Tag Archives: GOOGLE INC.

Tech Giants Ask Government to Reform Spy Program

9 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Rarely do we see tech giants Google, Apple, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Yahoo join forces.  That is exactly what has happened today.  In a seething letter, the respective CEO’s of the above companies all sign on to a plea to standardize government intrusions into the digital lives of citizens.  The statement begins:

The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information. . . .We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

Apparently, the risks and costs associated with complying with endless government information requests has taken its toll on these corporations.  The real question for me is where are the cellular phone companies on this issue?  Where are the people on this issue?

This report comes on the very day that the Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana State Police have purchased a piece of equipment that will allow them to monitor cell phones without a warrant.  According to the Indy Star, the Stingray device can be mounted on a police vehicle and can monitor all cellular communications in the area. State police refused to comment on the system. http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2013/12/08/indiana-state-police-tracking-cellphones-but-wont-say-how-or-why/3908333/

The full text of the Tech Giant letter is as follows:

An open letter to Washington

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

Aol logo Apple logo Facebook logo Google logo LinkedIn logo Microsoft logo Twitter logo Yahoo! logo

AG Zoeller Announces Settlement with Google Over Privacy Settings

19 Nov

Gazette Staff

 

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced a multistate settlement agreement today with Google Inc. for allegedly overriding Safari’s internet browser security settings to collect valuable user information.

Through its DoubleClick advertising platform, Google generates revenue by facilitating the transmission of third-party cookies — small files set in Internet users’ Web browsers that allow third-party advertisers to gather information about those users, including, depending on the type of cookie, their Web surfing habits.

Zoeller along with the Attorneys General of 36 States and the District of Columbia accused Google of circumventing the privacy settings which would have blocked all third party cookies. Zoeller said the company’s actions were in violation of state consumer protection and related computer privacy laws.

“Google allegedly circumvented Safari’s default privacy settings – without consumers’ consent – to allow third-party advertisers to set cookies in order to better target advertisements to consumers,” Zoeller said. “Unsuspecting Safari users continued to believe that cookies were automatically blocked. Today’s settlement underscores the continuing need for states to ensure consumers’ privacy remains protected.”

Apple’s Safari Web browser generally blocks third-party cookies in its default privacy settings, including cookies used by DoubleClick to track a consumer’s browsing history. From June 1, 2011 until Feb. 15, 2012, Google altered its DoubleClick coding to circumvent the Safari default privacy settings, without consumers’ knowledge or consent, enabling advertisers to set third-party cookies on consumers’ Safari browsers. Google disabled this coding method in February 2012 after the practice was widely reported on the Internet and in media.

In order to resolve the allegations, Google agreed to pay the attorneys general $17 million and Indiana’s share is $354,573. Google also agreed to injunctive relief that requires it to do the following:

  • Not to override a browser’s cookie blocking settings without the consumer’s consent or unless it is necessary to so in order to detect, prevent or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.
  • Not misrepresent or omit material information to consumers about how Google serves advertisements to their browsers.
  • Improve the information it provides to consumers regarding cookies, their purposes, and how they can be managed by consumers using Google’s products or services.
  • Maintain systems designed to ensure the expiration of the third-party cookies placed on Safari browsers while their default settings had been circumvented.