Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Privacy at Risk

Privacy is a basic human right

A Basic Need | Privacy Laws Outdated
Demand Privacy | Domestic Spying | Surveillance
Biometrics | Privacy Resources

A faceless hacker in a hoodie is surrounded by green computer code.

Privacy in a Nutshell

Privacy is both a fundamental right in itself, and is instrumental to the exercise of other rights.
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Privacy is a multi-faceted concept. It's not one size fits all and is approached differently by governments, businesses, and consumers.


However, there are practical privacy standards that can and should be used as a foundation upon which we build our digital world.

Why Privacy is Important

You must protect your online privacy in the same way that you protect your physical privacy with locks on your doors and curtains on your windows.

  • The issues are complex and have significant implications for our future as a free society.
  • Restoring Privacy includes tips to help you take back your privacy.
People often don't think about their rights until they need them -- whether it's when they're arrested at a protest or pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

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Privacy a Basic Human Need

Privacy is a basic human right according to the UN:

No one must be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12

Privacy is power over your own information, required for dignity and respect.

If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold, or even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human. We deserve better. You deserve better.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook

Not About Hiding Something

Protecting your privacy doesn't mean you have something to hide.

The most common retort against privacy advocates — by those in favor of ID checks, cameras, databases, data mining and other wholesale surveillance measures — is this line: If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?


[This] accept[s] the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong.


It's not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.
Bruce Schneier: The Eternal Value of Privacy

We should be examining the motives behind those using the “nothing to hide” mantra.

Someone asked what Facebook thinks of the storage of data and the protection of privacy. And Zuckerberg said: "I don't understand your question. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear."


Ever since then I have thought about this sentence again and again. I find it terrible. I know that it was certainly not meant that way.


Behind this statement there is a state of mind and an image of humanity that is typically cultivated in totalitarian regimes — not in liberal societies. Such a statement could also have come from the head of East Germany's Stasi or other secret police in service of a dictatorship.


The essence of freedom is precisely the fact that I am not obliged to disclose everything that I am doing, that I have a right to confidentiality and, yes, even to secrets; that I am able to determine for myself what I wish to disclose about myself.


The individual right to this is what makes a democracy. Only dictatorships want transparent citizens instead of a free press.
Mathias Döpfners
Maybe you feel you have nothing to hide? Consider the fact that if you don't control access to your posts, they're fully available to advertisers, spammers, cyber-stalkers, and other undesirables.
PC Mag

A Disturbing Example

One very disturbing example of government overreach is the accidental release of unredacted personal information online by the Nova Scotia government due to their own incompetence.

The government claimed to be retroactively protecting the privacy of those individuals whose personal data was released onto a public database. However, the way it went about it appears to be more interested in accusing those that had the legal right to view those public documents of wrongdoing.

It is unclear whether the government notified those whose data had been made public because of government incompetence.

In the process, the government obtained a lot of personal information, including which documents a privacy lawyer had accessed (even though he told them much earlier that he didn't keep any records) which would reveal the strategy of the cases he was working on, violating client-lawyer confidentiality.

Privacy isn't Secrecy

Privacy isn't about secrecy, which implies that citizens have no right to either.

Don't confuse privacy with secrecy. I know what you do in the bathroom, but you still close the door. That's because you want privacy, not secrecy.
Fábio Esteves

Consumer Privacy Regularly Abused

Legislation surrounding personal privacy is regularly abused both by governments and by businesses.

Penalties are often no more than “a cost of doing business” rather than something that holds either accountable. Fines that may prevent an individual from violating privacy are meaningless to a large corporation or, often, wealth individuals.

In Canada, privacy has been used as a shield against accountability. Governments have thwarted FOIA requests.


Privacy is about government not being able to see what citizens are doing. When it's vice versa, that's secrecy, not privacy.
Journalism Professor Sean Holman

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Privacy Laws Outdated

Canada's courts dismissed the privacy case against Facebook because Canada's privacy laws were deemed too weak. This same case was successfully prosecuted in the U.S.

The laws that govern the ability of our governments and corporations to collect personal information are woefully out of date and severely inadequate to the task within a connected world.

Big Business has moved into managing patients' health files, but privacy laws haven't kept pace.


