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Forget about the WGA! 20+ Windows Vista Features and Services Harvest User Data for Microsoft

Are you using Windows Vista? Then you might as well know that the licensed operating system installed on your machine is harvesting a healthy volume of information for Microsoft. In this context, a program such as the Windows Genuine Advantage is the last of your concerns. In fact, in excess of 20 Windows Vista features and services are hard at work collecting and transmitting your personal data to the Redmond company.

Microsoft makes no secret about the fact that Windows Vista is gathering information. End users have little to say, and no real choice in the matter. The company does provide both a Windows Vista Privacy Statement and references within the End User License Agreement for the operating system. Combined, the resources paint the big picture over the extent of Microsoft's end user data harvest via Vista.
Only God and Microsoft know the answer to that. And I have a feeling that God is going right now "Hey, don't get me involved in this! I have enough trouble as it is trying to find out the release date for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Seven!"

I didn't buy Vista, the WGA thing makes me sick. For all the crap Google has been getting lately, I think microsoft has a much worse track record for violating user's privacy. This article about Vista having so many programs monitoring you and reporting your activities doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Planning on upgrading soon? Just another 20 reasons not to go with Vista!

Paying for Online Privacy

Indeed, many consumers do not even check Web site privacy policies when they divulge their sensitive personally identifiable information. Yet, according to a recent report, when consumers are given a specific choice, many may actually pay more money during a transaction in return for privacy protection.

The report, prepared by Lorrie Cranor, who directs the Carnegie Mellon Usable Privacy and Security Labs, documents that consumers would pay an extra 60 cents for privacy protection on purchases of $15. Cranor came to this result by way of a hypothetical experiment.

In the experiment, participants were asked to buy a set of batteries and a sex toy. The sex toy was added into the mix to ascertain whether consumers might take extra steps to protect their personally identifiable information as part of this sensitive transaction. Interestingly, when participants had the option of making these purchases from a site that clearly posted its privacy policy and another that did not do so, they were inclined to pay a bit more to go with the site that plainly set forth its privacy policy.

Web control replaces privacy

The latest generation of websites - which attract tens of millions of users daily to share words, photos and videos about themselves and their friends - make a virtue of openness at the expense of traditional notions of privacy.


The danger of such exposure is that it could affect careers when students seek jobs in the real world or private citizens seek public office.

The information age is it has been dubbed is very young, and many of the residents of the age (especially the younger ones) have yet to realize what sort of information they are giving out about themselves. I can think of a lot of scary things that I have read about social networking sites. Arrests made from facebook pictures? Companies investing myspace profiles. What you do online IS very public for the most part. This article makes a good point and I think a lot of people need to wake up to that fact if they want much of a future down the road. That night you broke the law and took pictures makes a great story at the bar, but with the pictures on Flickr it's a different story. Maybe not today, maybe not tomarrow, but someday it could really come around and bite you in the ass.

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Google threatens to shutdown Google Mail in Germany

Legislation drafted by Germany's Federal Ministry of Justice is being considered by the German Parliament. If passed, it would require telecommunications providers to collect and keep private information on their German customers for six months, in an effort to help with criminal surveillance. ISPs and providers of e-mail service would be required to collect and store information on users' mailing and internet habits and to do so in such a way as to identify individual web users.

Big brother is watching... or will be soon in Germany.

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Privacy Isn't Dead, or At Least It Shouldn't Be: A Q&A with Latanya Sweeney

Several years ago, Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, famously quipped, "Privacy is dead. Get over it."

Oh privacy is definitely not dead. When people say you have to choose, it means they haven't actually thought the problem through or they aren't willing to accept the answer.

Remember, it's in [McNealy's] interest to say that, because he very much shares that attitude of the computer scientist who built the technology that's invasive; who says, "Well, you want the benefits of my technology, you'll get over privacy". It's exactly the kind of computer scientist we don't want to be graduating in the future. We want the computer scientist who will resolve these kinds of barriers in conflict, identify them and resolve them in their technology design.

Are we postponing the privacy problem, or are we confronting it?

A lot of the surveillance can be done with privacy protections. But under the current administration, those in Homeland Security call it the 'P word'. Their statement is that as long as you don't say the P word you don't have a P problem, whether you do or you don't. So the FBI gets slapped in the wrist for gathering all of this additional data, but a lot of that could have been anonymized. But right now, there is no funding or interest in using these technologies at all.

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Dangerous Ruling Forces Search Engine to Log Users

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) urged a California court Friday to overturn a dangerous ruling that would require an Internet search engine to create and store logs of its users' activities as part of electronic discovery obligations in a civil lawsuit.

The ruling came in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by motion picture studios against TorrentSpy, a popular search engine that indexes materials made publicly available via the Bit Torrent file sharing protocol. TorrentSpy has never logged its visitors' Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Notwithstanding this explicit privacy policy, a federal magistrate judge has now ordered TorrentSpy to activate logging and turn the logged data over to the studios.

"This unprecedented ruling has implications well beyond the file sharing context," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "Giving litigants the power to rewrite their opponent's privacy policies poses a risk to all Internet users."

I know the EFF gets a lot of flak for what they do, but I have to give them credit (and money) for what they are trying to do. Whether they are too ideal in their beliefs of just plain crazy, they really do try and prevent all sorts of privacy invading court rulings and programs.

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