The Privacy BlogThoughts on privacy, security, and other stuff.

TAG | tracking

iPhone control panelApple Keeps Turning Bluetooth On When You Update Your iPhone

Recent iOS updates have automatically re-enabled Bluetooth for many users who keep it turned off for battery conservation or privacy reasons.

The increasing use of iBeacons and other Bluetooth based tracking systems make this a bigger privacy worry than before. Tracking via Bluetooth is now a widely and actively used tool in retail and other areas.

Conspiracy theorists suggest that Apple is doing this intentionally to increase the usefulness of iBeacons to track people, and thus encourage their adoption. While this is an appealing idea, the jury is still out on this one.

If you are concerned about this kind of tracking, you can quickly disable Bluetooth in the control center on your iPhone by sweeping up from the bottom of just about any screen and tapping the Bluetooth button. It is fairly easy and convenient to keep Bluetooth turned off most of the time, and just enable it when you want to use a wireless headset or other Bluetooth device for a short while.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Email in crosshairs

A Stranger Can Find Out Where You Are By Getting You To Open An Email – On The Media

The ability to use remotely loaded images in HTML emails for tracking has been known for years, but perhaps not widely known.

The On The Media: TLDR podcast just re-surfaced the issue in the above article, where they talk about a free Gmail plugin called Streak, which provides this capability.

It automatically embeds the hidden images in emails you send, then lets you see when and even where the recipient opens them.

Because they appear to use IP address based locations, you can block the “where” part by using Anonymizer Universal.

You can block this tracking completely by turning off the loading of images in your emails. Of course, if you then choose to load images, know that you are also enabling tracking. If you block image loading you will also find that your email become much less attractive and significantly more difficult to read.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Google’s Location History Browser Is A Minute-By-Minute Map Of Your Life | TechCrunch

TechCrunch has a nice article on the location tracking of Android based devices.

It is an “opt in” thing, but I suspect that most people are robo-approving all the questions they are asked when they are trying to get their new phones or tablets set up for the first time.

In this case, you may have given Google permission to track and maintain high resolution location information on you. That information is used to discover where you live and work, to improve weather, travel, and traffic information.

If you follow this link, you can see a track of your activities for up to the last 30 days. Really cool in a very frightening way.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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AT&T thinks that Austin, TX residents will sell their on-line privacy for less than $20 per month.

AT&T is launching a service called U-verse with GigaPower, which will provide 300Mbps of bandwidth to the home initially, increasing to 1Gbps in 2014. The cost of the service is $99 per month, but they have a special offer.

If you sign up for the Premier plan you can get the service for $70 per month. Additionally a bunch of setup and install fees are waived and you get free HBO. If you follow the footnote on the offer, you will see that Premier is only available if you agree to participate in the “AT&T Internet Preferences” program.

This invites AT&T to monitor your Internet usage to better profile you and so more effectively target ads at you.

GIGAOM reports that AT&T says “we will not collect information from secure (https) or otherwise encrypted sites, such as online banking or when a credit card is used to buy something online on a secure site. And we won’t sell your personal information to anyone, for any reason.”

I am pleased that they are not doing active man in the middle attacks on customer encryption, but that is a very very low privacy hurdle.

So, is $20 per month enough for you to allow AT&T to monitor, record, and monetize everything you on the Internet? Let me know if the comments.

Of course, if you use Anonymizer Universal for all of your on-line activity, there is nothing for them to see.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Play

Standard Profile PictureThis is episode 14 of the Privacy Blog Podcast for November,2013.
In this episode I talk about:
How your phone might be tracked, even if it is off
The hidden second operating system in your phone
Advertising privacy settings in Android KitKat
How Google is using your profile in caller ID
and the lengths to which Obama has to go to avoid surveillance when traveling.

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