Tag Archives: iPhone

Cell Phone Theft Crackdown

This is a good-to-know post about smartphone safety. I have been posting stuff about protecting your smartphone from online criminals, malicious apps, and intrusive Internet companies (ie. Google) that leave you vulnerable to identity theft.

But you also need to be careful not to get victimized by criminals who are disgusting enough to physically snatch your phone from you in broad daylight. Protect your property and know where all the threats are coming from. If you know better you do better.

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How To Keep Your Personal Data Private On Your Smartphone

Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola Milestone and LG GW60

Yesterday I published a post on the Consumer Reports survey which found that majority of Internet users are concerned about apps gaining access to their personal information on their smartphones. This is actually a very serious problem and several companies have been caught collecting sensitive data off smartphones without the knowledge of the owners.

You need to take your online safety seriously, especially on those little devices most of us are carrying around everywhere nowadays. Many people say their life is in their smartphones – every little detail about themselves and it’s all so vulnerable.

There are important things you can do to protect yourself though. I always say that knowledge is power and if you know better you do better. USA Today republished an excellent article by Tecca - it warns you about some of the major threats to your smartphone and provides some useful tips to keep you safe.

If you’re an owner of a smartphone, it’s definitely something you should read – click here

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Wikipedia Announces That It Will Also Ditch Google Maps For OpenStreetMap

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Earlier this month, I published a post about Apple and other companies ditching Google Maps for a free open source mapping project called OpenStreetMap – to catch up on that post, please click here.

Today, Wikipedia announced that it too will be ditching Google Maps and replacing it with OpenStreetMap. This is great news for the crowdsourced mapping project which is getting better by the day and gaining more support from major companies.

In updates it released today, Wikipedia says that it is releasing an all new application for the iPhone and it’s removing Google Maps to replace it with OpenStreetMap on the Android – which to me is a perfect match. Wikipedia is a high quality free crowdsourced site and OpenStreetMap functions in the same way but for maps. It’s a match that is meant to be and the Wikimedia Foundation acknowledged this in a statement:

“Previous versions of our application used Google Maps for the nearby view. This has now been replaced with OpenStreetMaps - an open and free source of Map Data that has been referred to as ‘Wikipedia for Maps.’ This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.”

Their motivation for moving away from Google Maps doesn’t seem to be about price though, which was the reason other companies have ditched Google Maps. They say it’s more about reaching a greater number of people and making themselves more accessible.

For more information:

The Next Web, “Wikipedia updates iOS and Android apps, ditches Google Maps…” – click here

TPM, “Wikipedia Drops Google Maps For OpenStreetMap” – click here

TechCrunch, “Wikipedia’s Mobile Apps Drop Google Maps for OpenStreetMap” – click here

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Apple Tells Google Maps To Take A Hike

English: Wordmark of Google Maps

Apple tells Google: ‘so long suckas!’

The most valuable company in the world has finally ditched Google Maps for good. Apple is no longer depending on Google to provide its iPhones and iPads mapping technology – instead the company is now using a free source to replace Google Maps.

The Google Maps API used to be available to companies free of charge, but after Google got all big and mighty it decided to charge companies for high-volume use. Apple wasn’t going to let Google gouge them anymore and is now using OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMap is an open source mapping project that lets users from around to world to freely edit and add to the development of the map. It’s like the Wikipedia of mapping and many people depend on it to find their way around the globe. You might also recall that OpenStreetMap was at the center of a major controversy surrounding Google recently. It was discovered that Google employees were vandalizing OpenStreetMap by changing information so that it gave people wrong directions. After the founders of OpenStreetMap saw what was happening, they wrote a blog post about it. To read more about this, click here.

