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OPLIN 4cast #432: You want privacy?

Posted in 4cast

keyholeJust about everybody would like to feel that the things they do on the Internet remain private, at least sometimes. In reality, many of us, according to the Pew folks, expect that someone in the government will be snooping on us, or we assume that someday, some hacker will break into a company’s data and get information about us. But we also assume that when a company says it will keep our data private, it will at least try to protect our privacy. Judging by a couple of recent news stories, that does not always happen.

  • Report: Facebook tracks all visitors, even if you’re not a user and opted out (Ars Technica | Glyn Moody)  “This newly found tracking, used to provide targeted advertising, is carried out through Facebook’s social widget, the Like Button. A cookie is placed in the browser when someone visits any page in the domain, including sections that do not require an account. For visitors that are not Facebook users, the cookie contains a unique identifier, and it has an expiration date of two years. Facebook users receive additional cookies that identify them uniquely.”
  • Facebook ‘tracks all visitors, breaching EU law’ (The Guardian | Samuel Gibbs)  “EU privacy law states that prior consent must be given before issuing a cookie or performing tracking, unless it is necessary for either the networking required to connect to the service (‘criterion A’) or to deliver a service specifically requested by the user (‘criterion B’). The same law requires websites to notify users on their first visit to a site that it uses cookies, requesting consent to do so.”
  • RadioShack’s bankruptcy could give your customer data to the highest bidder (Bloomberg Business | Joshua Brustein)  “RadioShack’s customers—even those whose most recent purchase came years ago—could also find themselves sold off in the deal. The company included personal data in its bankruptcy auction as its own asset class. A website maintained by Hilco Streambank, which is serving as an intermediary for RadioShack, says that more than 13 million e-mail addresses and 65 million customer names and physical address files are for sale.”
  • How safe is your information when a company goes bankrupt? (Dallas Morning News | Michael A. Lindenberger)  “As with many bankrupt firms, that list would have been worth a fortune to the right buyer, especially if the data could be sold free of any obligation to keep it private. Like most large and reputable companies, RadioShack had promised customers not to sell the data it collected to third parties. But bankruptcy court is a unique setting in American law, and one of its chief purposes is to maximize the value of a bankrupt company’s assets even if it must sever otherwise valid contracts.”

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