Tag Archives: internet

What does a Trump vs Clinton fight for the US presidency mean for privacy?

The next US president looks set to be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton – so what will be the implications for personal data privacy and surveillance whoever wins? Let’s have a look at their track records…

Donald Trump has strong and (from a UK viewpoint) often bizarre viewpoints on many things. There’s not much The Donald hasn’t opined on, and privacy and security are no different. And, as ever, he’s got an unusual take on things.

Back in September, for example, he said he was open to ‘closing parts of the internet down‘ to win the fight again Isis, which shows broad ambition and lateral thinking skills if not a huge amount of technical nous. The whole quote in full: “I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our internet.”

Following the attacks in Paris, he said that privacy rights in America were a lot stronger before: “Those privacy rights were a lot stronger three days ago than they are now,” he said. “I think a lot of people would be willing to give up some privacy in order to have more safety.”, while also alluding to his belief that surveillance had not stopped the attacks.

He also strongly criticised Apple for opposing the FBI’s ‘backdoor’ order, asking: “Who do they think they are? They have to open it up.

He added: “I agree 100 percent with the courts. In that case, we should open it up.” […] “I think security, overall, we have to open it up and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense. Somebody the other day called me a common-sense conservative. We have to use common sense.”

He then – such a surprise! – went further, urging a boycott of Apple if they didn’t help the FBI. As Trump is apparently an iPhone user, it was unclear whether he planned to boycott himself – but thankfully (or not, depending on how you look at it), the FBI found another way in without the whole court battle/boycott having to play out.

But, we should also note at this point, he did say if elected he would close loopholes in federal law that allow student data mining.

Moving on to surveillance, Trump has declared himself “fine” with re-authorising the Patriot Act, coming out in favour of security over privacy and further admitting:”I assume when I pick up my telephone people are listening to my conversations anyway, if you want to know the truth.”

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is what we might term a more seasoned political operator, and for that reason her stances have been a little more, erm, cautious.

But she has strong opinions on Edward Snowden, stating during a democratic debate: “He broke the laws of the United States.

“He stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands. So I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.”

Staying with Snowden, she has also said: “He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.” (athough subsequent press reports suggested he may not have been eligible for whistleblower protection)

On the NSA, which is synomymous with the Snowden revelations, particularly over the mass surveillance of civilians, she has been vaguer on her pronouncements, leading to the Atlantic to call her evasive, in an article in which they quoted her as saying: “Well, I think the NSA needs to be more transparent about what it is doing, sharing with the American people, which it wasn’t. And I think a lot of the reaction about the NSA, people felt betrayed. They felt, wait, you didn’t tell us you were doing this. And all of a sudden now, we’re reading about it on the front page…”

She was clear they had to act “lawfully”, but equally a lot of wiggle room was left there for her eventual position if she becomes the first US female president.

Speaking specifically about balancing the rights of privacy in reference to powers given to government agencies post 9/11, she said: “There’s no doubt we may have gone too far in a number of areas, and those [practices] have to be rethought and rebalanced”….adding:”I think it’s fair to say the Government, the NSA, didn’t so far as we know cross legal lines, but they came right up and sat on them.

“It could perhaps mean their data was being collected in metadata configurations, and that was somehow threatening. We have to be constantly asking ourselves what legal authorities we gave to the NSA and others and make sure people know what the tradeoffs are.”

On the FBI/Apple battle, for the record, she trod a careful middle line, saying: “I see both sides, and I think most citizens see both sides…We don’t want privacy and encryption destroyed, and we want to catch and make sure there’s nobody else out there whose information is on the cell phone of that killer.”

Of course, no look at Clinton and privacy is complete without a look at the curious affair of her use of her own private email server, which was used during her time as Secretary of State, in breach of normal protocol. Both she and the State Department have now released thousands of these emails in an effort to show (ironically) no breaches of security were made. A good look at the whole affair here.

So, essentially,  the ultimate future impact on privacy and surveillance is a difficult one to call at this stage, not least because we’re a long way off from the November contest and uber serious polling has yet to commence.

But we’re certainly in for interesting times, whoever wins. God Bless America!


digi.me as an agent in Doc Searls’ Giant Zero

As the internet subsumes the concepts of distance and time, using our personal agency to create control over our own world becomes ever more important.

Doc Searls, internet visionary and digi.me advisor, identifies the lack of distance online that we are used to in the physical world as a Giant Zero and is clear that we need to understand the ramifications of this new environment fully before we can begin to make the most of it.

In a post on his Harvard blog, he identifies nine key elements needed to create this new world successfully, of which two – privacy and personal agency – are particularly pertinent to digi.me.

He contends – and we agree – that distance has always been used to give “some measure of privacy” in the physical world – but that on the Giant Zero, the world with no distance, it is “ridiculously easy for anyone or anything to spy our browsings and emailings”.

