Privacy Paradox – The Search for Your Identity

Featured image by Paul Green

This episode starts by comparing the peddlers of years past to the digital peddlers that infiltrate your web-browsing experience. Manoush interviews Julia Angwin at ProPublica and gets an update that 50, 000 people tried this app they developed as part of their Breaking the Black Box project. Turns out at the time of the interview Facebook can break people down across 52, 000 categories (including “pretending to text in awkward situations”, yes that is a category they could put you in). One of the strangest/concerning categories being the ethnic affinities category. One experiment done by ProPublica was to buy an ad for housing and restrict certain racial groups from being able to see the ads. Only a little illegal/controversial.

As a bonus, I’ll check out that tool as well.

Today’s Task

Check your digital fingerprint—and take back some control. Try the Panopticlick tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This tool measures five methods online trackers use to ID you online: if your browser is blocking tracking ads, if your browser blocks invisible trackers, if your blocker stops trackers embedded in ‘acceptable ads’ whitelists, if your broswer unblocks 3rd parties that promise to honor Do Not Track, and finally, if your browser protects from fingerprinting. I tried this on both my phone and my desktop, and wow, I feel like at one time I was more on top of this.

Firefox on my desktop received about the worst grade possible, and Safari on my phone would receive a D- at best. Interestingly a basic install of Firefox Focus for iOS gets a message of “Yes! You have strong protection against Web tracking, though your software isn’t checking for Do Not Track policies.”

Ok Note to Self, you’ve convinced me to looking into this more and getting things in order again. There are a tonne of blocking extensions out there already, the show suggests Privacy Badger.

 

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