How Edward Snowden Did Not Change Privacy

Edward SnowdenThere is so much that’s been said after Edward Snowden published his exposure on the CIA and American government spying on citizens, not only in USA but also worldwide. The best thing we have learned about this, is how blaze the governments of the world really are about your privacy.

Privacy is valuable not only for the individual but also the family or the community. As another privacy blogger said recently, it’s not about keeping secrets, that’s what governments do, it’s about disclosure. You must have some control over how much or how little information you are willing to share.

So in this world obsessed with smartphones and social media, it’s almost impossible that you can expect privacy to become important. It also does not help after the fact, after you’ve experienced identity theft or a fraud linked to your online persona or Internet bank account.

Some of the best reporting on Edward Snowden comes from investigative journalist, Jon Rappoport. There are too many questions about his relationships with the NSA and CIA, the organisations he claims to expose. Travelling through China and Malaysia the last few months I the extent of the dependency on our smart devices. People just cannot live lives without them.

On a daily basis I am thinking more and more, Edward Snowden raised alarm bells in the media but the people are careless or carefree. They continue to buy more smart phones, download more apps, share more photos, and post streams of personal information. The media had a field day, just like Julian Assange, and look what happened to him.

It’s certainly an addiction I am dealing with to the extent I close my Facebook for short periods of time. When I get back into the profile, the rush  of messages, comments, photos come towards me like taking LSD. Edward Snowden you have not changed privacy, you have not made our world a better place, you do not deserve any accolades. Until you and I take responsibility for our personal privacy, we will never be free from what Jon Rappoport calls The Matrix.



October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Protect Before You Connect! Simple precautions to avoid an online personal privacy disaster.

The Internet is an amazing, fantastic, vibrant place. But there are also evil people out there who steal identities, hack credit card accounts, track personal information, violate privacy, insert malicious programs that can exploit your company or home network, destroy your hard drives and raid your social network.

Mark Weinstein, CEO and founder of, a privacy-centric social platform, advocates for the importance of taking the right precautions in these changing times to protect your personal data and systems from attack.

Weinstein, an expert in protecting personal privacy and information, offers up the most important ways to protect yourself:

1. Protect Your Wi-Fi Network

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can track every action you make through your home’s Internet connection. This is typically used to track illegal activity, which is a good thing. The bad news is that most home wireless networks are easily cracked, meaning someone next door or in a car outside your house can use your network for illegal activity, leaving the blame on you. Even worse, it is possible for someone on your wireless network to access other devices connected to the network, which is a serious security breach.

For this reason, it’s important to learn to secure your own wireless network: open up your router settings page, create a unique password and network SSID name, enable network encryption, filter MAC addresses, reduce the range of your wireless signal, use a secure wireless network and monitor for unauthorised users.

2. Get Good Antivirus Software

The next step is to safeguard your computer against virus and malware attacks that can target your personal information and erase your saved data. Some more innocuous malware programs simply track your behaviour and bombard you with ads and pop-ups and slow down your computer.

Having a good antivirus program in place can save you a lot of headaches by catching threats early. To find the best fit for your home or business, do a search using the keywords “best paid antivirus software” and “best free antivirus software.

One final note: Even the best antivirus can’t save you 100 percent of the time. Viruses and malware come from the “shady neighbourhoods” of the Web — gambling, pop culture, pharmaceutical and adult sites in particular. Be aware of what you’re clicking on; don’t download or open something unless you know what you’re getting into. A little precaution goes a long way.

3. Protect Your Passwords

These days we have more passwords to remember than ever: Facebook, Twitter, online banking, eBay, not to mention multiple email accounts! Make sure your passwords are different for each account. At the very least, create alternative passwords for your critical accounts (i.e., your bank account and email). Keep your passwords offline on your hard drive, or, if you want to be even more secure, keep them on a physical notepad you keep near your desk.

Do a search on the following: “creating the best security passwords.” Know what makes a bad password (something easily discovered), get good at creating effective passwords, safeguard your passwords, change them frequently and create an emergency plan. What happens if you or your network administrator dies or is in an accident?