There's no question that corporations have been growing the parts of their businesses dedicated to collecting personal information in health databases.


Those databases would include some of the most sensitive information about people, details many would want to remain private, including about their mental health, addictions, sexually transmitted illnesses and whether they've had an abortion.
The Tyee

The right to check your computers and devices at the border abuses an outdated law created when cross-border movement of documents was limited to the inspection of physical (paper) files.

The Privacy Act, which oversees the [Canadian] government's use of your data, came into effect in 1983 — years before the Internet, or cell phones.

Canada's Political Party Privacy Hall of Shame.
The top privacy breaches of all time by political parties

Political campaigns in Canada aren't fighting it out in paper and print anymore; they're online, sending you targeted ads, SMS messages, and sliding into your DMs.


To gain an advantage over each other, parties now try to leverage sophisticated data analytics to understand voters — to understand each of us — on an unprecedented level. They collect information from various sources, including social media, surveys, and even public records. The goal: tailoring their campaign messages and advertisements to appeal directly to the hearts and minds of individual voters.


But where should the line between strategic campaigning and invasion of privacy be drawn? It seems that, for political parties in Canada, this line is not just blurred but virtually nonexistent.


Surprisingly, the rules that govern data protection in Canada have a blind spot when it comes to political parties and other campaign organizations. While businesses and government agencies are bound by stringent privacy laws, political parties and nonprofits are not held to the same standard.


These legal loopholes allow them to collect, analyze, and utilize our personal information without the same level of accountability that we would expect from business OR government.

Tim Hortons Abused Your Privacy

Tim Hortons app was a massive abuse of personal privacy. Canada's toothless privacy laws failed consumers:

The Canadian privacy watchdogs found that Tim Hortons violated federal and provincial privacy laws by using its app to collect "highly personal" information about its customers without their consent, calling out the company for a "mass invasion" of privacy.


The investigation found that users were misled into thinking their information was only being accessed when they used the app.


McLeod found the app had been tracking his movements so closely that it knew where he lived, worked and vacationed, as well as when he walked into certain competing fast-food restaurants. An analysis of months' worth of data obtained through federal privacy law suggested the app was tracking him even when it was closed.


Tim Hortons won't face any penalties in the case. That alone prompted the commissioners to call for tougher privacy regulations since only Quebec has the ability to impose fines when companies break privacy law.


Tim Hortons' mobile application users can now get a free hot beverage and a baked good after the Superior Court of Quebec approved a settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit involving the coffee-chain's parent company, Restaurant Brands International Inc. (RBI).
Financial Post

Bill C-27

The Canadian Liberal government has been working on modernizing privacy legislation for quite some time.

Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022, is an attempt to update the privacy laws in Canada including replacing current protections.

It would repeal Part 1 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA), the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act (PIDPTA) and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA).

An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts

This new privacy legislation demonstrates how little our MPs and MLAs understand the concepts of privacy.

The last-minute addition of compromised AI legislation seems to water down the protection it offers when it comes to artificial intelligence data gathering and decision-making. After public consultations were over 38 pages of amendments encouraged by AI industries were added, weakening the protection AIDA was supposed to provide. Learn more about Bill C-27….

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Demand Privacy

People in Canada deserve strong new privacy laws — but a pending bill will actually weaken some of our existing privacy protections. #DemandPrivacy!

People in Canada deserve strong new privacy laws – but a pending bill will actually weaken some of our existing privacy protections.


Your MP will soon be voting on Bill C-27, privacy reform legislation that will allow companies to do EVEN MORE with our sensitive data without our knowledge and consent.

Have you ever wondered what a privacy bill would look like if it were written by industry and business groups who profit from the exploitation of our personal data? We're getting an idea from some of the incredibly destructive provisions in Bill C-27.

So let's act together right now by telling our MPs that we demand privacy: Sign the petition!


Surveillance Threatens Freedom of Speech

Surveillance is commonly associated with dictatorships where open expression of opinions is harshly punished.

The Canadian Liberal government's Bill C-26 provides for Draconian actions by governments including the removal of Internet access. The threshold is very small for such a drastic action. Unfortunately, this has become commonplace in modern “democratic” societies like Canada.