As we have already examined in our blog on the concept of digital privacy, digi.me offers a more private world by allowing users to take back control of their information, in an enhanced form as it is all in one place, and then do what they wish with all that data.

But it is the section concerning agency, where digi.me comes most into its own.

As Doc said: “The original meaning of agency (derived from the Latin word agere, meaning “to do”), is the power to act with full effect in the world. We lost a lot of that when Industry won the Industrial Revolution. We still lose a little bit every time we click “accept” to one-sided terms the other party can change and we can’t.

“We also lose power every time we acquiesce to marketers who call us “assets” they “target,” “capture,” “acquire,” “manage,” “control” and “lock in” as if we were slaves or cattle. In The Giant Zero, however, we can come to the market as equals, in full control of our data and able to bring far more intelligence to the market’s table than companies can ever get through data gathered by surveillance and fed into guesswork mills that: a) stupidly assume that we are always buying something and b) still guess wrong at rates that round to 100% of the time.

“All we need to do is prove that free customers are more valuable than captive ones — to the whole economy. Which we can if we build our own tools for both independence and engagement.”

digi.me is one of those tool he mentions, bringing agency to each and every user, by putting them back in control of their data, giving them the tools to unlock it and then letting them decide what they want to do with it and where they are happy for it to go.

Crucially, digi.me will become an even greater force for agency later this year when our Permissioned Access model arrives, which will allow users to share or exchange their data directly with businesses in return for personalised benefits.

And as businesses benefit as well from the 100 per cent accurate data they are able to see and use in this way, it is a truly a win-win situation for all.

So all hail the Giant Zero – a model for a future which digi.me is actively working towards.

What is the Internet of Things?

As the latest estimates claim the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) will jump from 15 billion now to 50 billion in 2020, we look at what a connected world actually means.

What is the IoT? Well, at its most basic level, it is a network of devices fitted with data-capturing sensors that can connect to the internet, talking wirelessly to each other, applications – and indeed us. And these devices? They’re things in your home, things you wear, wearables such as Fitbit and the car you drive.

The phrase IoT has been in circulation for nearly a decade in technology circles, but only now with smart, connected devices such as thermostats and refrigerators, as well as driverless cars, becoming a reality is it something that is becoming relevant to the majority of the population.

What would a truly connected world look like? More straightforward is one answer, as all these intelligent little machines that between them know so much about us and our lives start to co-ordinate.

In classic examples, your alarm clock wakes you up and then tells your coffee machine to start boiling ready for a morning cuppa, while on the drive to work your car knows the quickest route for where and when you need to be, and can even text whoever you’re meeting if you’re running late.

Lots of smart devices, collecting and streaming huge amounts of user data and providing real-time information on, well, just about anything. Performing nominated tasks on demand and combining to make life as frictionless as possible. After all, how much easier would life be if your house’s heating could tell it was about to break and was able to summon an engineer itself before it actually did so?

And these devices could bring real benefits, not least cost as well as convenience, to all our lives. The heating that knows to turn itself off or down on a sunny day will save individual users money, as potentially could smart cars that send data about how they are being driven to insurance companies to feed into premiums.

The decreasing cost of computer power means there is no cost barrier to entry for putting sensors that can generate data in the most mundane items, and there is clearly no shortage of opportunities for smart machines that can do something in addition to their primary, practical purpose.

With so much data zipping around, questions about privacy and security are at the forefront of concerns and there are clearly many debates to be had around the IoT, its limitations and indeed its strengths.

But one thing is not in doubt – a huge amount of data is going to be generated, and how that is analysed and interpreted is going to be key to how successful the IoT is, for individuals and businesses alike.

Of course, at digi.me, we believe in returning the power of data to the owner, for them to use and permission as they wish, in both their personal and public lives.

The Internet of Things, and its natural successor the Internet of Me, where the individual is at the centre of their connected life, is a natural fit for us, as control returns to the user. Businesses need accurate rich data, which an individual is best placed to provide – but only if they want to and only if it is worth their while.

Leveraging the IoT is the dream for many companies, but here at digi.me we’re already got a headstart – and you can  try it out for yourself with a free download of our amazing app.

Friday Fun: Festival Moments

Who is going to a festival this weekend?  Or are you missing out and wishing that you could go?  This weeks Friday fun is all about living and reliving those festival moments!  On Monday we gave you our top tech tips for surviving the festival season and today we are going to give you a way to reconnect with your festival spirit!

Getting into the Festival Spirit

So you went festival hopping last year and this year your calendar has been filled with a range of other commitments. Friends are getting married, the children need entertaining but you still want to feel young and relive those moments but how?

