Glyn Moody, PIA VPN Service

Glyn Moody

PIA VPN Service

United Kingdom

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Recent articles by glyn:

Coronavirus delays the passage of the world's most important new privacy law

For obvious and justified reasons, the coronavirus pandemic dominates the news currently. One of the latest developments is that India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has put his entire country on lockdown. Ordering 1.35 billion people to stay indoors is a pretty dramatic move. A side-effect of that lockdown is that one of the most important … Continue reading "Coronavirus delays the passage of… → Read More

This is where workplace surveillance leads: towards algorithmic, automated management

A couple of years ago, Privacy News Online wrote about a new kind of surveillance, taking place in the workplace. The aim of these systems back then was to keep an eye on workers, and they were often designed to spot problems. But two years is a long time in today’s digital world, and things … Continue reading "This is where workplace surveillance leads: towards algorithmic, automated management" → Read More

What happens to privacy when China has personal data and the social graph of nearly everyone in the US?

The speech by US Attorney General William P. Barr hardly seems earth-shattering. But buried within its business-like announcement of the indictment of four Chinese military hackers, there is the following statement, which has huge implications for privacy: For years, we have witnessed China’s voracious appetite for the personal data of Americans, including the theft of … Continue reading "What… → Read More

Why the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) risks turning into a paper tiger

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has just announced two new GDPR inquiries. One of them concerns Tinder, as a result of “concerns raised by individuals both in Ireland and across the EU”. The other inquiry will examine Google’s processing of location data and the transparency surrounding that processing. The issue is whether consent to share … Continue reading "Why the EU’s General… → Read More

What can we learn from the Clearview "end of privacy" story?

A couple of weeks ago, a story in the New York Times put facial recognition, and the serious problems it raises, firmly into the mainstream. It concerned the start-up Clearview AI, which, as the headline breathlessly informed us, “might end privacy as we know it.” The reason for this worrying description is not any breakthrough … Continue reading "What can we learn from the Clearview “end of… → Read More

Can hardware ever be trusted? The Betrusted project aims to find out by going back to basics

As previous posts have noted, the Internet of Things is being widely embraced in the form of so-called “smart speakers” and other devices. That’s despite the fact that few of these hardware systems can be regarded as secure: leaks of personal data can and do occur in multiple ways. Mostly, that is because the software … Continue reading "Can hardware ever be trusted? The Betrusted project aims… → Read More

Police forces around the world continue to deploy facial recognition systems, despite no evidence of their utility

Last month, this blog wrote about governments around the world continuing to trial facial recognition systems, and the growing concerns this is provoking. There’s one area in particular where facial recognition systems are deployed: law enforcement. That’s hardly a surprise, since the legal system can only operate if it identifies alleged criminals that need to … Continue reading "Police forces… → Read More

Now is the time to defend the final haven for privacy: your brain

One of the principal concerns of privacy is to prevent others – typically governments or companies – from monitoring what we think. They have to do that indirectly, by spying on what we say or write, and inferring what is going through our minds from that data. We assume that our actual thoughts are immune … Continue reading "Now is the time to defend the final haven for privacy: your brain" → Read More

The next great platform shift is underway, and that could be really bad for privacy

The first computing era was based on the keyboard. Mainframes, minicomputers, personal computers – they were all controlled using fingers typing out commands. Later on, the graphical front end of the Macintosh and Windows allowed people to point and click, but the keyboard was still there for text to be entered at some point. The … Continue reading "The next great platform shift is underway, and… → Read More

Google says: "Privacy is paramount to us, in everything we do"; here's why that can't be true

Back in May Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed: the future is private“. Now Google is joining in: Privacy is paramount to us, in everything we do. So today, we are announcing a new initiative to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. We’re calling this a Privacy Sandbox. As a slogan, … Continue reading "Google says: “Privacy is paramount to us, in everything we do”;… → Read More

A major security breach raises a key question: what happens when your biometric data is exfiltrated from a system?

It’s no secret that password security is often terrible. Good passwords – ones that are long and include a mix of lower case, upper case, numbers, and special characters – are hard to remember unless you use a password manager, which few seem to do. As a result, people tend to choose easy-to-guess passwords like … Continue reading "A major security breach raises a key question: what happens when… → Read More

The future of privacy is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed

William Gibson is best known for his book “Neuromancer“, which popularized the word and concept of cyberspace. He also came up with the phrase “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed“. That was a general statement about technology, but it also applies to the technology that threatens our privacy. Around … Continue reading "The future of privacy is already here — it’s… → Read More

Open Source Is Good, but How Can It Do Good?

Open-source coders: we know you are good—now do good. The ethical use of computers has been at the heart of free software from the beginning. Here's what Richard Stallman told me when I interviewed him in 1999 for my book Rebel Code: > The free software movement is basically a movement for freedom. It's based on values that are not purely material and practical. It's based on the idea that… → Read More

What can we learn from Palantir's secret user manual for police users of its big data software?

Two years ago, Privacy News Online wrote about the mysterious Palantir Technologies. It describes itself as a company that makes “products for human-driven analysis of real-world data“. It is a data analytics supplier at heart, but one that is working on some of society’s most sensitive data, notably the kind used by law enforcement to … Continue reading "What can we learn from Palantir’s secret… → Read More

General Data Protection Regulation one year on: what has it done?

A year ago, arguably the most important event in the recent history of privacy occurred: the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) started to be enforced. To mark that anniversary Privacy News Online will look at what the GDPR has achieved in its first 12 months, and what is likely to happen next. The GDPR … Continue reading "General Data Protection Regulation one year on: what has it… → Read More

Why 5G is a huge future threat to privacy

The next-generation of mobile communications, 5G, is currently a hot topic in two very different domains: technology – and politics. The latter is because of President Trump’s attempts to shut the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei out of Western procurement projects. That might work in the US, but the move is meeting a lot of resistance … Continue reading "Why 5G is a huge future threat to privacy" → Read More

"Digital strip-searches": police increasingly downloading everything from smartphones – including from crime victims

Full-body scanners are now a routine sight at airports. Most people are resigned to these virtual strip-searches, despite the obviously intrusive nature of appearing naked to the machines’ operators. But it seems that what amount to digital strip-searches are becoming increasingly common around the world too. For example, it has emerged that victims of crimes … Continue reading "“Digital… → Read More

Here's how Internet of Things malware is undermining privacy

The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly part of our everyday lives, with so-called “smart” speakers especially popular, But for all their undoubted technical merits, they also represent a growing threat to privacy, as this blog has reported before. There are several aspects to the problem. One is that devices with microphones and cameras may … Continue reading "Here’s how Internet of Things… → Read More

China's AI-based prisons – both indoors and outdoors – offer a warning of how privacy may die elsewhere

Online freedom of speech is under attack around the world. The EU’s new Copyright Directive is about to become law, and brings with it a need to filter all uploads to most sites. Once filters are in place, it will be easy to use them for blocking things other than alleged copyright infringement. Australia has … Continue reading "China’s AI-based prisons – both indoors and outdoors – offer a… → Read More

If Software Is Funded from a Public Source, Its Code Should Be Open Source

If we pay for it, we should be able to use it. Perhaps because many free software coders have been outsiders and rebels, less attention is paid to the use of open source in government departments than in other contexts. But it's an important battleground, not least because there are special dynamics at play and lots of good reasons to require open-source software. It's unfortunate that the most… → Read More