relation to privilege … is that there would be no opportunity for a parliamentarian who considers that material is protected by privilege to raise such a claim.”  [ Speaker of the Australian Senate, Senator Scott Ryan, quoted in The Guardian, 29 November 2018]

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

When you don't like the results when you Google yourself - threaten retribution


This was the US President Donald Trump on Tuesday 28 August 2018.....




Google responded to these accusations on the same day.....



Thursday, 9 August 2018

YouTube begins to face the Internet's darker realities in 2018


The Hill, 6 August 2018:

YouTube on Monday said it had banned Alex Jones’s Infowars channel, following similar actions taken against the controversial right-wing conspiracy theorist by other major U.S. technology companies.

After the channel violated YouTube's policies against child endangerment and hate speech, Jones was banned for trying to circumvent the site's enforcement measures, according to a source familiar with the company’s decision. The source said Jones received a 90-day moratorium on livestreaming for violating its policies and that he then tried to promote his flagship radio show on other YouTube pages, prompting a permanent ban.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The two very different faces Facebook Inc presents to potential advertisers and lawmakers



Australian Newspaper History Group Newsletter, No 98, July 2018, pp8-9:

98.2.3 Facebook described itself as a ‘publisher’ in 2013

Facebook described itself as a “publisher” as far back as 2013, leaked documents obtained by the Australian reveal. This contradicts the message that chief executive Mark Zuckerberg gave to US Congress, in interviews and in speeches (Australian, 9 July 2018). A 71-page PowerPoint presentation prepared by the then managing director of Facebook, Stephen Scheeler, outlines how the tech giant was the “second-highest reaching publisher in Australia” when compared with traditional media companies such as Nine and Seven. The internal sales document is partly based on data gathered by measurement firm Nielsen as well as confidential internal figures including quarterly revenue targets. There is no mention of Facebook being a publisher in Nielsen’s original report; it categorises Facebook as a “brand” in its Online Landscape Review published in May 2013. A slide in the presentation produced by Scheeler, the most senior executive at Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand business at the time, changed Nielsen’s description of Facebook from a brand to a “publisher”, showing that the social media giant views itself as such.

This is significant because Facebook has long argued it is a tech platform, not a publisher or a media company, when questioned about how it has generated vast profits by siphoning off billions of dollars from the news industry. The admission in the document contrasts with Facebook’s recent public contribution to a high-powered Australian inquiry into the local digital media market. The company repeatedly calls itself a “platform” in a 56-page written submission to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

Zuckerberg has persistently rejected the suggestion that Facebook is a publisher, presenting the company as a neutral platform that does not have traditional journalistic responsibilities. In April, Zuckerberg was asked by US senators investigating the Cambridge Analytica data scandal to explain whether his company was a tech company or publisher. Dan Sullivan, a Republican Senator for Alaska, said: “That goes to an important question about what regulation or action, if any, we would take.” Asked by Senator Sullivan if Facebook was a “tech company or the world’s largest publisher” during his second day of testimony on Capitol Hill, the Facebook co-founder responded: “I view us as a tech company because the primary thing that we do is build technology and products.” Senator Sullivan pressed further: “You said you’re responsible for your content, which makes you kind of a publisher, right?” Zuckerberg did not admit Facebook was a media company or publisher, but did say it was responsible for what is posted on its platforms after it emerged that the company allowed Russia to spread disinformation in the US presidential election.

“I agree that we’re responsible for the content. But we don’t produce the content. I think that when people ask us if we’re a media company or a publisher, my understanding of what the heart of what they’re really getting at is: do we feel responsible for the content on our platform? The answer to that I think is clearly yes. But I don’t think that that’s incompatible with fundamentally at our core being a technology company where the main thing that we do is have engineers and build products.”

Monday, 23 July 2018

Clifton Gardens-Mosman residents, you have a data breach......


I spy with my little eye a former "young broker of the year", a number of Self-Managed Superannuation Funds and a slew of private corporations whose registered addresses are not so private anymore.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Turnbull and Keenan botching digital transformation policy


The Australian Minister for Human Services, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation and Liberal MP for Stirling, 46 year-old Michael Fayat Keenan, is all gung-ho for digital transformation.

The problem is that he is just not good at being transformative – rather like his prime minister.

One could almost see the trainwreck coming down the line from the moment of then Communications Minister Turnbull's initial joint announcement with then Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2015.

Despite the obvious problems Michael Keenan will be commencing pre-rollout trials of a facial recognition program this year,

Yahoo News, 1 July 20118:

Welfare recipients will soon be asked to have their faces scanned before they can claim their benefits.

It is part of a new trial of biometric security measures the government will begin within months.

Similar to how SmartGates work at airports to check passports, government services will ask recipients to take a photo on a computer or phone to create a MyGov ID.
The photo will then be checked against passports and driver’s licences.
But there are questions as to whether this information could be misused.

Australian Privacy Foundation’s Bernard Robertson-Dunn said people needed to be assured “it works properly” and the government “doesn’t use the technology to do things it didn’t say it was going to do”.

Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said on May 1 the misuse of data which could be used to “impinge on people’s privacy” was “clearly” a concern for many Australians.

The 2016 Census is an example of a recent government technology fail….

Uses for the MyGov ID will trial from October – with an all-online way to get a tax file number.

