Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Radio Shack's Proposed Sale Of Customer Data Violates Its Privacy Policy

Radio Shack is on life support and will soon no longer exist in its current format.  Its unfortunate that a store I grew up going to with my grandfather will soon be out of business.  Its last great hurrah was its awesome Super Bowl ad that brought back its glory days from the 1980's. 

Radio Shack is losing so much money that it has resorted to selling one of its most prized assets.  Its customers' personal information.  What is most disturbing is that despite its long stated privacy promise that "[w]e will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time," this promise may be ignored in bankruptcy court

Last year, an educational technology company ConnnectEDU tried to sell the millions of records it had accumulated on young children and the FTC stepped in and fought to require it to honor its privacy promises.  My hope is that the FTC joins Texas regulators in fighting to protect Radio Shack's customers' personal information.  Personally Identifiable Information is extremely valuable and its a very positive step that regulators are beginning to understand the importance of requiring companies to honor their privacy commitments to its customers or users. 

I don't want data brokers to learn about all of the cool things I use to make with my late grandfather.  Its none of their damn business! 

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New York Times Facebook Content Deal Is A Threat To Personal Privacy

The New York Times is one of the world's most respected news organizations and one of the most popular destinations for news on the Internet.  However, I was dismayed to read in The New York Times that it may strike a deal to house some of its content inside Facebook.

This is a very troubling development for not just the media landscape but also for the freedom of thought and expression.  The ramifications of this potential deal will erode the privacy of The New York Times' readers and it will enable data brokers and their clients to create richer profiles of those who read the paper via Facebook due to Facebook's troubling deal with multiple data brokers.

When a New York Times reader utilizes Facebook to access articles, this information will be sent to Facebook's data broker partners who will insert this content into a user's digital dossier.  This data may be utilized by banks, insurance companies, employers, etc... to discriminate against people for reading about certain topics.  For example, when someone reads a lot of articles about their race, sexual orientation, health issue, religion, etc.. this data will be tracked and a data broker may provide it to one of their clients who may utilize it to decide on whether a reader is a good fit for a job. 

While ad networks and other digital tracking platforms already combine every digital morsel about users they can find, being able to track users from their personal Facebook account creates a new level of data purity that from a privacy standpoint is very troubling.  I don't want data brokers to be able to track everything that I read on The New York Times and combine that information with other personal characteristics about myself.

Due to Facebook's troubling privacy policy and practices, I do not utilize it for personal communications and I have no plans on doing so in the future.  I urge The New York Times and others who may be thinking about hosting their content on Facebook to think about these important privacy issues before finalizing any deal that may harm their users' in unanticipated ways.

Copyright 2015 by The Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

WSJ: Key FTC staff wanted to sue Google after finding ‘real harm to consumers and to innovation’

The Wall Street Journal has uncovered a never before released bombshell report that "concluded in 2012 that Google Inc. used anti-competitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users and competitors."  These revelations are very troubling and raise serious questions about Google's business practices that appear to warrant further investigation.

The unreleased 160-page report concluded that Google’s “conduct has resulted—and will result—in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets.”  This internal document was apparently released due to a FOIA request and appears to have not been intended for public consumption.    

According to Yelp's vice president of public policy Luther Lowe, “This document appears to show that the FTC had direct evidence from Google of intentional search bias."  The FTC received testimony from some of the largest technology companies and the evidence compiled appears very troubling.

The bottom line is that the tech business is extremely cut throat and some companies may do almost anything to obtain market share and dominance.  That may include "acting evil" and intentionally harming consumers and stifling innovation for corporate profit.

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Warrants Should Be Required For Email Access

Last week, I attended the International Association of Privacy Professional’s Washington DC conference and I was impressed with the topics that were discussed.  The keynotes by journalist Glenn Greenwald and Harvard Professor Michael Sandel were top notch and so were all of the sessions that I attended. 

One panel that I found interesting was titled, “Search Warrants vs. Privacy Laws: Can They Live Together”.  The session was moderated by Professor Peter Swire of Georgia Tech and included Bruce Brown, the Executive Director of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press; Nuala O’Connor, President of the Center for Democracy and Technology; and Andrew Pincus a partner at the international law firm of Mayer Brown. 

