How to maintain privacy around data-collecting airport security

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Lucky for you, it’s also never been more convenient to secure your digital info. Apps are freely available that let you mask your most important information; privacy-centered operating systems can protect your browsing habits; and ditching your data temporarily is as simple as using a web app.

pub. 05/2017

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I love what Facebook does for me, but it’s not really doing any of that for *me*, not even close

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From the Terms Of Service (not the Privacy Policy – see what they did there?):

“You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content and information in connection with commercial, sponsored or related content (such as a brand you like), served or enhanced by us.”

And later:

“By ‘information’ we mean facts and other information about you, including actions taken by users and non-users who interact with Facebook.”

So this includes everything they’re collecting about you but not telling you. Everything you read online, everything someone ever posts about you, all your private financial transactions…

Through its labyrinth of re-definitions of words like “information”, “content” and “data”, you’re allowing Facebook to collect all kinds of information about you and expose that to advertisers. With your permission only they say, but the definition of “permission” includes using apps and who knows what else.

Seen 05/2017

What broadband companies do without regulation

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There is a lot of hyperbole and partisan nonsense on both sides of the net neutrality debate right now, but instead of poking our heads into the future, let’s peek into the past. The core crux of the FCC’s claim against the necessity of net neutrality comes from the idea that the broadband companies will regulate themselves due to competition and there does not need to be any rules about it. So, have they? Of course not.

pub. 04/2017

United Airlines as test case: Their rules, our consequences

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Why am I posting this article, as distant as its subject seems from Trumpian politics?

Even though most readers may think United is getting beaten up aplenty in the press, in fact it is getting a virtual free pass as far as its rights to remove a paying passenger with a confirmed seat who has been seated. This seems to reflect the deep internalization in America of deference to authority in the post 9/11 world, as well as reporters who appear to be insufficiently inquisitive. And there also seems to be a widespread perception that because it’s United’s plane, it can do what it sees fit.

pub. 04/2017

The dominant American culture today is strikingly insistent that we all submit to authority, including corporate and contractual authority, no matter how convoluted, impossible, or unjust that authority.

That completely innocent black driver should’ve done what the cops said; getting shot to death was just the price of resisting. Those undocumented workers should’ve come in legally; their children being deported 30 years later was just the price of sneaking them in as babies. That person should’ve bought better health insurance; death or bankruptcy was just the price of buying the wrong plan.

It doesn’t matter whether the black driver really resisted, it doesn’t matter whether legal immigration was timely or even offered, it doesn’t matter whether other health insurance was affordable or even available. The people in power get to create the rules, we need to follow them–and if something goes wrong, it’s probably our own fault.

What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and why might we want to keep it?

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Many of these institutions, particularly payday lenders, are notorious for preying on consumers. Some argue that it’s up to the consumer to read the fine print and figure out how these products work on their own. This sounds simple enough, but the problem is that many of these companies make their terms deliberately misleading, so the CFPB was created to provide more transparency.

pub. 02/2017