Just consider how Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 were promoted — the government disregarded the concerns of citizens in its zeal to control content on the Internet by treating it like cable TV.

Governments and police agencies are demanding an end to encryption. They want unrestricted access to our personal information without warrant or cause.

The blatant harassment of individual creators testifying about their issues with pending Bill C-11 legislation in Ottawa was shameful as was Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez's continued references to “cat videos.”

Lobbyists from the big media companies, the primary beneficiaries of CanCon, faced no such abuse.

While many of the individual creators were already reaching foreign markets for Canadian content, these large corporations were failing to do so.

No Exposure to Opposing Viewpoints

Too often our news and social media presents only one point of view, our selection of media based upon what we already believe.

We should be extremely careful before rushing to embrace an Internet that is moderated by a few private companies by default, one where the platforms that control so much public discourse routinely remove posts and deactivate accounts because of objections to the content.
Washington Post

It is this refusal to hear opposing viewpoints that is destroying democracy, not dissenting voices.

Creativity and Personal Expression Stifled

Surveillance stifles personal expression.

We don't feel as free to express our creativity when our conversations or Internet activities are being monitored.

Think of how you feel when your boss is standing behind you while you work or when a police car is following you in traffic.

I don't want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship is recorded.
— Edward Snowden

Society Needs to Choose

We can have security OR surveillance but not both.

We need to choose between security and surveillance. It's just not possible to build electronic devices that keep data secret from everybody except, say, government officials trying to track the movements of terrorists. Everybody gets to spy or nobody gets to spy.
Bruce Schneier on BBC

We don't have to choose between security and privacy. We can have both.

Learning More

More about why privacy matters:

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Domestic Spying

A lot of people assume that those who are under surveillance are quite deserving of that surveillance. That is not true.
Mailyn Fidler

We're being spied upon constantly. By our governments and by businesses.

Governments seek to collect and store virtually everything about their own citizens including their online activities. Everyone is considered guilty.

“Protection” from Terrorism

The “official” purpose for the NSA collection of personal phone records is to prevent future terrorist attacks.

Following the attacks on September 11, 2001 we've been faced with unprecedented attacks on personal freedom by governments worldwide.

Although poorly understood at the time, one of the biggest long-term impacts of the September 11 attacks was expanded surveillance in the United States and other democracies, by both public and private sectors.


The stakes are high. If democracies fail to turn the future of global surveillance in their favor, digital authoritarian competitors stand ready to offer their own model to the world.
Nicholas Wright

Legal Interpretations Flawed

The resulting surveillance is incredibly invasive to our privacy and often legal interpretations are themselves abuse of the law rather than protection for citizens.

[A] federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy in a personal computer located inside their home.

This abuse of privacy cannot be justified unless viewed through the lens of a totalitarian society and secret police.

Protection Against Terrorism Undeliverable

The public is no safer from terrorist threats than it was prior to the start of widespread surveillance.
No serious, verifiable evidence has been produced by the proponents of compulsory suspicionless [bulk] data collection to show that the data mining and profiling by means of the bulk data in general… is even suitable to the ends supposedly being pursued — let alone that it is effective.

Unprecedented government spying on their own citizens has resulted in NO significant reductions in terrorism.

We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA's dragnet collection of Americans' phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence.
Senator Ron Den

More often than not, common criminal acts that could have been discovered anyhow were the net benefit.

At the same time, the costs to democracy and our privacy have been significant. This loss of our privacy is unacceptable.

If you're willing to sacrifice some freedom to feel safe, you deserve neither.
— Thomas Jefferson

Say “NO” to Secret Courts

While the collection of evidence based upon a warrant issued by a judge in a public court can be seen as justice because it is both open and can be challenged.

The same can't be said about secret courts.

The collection of information on innocent citizens based upon warrants issued by secret courts just in case it may be useful in the future is hard to justify.

The basis for this widespread abuse of privacy? A U.S. court decision that stated that if third parties have access to your information, a warrant shouldn't be needed for the government to access it.

In other words, because big tech had access to our communications, the government felt justified in demanding access and using that against us.

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The Surveillance Economy

The traditional marketplace with list prices has been replaced with a surveillance economy where access to private data is exchanged for “free” goods and services.

