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Taking the moral high road...

Google limits the authorities access to people's location histories


Link Here16th December 2023
Full story: Gooogle Privacy...Google's many run-ins with privacy

Google announced this week that it will be making several important changes to the way it handles users' "Location History" data. These changes would appear to make it much more difficult--if not impossible--for Google to provide mass location data in response to a geofence warrant , a change we've been asking Google to implement for years.

Geofence warrants require a provider--almost always Google--to search its entire reserve of user location data to identify all users or devices located within a geographic area during a time period specified by law enforcement. These warrants violate the Fourth Amendment because they are not targeted to a particular individual or device, like a typical warrant for digital communications. The only "evidence" supporting a geofence warrant is that a crime occurred in a particular area, and the perpetrator likely carried a cell phone that shared location data with Google. For this reason, they inevitably sweep up potentially hundreds of people who have no connection to the crime under investigation--and could turn each of those people into a suspect .

Geofence warrants have been possible because Google collects and stores specific user location data (which Google calls "Location History" data) altogether in a massive database called " Sensorvault ." Google reported several years ago that geofence warrants make up 25% of all warrants it receives each year.

Google's announcement outlined three changes to how it will treat Location History data. First, going forward, this data will be stored, by default, on a user's device, instead of with Google in the cloud. Second, it will be set by default to delete after three months; currently Google stores the data for at least 18 months. Finally, if users choose to back up their data to the cloud, Google will "automatically encrypt your backed-up data so no one can read it, including Google."

All of this is fantastic news for users, and we are cautiously optimistic that this will effectively mean the end of geofence warrants. These warrants are dangerous. They threaten privacy and liberty because they not only provide police with sensitive data on individuals, they could turn innocent people into suspects. Further, they have been used during political protests and threaten free speech and our ability to speak anonymously, without fear of government repercussions. For these reasons, EFF has repeatedly challenged geofence warrants in criminal cases and worked with other groups ( including tech companies) to push for legislative bans on their use.

However, we are not yet prepared to declare total victory. Google's collection of users' location data isn't limited to just the "Location History" data searched in response to geofence warrants; Google collects additional location information as well. It remains to be seen whether law enforcement will find a way to access these other stores of location data on a mass basis in the future. Also, none of Google's changes will prevent law enforcement from issuing targeted warrants for individual users' location data--outside of Location History--if police have probable cause to support such a search.

But for now, at least, we'll take this as a win. It's very welcome news for technology users as we usher in the end of 2023.

 

 

The internet gets safer against the wishes of the UK government...

Launching Default End-to-End Encryption on Messenger


Link Here 8th December 2023
Full story: Internet Encryption...Encryption, essential for security but givernments don't see it that way

I'm delighted to announce that we are rolling out default end-to-end encryption for personal messages and calls on Messenger and Facebook, as well as a suite of new features that let you further control your messaging experience. We take our responsibility to protect your messages seriously and we're thrilled that after years of investment and testing, we're able to launch a safer, more secure and private service.

Since 2016, Messenger has had the option for people to turn on end-to-end encryption, but we're now changing private chats and calls across Messenger to be end-to-end encrypted by default. This has taken years to deliver because we've taken our time to get this right. Our engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts and product managers have worked tirelessly to rebuild Messenger features from the ground up. We've introduced new privacy, safety and control features along the way like delivery controls that let people choose who can message them, as well as app lock , alongside existing safety features like report, block and message requests. We worked closely with outside experts, academics, advocates and governments to identify risks and build mitigations to ensure that privacy and safety go hand-in-hand.

The extra layer of security provided by end-to-end encryption means that the content of your messages and calls with friends and family are protected from the moment they leave your device to the moment they reach the receiver's device. This means that nobody, including Meta, can see what's sent or said, unless you choose to report a message to us.

End-to-end encryption gives people more secure chats in Messenger. These chats will not only have all of the things people know and love, like themes and custom reactions, but also a host of new features we know are important for our community. These new features will be available for use immediately, though it may take some time for Messenger chats to be updated with default end-to-end encryption.

 

 

Offsite Article: Setting up a centralised EU health database...


Link Here4th December 2023
EU Committees Vote in Favor of Mandatory Interconnected Digital Patient Health Records for All Citizens

See article from reclaimthenet.org

 

 

Encrypted Client Hello...

Internet company Cloudflare enables a feature preventing ISP website blocking at least for websites that use Cloudflare


Link Here9th October 2023
A few days ago, Internet infrastructure company Cloudflare implemented widespread support for Encrypted Client Hello (ECH), a privacy technology that aims to render web traffic surveillance futile. This means that site blocking implemented by ISPs will be rendered useless in most, if not all cases.

ECH is a newly proposed privacy standard that's been in the making for a few years. The goal is to increase privacy for Internet users and it has already gained support from Chrome , Firefox , Edge , and other browsers. Users can enable it in the settings, which may still be experimental in some cases.just

The main barrier to widespread adoption is that this privacy technology is a two-way street. This means that websites have to support it as well. Cloudflare has made a huge leap forward on that front by enabling it by default on all free plans, which currently serve millions of sites. Other subscribers can apply to have it enabled. Cloudflare writes in an announcement:

Cloudflare is a big proponent of privacy for everyone and is excited about the prospects of bringing this technology to life. Encrypted Client Hello (ECH) is a successor to ESNI and masks the Server Name Indication (SNI) that is used to negotiate a TLS handshake. This means that whenever a user visits a website on Cloudflare that has ECH enabled, no one except for the user, Cloudflare, and the website owner will be able to determine which website was visited.

If you're a website, and you care about users visiting your website in a fashion that doesn't allow any intermediary to see what users are doing, enable ECH today on Cloudflare

Tests conducted by TorrentFreak show that ISP blocking measures in the UK, the Netherlands, and Spain were rendered ineffective.


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