Next year Centrelink services, including Newstart and Youth Allowance, will also be trialled.

Here is the organisational and technological mess that Keenan helped create…..

The Canberra Times, 29 June 2018, p.14:

The agency charged with guiding IT projects has been sidelined from major policies and is removed from the Coalition's thinking about digital reform, an inquiry into the government's $10 billion tech spend has found.

A report released on Wednesday has called for a central vision to guide the government in its IT reform and found changes to the Digital Transformation Agency had left it watching on as major tech projects hit disaster.

The inquiry found the DTA did not have the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's botched project to adopt biometric technology on its watchlist and that it had failed to involve itself in determining why the Education Department's Australian Apprenticeship Management System project was called off.

It was sidelined as the Department of Home Affairs took charge of cyber policy, the Prime Minister's department assumed control of data policy and the newly created Office of the Information Commissioner was created separate from the DTA, the report said.

"The evidence heard by this committee revealed an organisation that was not at the centre of government thinking about digital transformation, or responsible for the creation and enactment of a broader vision of what that transformation would look like," it said.

News.com.au, 12 June 2018:

Australians will be able to access government services with a single log-in under a plan to create a "single digital identity" by 2025.

Michael Keenan, the federal minister in charge of digital services, said face-to-face interactions with government services would be greatly reduced.

"Think of it as a 100-point digital ID check that will unlock access to almost any government agency through a single portal such as a myGov account," Mr Keenan said.

The minister wants Australia to be a world leader in digital government, with almost all services to be available online by 2025.

Mr Keenan said having 30 different log-ins for government services is not good enough.

"The old ways of doing things, like forcing our customers to do business with us over the counter, must be re-imagined and refined," he said.

People will need to establish their digital identity once before being able to use it across services.

The first of several pilot programs using a "beta" version of what will be known as myGovID will begin in October.

The initial pilot will enable 100,000 participants to apply for a tax file number online, which Mr Keenan says will reduce processing time to a day from up to a month currently.

In a pilot starting from March next year, services including student identification and Centrelink will be connected to the digital identity.

Also from March 2019, 100,000 people will be able to use their digital identity to create their My Health Record online.

Mr Keenan says one face-to-face or over-the-counter transaction costs on average about $17 to process, while an online transaction can cost less than 40 cents.

The Human Services department will operate as the gateway between service providers and people.

"This is key to protecting privacy, as the exchange will act as a double-blind - service providers will not see any of the user's ID information and identity providers will not know what services each user is accessing," Mr Keenan said.

Labor digital economy spokesman Ed Husic said the Turnbull government was responsible for a "dirty dozen" of failed digital transformation failures, including the census and tax office website crashes.

"The biggest challenge confronting the Turnbull government is to quit its addiction to glitzy digital announcements and get stuck into properly delivering these multimillion-dollar projects," Mr Husic said.

The Australian Crime Intelligence Commission has suspended the contract for its beleaguered biometric identification services project in order to renegotiate it after the contractor failed to meet the deadline for completion and the cost ran $40 million over budget.

It follows a recommendation from a scathing independent review late last year that the contract be overhauled, the project be simplified and the timeline for delivery changed.

In 2016 ACIC (then CrimTrac) contracted NEC Australia to deliver a program that would replace the national automated fingerprint identification system, adding in facial recognition, palm prints and foot prints and would be available for use by police forces around the country.

Industry news website InnovationAus reported on Wednesday that NEC contractors had been marched from ACIC's premises on Monday June 4, after being told that the project had been suspended at the start of June.
It is believed the project has been suspended until Friday, while the negotiations over the contract take place.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report last November seen by Fairfax Media said "a chain of decisions involving all levels and stakeholders" had led to the project running behind schedule and over budget.

It recommended that the scope of the project be simplified and standardised, and called it "highly challenged" and presenting a "high risk" to the commission.
"There is low confidence in likelihood of delivery which requires focus to achieve turnaround."

Poor communication, operational silos, limited collaboration and a failure to estimate the project's complexity had blown it off-track, the report said.

The report also recommended that the existing fingerprint database contract with Morpho be extended for 12 months after its expiry last month. It is not clear whether this contract was extended as recommended……

NEC Australia was also the contractor for the failed Australian apprentice management system, which was dumped by the Department of Education and Training last month due to critical defects, also found by a report by PwC.

InnovationAus, 12 June 2018:

NEC Australia won a $52 million tender for the Biometric Identification Services project in early 2016. The project involved replacing the ACIC’s National Automated Fingerprint Identification System with a “multi-modal biometric identification” service, incorporating fingerprints, footprints and facial recognition.

But the project is running behind schedule and is understood to be returning a high amount of false positives.

ABC News, 28 May 2018:

A massive case of mistaken identity in the UK is prompting calls for a rethink on plans to use facial recognition technology to track down terrorists and traffic offenders.

"If you have technology that is not up to scratch and it is bringing back high returns of false positives then you really need to go back to the drawing board," president-elect of the Law Council of Australia Arthur Moses told AM.

The comments follow revelations a London police trial of facial recognition technology generated 104 "alerts", of which 102 were false.

The technology scanned CCTV footage from the Notting Hill Carnival and Six Nations Rugby matches in London in search of wanted criminals.