Unlike the up-front cost of purchased products or services, this new model simply collects information without revealing either the value or the cost in terms of privacy. It is a very one-sided bargain.

The stream of Facebook privacy scandals may have you questioning how much the social network and other tech giants actually know about you.


Here's a hint: practically everything.

The Myth of "Anonymous" Data

Companies collecting our data often say that they “anonymize” that data.

They do this by stripping the identifiable parts of the data and, hopefully, grouping it with other sets of data before releasing it to the advertisers and others that it was collected for.

But, it is all too easy to combine other factors to fill in the blanks and de-anonymize that data.

Data Brokers

Data brokers scrape the Internet for bits of information and combine it to create a profile for sale to anyone willing to pay for it.

For data brokers dealing in our personal information, our data can either be useful for their profit-making or truly anonymous, but not both. Practically speaking, there is no way to de-identify individual location data since these data points serve as unique personal identifiers of their own.


And even when location data is said to have been anonymized, re-identification can be achieved by correlating de-identified data with other publicly available data like voter rolls or information that's sold by data brokers.


One study from 2013 found that researchers could uniquely identify 50% of people using only two randomly chosen time and location data points.
On their own, each data point says very little about you. But when you combine all that information, it suddenly becomes possible to gain insight into your political beliefs, your religion, gender, sexual preferences, financial status, and even whether you are about to get married or want to get pregnant.


In many countries it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of characteristics like race, age, gender or religion. But companies can (and do) sneak in discrimination through the back door by using proxies for these characteristics. For example, your choice of social media platform reveals a lot about your age.
Mozilla Foundation

Unfortunately, the accuracy of this information is neither verified nor easy to check. When combined with the cryptic algorithms used to determine eligibility for loans or jobs, this can unfairly penalize your chances.

Social Media

Social media is one of the most obvious examples of the surveillance economy and the relentless collection of personal data.

Personal information is collected and monetized by social media companies using facial recognition software, comparative and linked data (such as the Facebook "Like" button) and more.

Most, if not all, social media data is being stored outside Canada and doesn't have the protections afforded by Canadian law (minimal as that protection is).

The Email Connection

The fact that your email address is the primary user name when logging into your accounts provides a strong link to other data about that user.

Most Canadians now use webmail which is stored on servers in the US or other countries. Your emails are scanned to profile you to serve more enticing ads, alter search results, and other purposes based upon the emails you send and receive if you're using Gmail, Yahoo! mail and similar services.

Even if they claim not to view your emails, the metadata (information needed to transport and store emails) will tell them a great deal.

Gmail with default settings seems to be able to sort your emails into categories. It must be viewing at least some aspects of those emails.

The Cell Phone Connection

Your cellular phone is constantly sharing personal information about you.

While it is extremely handy to know where the nearest coffee shop or grocery outlet is located, that same location information is being shared with others.

Cellphones provide very precise 24/7 location data, so your cell company always knows where you are.

Your cellular provider already tracks your physical location at all times: it knows where you live, where you work, when you go to sleep at night, when you wake up in the morning, and — because everyone has a smartphone — who you spend time with and who you sleep with.
Bruce Schneier

We've voluntarily provided governments and corporations with massive amounts of private information that used to be cost-prohibitive to collect — and Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for that privilege.

We love cell phones. We love them to death. For all kinds of reasons. I mean, can you imagine?


Suppose twenty years ago Congress had proposed a law saying every citizen had to wear a radio transponder around his neck, all day and all night, so the government could track him wherever he went. Can you imagine the outrage?


But instead the citizens went right ahead and did it to themselves. In their pockets and purses, not around their necks, but the outcome is the same.
Lee Child, A Wanted Man

Capturing Private Data without a Warrant

Geofencing, stingray and other cell-tracking technologies reveal a lot about individuals that have nothing to do with the warrant (if one is even obtained).

If the government said you have to have a tracking device, for certain you would rebel. But the government doesn't have to say that because you do it willingly and they just get a copy of the data.
Bruce Schneier on BBC

The Canadian government raised a stink when cell-tracking technologies were used near federal facilities in Ottawa. Our government is obviously more concerned with their privacy than ours.

