Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

Need private cloud services? Time to start entrepreneurs

Seeing through appearancesPRISM and the NSA has blown up recently. We have Malaysian politicians worried about it naturally. The opensource zealot will tell you need to prism break.

I’m more pragmatic. I prefer opensource. But if there are no opensource alternatives, I will use the proprietary tool. This extends to cloud software like Google Docs/Drive. Its great at collaboration, which is something you can’t get close. 

I was suggested that FENG Office might work. I retort that it’s not the easiest install and it requires maintenance. Also, with PRISM, the web host clearly matters (they look at the pipes). I didn’t even think to consider LibreOffice due to lack of collaboration in desktop software.

In Malaysia, next generation children are going to be roped into the online Google world via Chromebooks.

So my thinking is simple: if there are no alternatives (to being hosted in the US or to having better controls over your cloud offerings), you should start one. This can be a great business. As the FT says, data privacy is a handy weapon to challenge the titans with.

Watch this video of Fred Wilson. If the world thinks Dropbox is suddenly insecure, its ripe for alternatives to crop up. It also doesn’t mean that people just start using alternative services… DuckDuckGo might have had a 50% increase in search traffic, but all that search traffic may be what Google processes in a moment ;)

This PRISM stuff isn’t going to blow away anytime soon. Now’s the time to come up with matching software that has additional features (like privacy, encryption, etc.). Maybe Kim Dotcom was ahead of the curve with Mega?

Twitter’s Location field and your privacy

Twitter has a wonderful Location: field, and a lot of clients, like TwitterFon (for the iPhone), or twibble (for Symbian devices), tend to update the field automatically. They tend to update it with the phone’s built-in AGPS, so at worst, your accuracy in location, is about 100m or so. Location on Twitter

I find this to be a tiny problem. You can copy the location string (GPS coordinates), paste it into Google Maps and find out that the person at the Location above, is at MidValley Megamall.

Who cares when you’re in a public location? That can be a good thing for bumping into friends. But what about stalkers who now know where you live? Or an angry wife, that knows you weren’t working late, but chilling out with the guys at a nearby pub?

This is where Google Latitude kind of makes sense. Its opt-in. You only share the location with your friends. Twitter is just open (very rarely, do people’s profiles remain private).

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to write a quick Greasemonkey script to send me to Google Maps automagically. After all, Dive Into Greasemonkey still applies… Quick search on, and I found Twitter Google Maps Link. It does exactly what I want, so I didn’t need to hack up some JavaScript. Win :)

The Internet era, exposing information, then getting death threats

Today, I found out Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame got spat on, but worse, he had death threats against him and his family previously (consequently, he will take a break during February to re-focus). It reminded me of what happened with Kathy Sierra, a while back, which made her stop blogging. Then it reminded me of the events of 2002, in where someone did the same thing to me.

When you’re public facing, and on the Internet, you tend to have a lot of your information spewed online. Social networking sites, and the constant need for you to share with others, helps drive the fact that any stalker can find information about you easily. Some even get their iPhone’s to update the Location field in Twitter automatically (wait, I think twibble on the Nokia phones does that too). We’re geotagging photos. Dopplr or TripIt tells others where you are planning to go – so this problem can also be cross-border.

We’re slowly giving up our privacy, to some extent. And we’re allowing malicious folk to know intimate details of our lives. Details that we wouldn’t mind sharing with a friend, but details that can be used to cause attacks, or even identity theft.

So, my question is: is this an online-only phenomena? I mean, journalists in traditional media do the same thing. OK, they have journalistic integrity, and the editors have strict guidelines to ensure that what is in print, isn’t drivel. Rumours tend not to be published, and everything is fact backed. Blogs tend to lack that, sometimes. Its harder to pinpoint and contact an individual journalist – you’ll just be getting to the editor. In a world where everyone can have the potential to be a journalist, without the integrity of one, is leaving yourself vulnerable online a good thing?

From a personal perspective, my incident about seven years ago hasn’t taught me much. I don’t paste my home address with GPS co-ordinates online anymore on my site – instead I use a PO BOX. But on social networking sites like Facebook, my friends get to see more details. With other people tagging photos of me, you even one even gets to see where I’m hanging out. And when I’m bored, I might tweet where I might be. And with geotagging, co-ordinates start showing up (especially if you have Location Tagger running automatically on the Nokia E71).

How do you deal with potential threats? Do you even think of it? Have you been threatened before?

Here’s hoping Mike has a good break and comes back blogging even stronger. Don’t give up!

Friendster as an act of revenge

A recently jilted man, aged 27, decided to post information about his ex-girlfriend on Friendster. The Star reports:

In March he started his antics again, which she tolerated, until she started getting disturbing calls from men who had read the “invitation” for a life partner over the Friendster account, which had been created unbeknownst to her.

Get this. In recent times, there were 19 such cases, with 90% of the victims being women!

There’s just some irony in this (besides it being creepy – men, don’t be creepy!). Today it is your number posted on Friendster. Yesterday, it was plastering your number in some random toilet, with a sexy message. What will it be, tomorrow?

Finding people from cell phone base stations

Picking up my mail today, there was the venerable Expat Magazine in my inbox. Out came a DiGi flyer, offering their business plans. What interested me?

Worker Finder™
Worker Finder™ will tell you where each employee is – based on the nearest base station to the location of the employee’s mobile phone. All with the convenience of an online interface.

Find out more, at their mobile enterprise page. RM40 for 200 searches (“pings”, if you must).

This is smart. I mean, the facility has existed ever since cell towers came to play, just why hasn’t anyone monetised on it before? Kudos to DiGi on finally, trying to.

Brings up questions of privacy though. As an employee, would you want to turn off your business phone, after hours, for fear of your office tracking you? If you were planning to skive off work, would you turn the phone off before leaving, in the event that this service tells you the last recorded cell phone tower?

Lots of thoughts, though I’m assuming once this is offered to parents, they’ll have an added bit of piece of mind, for their children. After all, isn’t the excuse to buying kids a mobile phone these days, because of safety?