Now, why would Google employees allegedly deliberately sabotage OpenStreetMap? That’s because the community supported mapping service is a huge competitor to Google and may completely take over Google soon. Big companies are already switching to this free crowdsourcing service and this will eventually result in improvements to OpenStreetMap. Wikipedia has proven to be a very useful and successful alternative to encyclopedias – OpenStreetMap will soon prove to be a useful and successful alternative to expensive Google Maps. As more companies flock away from Google, more people will become exposed to alternatives to Google Maps. As Josh Constine, a writer for TechCrunch, observed:

“This is where Google’s long-term problem emerges. OpenStreetMap, or OSM, is totally free at any volume, but if users improve its data on their own, they have to contribute those improvements back to OSM. If someone augments OSM with satellite, street view, reviews, or other mashups, everyone’s maps benefit. As more big maps users switch to it, it will get better and better, creating a snowball effect where it gets more attractive with time.”

Recently, the social networking site Foursquare also announced it was ditching Google Maps for OpenStreetMap. It is expected that more companies will soon follow this trend.

For more information:

Webmonkey, “iPhoto for iOS Abandons Google Maps in Favor of OpenStreetMap” – click here

The Register, “Apple to Google Maps: ‘Get lost’ ” – click here

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Rebuttal: Apple vs Google – The War Over Third Party Cookies

Matthew Yglesias is a writer for Slate. He published an article today entitled “Me Want Cookies! Apple vs. Google: the war over third-party cookies.” He argues, counterintuitively, for less Internet privacy because he thinks it’s ultimately against the best interest of the public. You can read his full article by clicking here. The rest of my post below offers point-by-point rebuttals against some of what he wrote:

 “There is a new front in the titanic war between Google and Apple for control of the Internet: browser privacy”

  • Excellent. When companies fight over privacy, the ultimate winners are the consumers. It would be horrible if companies colluded together to diminish privacy or if they simply didn’t care. If companies want to fight over privacy controls, then may the best “man” win! No doubt consumers will overwhelmingly support the company that wants to increase their privacy versus the one that wants to decrease it.

“Google had devised a clever means to “trick” Apple’s mobile Safari browser into allowing the installation of third-party cookies.”

  • I wouldn’t describe an unethical, legally reprehensible, and deliberate circumvention of privacy settings on Apple’s web browser as “clever”. Are you kidding me? I’m sure the people who filed a class-action lawsuit against Google for violating their privacy and security settings would disagree with you.

That sounds—and is—shady, but iPhone users may feel better about it when they learn that third-party cookie installation is standard on the browsers you’ve been using on your computer for years.”

  • Yeah, so? What’s your point? Just because something negative and harmful was accepted before doesn’t mean it should be permissible forever. Not too long ago, everybody used to smoke everywhere until we learned about the dangers of second-hand smoking. As people catch on and new discovers are made, there will be a progression. That’s why browsers now block uninvited third-party intruders from latching on to your browser like a parasite. That’s also why we are starting to develop Do Not Track buttons for all browsers.

“The option to turn them off has long existed, but this is one of these default settings that almost nobody uses in practice.”

  • The setting to turn off tracking might have technically existed buried somewhere deep into the browser – but research has shown that people often do not change default settings on their browsers. It’s not because they don’t want more privacy, it’s because they don’t know better. Google knows this all too well. The default settings for all browsers should be at maximum security and privacy – if anybody wants to then expose themselves to tracking, be my guest. Giving those who don’t know better a helping hand by protecting them from tracking is the ethical and correct thing to do

“The main use of third-party cookies is targeted advertising”

  • Right, and there are over 800 companies who spy on you all over the Internet. Some of these companies sole business purpose is to track you for all sorts of reasons, not just for advertising. With increasing rates of identity theft and the mass amount of information these companies are harvesting of us it’s getting disturbing and alarming. We don’t even know what exactly they know about us and what they are doing with that information. We don’t know how long they hang on to our personal data or how exactly it was obtained. There is so much secrecy and mystery to how these trackers function, and this is intolerable.

