The Tyranny of the Default

Marketing firms love to tell us that we control our privacy – you simply need to opt out of tracking! Like Dorothy, we’ve had the power all along. Just click your heels three times and uncheck all those pesky tracking options under Settings… somewhere. Just call customer service and speak to a representative. Just mail

How to Get Your Equifax Settlement

Two years after arguably the worst data breach in US history, the Federal Trade Commission has proposed an Equifax settlement to provide some restitution for the 148 million affected Americans. Unfortunately, it may not help you much. The Devil’s in the Details First of all, note that the settlement is still just a proposal. It

Big Brother 2.0

As Independence Day rolls around for those of us in the USA, our right to privacy is under attack from many angles. While surveillance capitalism is the area I tend to discuss most, our own democratic governments are perhaps the most existential threat to individual privacy. Welcome to Big Brother 2.0. Going Dark? The leaders

Behold the Eyes of the Beholder

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then it should come as no surprise in the age of surveillance capitalism that marketers are clamoring to look deeply into yours. That’s metaphorically speaking, of course. In reality, it’s more skin deep. As humans, we’ve been trained since birth and via natural selection to rely

A Worrisome Windows Worm

A critical vulnerability has been found in older versions of Microsoft Windows. If you’re affected, you need to patch your operating system immediately (see below). If you know anyone with an older PC, you need to make sure they’re aware of this ticking time bomb. But what you really need to do, frankly, is update

Google Knows What You Bought

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Google can read your Gmail. You may even realize that Google is scanning your emails for things like trip itineraries, which allows them to automatically add flights and hotel reservations to your Google Calendar, for example. But you may not realize how much other juicy info is there

Mental Health Apps Behaving Badly

I ran across a disturbing article in The Verge about mental health apps that were oversharing user data. As usual, I’m not surprised, but still really angry. This is wrong and has to stop. The study by JAMA Network Open on 36 apps for smoking cessation and depression found that 29 of them shared some

Yet Another Facebook Fiasco

I’ll be honest… I’m finding it hard to even summon the energy to write yet another freaking article about a Facebook fiasco. In fact, there are two this week alone. But they’re serious and if for some reason you have not already deleted Facebook, you need to hear about them. A Tale of Two Screw-Ups

Set Warp Factor 1.1.1.1

It can be very challenging to hide your tracks when surfing the web, either on your computer or your phone (or really any modern “smart” device). Even if the contents of your communications are encrypted, it’s nearly impossible to hide the metadata: when you communicate, with whom you’re communicating, how long you communicate, etc. Operator,