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ICYMI: Oct 5 - Oct 11
3 min read

ICYMI: Oct 5 - Oct 11

ICYMI: Oct 5 - Oct 11

ICYMI is posted every Monday recapping privacy news over the last week from around the web.


The IRS Is Being Investigated for Using Location Data Without a Warrant

In June, officials from the IRS Criminal Investigation unit told Wyden's office that it had purchased location data from a contractor called Venntel, and that the IRS had tried to use it to identify individual criminal suspects. Venntel obtains location data from innocuous looking apps such as games, weather, or e-commerce apps, and then sells access to the data to government clients.

A Wyden aide previously told Motherboard that the IRS wanted to find phones, track where they were at night, use that as a proxy as to where the individual lived, and then use other data sources to try and identify the person. A person who used to work for Venntel previously told Motherboard that Venntel customers can use the tool to see which devices are in a particular house, for instance.

Extremely few apps need GPS to function. There's no reason to not deny this permission when prompted.


Contact-tracing data harvested from pubs and restaurants being sold on

Companies collecting data for pubs and restaurants to help them fulfil their contact-tracing duties are harvesting confidential customer information to sell.
Any data collected should be kept by the business for 21 days and must not be used “for any purposes other than for NHS Test and Trace”, according to government guidelines.

But some firms used by businesses to meet the new requirements have clauses in their terms and conditions stating they can use the information for reasons other than contact tracing, including sharing it with third parties. The privacy policy of one company used by a restaurant chain in London says it stores users’ data for 25 years.

Nobody saw this coming.  Nobody.


Google is giving data to police based on search keywords, court docs show

There are few things as revealing as a person's search history, and police typically need a warrant on a known suspect to demand that sensitive information. But a recently unsealed court document found that investigators can request such data in reverse order by asking Google to disclose everyone who searched a keyword rather than for information on a known suspect.

In August, police arrested Michael Williams, an associate of singer and accused sex offender R. Kelly, for allegedly setting fire to a witness' car in Florida. Investigators linked Williams to the arson, as well as witness tampering, after sending a search warrant to Google that requested information on "users who had searched the address of the residence close in time to the arson."
Court documents showed that Google provided the IP addresses of people who searched for the arson victim's address, which investigators tied to a phone number belonging to Williams. Police then used the phone number records to pinpoint the location of Williams' device near the arson, according to court documents.

A growing problem becoming more and more common with each passing day.


OpenBoard is a 100% open source keyboard for Android devices

100% FOSS keyboard, based on AOSP.

Just a simple open source keyboard that doesn't collect data or phone home.


How many ways an app can track you?

Tracking is there to improve the products, services, or prevent server attack and hacking. It collects from the web server, the app on your device, through email, or social media. Either love or hate it, you should be aware of it.

In this post, I will show you some common methods of tracking. Details about how it works, their purposes, and just in case, how to disable it.

Concise and easy to understand.


Want to join the discussion?  Check out this post, and others, over at the CupWire subreddit and leave a comment.