Apple Treating Privacy Differently

It doesn't have to be like that. As we move into an era where more and more personal data is required in order to provide services that require personal data like map services, health information tracking, etc. Apple wants to have your trust. They make their money on products, not by monetizing the data required to operate these devices.

[S]ome of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They're gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that's wrong. And it's not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.
The Washington Post

Or Not…

A recent decision to build a backdoor into its iCloud and iMessage system that will use AI to look for child porn.

That's not a slippery slope; that's a fully built system just waiting for external pressure to make the slightest change.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

While that aim is admirable in its stated goals, if history repeats itself it will soon be an open door to all our private conversations and information.

Child exploitation is a serious problem, and Apple isn't the first tech company to bend its privacy-protective stance in an attempt to combat it. But that choice will come at a high price for overall user privacy.


Apple can explain at length how its technical implementation will preserve privacy and security in its proposed backdoor, but at the end of the day, even a thoroughly documented, carefully thought-out, and narrowly-scoped backdoor is still a backdoor.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Current trends in the US are contrary to this protection and it will be an uphill battle.

Not only is this culling of data extremely profitable, but these companies spend a great deal of money lobbying for a relaxation of existing laws. Even politicians that should be protecting our rights want to know the demographics that will get them re-elected. The threat to our privacy is not as important.

There are bound to be abuses by law enforcement of any tracking system.

No Privacy for Canadians in the US

Trump's 'no privacy for non-Americans' order is not encouraging but don't be fooled into thinking that other governments are any more benevolent.

Private data for citizens of Lithuania, Estonia, Malta and the Netherlands receive greater legal protection from the US than Canadians' data does. Canada is NOT designated as a “covered country” even though we share a huge common border and they are our largest trading partner and have some of the toughest copyright laws.

To make matters worse, a great deal of Canadian Internet traffic flows in and out of the U.S.

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Biometrics involves the use of unchangeable but unique physical identifiers such as fingerprints, retinas, facial recognition, DNA, etc.

We're just seeing the beginning of the use of such biometric identifiers. If you're using facial recognition to open your iPhone or a fingerprint scanner on your laptop, you're already doing so.

Unlike many other methods of identifying people, their compromise is also impossible to fix.

Unlike your credit card numbers, biometric identifiers such as thumbprints, retinas, irises and faces can't be changed if the information falls into wrong hands through dark web sales or data breaches.


Once the information is out on the web, stalkers or others with evil intent can use facial recognition, for example, to gain access to your full electronic profile, including your home address, birth date, phone numbers and any other information that might been scattered online through endless data breaches.
Chicago Sun-Times

Biometrics Threaten Privacy

There has been a massive growth of technologies that are threatening personal privacy.

These include artificial intelligence, facial recognition, stalkerware and camera systems like The Ring.

The legal framework to protect your privacy has fallen far behind the technology.

Because they're a corporation, their responsibility is to their shareholders. They are looking at health care as a revenue generating opportunity, so they're looking and experimenting with all the different ways they might be able to make a profit out of health care.
Marcy Cohen

We need to have controls over these sorts of identifiers, including clear permission to use them as well as the use intended for them.

Much like other surveillance technologies, there is a lot at stake for the corporations that hope to make billions by gathering and marketing this very personal information.


DNA is another area where unique personal identifiers are involved.

DNA tests have become popular ways to determine your family history and these companies are not being up front with what is being done with your DNA.

Unless you specifically opt-out, your DNA information is marketed for profit.

In this case, you're not the only one that is potentially compromised. All those related to you may find they are being identified or tracked because of that DNA test you submitted.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been seen and promoted as having huge potential for good.

Unfortunately, those developing it are more interested in the pursuit of being first, risking our privacy in the process.

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is often portrayed in a positive light on TV shows where the police use camera footage to identify and arrest the perpetrators of crime.

Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) has emerged as a powerful tool of significant interest to both law enforcement and commercial entities.


Used responsibly and in the right circumstances, it has the potential to offer great benefits to society.


At the same time, facial recognition can be a highly invasive surveillance technology fraught with many risks.
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

The Dark Side

Unfortunately, the truth is much darker. Not everyone tagged by facial recognition is guilty.