1. Download digi.me if you haven’t done already and sync Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.

2. Search for that festival that you look back on and remember just how amazing it was!  What were you wearing, who were you with and what music was playing… Note it all down. Download the pictures as well! You’ll need these for our next step!

3. Now you have your festival moment you’re going to recreate it with your friends and family and bring the festival home! Create the flags for in the garden, download the music or create a playlist! Drag out the clothes you were wearing and put on a BBQ or get together with your friends and invite them over for a festival remake!

4. Get your cameras to the ready and start making some new festival moments with your friends as you relive the old times but add in new flavours! Maybe add in some music from this year or get the children all dressed up. Who knows maybe you and your friends are really musical and put on your own mini festival in the garden!

Share your pics of your festival moments past and present especially if you’ve recreated them!  We want you to make the most of those moments by celebrating them!

SocialSafe Aligns With Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Vision For Personal Data

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, has spoken out about the issue of data ownership. An article this week in The Guardian talks of how the father of the world wide web sees a future in which the individual is the one who owns their personal data – not the big companies – and a future in which the individual can use that data for their own benefit.

Well they say great minds think alike, and we’re thrilled that this is precisely what we are actively working towards  here at SocialSafe – individuals aggregating their personal data from a variety of different sources to create a vastly superior data set that is more useful than the sum of its parts.  Today, SocialSafe is a social media organiser enabling users to download and aggregate a complete record of all their interactions in one safe place allowing them to view, search, export, organise it and more.

Looking towards the near future, SocialSafe will extend to all other personal data sets (e.g. shopping, banking, utilities, health, quantified self etc.) and users will be able to permission access others to their data for service, reward or convenience. The user has total control over what they choose to download and where they store it – we as a company never hold any of our users’ data, and they’ll always be able to access it.

We’ve been saying publicly for some time that we feel big data is wrong for the individual, and we’re immensely humbled to have our intentions and vision vindicated by the words of someone so influential in not only the tech industry, but the world as a whole. If you’ve not read Alex Hern’s article, we’d highly recommend that you do so. It may just change the way you think about personal data and who is benefiting from you being you.

VIDEO GUIDE: Search Your Instagram Captions, Comments, Tags and #Hashtags

One of the cool things you can do when you download your Instagram photos to SocialSafe is to search through them by keyword or hashtag. When viewing your Instagrams within SocialSafe you can click on the Search box on the left hand side of the top bar and enter the word, name or phrase you’d like to find.

Here’s a very short video showing you how to Search Your Instagram Captions, Tags and #Hashtags:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWPET6l3VxI&feature=youtu.be]

Any photos containing your chosen search term will be displayed. Hovering over an image will show you how many comments, tags and/or likes it has, and clicking on the image will open it up in a larger view, where you will be able to see the caption, any comments, who has liked your photo and any tags associated with it.

You can also change the date range [not demonstrated in this video] to only show you images from any of the preset time periods (eg Last 7 Days, Last 30 Days, Last Year etc), or set your own custom date range.

For more tutorial videos, including how to print your Instagrams as PDFs, please refer to the SocialSafe YouTube Channel where the other aspects and functionality of the SocialSafe application are covered in greater detail.

SocialSafe Partners Respect Network In Privacy Revolution Launch

Here at SocialSafe we’re pleased to announce that we are one of the launching development partners for the Respect Network.

The Respect Network share our core principle that individuals should be the ones who own and manage the personal data relating to themselves, not the large companies. Like SocialSafe, the Respect network also believe that the individual should be the one to determine how and when that information is used, and directly benefit from that use.

In its own words, the Respect Network is:

“…the only global data sharing network engineered from the ground up by what is called Privacy by Design. This can be distilled into three main points of difference – all members own and control their own data in their own personal or business clouds; all sharing is over direct peer-to-peer connections under a standard legal framework to guarantee privacy; and the network is paid for directly by members rather than by advertising or data brokering.

Founded in 2011 and now a coalition of 50 Founding Partners, the Respect Network is the world’s first global private network of personal and business clouds. Its purpose is to empower members anywhere in the world to safely share sensitive private data over trusted private connections just as easily as they can share data publicly on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ today.”

We at SocialSafe strongly identify with the notion of empowering users to take control of their data. By joining the Respect Network as a development partner, we will be continually expanding the range of personal data that SocialSafe users will be able to add to their libraries, and selectively share on their own terms.

Next month the Respect Network launch events kick off, and we shall be in London over two days, attending both the evening celebration on June 23rd, and the Immersion Day/Hackathon on June 24th.

For more information about the Respect Network and to claim your Respect Network Cloud Name please visit http://www.respectnetwork.com.

Do You Know Which Passwords To Change After Heartbleed?