At first glance, this topic sounds boring and highly legalistic.  However, the issues that were discussed affects everyone who utilizes email, has a cloud based storage account, or other digital based service.  One of the questions discussed during the panel was should a warrant be required for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to turn over an email or other digital content to law enforcement?  The answer to this question is important because under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) which was enacted in 1986, the government may read any email without a warrant that is more than 180 days old.     

ECPA was written approximately 8 years before The Today Show and other national media outlets started to cover the Internet or the “Information Superhighway”.  The way we communicate has drastically changed in the past 30 years.  For example, instead of sending traditional U.S. postal service mail many people send emails and utilize messaging apps and other digital technologies because these platforms are generally less expensive and faster.  Since our old school traditional paper correspondence is protected from the government absent a warrant shouldn’t our digital communications have the same protections?

Last year, in Riley v. U.S. the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that we have an expectation of privacy in the Digital Age and that the police are generally required to obtain a warrant to search a personal digital device.  This case built upon the 2012 U.S. v. Jones case that ruled a warrant was required to place a GPS tracker onto a car.  Following the reasoning in both of these Supreme Court cases, a California federal district court ruled last week that police need a warrant to obtain access to one’s cell phone location or GPS data. 

These recent cases have signaled that we still have an expectation of privacy despite new forms of digital communications and surveillance techniques. Unfortunately, an ongoing matter that has major privacy and public policy implications has not followed the Supreme Court’s lead in recognizing the importance of establishing clear digital privacy rights. 

In Microsoft v. U.S., the company is arguing that the government must obtain a warrant or other court order in the host country of where a digital communication is located even though the company may have the capability of providing access to the document from the United States.  On page 36 of 73 in the U.S. response [that was filed on 3/9/15] to Microsoft's argument that the government must obtain a warrant to obtain access to an email it states, [b]ecause the emails sought in this investigation are now more than 180 days old the plain language of the SCA [Stored Communications Act of ECPA] would authorize the government to use a subpoena to compel disclosure of everything it sought pursuant to the Warrant."  

The government's argument is disconcerting; however, so far the courts have ruled that a warrant is not needed for emails older than 180 days.  The government's interpretation of the SCA that emails older than 180 days do not need a warrant to be turned over demonstrates that more education is needed about these issues. 

In general, the government is required to obtain a warrant or have exigent circumstances (i.e. occurs when people are in imminent danger, when evidence may be destroyed, or when a suspect is on the run) to be able to gain entrance into your tangible property (i.e. your home, or car, etc..) so it should be required to obtain a warrant to gain access to your digital property (i.e. your email account, cloud storage, etc...).   

As a hedge against the courts continuing to follow an outdated and unconstitutional law (the SCA), its time to support a long overdue legislative fix to the situation.  The bipartisan Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad  Act (LEADS Act) follows a common sense philosophy that by properly balancing law enforcement’s need to obtain access to digital data with our privacy.  The Act would update the SCA of ECPA to account for the changes in technology that have occurred during the past 30 years and how we communicate with each other. 

In general, it takes time before the law catches up with the capabilities of technology.  This is true across many industries.  However, we must not forget that we still have an expectation of privacy in the Digital Age and now is the time to stand up for that right.  If it becomes law, the LEADS Act will signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is serious about taking a leadership role in protecting the privacy rights of Internet users not just here but also around the globe.

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Friday, February 27, 2015

White House Releases Disappointing Consumer Privacy Draft Bill

Privacy in school, at home, and at work has become a very hot topic over the past several years due to the increased amount of our everyday activities that are being digitized.  Earlier today, The White House released an administration discussion draft of the President's vision for enhanced consumer privacy protections.  Unfortunately, the proposal appears to fall short. 

According to Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, the draft is "a big victory for the tech industry because it really sidelines the FTC and removes it as an effective force."  Alvaro Bedoya, director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown's law school believes that Obama's bill may preempt state laws, in favor of letting companies collect what they want as long as they maintain some level of transparency.  These concerns are very real and demonstrates that The White House needs to rethink its approach. 