“What Apple did with Safari was flip the default—assuming that users did not want third-party cookies”

  • No. Wrong! Apple did not flip the default, Google did! Google assumed that Apple users would actually prefer to be tracked and then deliberately bypassed their browser security without their knowledge. And, by the way, John Battelle founded the online advertising network Federated Media Publishing – obviously he supports Google.

“Google as a privacy-invader sometimes come across as a bit churlish and short-sighted, as if I were to announce with great fanfare my discovery that happy-hour specials are just another money-making plot from the bar industry.”

  • The public has a right to know about every privacy violation by Google. In addition, it never hurts to remind people that Google makes over 90% of its revenues from advertising. You are not Google’s customer, you’re Google’s product. The advertisers will always be number one priority to Google and this means that what it best for Internet users is always in the background.

“Google is not a charity, but it has built a remarkably successful company by giving products away for free.”

  • Wrong. Google’s products and services are not “free” – far from it. We don’t pay with dollars, we pay with our privacy. Google harvests our personal data and then sells it for huge profits. And we’re being gouged by Google! The trade-off is not fair. Google likes to fool people into thinking that they get to use their services for “free” so that they let their guard down. Google even falsely advertises its Google Apps for Education service as a charity – but it isn’t. Students have to pay the ultimate price.

“More efficient advertising creates incentives for firms to expend more resources on improving the real quality of their services.”

  • Sure – but that doesn’t mean advertisers need to know my name, address, and the name of my best friend’s dog to improve their services. I’m not convinced that collecting more personal data of us and watching our every move improves services. No thank you!

“Right now big advertisers are wasting an awful lot of money… In a future of ubiquitous ad targeting, Ford and Geico will stop wasting marketing money on me”

  • I wouldn’t want to live in that future. Who wants to live in a world where the only things you see, experience, and hear is stuff some company thinks you should see, experience, and hear? This to me is censorship. I have bought many products from companies whose ads really caught my attention – and it’s not because I always needed or wanted their stuff. Censorship leads to people living in their own little world and it discourages new discovery. Also, the person I am today and my lifestyle of today might not be the same five years from now. Why would I want ads for a lifestyle that is now part of my past? What worries me is that personalization will result in companies telling you who you are by reaffirming your identity with what you see, experience, and hear. I actually don’t respond well to so-called “personalized” ads. Personalized ads are creepy and annoying. It’s like giving that person at school, who has a crush on you, a simple smile and then all of sudden they won’t stop following you around everywhere and they keep asking you out for a date. Um…no thanks and get lost.

“And some of those ad savings will allow Ford and Geico to offer cheaper products”

  • That’s a bit of a stretch

“If the privacy benefits as such were the big draw, we’d expect to see more evidence of users opting-in to these settings.”

  • No, people should opt-out of more security and privacy. If Google services are so great and if privacy is so overrated, then Google should convince people to lower their privacy settings of their own volition (and not deliberately bypassed by Google). I sure wanna hear that sales pitch. Creepy mutated ads don’t work, they turn people off. There are many ways of figuring out your audience and improving the effectiveness of ad campaigns – this does not require we sell our souls to these advertising companies to achieve this.
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Google Tricked And Lied To Apple Users To Make It Easier To Later Spy On Them

Yesterday, I posted here how you can better protect yourselves against Google by making sure your iPhone’s settings are set to maximum security. My post, which I titled “How to block Google from tracking you on your iPhone“, gave you steps for you to follow. In addition, I provided you a link to the Business Insider website that has the full 10 steps. Here is a link to the post I’m referring to – click here

Let’s take a closer look at step number 7, which advised you to do the following:

“This screen will pop up. Hit ‘Never.’ That means your browser will never accept any cookies. (Google’s trick took advantage of the “From visited” setting. That setting means you only want cookies from sites you visit. But Google and other ad networks found a way to deliver their cookies anyway.) Then hit ‘Safari’ to go back to the last screen.”