You will no doubt have read or heard an awful lot about the ‘Heartbleed’ security vulnerability affecting a huge number of websites and online services, and you will also have been told to change a lot of your passwords. The problem with doing that right now is that if the services themselves haven’t addressed the OpenSSL issue their end, then your new passwords would be just as at risk as your old passwords.

So the bad news is that you’ll probably have to change your passwords in stages, as each of the services you use gets around to fixing the issue. Thankfully a lot of these sites and services have been notifying their users when they’ve rectified the issue, giving them the all clear to go ahead and change their login information. There are also ways to test a site to see if it has been fixed or is still vulnerable, and our developers have been running checks on some the more commonly used sites and services this morning.

So we’ve got two lists of sites here:

Fixed – these are now safe and you should change these passwords now
Unaffected – these won’t have been affected by the OpenSSL issue. However, if you use the same or similar login credentials to a site that may have been exploited, we’d advise that you change these passwords too.

Fixed (change passwords now):

New Relic

Unaffected (only change if same/similar details used on a site above):

Adobe CC
Freemarket FX
Pivotal Tracker
Windows Azure

These lists are by no means exhaustive, but merely some of the more commonly used sites/services, some of which we use here at SocialSafe and had reason to check on today. Obviously if a site or service not appearing on our ‘Fixed’ list subsequently declares that they have fixed the issue, then take their word over ours!

We sincerely hope that none of you are adversely affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability and that you manage to change your passwords with minimal hassle. Please pass this blog post on to friends, family, co-workers and clients, and help spread the word.

– the SocialSafe team

What Does A Facebook ‘Like’ Really Say About You? Why Fragmented Data Is Wrong

The significance associated with ‘Liking’ something on Facebook can vary greatly depending on who sees what you Like, and what they already know about you.

First of all, you may ‘Like’ a page purely for the purposes of staying up to speed on a brand or public individual’s activity, even if they were a competitor or your ideological polar opposite. Think about a Greenpeace activist ‘Liking’ Shell, Chevron or BP, just so that they know what they are up against. They don’t necessarily ‘like’ (with a small ‘l’) what the company is doing, but Liking (big ‘L’) on Facebook gives pseudo-endorsement thanks to the arbitrary name given to consciously opting in to see updates from that company, politician, brand etc.

Then there’s the issue of whether or not you actually ever clicked Like in the first place…

Just over a year ago an article on ReadWrite highlighted many instances in which people were seeing promoted posts, suggested pages and news stories indicating that their friends ‘Like’ certain products, brands of pubic figures. The author followed this up with some of his friends who – according to Facebook – had given their tacit endorsement to some very unlikely pages, and they were left scratching their heads. Most of them had no recollection or staunchly denied having ever clicked Like in the first place.

When asked about this, Facebook fell back on human error, with a spokesman saying that people can “Like” things by accident, perhaps by inadvertently pressing a button on the mobile app. The author of the article, remained skeptical however, saying that the frequency with which so many of his friends could make the same ‘mistake’ was just too suspicious, although it could be the work of third-parties selling Likes to pages.

Whatever the reasoning behind the Likes, this story demonstrates that if someone is supposedly showing their support or endorsing particular brands on Facebook, it might not necessarily be an accurate picture of them. Singular aspects of an individual’s different online profiles – when viewed in isolation – may paint them in a certain light, but it’s only when all of the component parts of their online self are brought together that the picture become clear and complete.

These days people use a variety of services to engage in lots of activities, creating data about themselves that is fragmented and stored by a multitude of different networks and companies. At SocialSafe we believe that that the individual should be the biggest single owner of their own data, which is why – starting with social networks – we are enabling our users to created their own aggregated personal data store.

Some of the most successful sports teams, bands and other groups have been described as ‘greater than the sum of their parts’.  The power of several otherwise unremarkable or average members combining into something that performs at a level far higher than simply adding up the achievements or skills of all the individuals when operating separately. Surely the same could be true if you brought together all of your fragmented personal data?

SocialSafe Video Guides: How To Download Instagram Videos

Last week we told you all about SocialSafe v6.5.8 which now allows you to download your Instagram videos to your SocialSafe journal, where they can be viewed, searched and exported, just like your other content.

We’ve recently put together a short video as part of our SocialSafe Features Guide series, which shows you how you can interact with your Instagram videos within SocialSafe:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZjAWVsFXvk align’center’]

Your Instagram videos are backed up the same way as your Instagram photos, and all the captions, comments, tags and likes are also downloaded to your SocialSafe journal, and they can be searched just as you would do with any of your other content.

If you’re already backing up Instagram photos with SocialSafe, any videos that you create will be downloaded to your own machine whenever you sync. If you don’t currently use SocialSafe and want a way to download Instagram videos and photos, get the SocialSafe free trial from our website. We also have a video that shows you how to download Instagram photos, which includes how to add an Instagram account to SocialSafe for the first time.

Get creative!