Everything you wanted to know about the Internet and sex toys (but were afraid to ask)

Fear not:  your curiosity has been satisfied.  CNET has published an analysis of the state of play (you should pardon the expression) in the “connected” sex toy market.  I’m not going to go into details here (for obvious reasons, on a family-friendly blog), but I must admit to being mind-boggled by some of the things out there.  Note, too, the names of some of the companies and Web sites involved.  Weird, yes, but funny too!  Not so funny is the news that such devices may be spying on you, and reporting back to their manufacturers on how, and how often, you use

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This is a must-see if you value your privacy

This Vice report looks at how China is using facial recognition technology to track every one of its citizens.  However, if you think that same technology isn’t being deployed right here in America, right now, you’re ill-informed.  I know it is.  I have enough contact with former law enforcement colleagues to be sure of that. To understand this technology’s near-terminal threat to your privacy, watch this 13-minute video clip. And here we thought that Big Brother was just a fictional trope . . . instead of a reality. Peter

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Doing greater harm by trying to do good?

I note that New York’s new discovery reform laws, which take effect on Wednesday, contain a double-edged provision that might threaten victims of crime. Have you ever made a call to 911 to report a crime? Next year if you do, your contact information will end up in the hands of the suspect police arrest. It’s a new reality of New York’s discovery reform laws taking effect just 12 days from now on January 1st. . . . Albany County District Attorney David Soares is dreading the conversations he knows we will have to have with crime victims. “By the way, I

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Big Brother – vehicle edition

Earlier this month, I pointed out that “If you allow “smart” devices to listen to you non-stop, you’re crazy“.  That article examined the security risks of allowing smart devices into your home, because you had no idea what they were listening to and/or recording. Now comes news that your car is almost certainly spying on you just as hard, if not harder.  Please watch the short video below;  or, if you prefer, read the report about the investigation.  Both are mind-blowing in their implications for our security. It turns out that almost every modern vehicle is recording just about everything it

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If you allow “smart” devices to listen to you non-stop, you’re crazy

Yet again, we’ve been reminded that all these “smart” devices like Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Homepod, and Google Home are a security threat to our privacy, and potentially even worse. … a quarter of Americans have bought “smart speaker” devices such as the Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod. (A relative few have even bought Facebook’s Portal, an adjacent smart video screen.) Amazon is winning the sales battle so far, reporting that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been purchased. But now a war is playing out between the world’s biggest companies to weave Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Alphabet’s Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Facebook’s equivalent service

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Fitness – but not for that purpose?

I was both saddened and amused to read that FitBit, an activity tracking device that monitors your level of exertion during your daily activities, has emerged as a tell-tale device as well.  NFL correspondent Jane Slater tweeted: We can laugh, of course, but it’s yet another reflection of how personal privacy has almost disappeared with the advent of ubiquitous consumer electronics.  Consider these facts: If you buy a modern CPAP device, information on your sleep habits (including date and time of sleep sessions, the level of sleep, etc.) is automatically passed to a central monitoring service, where the details are recorded – basically forever.  The

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The impending death of the last shreds of our privacy?

Two reports have made me seriously wonder whether ordinary people care any longer about the last shreds of privacy remaining to them. The first report, ” Silicon Valley’s final frontier for mobile payments — ‘the neoliberal takeover of the human body’ “, examines the use of physical features and attributes as a payment mechanism. Biometric mobile wallets – payment technologies using our faces, fingerprints or retinas – already exist.  Notable technology companies including Apple and Amazon await a day when a critical mass of consumers is sufficiently comfortable walking into a store and paying for goods without a card or device …

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Yet more proof that we have no privacy whatsoever in public

This article dates from 2016, but I’m sure things have only gotten worse since then. The NSA and the GCHQ are able to intercept data from passengers traveling on board commercial aircrafts. . . . At the end of 2012, in a presentation, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA … disclosed a ‘top secret strap’, the term used for the highest level of classification, the content of the Southwinds programme, set up to gather all the activity, voices and data, metadata and content of the calls on board aircraft. The zone was still restricted to the regions

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What Google/Amazon/Facebook/ know about you – and what to do about it

Axios has a very interesting series of articles illustrating what major online service providers know about you.  They include the following, so far: What Amazon knows about you What Facebook knows about you What Google knows about you What the internet knows about you What Tesla knows about you Here’s a brief excerpt from the first article, to whet your appetite. Depending on how much you shop, watch and read with Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth may know more about you than any other company on earth. The big picture: Naturally, they know what you’ve browsed or bought on their main service. They

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Data: defining ourselves by what we do

A very interesting article by Jacob Ward points out that privacy, as such, is no longer the critical issue for us:  rather, it’s the data about us accumulated by service providers that results in the effective demolition of any concept of “privacy” as such. Facebook and other companies may very well be protecting your privacy — but they don’t need your personal information to determine exactly who you are and what you’ll do next. . . . First, understand that privacy and data are separate things. Your privacy — your first and last name, your Social Security number, your online credentials — is the

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