Technologies like Clearview AI avoid the “inconvenience” of judicial oversight, never mind that these images were collected without our permission.

[F]ace recognition may seem convenient and useful, but is actually a deeply flawed technology that exposes people to constant scrutiny by the government….

There has been an explosion of the number of cameras in public areas — often accessible via the Internet.

The British security industry association figures there are nearly six million CCTV cameras in the UK. That's one camera for every 11 people.
Veronica Belmont

Using your photo for a profile picture or avatar may personalize your experience, but facial recognition software can relate the information to data found on other sites with the same photo.

The Technology is Nearly Perfect

Facial recognition is nearly perfect and is now being deployed in businesses and government services around the world.

Chinese scientists have developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabling 500 megapixel cloud camera system able to capture thousands of faces at a stadium in perfect detail and generate their facial data for the cloud while locating a particular target in an instant.
Global Times
A report by Georgetown Law Center for Privacy and Technology estimates that about half of US adults — more than 117 million people — have their images logged in a facial recognition network of some kind.

It's bad enough that you can be recognized in photo and documents everywhere. But this capability has been used to enlarge and improve the massive profile advertisers and governments have on you.

Combining seemingly innocuous information with trackable information (your IP address, email address, etc.) can create a profile that can be used to direct advertisements or for sale to information brokers.

Facial Recognition Errors

Facial recognition technology is often biased along the lines of age, gender, race, and ethnicity.

IRL episode 10 discusses the problems with facial recognition.

Serious Consequences

What if there are serious errors?

In 2014, Steven was living an ordinary life as a financial broker in Denver.


In the month's before a couple of bank robberies had taken place in Denver. There was a video clip from a security camera and it played on the local news.


Three people who thought it could be him phoned in a tip…so the cops came for him.


Steven spent months in jail before his lawyer proved it wasn't him. Proved he was at work when the robberies took place. They let him go.


A year goes by and then he's arrested again.


This time, the cops were sure it was him. They were wrong. More evidence proved he wasn't the suspect.


Again, he was a free man, but the damage was done. You can't keep a job in the finance industry when you've been accused of robbing a bank.


Because of what's happened Steven Talley is currently homeless.
Veronica Belmont


Stalkerware sold as a method of monitoring your child or your employee's use of a company-owned phone (the only legal uses).

It is more commonly used to track your spouse (nicknamed “spouse-ware”).

Invasion of Privacy

Whether your motives are pure or otherwise, this is an invasion of privacy.

The fact that the data is often stored on insecure servers should cause you to rethink its use.

It is Spyware

Stalkerware is spyware and is now marked for removal by Kaspersky and other security software vendors.

More about stalkerware on the Malware (Spyware) Detection & Removal page.

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Privacy Resources

These organizations have more about privacy and related issues:

Recommended Reading

“Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World” by Bruce Schneier

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier is an imperative read for everyone. Read the introduction.

The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we're offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches.


Much of this is voluntary: we cooperate with corporate surveillance because it promises us convenience, and we submit to government surveillance because it promises us protection. The result is a mass surveillance society of our own making.


But have we given up more than we've gained?


In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government surveillance programs and shake up surveillance-based business models, while also providing tips for you to protect your privacy every day.


You'll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.

Recommended Documentaries

Frontline: ‘United States of Secrets’

Frontline's United States of Secrets is a powerful look at the dangerous spying by the NSA on their own citizens and the revelations following the release of the Snowden documents.

Frontline investigates the secret history of the unprecedented surveillance program that began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and continues today.

Episode 1 shows how the dangerous plan to greatly increase the power of surveillance on the American (and international) public was secretly authorized with the stated goal of finding unknown terrorists within our midst.

Several members of the NSA and other government bodies opposed the plan on the basis that it overstepped the requirements and undercut civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution without any real oversight.

Episode 2 looks at the increasing commercial surveillance by companies like Google and later Microsoft, Facebook and others to generate massive advertising income.

This information was later co-opted by the NSA and, in the process, further eroding every citizen's privacy.

There is no evidence that any of this surveillance has made us any safer (think of the Boston Marathon attacks — the sort of event this program was supposed to prevent).

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“Your devices are watching you” has moved to Smart devices

Related Resources

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Updated: May 18, 2024