Your email providers don’t require a warrant to read your email

Our email providers give themselves much more convenient access to your data through their terms of service or privacy policies. On one hand, this is level of access may be necessary to prevent disruptions and limit liability but, on the other hand, these permissions we, as users, grant providers like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and others pretty broad access to our data without requiring them to obtain court orders or satisfy any external legal requirement.

Facebook.com email shuts down with a surprise

Facebook has decided to shut down its Facebook.com email service where you could receive emails into your Facebook inbox. Apparently not many users were actually using it. You have the option of disabling the service in the meantime and, if you don’t, emails sent to your Facebook.com email address will be forwarded to your primaryContinue reading “Facebook.com email shuts down with a surprise”

Free is the death of the open Web and privacy is the sacrificial offering

The problem with free services is that they have to make money in some way or another and the way that they generally do this is through advertising which leverages our personal information in order to give some kind of value to their advertisers. We agree to this when we sign up for these services. The extent of our agreement is documented in privacy policies which few people read and truly consider.

What this means is that we are essentially trading information about ourselves for access to these services which, admittedly, we do see value in otherwise we wouldn’t use them quite so much.

Cancer stories and contextual privacy

If you are unfamiliar with Twitter direct messages, they are inherently private and only people who follow you may send you direct messages. Aside from not informing Adams that she was writing a story about her, Keller apparently did not obtain Adams’ permission to repeat the direct message conversation and that violated Adams’ privacy, regardless of how public she is about other aspects of her experiences. 

Are banks assessing your creditworthiness based on your social media profiles?

GigaOm has an interesting article titled “New breed of lenders use Facebook and Twitter data to judge borrowers” which looks at a growing trend in financial services industries. Banks and other lenders are starting to look at customers’ social media profiles when assessing their needs and the risks they may pose as debtors. An emerging South African consumer protection framework could support extension of this behaviour to South Africa, if it hasn’t already been adopted.

Is privacy a recent fiction or a neglected human right?

Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf, recently spoke at the FTC’s Internet of Things Workshop where he suggested that privacy is a recent construct our society created when technology made it possible. Is privacy an anomaly, as he suggests, or is it an important right which technology has enabled and which we are neglecting to the point where we are negating it so we can share more stuff with each other?

Processing, personal information and direct marketing under POPI

Consent, while critical, just scratches the surface of the Protection of Personal Information Bill. There is a lot more to the anticipated Protection of Personal Information Act and, in this post, I’d like to give you an overview of two further important terms used in the Protection of Personal Information Bill, namely “personal information” and “processing”.

Johannesburg High Court rules on Facebook defamation

The innocuous looking case of H v W which was handed down in the South Gauteng High Court on 30 January 2013 is anything but. Judge Willis’ 30 page judgment recognises the harm a Facebook post can do to a person’s reputation and throws the weight of the Court behind the person defamed (and who can afford the legal fees).

Is WhatsApp violating your privacy rights?

Background The popular mobile and multi-platform messaging service, WhatsApp, was investigated recently by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Dutch Data Protection Authority for apparent violations of Canadian and Dutch privacy laws. The investigation found a number of violations and the Canadian Privacy Commissioner released an update on 28 January 2013Continue reading “Is WhatsApp violating your privacy rights?”