Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
With Halloween in the air today I thought I’d share a few of my favorite, absolutely terrifying technology news that cropped up on my RSS feed lately.
Warning: May be 2spooky for some readers.
Snapchat just reserved the rights to store and use all selfies taken with the device. It’s a sad state of affairs when lack of privacy is the baseline for most of our interaction with technology, but we’ve come to expect all our service providers storing every single piece of data on us. But this one’s worse, because not only is Snapchat supposed to be a “share and erase from existence” service, but you are signing off the rights to Snapchat to do whatever they want with your photos. Why? Who knows… I, for one, don’t want to be the one to find out.
Facebook will start testing their “real name policy” come December. You may not know this, if you’re in a somewhat privileged position that doesn’t require protecting your identity, or if all you do on Facebook is share cat photos, but a lot of people on Facebook use the service under a pseudonym. Most of these users are political activists from countries where political activism requires a certain degree of hiding your own identity. Facebook know this because, a few months ago, they introduced a Tor .onion link for these same users. But now, they’re rolling out a new policy that allows people to report profiles using a fake name, which would then lead to Facebook contacting the user and asking for their real identity or get their account shut down.
Dammit, internet. One step forward, two steps back.
Oh, look, another Facebook screw up. This time, news that Facebook is quietly supporting CISA. Here’s the thing: if Facebook had simply been supporting CISA behind closed doors, no-one would probably be surprised. Facebook’s existence is built around collecting as much personal data as it can on its users and the connections between them. But Facebook has been publicly opposing CISA for a while now, so news that they are, in fact, supporting it behind closed doors should fire off quite a few users’ alarms.
And while we’re on the topic of CISA, an A++ horror movie on its own, US Senate recently rejected any amendments designed to protect privacy. See CISA is supposed to be a cybersecurity bill, but if it really was, then why would the senate reject four amendments that were designed to better protect the privacy of US citizens? This only goes to support the (by now) fact that CISA is actually a mass domestic surveillance bill masquerading as a cybersecurity one. CISA received overwhelmingly positive votes last Tuesday, passing it through session and crushing all our right-to-privacy dreams.
Finally, in what could have actually been a real horror story, last Wednesday, a gigantic military blimp worth $180 million broke loose from its tethers and floated aimlessly over Pennsylvania. The blimp was part of a project that the Los Angeles Times called “a colossal failure“. A project which has so far cost the US $2.7 billion. That’s billion… with a b. Fighter jets were sent to track the blimp as it wandered above the heads Pennsylvanian citizens, who most probably spent the rest of the day wondering what on Earth was going on. 3 hours later, the Blimp landed in Montour county.
Luckily, no-one was hurt.