Facebook is watching you. The social media giant won the "Big Brother" Award in Belgium on Thursday. The award is named after the dystopian government surveillance in George Orwell's "1984," and given to the "biggest privacy-offender of the year," according to the Flemish League for Human rights, which runs the awards, and its partners.Facebook, nominated by international digital advocacy group EDRi, won after being criticized for its default privacy settings in a unanimous decision. The social network didn't respond to requests for comment. "Facebook has access to a wide range of personal data, and it tracks your movements across the web, whether you are logged in or not," EDRi said. "And the devil is in the default: To opt out, you are expected to navigate Facebook's complex web of settings."Facebook beat out three other candidates for the anti-privacy award, including Belgium's data retention law, paperless cash and the Belgian government's lack of transparency for criminal … [Read more...] about Facebook wins ‘Big Brother’ award in Belgium
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"Big Brother has arrived -- and it's you."As CNET's resident privacy nark, I didn't need much convincing to play a game all about social engineering and online surveillance. But when I stepped into my role as a new recruit for the fictional Orwell internet surveillance program, I didn't expect to find the rush of power so beguiling, or unsettling.Developed by German outfit Osmotic Studios, Orwell sees you working as a new recruit in a surveillance agency of the same name, following a series of terrorist attacks in Bonton, the fictional capital of The Nation. As an agent, you are responsible for scraping social media feeds, blogs, news sites and the private communications of the Nation's citizens to find those with connections to the bombings. You start with your first suspect before working through a web of friends and associates. You're after data chunks -- highlighted pieces of information and text found in news stories, websites and blogs that can be dragged and uploaded into the … [Read more...] about Orwell: The surveillance game that puts you in Big Brother’s shoes
Is there a more painful and stupefying feeling than when a good guy turns out to be a bad guy? My girlfriends tell me they can always see it coming. The thing is, they only tell me that after the event, when the formerly good guy has revealed that he's married, in debt, or even worse, an insurance broker. This past week, Google went out of its way at its I/O Conference to suggest that a company it once thought of as being just this side of Tom Hanks, Apple, represented a "Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice." Those were the words of Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering. Within minutes of his speech, I received a link to the video I have embedded. It's a mashup of two Apple ads-- the famous "1984" spot and an "iPhone" ad. It presents an eerie image of Google's argument. Apple, the suggestion goes, is now Big Brother. It's easy to fall for such a notion. The refusal to include Flash on the iPad, the … [Read more...] about Is Apple really Big Brother?
"Big Brother" entered into the lexicon and so vividly into the public imagination through George Orwell’s 1984. The main character, Winston, lives under totalitarian rule in a country named Oceania. His every movement and even thought are under surveillance. Any involvement by a government in what its citizens believe to be a private exchange is inevitably viewed in the context of this dystopia. Technology, particularly social media, augments the modes and means of communication—but also the ease with which it can be monitored—causing privacy, the law, and public opinion to clash. This is further complicated by the tools of protest and the ways of quelling it also being one and the same. Among those inserting themselves into the fray is Anonymous. On November 5, in what it's calling "Operation Fox Hunt," Anonymous is seeking retaliation for "Fox News' propaganda" regarding Occupy Wall Street by taking over the cable channel's website. The chosen date is a nod to plots … [Read more...] about Anonymous and Big Brother: Spy vs. Spy?
Over the weekend Google deployed its so-called "kill switch" against the Android malware that had infected possibly thousands of phones. Google's action remote-wipes any of the identified malware from any Android phone and reinforces protections against subsequent infection. "Kill switch" is an apt, if unfortunate, description of the procedure, as the same term has been recently used to describe what the Egyptian and Libyan governments have done to Internet access in their countries. Is it just me or should we all feel slightly creeped out by Google's move? Certainly, the company had to act, and act swiftly, which it did. Not only did it remove the malicious apps almost the minute it heard about them, but it deployed a fix within days. Considering the number of devices and versions of Android that need to be addressed, that's impressive. But going into my phone and erasing software—no matter how bad it may be—strikes me as a vaguely Orwellian thing to do. Maybe I'm being … [Read more...] about Google Goes Big Brother with the Android ‘Kill Switch’