Data brokers should give consumers more control over their personal information, and Congress should consider legislation that reins in the ways data brokers can use that information, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is recommending. The data broker industry "largely operates in the dark," with most U.S. consumers unaware that companies are collecting data about consumers’ place of residence, interests, children, health conditions and income, said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "Most consumers have never heard of the data broker industry, let alone the names of the largest data brokers," she added. "The industry suffers from a fundamental lack of transparency."
The leading tech companies in the U.S. have a message for the Federal Communications Commission: Don't do it. More than 100 big and small tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Netflix and Amazon.com, signed off on a letter urging the FCC to rethink its proposed changes to previous net neutrality regulations, calling these changes "a grave threat to the internet." "According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against internet companies and to impose new tolls on them," the companies wrote.
As consumers move more of their lives to digital channels, they're still not confident in how companies handle their personal data. In fact, a March 2014 study by GfK found that 60 percent of U.S. internet users were more concerned about how companies protected personal data than they had been 12 months ago. These worries weren't limited to one age group, with the majority of respondents in each age demographic saying their concerns about personal information security had risen at least moderately.
A new White House report on privacy and data collection says the mass collection of information is "saving lives," but calls for additional safeguards in how personal information is stored and collected. The report, issued Thursday, is the result of a three-month review led by White House advisor John Podesta and administration officials. President Obama called for the assessment of so-called "big data" amid pressure over revelations about U.S. spy agencies collecting data on phone records. The review didn't focus on collecting data for intelligence, however, opting instead to review policies in other government agencies, the private sector and education.
The Heartbleed bug has made plain what everyone in cybersecurity already knew, whether they admit it or not: Passwords are dying. All of them. Got one of those fancy pieces of software that invents a unique and unrememberable password for every one of your accounts? It's not enough. Do you make a new password for every service, based on a phrase so that you can remember it but the dictionary can't find it? That's certainly worth doing, but it may not help you
An encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug is already being called one of the biggest security threats the internet has ever seen. The bug has affected many popular websites and services — ones you might use every day, like Gmail and Facebook — and could have quietly exposed your sensitive account information (e.g., passwords and credit card numbers) over the past two years. But it hasn't always been clear which sites have been affected. Mashable reached out to various companies included on a long list of websites that could potentially have the flaw.
Echoing sentiments expressed by Julian Assange at South by Southwest Interactive two days ago, exiled American whistle-blower Edward Snowden and fellow panelists today suggested that tech giants such as Google and Facebook may be forced to hand over civilian data when the United States government asks. "I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I saw the Constitution was violated on a massive scale," Snowden said, recalling his days at the National Security Agency. "Would I do it again? Absolutely. Regardless of what happens to me, this is something we had a right to."
Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website through which nearly 4 million people have financed more than 56,000 projects since its launch in 2009, has become the latest target of hackers, according to its CEO. In an email to users over the weekend, Yancey Strickler said law enforcement notified Kickstarter last Wednesday that hackers had gained access to some of its customers’ data, including user names, email and mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making some moves internally that are going to allow the agency to take on a much larger and more active role in fighting hackers and increasing cyber security. These roles have traditionally been filled by law enforcement, intelligence agencies and the military, but the FCC seems to want to get involved on a greater scale as well going forward. What exactly this means hasn't yet been announced, but according to information shared by both current and former agency officials, it will be much more hands on.
One surefire prediction for 2014: privacy will remain a hot topic for consumers, legislators and any business that stores or uses personal or financial data. Just ask Target. Or Snapchat. Yet 2014 will bring more than just talk. New laws and industry self-regulation for privacy protections are taking shape in ways that will affect marketers in the coming year. Here are three of the most important things to watch out for: