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Category Archives: E-Commerce

Stop Sneaky Online Tracking with EFF’s Privacy Badger

“The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a beta version of Privacy Badger, a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that detects and blocks online advertising and other embedded content that tracks you without your permission. Privacy Badger was launched in an alpha version less than three months ago, and already more than 150,000 users have installed the extension. Today’s beta release includes a feature that automatically limits the tracking function of social media widgets, like the Facebook “Like” button, replacing them with a stand-in version that allows you to “like” something but prevents the social media tool from tracking your reading habits. “Widgets that say ‘Like this page on Facebook’ or ‘Tweet this’ often allow those companies to see what webpages you are visiting, even if you never click the widget’s button,” said EFF Technology Projects Director Peter Eckersley. “The Privacy Badger alpha would detect that, and block those widgets outright. But now Privacy Badger’s beta version has gotten smarter: it can block the tracking while still giving you the option to see and click on those buttons if you so choose.” EFF created Privacy Badger to fight intrusive and objectionable practices in the online advertising industry. Merely visiting a website with certain kinds of embedded images, scripts, or advertising can open the door to a third-party tracker, which can then collect a record of the page you are visiting and merge that with a database of what you did beforehand and afterward. If Privacy Badger spots a tracker following you without your permission, it will either block all content from that tracker or screen out the tracking cookies.”

New kind of tracking tool, canvas fingerprinting, is being used to follow visitors to thousands of top websites

ProPublica and Mashable – “A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com. First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because eachContinue Reading

Can Twitter survive in a Facebook world? The key is being different

“News organizations have been reporting in recent weeks that Twitter’s growth rate has been slowing, which has spurred speculation about its future. The Pew Research Center has watched social networking in the U.S. grow faster and change more than most other internet activities, and that landscape continues to evolve quickly. Our studies have shown that Twitter occupies an important segment ofContinue Reading

FTC Alleges Amazon Unlawfully Billed Parents for Millions of Dollars In Children’s Unauthorized In-App Charges

News release: “Amazon.com, Inc. has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed today in federal court. The FTC’s lawsuit seeks a court order requiring refunds to consumers for the unauthorized charges and permanently banning the company from billing parents andContinue Reading

For Many Americans, Stress Takes A Toll On Health And Family

NPR – “Stress is part of the human condition, unavoidable and even necessary to a degree. But too much stress can be toxic — even disabling. And there’s a lot of toxic stress out there A national poll done by NPR with our partners at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that more thanContinue Reading

Facebook Experiments Had Few Limits – WSJ

Follow up to previous posting - Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment – Study, via WSJ.com - Facebook Experiments Had Few Limits, Data Science Lab Conducted Tests on Users With Little Oversight: Reed Albergotti – “Since its creation in 2007, Facebook’s Data Science group has run hundreds of tests. One published study deconstructed howContinue Reading

Government Surveillance and Internet Search Behavior

Marthews, Alex and Tucker, Catherine, Government Surveillance and Internet Search Behavior (March 24, 2014). Available or download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2412564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2412564 “This paper uses data from Google Trends on search terms from before and after the surveillance revelations of June 2013 to analyze whether Google users’ search behavior shifted as a result of an exogenous shock inContinue Reading

Digital Life in 2025 – Net Threats

Pew Research Center: “As Internet experts look to the future of the Web, they have a number of concerns. This is not to say they are pessimistic: The majority of respondents to this 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing say they hope that by 2025 there will not be significant changes for the worse andContinue Reading

California removes ban on alternative currencies – Computerworld

Jeremy Kirk – “A new California law removes a ban on using currencies other than the U.S. dollar, which is intended to accommodate the growing use of alternative payment methods such as bitcoin. The law, signed by state Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday, is likely to boost confidence around bitcoin, as regulators and tax authorities worldwideContinue Reading

Ebooks v paper – An Essay

Julian Baggini, Financial Times – [snipped] “E-reading is certainly on the rise. The Pew Research Center reports that, as recently as 2010, hardly anyone in the US had an e-reader or tablet. Now half do. The proportion of the population who have read an ebook in the past year rose from 17 per cent inContinue Reading

Houston, We Have A Public Domain Problem – Commentary

Parker Higgins is an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “I received a bogus copyright takedown notice for using public domain audio on SoundCloud yesterday. The sound in question—the famous “Houston, we have a problem” snippet of the Apollo 13 mission—is incontrovertibly available to all, for any use, without copyright restrictions. The fact that it’sContinue Reading

Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment – Study

William Hughes: “Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientistsContinue Reading