4. Stop Tracking Cookies

Like it or not, Facebook and other social media are now able to track and record your exact interests. It’s no coincidence. Facebook is tracking all your likes and hobbies, even the words you write, and then uses that data to target advertising to match those interests. It’s not that ads are necessarily a bad thing — it’s the way websites spy on your behaviour to deliver those ads that is troubling and disconcerting.

A simple, helpful solution is to use the  Mozilla Firefox web browser with Do Not Track enabled, which tells websites not to collect information about you. However, Do Not Track is simply a request for sites to not track you and has varying degrees of effectiveness. For even more control over who can access your information, Stanford researcher’s Do Not Track project page and the Ghostery plugin can both stop invisible ad networks from spying on you. Private / Secure Browsing is also a great tool for privatising your browsing through encryption like you do when accessing an online banking website.

5. Practise Safe Sharing

The best way to be absolutely sure that information you post online stays secure is to avoid posting it in the first place. It’s all too easy to accidentally share confidential information publicly or to put up too many personal details without realising who has access to that information.

But, to be realistic, many of us are not going to stop sharing online. That’s why, instead of abstinence, it is important to learn and practise safe sharing. One way to do that is to review the privacy settings on every social media site you participate in and adjust the setting to maximise your protection against unwanted intrusion.

To find out more for each particular social media site, you can also do a search on the following phrases:

  • Facebook privacy
  • Google+ privacy
  • Twitter privacy

6. Don’t Daisy Chain Your Social Media Accounts

One of the reasons hackers are able to wreak havoc on people so easily is that all their social profiles are connected to one another. This means that if one profile is compromised, the others are likely to be as well. While connecting to your accounts is easier if all you need to do is log in once to get access to all your social networks, it’s much less secure than if you have separate passwords for each one.

Determine how often you’re likely to use certain Web apps, and ask yourself if you really need to connect yet another third-party app to your Facebook page. If you don’t really need it, cut the link. Keep in mind, the more apps you have connected to your accounts, the more potential weak points there are in your security.

7. Set Up 2-factor Authentication

This amazing technological breakthrough requires both a password and a device to access your accounts. So even if someone does hack your vital account passwords, they still can’t access your critical personal or financial accounts without your phone or secure backup device. For more information, do a search on the phrase using 2-factor authentication.

About the author, Mark Weinstein

Mark Weinstein

Mark Weinstein is a leading privacy advocate and the creator and founder of SGROUPLES.COM, a private social network and technology that lets people form their own private secure group (called a “Sgrouple”), thus creating and managing private circles of friends, loved ones, co-workers or associations of any type. Sgrouples combines many powerful features, like private groups, personal cloud storage, and direct one-on-one messaging, into the ultimate social experience.

Sgrouples has been featured on Fox News as well as in INC, ZDNET, and many other media outlets.

Mark is an Advisory Board Member of the Future of Privacy Forum, as well as a Steering Committee Member of National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).  Sgrouples has been honoured by the Online Trust Alliance for its dedication to user safety.

Mark is the online community and social network pioneer who founded and in 1998 — precursors to today’s social networks. Mark is also the author of the “Habitually Great” book series, endorsed by Stephen Covey. He is the recipient of two Indie Book Awards. A prominent expert in business management and leadership, his clients have included Wells Fargo, FedEx Kinko’s, Hyatt Regency and many more. A successful athlete, Mark was a silver medalist in the 2005 USOC State Games of America and has climbed Kala Pattar, an 18,500-foot Nepalese peak.

Mark received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his M.B.A. from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

Direct Contact 1-800-457-8746


Facebook's new ad tracking partnership stokes privacy concerns

Facebook is pairing up with Datalogix to track whether people who see ads for products on the social networking site actually go out and purchase them in stores.

To measure how well Facebook’s ads are performing, Datalogix will match up email addresses and other information from loyalty cards and programs at more than 1,000 retailers with Facebook account data, the Financial Timesreported. The emails and other identifying information will be anonymized, the Times said, and Datalogix will prepare a report for Facebook and its advertisers that highlights which methods and demographics targeting result in people buying advertised products in stores.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that it is working with Datalogix and said the social network also tracks the performance of ads through its own advertising tool and partnerships with Nielsen and ComScore.

“We know that people share a lot of information on Facebook, and we have taken great care to make sure that we measure the effectiveness of Facebook ads without compromising the commitments we have made on privacy,” the Facebook spokesman said. “We don’t sell people’s personal information, and individual user data is not shared between Facebook, Datalogix or advertisers.”

