Online Privacy

FCC Makes it Easier to Block Robocalls

Last week the FCC started releasing a regularly-updated spreadsheet of robocall complaints, including the number displayed on Caller ID during the call. This should make it pretty easy for companies to create apps that block calls from those numbers. It could be like a crowdsourced spam blocker for phone calls and text messages. [the Verge]

FCC Says Robotexts Are Also Subject to Do Not Call Lists

“FCC Strengthens Consumer Protections
Against Unwanted Calls and Texts”
(pdf) [FCC] (h/t InsideCounsel)

“Netflix opposes the use of VPNs”

A sharp-eyed Redditor picked up on a change to Netflix’s terms that effectively prohibits the use of a VPN to watch Netflix.

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Should You Trust Your Lawyer with Your Data?

When you work with a lawyer (or a financial advisor or accountant, for that matter), you almost certainly hand over a lot of confidential information. It may include things like account numbers, birth dates, your social security number, family members’ names — in short, everything necessary to steal your identity.

This could be a problem.

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Famous Last … Tweet?

Last words are automatically interesting, but not automatically significant. This goes double or triple for last tweets, since tweeting is rarely the last thing anyone would think to do before expiring. All the same, The Tweet Hereafter archives last tweets of famous people, just in case they are significant, like the last tweet of Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, the day before he killed her:

What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay

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How Monitoring Your Kids on Instagram Could Land You in Jail

Instagram is apparently the teen and tween social network of choice. That means parents who want to do the responsible thing and monitor their children’s Instagram accounts may be tempted to demand that their children “hand over the keys” to their accounts. But accessing your child’s Instagram account is — technically, at least — a violation of federal law.

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“Browsewrap” Agreement Found Unenforceable

Before you get all excited, this decision is just one federal district court judge’s opinion. That said, here’s the deal. The Zappos website had a little link at the bottom to its terms of use, which said that, by merely browsing the website, you agree to submit to mandatory binding arbitration of any disputes — like if you had a problem with the big Zappos security breach that potentially affected 24 million consumers. Zappos tried to rely on its browsewrap agreement, but the court said no way.

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Minnesota Cities Can’t Keep Your Email Address to Themselves

The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act determines what state agencies must do with the enormous mountains of data they collect. Most data is public (PDF overview), unless a statute or rule makes certain data private.

Many agencies provide email-based notifications, like snow emergency alerts or city council meetings, It turns out there is no statute or rule making those email addresses private, even though most of the websites where those email addresses are collected claim they will be kept confidential.

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The Cops Are Hot on Your Twitter Trail

According to the LA Times, Twitter keeps logs of your “location, IP addresses, search terms, pages visited and also data from when you visit third-party websites with Twitter buttons on them” (emphasis mine). That’s a lot of detail. And Twitter makes it available to the police over 75% of the time the cops ask for it, without a subpoena.

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Who Wants to Get Fired?

Here’s a quick lesson in social networking privacy:

  • Public means anyone can read what you are posting. Like your spouse, the police, your boss, etc. They don’t even have to be a member of the social network in question.
  • Private means that only certain people can read what you are posting. You get to decide who these people are.

WeKnowWhatYou’reDoing.com is a collection of people who don’t seem to understand the difference. Under headings like Who’s taking drugs? and Who wants to get fired? it lists posts to popular social networks that should probably not have been made public.