The FTC also weighed in and stated, "[w]e are pleased that the Administration has made consumer privacy a priority, and this legislative proposal provides a good starting point for further discussion. However, we have concerns that the draft bill does not provide consumers with the strong and enforceable protections needed to safeguard their privacy. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to strengthen the proposal.”

I agree with above sentiments and hope this draft spurs a robust conversation on digital privacy and technology.  Absent stronger privacy protections, digital platform users will be discriminated against based upon their age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical/mental impairments, etc....There needs to be not only mandatory industry transparency but also stronger regulation on data collection and utilization practices.  Federal legislation should be a floor and not a ceiling for privacy protections and the FTC needs to be provided enhanced regulatory enforcement powers.

I want my children to grow up with the same expectation of privacy I had as a kid and I don't want them to fear that their emails, Internet searches, and digital activity will be utilized to create robust profiles about them which will affect their schooling, career prospects, and ability to obtain insurance, etc...

I fight for our digital privacy because it is the right thing to do.  I encourage those who believe we have an expectation of privacy in the Digital Age to contact The White House and their federal and state lawmakers to tell them to make stronger digital privacy protections a priority this year. 

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Maryland's Student Data Privacy Act of 2015

Last fall, California enacted what Education Week called a "landmark" student-data privacy law (SB 1177).  This was passed because some educational technology companies were caught abusing their access to personal student data

As a parent, the digital privacy of my children is very important.  I don't want an educational technology vendor using my kids' school created digital data for behavioral advertising or for profiling purposes that may be utilized to discriminate against them in the future.  The Family Educational Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted in 1974 and has not kept up with the innovative digital learning technologies that are becoming more widely available for our students. 

Today, schools utilize cloud-based technologies, apps, and other digital services to teach our children.  Unfortunately, metadata created from these platforms is not considered an educational record under FERPA and thus not protected from the prying eyes of advertisers and others who covet this rich information.  Therefore, students and their families need stronger legal privacy protections.  Absent more robust student privacy laws, our children's privacy and safety will be compromised and innovative learning and educational technologies will face increased parent skepticism and opposition. 

Maryland, a state that has vied with California to be a national leader in digital privacy protection recently introduced the Student Privacy Act of 2015.  The bill is modeled after California's groundbreaking SB 1177.  Mark Schneiderman, senior director of education policy for the Software & Information Industry Association said California's SB 1177 "seems to generally strike the right balance".  Thus, the SIIA should hold the same position on Maryland's student data privacy act. 

Last month, President Obama gave a historic speech at the FTC about his privacy agenda for the last two years of his term.  In regards to student privacy the President stated: "But we’ve already seen some instances where some companies use educational technologies to collect student data for commercial purposes, like targeted advertising.  And parents have a legitimate concern about those kinds of practices.

So, today, we’re proposing the Student Digital Privacy Act. That's pretty straightforward.  We’re saying that data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes -— to teach our children, not to market to our children. We want to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education.  We want to prevent any kind of profiling that outs certain students at a disadvantage as they go through school."

Congress is also concerned about student privacy issues.  On February 12, 2015, it held a hearing entitled, "How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy".  The testimony during the hearing demonstrated that FERPA needs to be updated.  While my hope is that one day Congress passes stronger student privacy legislation, I am not optimistic in the short term due to all of the acrimony on Capitol Hill. 

Until this occurs, states such as Maryland must fill this void and step up to protect the digital privacy and cyber security of our kids. 

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Law Enforcement Access To Data Stored Abroad Act Introduced

Late last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced the Law Enforcement Access To Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act) which would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant under the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) to obtain the content of subscriber communications from an electronic communications or cloud computing service.  According to Sen. Hatch, the legislation would "strengthen privacy in the digital age and promote trust in US technologies worldwide by safeguarding data stored abroad, while still enabling law enforcement to fulfill its important public safety mission".

The LEADS Act appears to have been introduced in response to an ongoing federal court case that required a U.S. email service provider to turn over customer emails that are stored in Ireland in response to a U.S. warrant instead of going through the proper legal channels in Ireland.  This ruling was very troubling because it disregarded European digital privacy laws.  Unless this decision is reversed, it may encourage foreign countries to ignore U.S. privacy laws when demanding access to their citizens digital content that is located in the U.S.    