This is a critical step because, as already pointed out to you, Google was able to circumvent Apple’s security setting through a loophole in the “From visited” setting. What Google figured was that Apple designed their browser to only accept cookies from the actual page users are on if the browser thought users trusted the site enough to file out a form. Google then deliberately manipulated the browser to accept Google’s tracking cookies by changing a code to trick the browser into thinking that the user was filling out a form when in actuality they were not. For an illustration on how this works, you can click here

Alright, if you thought that was bad enough – wait, it gets worse! Let me tell you just how disgusting and low Google was willing to go. Google not only targeted innocent unsuspecting users of Apple’s web browser, who thought that they were not being tracked, but Google also intentionally lied and deceived them too!

Google didn’t just secretly go and change the security setting of Apple users’ browser – they also gave false advice to innocent people to follow, so that Google could carry out its tracking and manipulate the browser.

How did Google deceivingly set people up to be later victimized? Okay, here are the sordid details explaining what exactly Google did:

Google knew about the loophole in Apple’s Safari security setting as early as 2010, as reported by Tech website Gizmodo.

Google has something called an “advertising cookie opt-out plugin”, which was supposedly developed by Google to give people a way to block third-party cookies (hmm, whatever!). So anyway, this plugin was developed for users of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google’s own browser named Chrome.

Conspicuously missing from this list was Apple’s web browser, Safari, which Google decided not to include. Google claimed that they couldn’t yet create a similar plugin that could function on Safari – but they reassured Apple’s users that their browser already has a built-in default setting which effectively blocks tracking anyway.

Then, Google told Apple users to double-check if they are truly protected from tracking cookies by checking their settings. Google gave them a 3 step instruction to “confirm that Safari is set up to block third-party cookies“.

This is what Google told Apple users in step 3:

“Make sure the ‘Accept cookies’ setting is set to ‘Only from sites you navigate to’. You can also set this option to ‘Never’, but this will prevent many web sites that rely on cookies from working.”

Wow! The level of deception is absolutely abhorrent! Now that we know what Google did to Apple users, this last step Google provided to innocent people makes more sense in hindsight. Google deliberately gave unsuspecting and trusting Apple users the wrong advice to make them more vulnerable to spyware and tracking!

What Google did is morally and ethically corrupt – it should also be illegal!

By the way, that “advertising cookie opt-out plugin” page has now been edited by Google to hide the evidence. Some time between February 14th and 15th, Google found out that the Wall Street Journal was in the process of writing a story about the tracking of Apple users – Google then immediately edited that page so that the instructions for Apple Safari users is no longer there.

But they couldn’t hide it fast enough because a non-profit consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog took screenshots of the page before it had been edited and after it was edited by Google.

This is a screenshot before Google edited the page: click here

This is the screenshot of that same page after Google edited it: click here

The advocacy group has written a letter to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) detailing what they found. The group is calling on the FTC to take actions to punish Google for clearly violating the consent order the company agreed to last year.

According to Walter Isaacson’s bestselling authorized biography on the late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs was a fierce defender of the iPhone. Steve Jobs was “willing to go thermonuclear war” against Google to defend his products and users. Sadly, Mr. Jobs passed away last year from cancer – but this doesn’t mean Apple users are not fighting back against Google. One man has already filed a lawsuit against Google (click here)

For more information on all of this, please click here

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How To Block Google From Tracking You On Your Iphone

Business Insider created a list to help those who use Apple’s iPhone protect themselves from Google’s spying:

1. Find the “Settings” icon on your home screen. It looks like a bunch of gears.

2. Scroll down and open the tab that says “Safari.”

3. See where it says “Private Browsing”? Move that slider to “On.” (This setting is only available in iOS 5, the latest version. But never fear — if you have an older version, we’ll tell you what to do.)

To read more and see the rest of the list, please visit their website by clicking here

After making sure your iPhone is protected, you may then click on the link below which will direct you to a NBC News video report on Google’s spying.

#46435145

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