Tag Archives: Privacy

A trail of digital breadcrumbs

I’m appearing on Cormac Moore and Daniella Moyle’s show on the Irish station iRadio tonight to discuss phone data and personal privacy. I’ll post up the podcast later if possible. If you heard the show and want to read some more of my work on technology and privacy, you might be interested in:

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Marked ‘private and confidential’

Internet cafes serve up secrets

Last week I worked on a Sunday Times investigation into data breaches at internet cafes. Three reporters checked internet cafe computers around the country to see whether confidential data had been left in the computer memories.

And how. Simply by checking the desktop, documents and ‘my pictures’ folder, we stumbled across a treasure trove of private information: scanned copies of passports, visa applications, birth certificates, legal documents; a report from the editor-in-chief of a well-known property magazine detailing its legal struggles with a “confessed reformed cocaine addict”; a fax to a resident at the Dorchester referring to ‘the hostage situation in Cameroon’ and several databases of names, addresses and private details of vulnerable individuals left by care workers or civil servants.

The chain Mailbox Etc were the worst offenders, with no log-in/out process and irregular wiping of computer memories. I found documents dating back to mid 2012 on some machines. Many small independent cafes were among the best, such as the L2K Internet Gaming Centre in Manchester, which restricted users’ access to the computer memory.

The Information Commissioner announced that it would be investigating a number of bodies for a breach of confidentiality as a result of our investigation.

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold. Continue reading

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What my phone records say about me

A screenshot from the interactive graphic, hosted on the Telegraph website

As part of my coverage of the draft Communications Data Bill – which proposes to expand the level of information which must be held by telecommunications companies about their customers, and to expand the level of access to that data afforded to police and intelligence agencies – I requested a copy of all the data already held by my phone company to demonstrate what a detailed portrait this information can paint.

Using the data, Telegraph developer Dan Palmer and designer Mark Oliver developed an interactive graphic which tracks my movements around the UK over the course of a year.

The graphic is best viewed on the Telegraph website here, but the full text of my accompanying article can be found below.

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Flirting site betrays love cheats

More on social media and privacy: this time, a well-known hook-up website which allows visitors to check which of their friends have already joined up.

Badoo uses a tactic which is becoming more and more common in social media sites: ‘opt out’ privacy settings.

It means that unless you are very, very careful about how you join, it will advertise the fact that you have joined up to all your Facebook or email contacts.

For some, this is no problem, for others (e.g. those who are married) it could result in disaster. When we were reporting on Badoo, everyone in the office had a shot at running their contacts list through to see who had joined up… let’s just say the results were surprising and amusing.

Lesson one: if you are going to join these websites, and you value your privacy, be very careful and always read the small print.

Full text is on the Sunday Times’s website here, or after the fold

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Facebook’s ‘shadow profiles’

 

While researching this full page news-feature for The Sunday Times, I spoke to the Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems, of the group Europe v Facebook.

He told me that he first became interested in Facebook’s policies when he realised the extent to which the social media giant’s tactics appeared to conflict with European privacy laws.

To demonstrate the huge amount of information held for each user, he requested a copy of all of his private data held by the company under data protection laws. Printed out, it formed 1,222 sides of A4 paper – and much of the data held he thought he had deleted. It wasn’t deleted, it was only hidden from view.

Check out his campaign: http://www.europe-v-facebook.org.

Full text on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

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