The passage of the LEADS Act is needed not only to better protect digital privacy, but also from a business perspective.  According to The New York Times, the U.S. cloud computing industry may lose tens of billions of dollars in business because international companies and governments have lost confidence in U.S. technology companies due to the NSA surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed in 2013.  Forrester Research has indicated that these losses could be as high as $180 billion dollars for U.S. based firms.

As a lawyer who focuses on privacy and cyber security matters, I have seen some of my clients change their communication habits based upon the information obtained from the NSA documents leaked by Snowden.  Even though I am a proponent of utilizing cloud platforms, due to the troubling state of our digital privacy protections and an increase in hacking incidents, I have been encouraging some of my clients to conduct more business in person and/or on the phone until the U.S. enacts stronger digital privacy laws.  In some instances, I am advising clients to go "old school" and send more physical packages via personal courier or a trusted commercial parcel service.

Unless there are digital exigent circumstances, the government should generally be required to obtain a warrant to access our electronic communications.  Since law enforcement officials generally need a warrant to search our physical homes and businesses, the same standard should apply to our digital homes and businesses.

The LEADS Act is a sensible bill that will help protect online privacy and bring digital public policy into the 21st century.  With more of our personal and business communications occurring digitally, it is imperative that our electronic communications receive the same protections as our "old school" pen and paper documents.

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Student Forced To Change Schools Because His Social Media Activity Indicated His Sexual Orientation

The Social Media Age has drastically changed how we interact with others and how we express ourselves.  For example, we may connect professionally on LinkedIn, like a product or service on Facebook, or we may film videos about our thoughts and activities and post them on YouTube.  These platforms were not available to us just 15 years ago.

While the Social Media Age has created tremendous new opportunities to do business, communicate with others, and express ourselves, there is also a dark side to all of this sharing and connectedness. Its plain old discrimination.  According to The Daily Mail, a Texas teen was told to delete his YouTube account and other social media accounts because it showed what the school alleged stated was a  "sinful" lifestyle.  This so called "sinful" lifestyle was that the teenager was gay.  Instead of deleting his social media accounts the student transferred to another school.     

This situation is very troubling and further demonstrates the need for students to have stronger privacy protections in the Social Media Age.  While it may be easy to identify a student based upon seeing them in a video uploaded to YouTube or other digital platforms, absent a student being required to authenticate their personal social media accounts it may be difficult to identify their Facebook or Twitter accounts because anyone can create a fake account.    

The bottom line is that students deserve stronger personal digital legal protections in the Social Media Age and schools should not be required to become the Social Media Police.  Maryland's  HB 210:  Educational Institutions-Personal Electronic Account-Privacy Protection which was introduced by State Senator Ronald Young would go a long way in achieving these goals.  The bill would help protect the personal digital privacy of students while at the same time providing schools a legal liability shield against claims that they have a legal duty to police their students' personal digital behavior.

To support MD HB 210 I urge you to reach out to Senator Young's office for more information. 

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Emoji Evidence Important in Silk Road Trial

Have you ever sent a text or email with an emoji?  For those who don't know what an emoji is, it is a small picture that helps demonstrate an emotion.  Some examples include a smiley face or a frown that is included at the end of a text or inside of an email. 

An emoji or emoticon should only be inserted after carefully weighing the potential legal consequences.  Every time you insert a smiley face or frown in a text or email you need to realize that it may be utilized as digital evidence.  An emoticon may create tremendous legal liability for the sender.

For example, during the Silk Road trial emoji evidence has become an important issue.  While video and phone call/audio recordings have been introduced as evidence during legal proceedings for years, digital evidence is now coming into its own.  During the past 15 years, emails, text messages, and other digital created data has grown in importance.  This change has occurred since we now communicate more and more on digital platforms.

The bottom line is that not only may written or spoken words may come back to haunt someone in a legal proceeding but also alleged emotions based upon an emojis or other symbols.  Therefore, it is imperative to be very careful when utilizing emoticons and/or symbols on digital platforms.  

