Motherboard article: The Inevitable Weaponization of App Data Is Here

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  • #27252
    Earl
    Keymaster
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    Well here we are then. Everybody doxx everybody. [LINK]

    Researchers have repeatedly shown that it is possible to figure out who a phone in an allegedly anonymized set of location data belongs to sometimes with a few points of reference, such as their home or place of work.

    Last week, Motherboard reported on the so-called “identity resolution” industry, in part by posing as a customer looking to buy sensitive data. These companies promise to match mobile advertising IDs—unique codes assigned to mobile phones by their operating systems, and which tech companies have repeatedly assured consumers are anonymous, or at least pseudonymous—to real-world identities. This makes unmasking people in datasets even easier; why bother trying to figure out which phone belongs to who when you can just buy that information instead.

    “Anyone and everyone who has a phone and has installed an app that has ads, currently is at risk of being de-anonymized via unscrupulous companies,” Edwards told Motherboard at the time when presented with our findings.

    Senator Wyden called for the Federal Trade Commission to act on the data broker industry.

    I expect more lives’ll be ruined before anyone takes heed or does anything about it.

    And if none of the above is chilling enough:

    Motherboard has also shown how wide spanning the customer base for this sort of location data is, with the U.S. military and various law enforcement agencies also purchasing it, skirting the need to obtain a warrant. And although the data was based on that generated by telecom networks and not apps, we also previously spoke to Ruth Johnson, a woman who was stalked and harassed by someone who gained access to her phone’s location. Johnson said T-Mobile put her “life in danger.” Motherboard also tied black market location data to the spot of a triple murder.


    • This topic was modified 2 months ago by Earl.
    #27257
    ZLoth
    Moderator
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    It is actually interesting how much information can be derived from seemingly inconsequential transactions. You can trace it back to pre-Internet with credit cards based upon where the transaction was conducted and the amount of the transaction. You can easily look up a phone number and based upon the area code and prefix, know which carrier the phone number used, probable geographic area and corresponding time zone. A rough geographic location can be derived from the public IP address.

    It gets even better with streaming services. Now, you don’t need to employ Nelson to survey which shows are popular. Just conduct a DB query on which shows have high downloads as well as construct a profile of the user to figure out what to recommend to watch next.

    It’s a double-edged sword. We use telemetry data not only to provide diagnostic reports to administrators about online meeting usage, but also which features are highly utilized and which features are underutilized.


    “All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925

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