But at least one privacy advocacy group says Facebook’s partnership with Datalogix raises a red flag.

Jeff Chester, the executive director of consumer digital rights group Center for Digital Democracy, said this recent partnership is one in a series of moves Facebook has made that could violate the settlement terms it finalized with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In particular, Chester argues that Facebook hasn’t been transparent to users about the data targeting and tracking activities it’s using for the new Facebook Exchange program, which offers marketers a way to purchase ads via real-time bidding.

“The FTC can’t be [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg’s privacy babysitter, but they clearly need one over there,” Chester said. “The expansion of data targeting by Facebook, such as the work it’s doing on Exchange, the role of sponsored stories on mobile, and partnerships with Datalogix and others clearly warrant an investigation.”

Facebook finalized its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission last month and agreed to take extra steps to secure the privacy of their users’ information. Among the settlement terms, the social network agreed to get users’ consent before sharing information that overrides what they chose in their privacy settings, maintain a comprehensive privacy program and be subject to audits every two years.

Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said this new partnership with Datalogix doesn’t raise immediate privacy concerns at this point.

“It sounds like they’re trying to set it up in a way that’s privacy protective,” Brookman said, though he cautioned “obviously it could be done in a bad way.”

Based on the initial reports of the partnership, Brookman said it sounds like “this [data] matching occurs in a perfect black box, which I’m OK with.”

By Jennifer Martinez

Source :


Operation Facebook, Hacktivists Rise Up!

Over the years I’ve noticed a love-hate relationship with Facebook developing. On the one hand, it seems like a marketing dream. On the other hand it’s a parent’s worst nightmare. When you consider the amount of information Facebook can now access via a user’s cellphone it indeed becomes scary. Smartphones with their tight integration into social networking sites allow for much more access to be shared than most users imagine. Every application you install on your phone has your implicit permission to access your data.

Anyway, a hackers group, Anonymous, is promising to take down Facebook on Guy Fawkes Day, 5 November. And the story has picked up attention from Gizodo, Business InsiderVillage Voice. As a long time Internet users, and privacy advocate, I see their intention as good. However, as a former IT Security professional, I seriously doubt their ability to bring down Facebook. If anything they may cause a denial of service for an extended period. However, the next day, all the server should be back up and running. With the kind of investment Facebook has received, there is no doubt they won’t protect their assest, the user data with numerous backup strategies. So time will tell whether the prolific hacking group, Anonymous will succeed in their attempt to kill Facebook.

All this reminds me of the scene at the end of The Truman Show. As he accepts his freedom, the two security guards who’ve been avid fans, just look puzzled, and say to each other, “I wonder what else is on tv….” Whether Facebook lives or dies, this is the likely response to by the masses, “What else is out there?”


First part of interview with Damaria Senne

Damaria Senne journalist, children's authorDamaria Senne, a journalist at ITWeb, recently asked me to do a lengthy and very detailed interview about online and mobile trends and the impact on children for her parenting blog. You can read part 1 of the interview here.

Some of the important things I mentioned are as follows ** 2014 updates **

  1. There is a big gap between what parents think children do online, and what they really do, especially because mobile phones seem harmless.
  2. MXit was the fastest growing social network, mobile app in 2007 but it pales in comparison to Facebook or Whatsapp, which are both much easier to use.
  3. Trend 1 – Accelerated development: Dr Suagta Mitra confirmed my prediction with his TED Prize speech on self organised learning environments for children. It is the most important application of technology to learning, especially in the primary stages of life for parents to understand.
  4. Trend 2 – Lack of Social Skills: The severity of this cannot be underestimated. Teenagers seems helpless without their mobile phones, and most dare not initiate contact with a stranger let alone a someone from opposite sex.
  5. Trend 3 – User generated content: This continues to explore. Even though content is king, the quality drops in proportion to the amount produced. There’s also a plethora of apps that generated variations or produce remixes of your content from Twitter, etc.
  6. Privacy is still the #1 issue. The lack of understand is reinforced by the ignorance of users, customers and everyone who keeps buying into the hype of the latest, the newest, the next upgrade. Recommended watching: Privacy is dead – Get over it by Steven Rambam/