US agency releases privacy ‘best practices’ for drone use

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration released Thursday a list of voluntary privacy best practices for commercial and non-commercial drone users, in the wake of concerns that drones could encroach on individual privacy and open a new front in the collection of personal data for commercial use.

The privacy guidance, arrived at in consensus with drone organizations and companies like Amazon and Google’s parent Alphabet, recommends that drone operators who collect personal data should have a privacy policy that explains what personally identifiable information they will collect, for what purpose the data is collected and if it will be shared with others, including in response to requests from law enforcement agencies.

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Got privacy? If you use Twitter or a smartphone, maybe not so much

The notion of online privacy has been greatly diminished in recent years, and just this week two new studies confirm what to many minds is already a dismal picture.

First, a study reported on Monday by Stanford University found that smartphone metadata—information about calls and text messages, such as time and length—can reveal a surprising amount of personal detail.

To investigate their topic, the researchers built an Android app and used it to retrieve the metadata about previous calls and text messages—the numbers, times, and lengths of communications—from more than 800 volunteers’ smartphone logs. In total, participants provided records of more than 250,000 calls and 1.2 million texts.

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Senators will introduce a bill to limit government hacking warrants

A U.S. senator will introduce legislation to roll back new court rules that allow judges to give law enforcement agencies the authority to remotely hack computers.

Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, will introduce a bill that would reverse a court procedure rules change, approved by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, that would allow lower judges to issue remote hacking warrants.

The rules change, requested by the Department of Justice, expands the geographical reach of police hacking powers beyond local court jurisdictions now allowed through court-ordered warrants. Previously, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibited a federal judge from issuing a search warrant outside his or her district.

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Opera’s launched an iOS app to expand its free, unlimited, ad-blocking VPN

This story was updated with further information about the user data collected by the app.

Opera Software takes its VPN campaign to iOS with a free, unlimited virtual private network app. Launched Monday, the new app follows Opera’s debut in late April of a free, built-in virtual private network in the beta version of its PC and Mac browsers. Opera’s VPN services are offered by SurfEasy, a Canadian VPN provider that Opera acquired in early 2015.

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Google turns on HTTPS for all Blogspot blogs

All blogs hosted on Google's blogspot.com domain can now be accessed over an encrypted HTTPS connection. This puts more control into the hands of blog readers who value privacy. Google started offering users of its Blogger service the option to swi...
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Microsoft’s CEO explains why his company sued the U.S. government

Microsoft surprised the world last month when it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that the frequent practice of attaching gag orders to search warrants for customer data violates the U.S. Constitution.

On Monday, CEO Satya Nadella told a group of tech luminaries why the company did so: Microsoft has a strong view on its privacy promises to users, and the company will fight to prevent government overreach that, in its view, compromises the principles of privacy. 

Governments have a compelling need to help preserve public safety, but Microsoft wants to make sure that users’ privacy is also preserved, Nadella said. 

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