28th Jan is Data Privacy Day

I didn’t know there was such a thing called “Data Privacy Day” until I got an email from the CEO from Tresorit, sent to all his service’s users. What is interesting is that privacy’s such an important concept that ensures freedom of speech and democracy, but Data Privacy Day has never been talked about in the media, at least, I’ve never seen it in the media, and so today was the first time I’ve heard of it.

Why is data protection and privacy important? It protects journalists who wish to report on corrupt politicians, or wish to inform the public of the illicit deals politicians make. It protects journalists and allows them to inform us of significant events that affect the quality of our democracy. And it’s not just journalists who need protection, it’s us too.

HackNY Spring 2013 Student Hackathon. CC Matylda Czarnecka 2013. https://flic.kr/p/edufZT

HackNY Spring 2013 Student Hackathon. CC Matylda Czarnecka 2013. https://flic.kr/p/edufZT

George Bush junior used the phrase that if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you’ve got nothing to hide. An American friend of mine echoes this saying, “I’ve got nothing to hide, so if it helps to catch terrorists, then great”. However, not one single terrorist has ever been caught from a dragnet mass surveillance programme. Not one single terrorist plot, we know of, has ever been prevented. We see that terrorist groups are still able to recruit members openly on the internet and spread their propaganda. We see journalists and their sources arrested. Instead of an erosion of our enemies, we see an erosion of our freedoms and democracies (see The Guardian, The Hill, Wired). So, safe, secure access to information and communication is important.

It’s not just an issue with a belligerent government; criminal groups do exploit unsecured communications. Consider your Amazon account, your bank’s online access, your eBay account, too. I’d like to bet you use an email service like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and the like, or even the Apple iCloud system. All of which have been hacked, and passwords obtained and identities stolen (BBC, The Guardian). Thus allowing the criminals to spend your money, or just steal information that may be damaging to your reputation. Consequently, a secure internet is important.

Credit Card Theft, CC Don Hankins 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3qTLZW

Credit Card Theft, CC Don Hankins 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3qTLZW

How can the internet be secured? http://fried.com/privacy/ has a long list of over 150 tools you can use to secure your interaction with the internet and keep you safe. In short, you really must have at least these:

  • Encrypted email (like ProtonMail), especially to protect your SNS passwords
  • Encrypted cloud storage (like Tresorit, TeamDrive)
  • Encrypted messaging service (like Threema or CryptoCat)
  • Avoid Facebook
  • Use Firefox with Blur and HTTPS Everywhere (I think not all of these are compatible with each other).
  • A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Avoid using your real name on most social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and others.

Why avoid FaceBook? I’ve written before that it’s just the most creepy organisation there is. The CEO of Tresorit reminds us of this with this simple quote (https://tresorit.com/data-privacy-day):

Facebook conducted a massive psychological experiment on 689,003 users, manipulating their news feeds to assess the effects on their emotions. – Forbes, 2014

I hope you don’t want to be controlled in the future. They also see your data to companies, which results in targeted advertising.

Privacy tools on the internet: what and why

It’s not often I get direct emails, and much less often form me to blog about it either. Fried.com has sent me an email with a rather comprehensive article on Privacy (on the internet). I have to admit, the article looks good, comprehensive, easy to read, and well worth a look: http://fried.com/privacy/. They list over 150 tools, services, and methods of maintaining your privacy.

Person on Apple Laptop. CC 2014, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-apple-laptop-notebook-1171/

Person on Apple Laptop. CC 2014, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-apple-laptop-notebook-1171/

However, nobody ever asks, “Why is privacy on the internet important?” It’s simple, you have locks on the door of your house to keep people out, and you don’t distribute the key to your house to corporations, advertising companies, or to the police. Currently, if the police come, they have to knock on the door first. If the police wants to come into your house, they have to ask, or get special permission to enter from a court. Currently, without privacy tools, anyone, theives and police, can look at your internet traffic, see your emails, your online shopping history, your online bank accounts, see your web browsing history, and even see your chats. They can even watch you talk to a friend on Skype. They can hear, see, and read all your comments, complaints, and opinions against companies, governments, politicians, and more. Without adequate privacy, you’re at risk of being victim of identity theft, as well as facing accusations or arrest for having views that are not in-line with corporations’ or government’s views. Has any of this happened before? Yes. See these searches, “Government hacked email“, “Internet identity theft“, “Spy on journalists“, among many other cases. Finally, for your information, I mainly use Duckduckgo.com for private web searches these days.

So please, in the same way that you have locks on the doors of your house and restrict who has the keys; you need to do the same with your computer and internet habits. It is not actually difficult, and a lot cheaper and easier than having discovered that someone has pilfered your bank account because you didn’t hide your IP address and didn’t encrypt your connection.

Digital Citizenship: the 9P’s students need to know, from @Edutopia

I’ve been concerned about the future repercussions students may have from studying with us (Blyth, 2011; and Blyth, 2015; at publications). Then Edutopia.org publishes this lovely, succinct, info graphic that is easily accessible by students and teachers. Now, there’s no excuse for low-internet literacy. Also, a special thanks to Edutopia for letting me repost their info graphic (post), from their original Twitter post, and their blog post with lots more information. Maybe it’s time I get a graphic artist to turn my key concepts into an info graphic, too.

Digital citizenship from Edutopia.Org. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-need-to-know-vicki-davis?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Digital citizenship from Edutopia.Org. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-need-to-know-vicki-davis?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Facebook becomes even more creepy with their camera identifying tech

I have complained about Facebook before being both creepy and unreliable from a privacy perspective (Blyth, 2011; and 2015). Facebook does not allow duplicate, alias accounts, or pseudonyms. This is a problem for people in minority groups that can be subjected to violence, and to journalists and political opposition members. The company has already endangered minority groups by outing political journalists in Syria and Vietnam, and outing gay and transgender people in the United States.

The company now plans to use software technology to uniquely identify your camera using certain physical characteristics that are displayed in your photos (PetaPixel). This is problematic for people who wish to maintain two seperate lives: a professional and a personal life; or personal life and an alternative life. Facebook seems to be aiming at “fraudulent accounts”. However, the term fraudulent seems to be not yet defined. Does that mean that a lesbian woman who has an ordinary account, and her second one for her lesbian side of life is illegitimate and therefore ‘fraudulent’? Or can it mean that Facebook can link a political journalist’s account to his personal account and identify his or her name. If the journalist has photographed opposition activists, Facebook can then link those people to the journalist. Thus allowing police warrants to be issued and real people to be persecuted.

Me and my 542 bestest friends (on Facebook). CC Terry Chay, 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3EUfgw

Me and my 542 bestest friends (on Facebook). CC Terry Chay, 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3EUfgw

Arrested for a Facebook post

Next month I have an article that’s going to be published called Social Media Ethics in English Language Teaching in The JALT CALL Journal (my publications). One of the key points in it is that there can be repercussions for people if a conservative society does not like what they post. This story of two reporters who where arrested for posting on Facebook a story of financial incompetence illustrates that point chilling well. See Human Rights Watch, Mozambique: Two men facing trial for a Facebook post. You can support the the journalists by writing to the Minister of Justice and the Public Prosecutor to demand their release.

Internet censorship. Image CC from OpenSource.Com, at https://flic.kr/p/aZbzAx

Internet censorship. Image CC from OpenSource.Com, at https://flic.kr/p/aZbzAx