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kids Digital Privacy and Cyber Security Highlighted in State Of The Union

During President Obama's State of the Union Address this evening the importance of children's digital privacy and cyber security was highlighted.  According to The White House Medium account, the President's official prepared address stated,

"No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe."

Since more of our personal information is being housed in digital cloud based platforms, the President's comments are a welcome development.  When the President's State of the Union Address is combined with his recent historic speech at the FTC that discussed the need for stronger student privacy laws, I am optimistic more attention will be paid to these very important issues in the near future.

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Will the FTC Investigate Turn and Verizon Wireless For Privacy Killing Zombie Cookies?

A very troubling recent ProPublica investigation found that Turn, an online advertising company is "using tracking cookies [i.e. "Zombie Cookies"] that come back to life after Verizon [Wireless] users have deleted them."  These revelations are very troubling and demonstrate why stronger privacy laws are needed and why state and federal regulators need to investigate and take action against those companies that abuse their access to our personal information.

According to ProPublica, "Some users try to block such tracking by turning off or deleting cookies. But Turn says that when users clear their cookies, it does not consider that a signal that users want to opt out from being tracked....Turn executives said the only way users can opt out is to install a Turn opt-out cookie on their machine. That cookie is not designed to prevent Turn from collecting data about a user - only to prevent Turn from showing targeted ads to that user.  ProPublica's tests showed that even Verizon users who installed the Turn opt-out cookie continued to receive the Turn tracking cookie as well. Turn said despite the appearance of the tracking cookie, it continues to honor the opt-out cookie.  Initially, Turn officials also told ProPublica that its zombie cookie had a benefit for users: They said they were using the Verizon number to keep track of people who installed the Turn opt-out cookie, so that if they mistakenly deleted it, Turn could continue to honor their decisions to opt out.  But when ProPublica tested that claim on the industry's opt-out system, we found that it did not show Verizon users as opted out. Turn subsequently contacted us to say it had fixed what it said was a glitch, but our tests did not show it had been fixed."

Within a couple of days of ProPublica's excellent investigation, Turn announced that it "would stop using tracking cookies [i.e. Zombie Cookies] that are impossible to delete."  While this is a welcome development there are many questions left unanswered.  For example:
How long was Turn using Zombie Cookies?
What information was Turn's Zombie Cookies collecting and how was it being utilized?
Will Turn permanently delete all the data its Zombie Cookies collected?
How can we verify that the Zombie Cookie program has been terminated?
How can Turn be trusted not to create similar programs that are as troubling as the Zombie Cookie?

Zombie and Super Cookies are not only a threat to our personal privacy, they are also a threat to our personal safety and may lead to hidden discrimination against people based upon their race, religion, sexual orientation, age, health, etc...

Last week, during President Obama's history making privacy speech at the FTC he stated, "[i]f we are going to be connected we need to be protected."  Will Turn and its advertising clients change its practices and heed the President's call to better protect our privacy?

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Monday, January 12, 2015

President Obama Proposes The Student Digital Privacy Act

In a very positive development, President Obama earlier today proposed The Student Digital Privacy Act.  According to The New York Times, the Act would "prohibit technology firms from profiting from information collected in schools as teachers adopt tablets, online services and Internet-connected software".

During the President's speech today at the FTC, he stated, "Our children are meeting and growing up in cyberspace", and  "here at the FTC, you’ve pushed back on companies and apps that collect information on our kids without permission"... and "we need our kids privacy protected." 

The President's speech appears to indicate that he is aware that Google and others have abused access to personal student data.  For example, in March of 2013, Google admitted to Education Week that it was data mining student emails for advertising purposes.  Soon after this was uncovered, a media firestorm erupted and subsequently Google allegedly changed its practices.  Therefore, when the President mentioned, "[b]ut we’ve already seen some instances where some companies use educational technologies to collect student data for commercial purposes, like targeted advertising" was he referring to Google?

President Obama stated, "I want to encourage every company that provides these technologies to our schools to join this effort.  It’s the right thing to do.  And if you don’t join this effort, then we intend to make sure that those schools and those parents know you haven’t joined this effort. So, this mission, protecting our information and privacy in the Information Age, this should not be a partisan issue.  This should be something that unites all of us as Americans."

