Summer is coming to an end, but privacy issues continue to be sizzling in the heat of new apps emerging, terms of service changing the rules of the game or Big Brother-like investigations taking place. Here is, in short, what online privacy news caught our attention this week:
WhatsApp changes terms of service, shares users’ phone numbers with Facebook
Acquired by Facebook two years ago for the staggering amount of $19 billion, WhatsApp has just changed its terms of service.
According to the new user agreement, WhatsApp will give the phone numbers of people using the service to Facebook. Furthermore, WhatsApp will also reveal other analytics such as what devices and operating systems are being used.
Before, the two did not share any information, since WhatsApp used to promote itself as a “privacy oasis”.
Read more here.
Tip: apparently there’s a way to opt out of the new terms. When the pop-up emerges, don’t click “agree” –but navigate to the smaller “read more” option and untick the box that says “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook”.
Facebook’s video selfie app for teen can be seen by everyone
Facebook hits the news yet again with the release of Lifestage, a new app aimed at teenagers. Dedicated only to those aged 21 or under, it’s designed to make it “easy and fun to share a visual profile of who you are with in your school network”.
However, the app currently has no tools for controlling who sees the content posted. So, basically, anyone has access to the young users’ videos.
Find out more at this link.
Big Brother exists in Baltimore
A commercialized version of a military tracking software used in Iraq has been adopted by the Baltimore Police Department to solve crime.
Widespread aerial surveillance has been conducted with the aid of a spy plane program, managed by Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems. This aims to help solve crimes including shootings, murders and hit-and-runs.
Get the full story here.
Mobile apps are more expected to come with privacy policies
According to a new study by the think tank Future of Privacy Forum quoted here, mobile apps are much more likely to come with privacy policies than four years ago.
Seventy-six percent of the most popular apps for Apple and Android devices now have privacy policies, up from 68% four years ago.
Health and fitness apps are less likely to offer privacy policies than other types of apps, a subject we also tackled at this link.
Facial recognition systems can be fooled with social media photos
As reliable as it may sound, biometric technology can be tricked.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina have shown that a system using digital 3D facial models based on photos taken from social networks, shown on a smartphone’s screen, can successfully beat facial recognition software.
Read more here.