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This is an old page from Rod Begbie's blog.

It only exists in an attempt to prevent linkrot. No new content will be added to this site, and links and images are liable to be broken. Check out begbie.com to find where I'm posting stuff these days.

Filed under 'privacy'

March 30, 2012

This Creepy App Isn't Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It's A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy

Good article about a skeevy app, but which is causing some people to draw the wrong conclusions.

This app isn’t just using “public” data (where users have specifically told Foursquare/FB “Make this information public”). It requires every user to approve API connetions to 4sq/FB which allows them to gather information that your friends have said “Only share this with my friends”.

Those checkboxes should really read “Only share this with my friends, plus the faceless developers whose apps they approve to access their account”. There’s a lot of information flowing around out there that people think they’ve applied restricted privacy to.

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May 14, 2010

Facebook and "radical transparency" (a rant)

“The battle that is underway is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It’s a battle over choice and informed consent. It’s unfolding because people are being duped, tricked, coerced, and confused into doing things where they don’t understand the consequences. Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely unfair. It gives users the illusion of choice and hides the details away from them “for their own good.””

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February 21, 2010

August 5, 2008

"Clear" Air-Travel Pass Data Stolen From SFO

I’ve always hated “Clear”, the pay-$100-to-skip-to-the-front-of-the-security-line card. Firstly, because it’s private enterprise falsely dressed as security, and secondly because it creates a class system at the airport line. So my socialist side is smug to see the bourgeoisie get its comeuppance. Have fun changing your biometrics, folks.

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July 8, 2008

Charlie Brooker: These days, I assume that everything I do is probed and examined by omnipotent corporations

“The way things are going, I half-expect to hear a quiet electric “peep” noise each time I flush the toilet; another bowel movement logged by Bumland Security.”

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March 19, 2008

Do Not Reply

The owner of donotreply.com blogs emails that have bounced to him when corporations (and government agencies) have sent email “from” @donotreply.com.

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February 8, 2008

Sniff browser history for improved user experience

Clever hack — sniff a user’s browser history, work out what blogreading/bookmarking/OpenID sites they use, and reduce clutter by only display options for those sites.

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January 14, 2008

The Raw Story | US drafting plan to allow government access to any email or Web search

Been putting off joining the EFF? Now might be a bloody good time to break out your chequebook. Anyone know of a link to the original New Yorker article on which this scare-story is based?

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December 3, 2007

Facebook's Misrepresentation of Beacon's Threat to Privacy: Tracking users who opt out or are not logged in. - CA Security Advisor Research Blog - CA

Even if you’re using Facebook’s privacy settings to opt-out of their new “Beacon” “service”, the info is still getting sent to Facebook who may or may not be gathering it. Thank gawd for Adblock.

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October 20, 2007

Massachusetts Land Records

Search the complete land-history records (mortgages and deeds) for Massachusetts. Find out how badly your friends and family are in debt!

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September 25, 2007

Federal Agent Indicted for Cyber-Stalking

Filed away for ammunition the next time someone excuses gov’t massive-database-building with the platitude “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

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April 20, 2007

Google Search History Expands, Becomes Web History

Splendid article explaining the whats and wherefores of Google’s new “Web History” feature, so you don’t have to install it to experiment.

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April 19, 2007

Official Google Blog: Your slice of the web

Somewhere between kinda-cool and terrifying: Allow Google to know Every Single Page you visit, and they’ll let you search against them. Yes, useful, but there’s no need for this to happen on Google’s servers in the sky.

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January 18, 2007

Don Park's Daily Habit - Visual Security: 9-block IP Identification

Attractive approach to giving plausible deniability when someone fakes your name posting comments, without having your IP address posted publicly.

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October 28, 2006

Scenes from my life (No. 96 in an occasional series)

I don’t particularly like giving out my personal information when not absolutely necessary. I also try to avoid being a good source of data to datamarts. So on those principles, I have several supermarket loyalty cards for the two local chains in my glove box, all acquired under false names and addresses. When Joy & I go shopping, I pull one out at random, and that’s our identity for the day.

(I also trade them from time to time with friends, so in the datamarts’ eyes, I switch from junk-food-loving lactose-intolerant dog-owner to crunchy-granola family-of-four in the blink of an eye)

This recently led to a cashier looking at her terminal, and then asking me, “Is your name really Bubba?” (Oh yeah, I should mention that the names are always ludicrous, and frequently alliterative.)

This evening, as we did our shop, I realised that we’d forgotten to bring a card in with us. Hurrah! An excuse to sign up for a new card. (This is particularly easy at our local Shaws, as the customer service booth is before the checkouts rather than after, so I can go sign up while Joy frets about the amount of frozen shite in our cart and considers throwing in at least some fresh fruit, which may or may not get eaten)

So I get my form, fill it out and hand it over to the customer service person. Normally they just chuck it into a folder and give me my card, but this lady decided to double-check my details.

Her: OK, so that’s Lionel Q. Butterkinger?
Me: No, ButterFinger. Like the candy bar. Sorry, I just have bad handwriting.
Her: (Without batting an eyelid, amends my form to make the “F” in Butterfinger clearer). And that’s 17 Hershey Street?
Me: No, not “Hershey”—Hersey St
Her: OK, here you go. (Hands me card)
Me: (Returns to Joy, who always keeps a safe distance while I perform this nonsense) Tsk. They only have checkboxes for “Mr”, “Mrs”, or “Ms”. I wanted to be Sir Lionel Q Butterfinger.

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July 21, 2006

The Editorial Cartoons of Clay Bennett: Security vs. Privacy

Excellent cartoon. From October 2001, but still as true today, sadly.

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June 8, 2006

Google Browser Sync

Interesting offering from the Googleplex — Sync your bookmarks, saved passwords and cookeis across your Firefox installations, via Google’s big-ass database in the sky. If there were a way to do this using my own server, I’d be all over it.

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May 24, 2006

January 18, 2006

Cory Doctorow Hypocrisy Watch: New Firefox "feature" eases spying on users

Read this Cory rant about a proposed Firefox feature that would allow advertisers to track click throughs in an opt-outable manner, then count the number of undisclosed un-opt-outable click-through mechanisms in use by the horde of advertising links littering the page. I counted five (boingboing.net, clk.atdmt.com, adserver.fmpub.net, c2.edapebaf.com and click.adbrite.com)

About This Site

This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.

I'm the co-founder of Sōsh, your handy-dandy guide for things to do in San Francisco this weekend.