Privacy Archives

Cable Operators Want To Watch You

I’ve just read something on Slashdot that’s served to harden my resolve to never do business with a cable tv provider again.

Recently at CableLab’s semi-annual “Innovation Showcase”, the item that was voted “best new product” is something produced by a company called PrimeSense.  It’s something that allows digital devices to “see” a 3-D view of the area around it.  The view is supposed to look like a thermal imaging picture and it’s purpose is to allow the cable company’s set-top-box to know how many people are watching at any given time.

Right away I can say that anybody that want’s to put something like this on anything in my home had better take time out first to find a good life insurance quote ’cause they’re gonna need it if I catch ’em at it.  My advise to anyone with cable tv is that if you insist on keeping the service, find out if and when they plan to implement something like this and look into finding out ways to blind it without cutting off your cable service.  Me, I’m going to continue avoiding cable tv services like the plague.

Technorati Tags: cable tv, spy hardware, spyware

Is Ubuntu’s New Firefox Watching You?

According to a recent Slashdot article it very well might be.  Ubuntu recently released a new extension to Firefox alpha 3 called “Multisearch”.

The first thing that I don’t like about it is that it installs automatically without any warning about potential privacy problems.  For me that’s a deal-breaker all by itself.

Another thing that gets it a thumbs down is that the article also mentioned that it has “other purposes” of collecting usage data and generating revenue.  Exactly how the “generating revenue” part works wasn’t explained that I saw but the simple fact that it’s part of the reason for the plugin is reason enough IMO to yank the sucker.

This means that the next time I start my Kubuntu (that’s Ubuntu with a KDE desktop for those who don’t know) machine, I’m going to start Firefox and go to “Tools” and “Add ons” and deactivate and / or remove that plugin.

Technorati Tags: privacy, plugin, ubuntu, spyware, search plugin, multisearch, firefox

GPS To Become More Problem Than Benefit

I’ve always thought that GPS systems in vehicles was a very two sided thing.  On the one hand you have the convenience of having reliable navigational aids available on demand.  There’s no need for futzing around with often difficult to manage paper maps, they can locate your position to within a very close margin of error and most units these days can also provide some very sophisticated route planning along with step by step directions to make finding an unfamiliar location almost painless.

On the other hand the obvious downside is that they can also easily be made to keep records of your travels, routes, destinations, stops along with date and time stamps for everything.  All it takes is a system such as OnStar to either misuse or allow that data to leak and you lose any hope of privacy concerning when and where you travel. In fact, OnStar type systems also have the ability to remotely monitor audio from withing your car and even disable the vehicle so that it won’t start.

Now enter the government.  It seems that federal fuel taxes are expected to be phased out by 2020, leaving an obvious gap in revenue.  According to one article that I read, one option that is now under consideration is the idea of using a “by the mile” road tax to replace the current fuel tax system.

I can’t help thinking that the government, who can’t even seem to dredge up the sensibility to use discount faucets or cheap coffeepots and bathroom fixtures instead of spending two and three times (or LOTS more!) as retail value (can you say $14,000 toilet seat?) and has shown a growing tendency to track and monitor citizens (remember warrantless wiretaps and NSA email snooping?) will almost certainly use the GPS records that it ostensibly will use for calculating road tax bills and add it to it’s growing thirst for “Total Information Awareness”.

If you think that this sounds a bit extreme just think about the rate at which our privacy is slowly but surely being etched away and it won’t sound so extreme.  Big Brother is indeed watching you and not only that but he’s becoming more of a voyeur by the second.  It wouldn’t be surprising at all to find out someday that new electronics (computers, TV’s, cellphones, basically anything involving communications) are required to come equipped to permit government snooping and tracking of your activities with said device.

“Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to kill me.”  –Anonymous

Technorati Tags: gps, federal fuel tax, gasoline tax, email snoopng, privacy, travel habits, road use tax, gps tracking, domestic spying, surveillance, illegal surveillance, government snooping, travel records, warrantless wiretapping, illegal wiretapping, nsa, onstar

Microsoft Sneaks Extension Into Firefox

If you have applied the “Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1” update, you may be surprised (and justifiably pissed) to find out that this update included a new extension being very quietly added to Firefox without your knowledge.

It’s called the “Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant (ClickOnce) Firefox Extension” and according to, it gives Firefox a vulnerability that has plagued IE from the start.  An alleged “Feature” that allows websites to install software on your computer without your knowledge or consent.

As if there weren’t enough problems with “drive by downloads”!

To add insult to injury, the boys in Redmond disabled the “uninstall” button on the extension and have apparently tried to make it very difficult to remove without screwing up your system.  Fortunately, the folks at have put together a very easy to follow set of instructions that guide you step by step through the process of removing the offending plugin.  Click here for instructions to remove that extension.

Technorati Tags: uninstall plugin, annoyance, dot net update, firefox plugin, drive by download, microsoft, unwanted plugin, evil plugin

In France, Disagreeing Can Get You fired

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