Category - Privacy & Security News

2016 in review: TOP 10 online privacy milestones

If we were to describe 2016 in terms of privacy, it was neither good, nor bad. It was probably somewhere in between. Just when we thought we won some battles, new enemies emerged, armed with even more advanced weapons.

What is however important is that, slowly but surely, people are starting to be more aware of their ideally innate right to online privacy and are starting to fight for it.

So here are 10 of the most important privacy highlights of 2016*:

  1. The Pokémon GO frenzy

The Pokémon GO bug traveled fast and faded away just as quickly. Everyone seemed to be out on a hunt around the town this summer, but no one seemed to pay any attention to the permissions they were giving the intrusive app. If you’re still enjoying this game, here are 10 tips for staying private.

  1. WhatsApp with your privacy?

At the end of August, WhatsApp announced a change in their ToS, by sharing the phone numbers of users with Facebook. Upon doing so, they claimed they were fighting spam and increasing business-to-consumer communication. There is however a hidden way out of this.

  1. The rise of fake news in social media feeds

In light of Donald Trump’s recent election, many fingers have been pointed at Facebook’s potential contribution. Here’s how to stay safe from the daily cavalcade of alarming headlines thrown in our direction.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Stricter privacy rules for Facebook and more

Even if the winter holidays are just around the corner and a breeze of hope and optimism seems to be in the air, privacy issues are happening at their usual pace. Here is what caught our attention in this week:

Snooper’s Charter already claims first victims

Hackers appear to already be exploiting the infamous Snooper’s Charter, by promoting fake privacy solutions to worried older Internet users across the UK, according to scmagazine.com.

In a recent survery, forty-four percent of over-55s said they would consider downloading software to protect themselves from government in a recent survey.

However, a VPN such as CyberGhost is the solution at-hand recommended by security experts.

Potentially stricter privacy rules for Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype

Popular platforms such as Google, Facebook and WhatsApp face a strict new privacy crackdown from the EU, as per some new proposals leaked from the European Commission.

The rules would force websites and browsers to ask for users’ consent before directing advertising at them based on their browser history. Users currently have to actively opt out of receiving such advertisements.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Facebook’s rumored censorship tool and more

In many other parts of the world, the holiday season has officially begun. Thanksgiving was just yesterday in the US and Black Friday has become a global frenzy, reminding us that in less than a month, our close ones would better find something underneath their Christmas trees (on sale or not).

In spite of this global “cheerfulness”, however, digital freedom and online privacy are becoming more and more elusive, with anti-democratic measures being taken all around the globe.

Here is the news of the week in brief, brought to you by CyberGhost VPN, the always at-hand solution to bypass censorship or surveillance:

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Facebook reportedly built a censorship tool to return to China

According to the NY Times, the social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas.

The social network giant has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey. China has not been on Facebook’s map since 2009 because of the government’s strict rules around censorship.

Speaking of China, on a funnier note…

Chinese websites have again blocked searches for “Fatty Kim the Third”, as many Chinese mockingly call North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with China’s foreign ministry saying it did not approve of ridiculing foreign leaders, according to reuters.com.

Extra, extra, read all about it: #Facebook may have built a #censorship tool, #Thailand pushes #cybersecurity… Click to Tweet

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Britain passes Snooper’s Charter and more

To paraphrase a Bob Dylan song, the times, they are a-scarying! Not only did Donald Trump win the US elections, which could have a major impact on global online privacy issues, but Great Britain and Russia are making efforts to catch up by rubber-stamping new surveillance laws. Here is the most important news of the week on the online privacy front, in a nutshell:

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Privacy-invasive law gets the green light in the UK

The Draft Communications Data Bill, a.k.a the “Snooper’s Charter”, was introduced by then-home secretary Theresa May in 2012, and took two attempts to get passed into law following breakdowns in the previous coalition government.

With May as prime minister, on Wednesday, November 16, the bill was finalized and passed by the Parliament.

The law will force internet providers to record every internet customer’s top-level web history in real-time for up to a year, which can be accessed by numerous government departments. On top of this and more worryingly, the law gives intelligence agencies the power to citizens’ computers and devices.