I applaud the President and his team for recognizing the importance of student digital privacy and his willingness to make the issue an important part of his legislative agenda during his final two years in office.  As a parent, I want my children to be able to utilize the most advanced digital learning tools available.  However, our kids should not have to compromise their personal privacy and/or safety to utilize new digital technologies.

While I am optimistic about the opportunity for stronger student privacy protections to become law, I know there is a lot of work ahead.  Therefore, it is imperative for students, parents, teachers, school administrators, privacy advocates, and education technology vendors to work with regulators, lawmakers, and the President to enact a thoughtful and forward thinking bill into law.

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

French Police Told To Erase Social Media Profiles

According to CNN, "French law enforcement officers have been told to erase their social media presence and to carry their weapons at all times because terror sleeper cells have been activated over the last 24 hours in the country".  The Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack and subsequent terrorist attacks on civilian targets in France have led the police to rethink cyber safety and security in the country.

The order to erase social media profiles in France is not unique.  Last November, UK police officers were told not to discuss their jobs on social media.  In 2009, the Pentagon mulled banning soldiers using social media and in 2011 China banned its soldiers from using social media.  

I believe it is time for the U.S. military, federal and state government agencies, and law enforcement officials re-evaluate their social media policies.  Privacy is not just cool but a necessity for personal safety and national security. 

Too many self-described social media experts/consultants/ninjas/gurus/etc....are telling people how important it is to create detailed public LinkedIn profiles, share your most personal information on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, etc...  Some of the phrases these "experts" utilize when providing their advice include, "social media is about a conversation", "be authentic", "sharing is caring", etc...  Don't trust any social media consultant who shares too much personal information online and/or uses Twitter or other digital platforms to have regular public conversations.

It is time for Internet users to re-evaluate their relationship with social media and digital platforms that are not created with a privacy first mentality.  Privacy is hip and in because sharing too much may destroy your reputation, get you fired, or get you killed.  Therefore, you need to ask yourself if its time to limit or erase any of your social media profiles.   

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Do You Really Want to Destroy Your Privacy By Using A Social Login?

In general, when signing into a website to check your personal account, you need to use a unique user name/password.  However, for years other sign in options have included to sign in with your Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc... account.  This other option is called a social login. 

According to VentureBeat, Google is catching up to Facebook in market share regarding social logins.  Facebook has 43% of the market while Google has 40%.  Social logins have proliferated because companies want to track you for monetization purposes.

I don't use social logins and I don't recommend anyone who values their privacy to utilize social logins.  Facebook and Google are advertising companies that sell your personal data points for profit. Facebook is selling your personal information to data brokers and Google has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines for intentionally misleading users about its privacy practices.

There is no reason to sign into non-Facebook/non-Google websites with a Facebook or Google social login.  These companies may send your personal information to data brokers, insurance companies, the police, employers, etc...

Will 2015 be the year that users wise up and avoid social logins? 

Copyright 2015 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 Social Media Privacy New Year's Resolutions

I have listed below 10 New Year's resolutions for those who want to better protect their personal privacy in the Social Media Age:

1)    Limit social sharing.  Privacy is cool and hip and sharing too much is not.
2)    Don't take nude selfies.
3)    Send fewer emails and make more phone calls and have more face to face meetings.
4)    Use disappearing apps cautiously.
5)    Keep your smartphone location off unless using it for directions.
6)    Don't trust apps or online services that have bad privacy policies/practices.
7)    Don't trust Facebook with your personal information because its agreements with data brokers destroy your privacy.
8)   Don't trust Google's Gmail, Apps, etc... because its privacy policy allows for unfettered data mining and user profile creation that destroy your privacy. 
9)    Limit Twitter and other public social media conversations.
10)  Advocate for stronger digital privacy laws.  Lawmakers and regulators need to hear your voice!  

These 10 recommendations are the tip of the ice berg.  Data brokers, employers, schools, insurance companies, financial firms, law enforcement, etc... are watching your social media profile so limit your digital footprint.  In the Social Media Age, this famous proverb should still be followed:  "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2015 and beyond!

Copyright 2014 by Shear Law, LLC All rights reserved.