Analysis & Comment

Opinion | A Bibliography on Privacy

“How Companies Learn Your Secrets,” Charles Duhigg, The New York Times MagazineThe story of how Target learned that a teenager was pregnant before her parents did, reporting in great detail about how retailers collect data about their customers.

“Los Angeles Accuses Weather Channel App of Covertly Mining User Data,” Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Natasha Singer, The New York Times — A report on how the Weather Channel app used tracking data not just for local forecasts but also for commercial purposes.

“How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met,” Kashmir Hill, Gizmodo — A look at the ways Facebook uses contact information harvested from phone address books to make inferences about users’ social graphs.

“Online Tracking: A 1-Million-Site Measurement and Analysis,” Steven Englehardt and Arvind Narayanan, Princeton University — This academic paper discusses the mechanics of online tracking through “fingerprinting.” For a more digestible format, see the FiveThirtyEight interview and the Boing Boing blurb.

“Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret,” Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Natasha Singer, Michael H. Keller and Aaron Krolik, The New York Times — As smartphones have become ubiquitous and technology more accurate, an industry of snooping on people’s daily habits has spread and grown more intrusive. Data reviewed by The Times shows over 235 million locations captured from more than 1.2 million unique devices over three days in 2017.

“From Headline to Photograph, a Fake News Masterpiece," Scott Shane, The New York Times; “We Tracked Down a Fake-News Creator in the Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned,” Laura Sydell, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” — These two articles provide numbers for how profitable online advertising can be for fake news purveyors, with the reporters chasing down the people who do it for profit.

“As Domestic Abuse Goes Digital, Shelters Turn to Counter-Surveillance With Tor," George LeVines, Beta Boston — Digital surveillance as domestic abuse is becoming increasingly common. Some technological tools can mitigate it.

“Breaking the Black Box,” Julia Angwin, Terry Parris Jr. and Surya Mattu, ProPublica — This four-part series looks at what Facebook knows about users, price discrimination online, and the effects of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone,” Joseph Cox, Motherboard — T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint sold access to their customers’ location data, allowing third parties to track down phone users at will.

“What Happens When You Dare Expert Hackers to Hack You,” Kevin Roose, FusionA hacker specializing in social engineering gains access to Mr. Roose’s account with his cellphone provider and even gets customer support to change his password.

“Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car,” Michael Corkery and Jessica Silvera-Greenberg, The New York Times — Cars secured with subprime loans are sometimes equipped with GPS and remote kill switches that allow lenders to locate and turn off cars when lessees fall behind on payments.

“Machine Bias,” Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Suryu Mattu and Lauren Kirchner, ProPublica — An investigation into criminal-sentencing algorithms, an important glimpse into the macro harms of a data-driven society.

“How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions,” Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Confessore and Carole Cadwalladr, The New York Times; “‘I Made Steve Bannon’s Psychological Warfare Tool’: Meet the Data War Whistle-Blower,” Carole Cadwalladr, The GuardianHow Facebook data was misappropriated by a third party without the knowledge of Facebook users and used to influence elections.

“These Academics Spent the Last Year Testing Whether Your Phone Is Listening to You," Kashmir Hill, Gizmodo — A deep dive into a smartphone conspiracy theory that just won’t go away.

Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life,” Helen Nissenbaum — A theoretical work with a solid grounding in the realities of modern technology that provides a good overview of the debates around what the right to privacy is. “A right to privacy is neither a right to secrecy nor a right to control but a right to appropriate flow of personal information,” Ms. Nissenbaum writes.

“The House That Spied on Me,” Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu, Gizmodo — The writers set up a smart home to see how gadgets are collecting information on us.

“The Fight Between the F.B.I. and Apple Is About Setting Precedent, Not Breaking Tech,” Sheera Frankel, BuzzFeed News — A look into Apple's fight against the F.B.I. and the future of tech companies’ compliance with government orders.

“Early Notes on the Ashley Madison Hack,” John Herrman, The Awl — This article lays out the stakes of huge data breaches of personal information and the “impossibility of perfect privacy.”

“The Data That Turned the World Upside Down,” Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus, Motherboard — The first big report on Cambridge Analytica, dissecting the particulars of psychographic profiling and its influence in elections.

“The U.S. Government Will Be Scanning Your Face at 20 Top Airports, Documents Show,” Davey Alba, BuzzFeed News — How the Trump administration's push for border security and a “biometric entry-exit system” may usher in a new era of expansive facial recognition.

“Yahoo Secretly Scanned Customer Emails for U.S. Intelligence — Sources," Joseph Menn, Reuters — How a major tech company complied with a classified government demand to invade user privacy.

“Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race,” Julia Angwin and Terry Parris Jr., ProPublica — Using Facebook's own advertising tools to lay bare the ways in which tech platforms and their algorithms discriminate.

“This Ad Fraud Scheme Stole Millions, but Almost No One Wants to Own Up to It,” Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed News — One ad industry critic: “Nobody knows how bad it is and nobody wants to know.”

“Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Provided Data Access for a Surveillance Product Marketed to Target Activists of Color,” American Civil Liberties Union — A report detailing police surveillance of activists using raw feeds of social network data.

“This Spyware Data Leak Is So Bad We Can't Even Tell You About It,” Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard — Shedding light on the ethics of reporting on data leaks or breaches when the companies themselves seem unable or unwilling to fix them.

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