Do you live in Britain? Maybe you should consider installing CyberGhost VPN for free in order to protect your online privacy.

Russia to start blocking LinkedIn after court ruling

Russia’s communications regulator ordered public access to LinkedIn’s website to be blocked on Thursday to comply with a court ruling that found the social networking firm guilty of violating a data storage law.

LinkedIn will be blocked in Russia within 24 hours. One Internet service provider, Rostelcom, said it had already blocked access, according to Reuters.

LinkedIn, which has its headquarters in the United States, is the first major social network to be blocked by Russian authorities, setting a precedent for the way foreign Internet firms operate. It has over 6 million registered users in Russia.

The times are a-scarying! Britain passes Snooper’s Charter, Russia starts LinkedIn ban and more #OnlinePrivacy news Click to Tweet

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CyberGhost, proud supporter of the “Snowden” film

Although the movie “Snowden” has been released in various locations around the world, on November 18th, the picture will hit the big screens in Romania and we are proud to be partners “in crime”. So, dear Romanian friends, don’t miss out on a riveting true-life hacker thriller about the man who encouraged us to re-claim the right to online privacy!

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In a nutshell, the film tells the already well-known story of NSA employee Edward Snowden, who leaked thousands of classified documents to the press and became an online privacy hero. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the leading actor, while Academy Award winner Oliver Stone is the director.

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Online privacy in the time of Donald Trump

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America got everyone talking these days. What we would like to know, however, is what this decision entails on the online privacy front. Do we have any reasons to worry?

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What Snowden thinks

Edward Snowden says we shouldn’t “fear” and just carry on fighting on our own for online privacy, without expecting unwitting saviors.

Speaking from Moscow on November 10, in a live stream hosted by private browser developer StartPage, the world’s most notorious whistleblower brought into everyone’s attention our hopes concerning President Obama, for instance, who once was expected to bring an end to mass surveillance.

Then, Snowden emphasized that Trump is only one president of a much bigger world and that privacy is a global matter: “This is just one president. Politicians do what they think will gain them support… ultimately if we want to see a change we must force it through.”

He thus brought into attention recent legislative changes in Russia and China, where regulations allowing mass surveillance were passed this year.

One cannot however not worry about Snowden’s own safety in Trump’s regime. Although admitting to being crazy to dismiss a potential deal between Trump and Putin for extradition and trial, Snowden quite optimistically conceded: “If I was worried about safety, if the security and the future of myself was all that I cared about, I would still be in Hawaii.”

On this topic, back in 2014, Trump tweeted: “Snowden is a spy who has caused great damage in the US. A spy in the old days, when our country was respected and strong, would be executed”.

What Trump himself says

During his campaign, Trump vowed to “eliminate our most intrusive regulations” and “reform the entire regulatory code,” as quoted by the Washington Post. He singled out net neutrality as a “top down power grab,” predicting it would allow the government to censor websites.

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Ghostie’s Weekly Digest: Yet another social media shutdown in Turkey and more

The privacy front continues to witness numerous battles these days, with no potential winners emerging any time soon.

Just when we thought that things were going in the right direction, a new app emerges to pry into our personal lives or another country ruthlessly limits its inhabitants’ Internet access.

Here is the most important online privacy news of the week, put together by the freedom fighters at CyberGhost VPN:

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Turkey blocks access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp

Turkey did it again. The TurkeyBlocks monitoring network has detected restrictions on access to multiple social media services Facebook, Twitter and YouTube throughout Turkey beginning Friday Nov 04 2016 1:20AM local time, ongoing as of Friday mid-morning. This is potentially related to the detention of multiple leaders of opposition political party HDP.

If you are from Turkey (or from any other privacy-challenged country for that matter) and would like to unblock your favorite social media channels, you can download CyberGhost for free, on your preferred device or OS, from here.

When sharing isn’t caring: WhatsApp asked by European regulators to pause sharing user data with Facebook

WhatsApp has been warned by the pan-European privacy watchdogs “Article 29” over its sharing of information with Facebook and asked to pause the transfer of personal data.

The data protection authorities also wrote to Yahoo over its massive data breach. Get the full story here.

Germany recently ordered Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp user data.

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