Privacy Online Workshop

Missoula Public Library 5/2/17 7pm

WHY are we here today
  1. The President recently signed S.J. Res. 34 (Senate Joint Resolution), which rolls back privacy regulations enacted last year at the Federal Communications Commission.  These regulations would have blocked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from sharing their customers’ internet activity with third parties.  They also would have banned ISPs from collecting or storing certain types of customer information without your consent.” (Online Privacy Rights)
  2. Privacy ======= intellectual freedom* (*the freedom to consume and produce information)
  3. Corporations rule this game, not you
  4. Ways your data is collected
    1. By websites (whether it is Twitter or
    2. By the third-party cookies websites employ
    3. By your internet service provider (ISP) and cell service provider
  5. Data tells a much more comprehensive story than we like to think
    • “Data crumbs” can be put together like a connect-the-dots drawing to make startlingly accurate predictions about:
    • Sexual orientation
    • How likely you are to be diagnosed with depression
    • Have a criminal record
    • If you are having an affair (Using a FitBit to see when your heart rate is higher)
Collecting content versus metadata 
  1. Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden is quoted as saying “we kill people based on metadata”. It gives out as much information about you as the information or object the metadata describes.

If you want to learn more about data collections and ethics I highly encourage two videos:

  1. Haunted by Data by Maciej Ceglowski
  2. Machine Intelligence Makes Human Morals More Important by Zeynep Tupfeki

Prompt: “Nothing inherent in technology that requires it to be so invasive and privacy-reducing: corporations and the state have made it so.”

Principles for Technology Rights and Opportunity

Directions: choose one of these principles and brainstorm ways it could improve.

  • Openness: The internet must be protected from discrimination against content or users, and individuals should have the right to create, innovate, and share without interference from gatekeepers.
  • Inclusion: The expansion of technology must equally take into account the needs of all Americans and not discriminate against people of color; rural, tribal, and low-income communities; people with disabilities; or other vulnerable communities.
  • Free Speech: Individuals must be able to express themselves freely online and offline. The government should not put up barriers to lawful expression or censor the internet.
  • Choice: Our internet infrastructure should be diverse, decentralized, and open, with a competitive choice of providers.
  • Privacy: Individuals should have the right to protect and control access to their personal data, and to communicate and access information without any undue intrusion from government or corporations. The government and private actors must also be transparent about the data they collect and how it is stored, used, and shared.
  • Opportunity: Technology policy must strive to support economic opportunity for all.
  • Access: Everyone should have affordable, high-quality options to access the internet. All of the information on the public internet should be accessible to all users.
Consumer privacy/advocacy groups

Sign up for their newsletters, volunteer, and donate to their work!

Do you have the Right to be forgotten?

How to erase yourself from the internet

  1. Make sure to ACTUALLY delete your social media accounts, not deactivate them
  2. Delete yourself off Google+ even if you didn’t sign up for it
    1. YOU CAN delete your entire Google Profile and still use Gmail, Drive, etc.
  3. If you do want to completely delete Google account, do the “Close account and delete all services and info associated with it” option under account homepage
  4. Clean up “scraps” of yourself online
  5. Next step: removing self from background check sites online
    1. Learn more about data brokers and people search sites

Which begs the question: do you have the right to be forgotten online? What if you’re a convicted sex offender? What do you think?

“Right to be forgotten” laws

  • Just being introduced, with little success, in the US “And of course the bill contains no exception even for material of genuine historical interest; after all, such speech would have to be removed if it was “no longer material to current public debate.” Nor is there an exception for autobiographic material, whether in a book, on a blog or anywhere else. Nor is there an exception for political figures, prominent businesspeople and others.”
  • EU’s Right to Be Forgotten law >> EU ‘right to be forgotten’ law one year on  gives some good examples of types of requests that were denied and approved


Sit down for an hour this week and…

(Taken from here and here)

  1. Revisit account settings for all social media/email accounts
  2. Review app permissions on mobile devices: are you allowing constant location data collection by some apps?
  3. Close old/unused accounts
  4. Delete emails/messages/cloud-based files you don’t need
  5. install/update anti-malware software
  6. Update all your regular software/applications on your phone and computer and set a calendar invite to do it regularly
  7. Change all your passwords and consider a password manager
  8. Turn on two-factor authentication (also called “multi-factor authentication”)
  9. Check security and privacy settings on your default browser
  10. Install a browser extension that blocks ads
    1. WARNING: some sites will not let you access their content with some extensions b/c when you block their ads they lose money
    2. Navigating to these websites isn’t free. Advertisers make $$$ collecting your data. 
  11. Soooo… invest in a news source you trust and get a paid account so you have unlimited access without the ads
  12. Install the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension
    1. Encrypts data but ISP can still see the domain name of sites you visit
  13. Find out the breach status of your username or email address:
  14. Have an Android? Encrypt your SMS using Signal by Open Whisper Systems
Think about doing these things…
  1. Setting up a VPN (virtual private network) >> this controls the info that makes its way back to your service provider
    1. However, VPNs can also sell your data: choose wisely  
  2. Look into Tor (also available for Android phones)
    1. Requires you to change browser or browsing habits
    2. Sometimes does weird things like put Google Maps into other languages
    3. Some websites don’t allow Tor browser
  3. Put your phone in airplane mode or turn it off when not in use
  4. Consider a password manager to help manage all the awesome, unique passwords you just created
  5. Turn off your wireless when not in use
  6. Is your ISP (internet service provider) respectful of your data? Try to make sense of their policies and change provider if necessary >> you can also opt-out of some data collection
  7. Local, non-huge ISP or data providers? View with wireless in Missoula, better options in Helena area
    1. Montana Internet Corporation
    2. Global Net
    3. Centric Internet Services (“Taco Bell wifi is more reliable than this!”)
  8. Do you own a domain? Encrypt it!

More acronyms and tutorials >>

Acronym What it does More info
OTR (Off the record messaging) Encryption only for SMS (short messaging service) “Off-the-record communication, or, why not to use PGP”
PGP (Pretty good privacy) Encryption program for authentication and privacy of emails, texts, files, directories “Why I wrote PGP”

My last point, to bring it back to the realm of current events… “Things To Consider When Crossing the US Border”

  • You can be searched at any time without a warrant, that includes your devices

Okay, so now you are encrypted, updated, password-managed, and are woke about your privacy. Now use your skills to improve how you engage with content online:

This is also the subject of my next workshop on May 10th…. [WARNING THIS IS A WORKSHOP PLUG: May 10th 7pm at the Missoula Public Library titled “Fight Fake News”]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s