1. Shared Endorsement on Google Re-Enabled

    Hello all,

    Just a quick note to double check your shared endorsement setting on Google Plus.  I checked this morning and found that Google had automatically re-enabled it.  If you had previously disabled the “Shared Endorsement” setting, then you’ll want to check it again.


    "Shared Endorsements" is when Google puts your photo and / or your name inside of its advertisements.

  2. Facebook Privacy Settings for Teens is Changing →

    Parents, click this link.  The first sentence says it all:  “Facebook is at it again”.  Your kids’ Facebook privacy settings are about to get much less private.

  3. NSA maps some Americans' social connections, says report →

    I’m not sure that I’m entirely against this.  This is the type of mapping that I would expect there to be.  The NSA does, of course, go into unnecessary creeper territory.  I wonder how many of us could sue the NSA on stalking charges?

  4. Fisa judge: Snowden's NSA disclosures triggered important spying debate →

    Some good news, in a manner of speaking, coming out of the information released by Snowden.  It’s good to see a reasonable reaction coming out of someone.

    Conversely there’s also this:


    Which is a straight-up face palming.

  5. Off Topic: NSA & The Internet

    Today I’ve been reading about how two small companies shut themselves down (in full or in part) and destroyed their data.  One, called Lavabit, shut down completely.  The other, called Silent Circle, shut down their email service while maintaining their other services.

    They both did this - and Lavabit going completely out of business - in order to avoid the NSA’s attempts to forcefully obtain information about their users.

    You can read about it here:


    Yikes.  Shit’s getting a little cray when companies need to do this to protect themselves and their customers from our government.

    What a lot of you don’t know is that I’m a total computer nerd.  I dabble as a hobbyist in the area of Internet privacy, and I’ve ran relays (not exit nodes) for both the Tor and i2P privacy networks.  It’s not something that I do out of any necessity.  I just like to tinker with them.

    Clearly I’m concerned about what’s happening, so I would like to bring a few things to people’s attention:

    Just in case you ever feel like tinkering with these things yourself.  Not that I expect anyone to, but I’m throwing this out there just in case.  Tor is certainly very easy to use.  i2P is fairly easy to use, though not as easy as Tor.

    i2P has Twitter-like services that are a fine way to keep up to date with these subjects, if you’re so inclined.  It also has IRC, instant message services, mail services, as well as of course various websites.

    I made these specifically for this post:

    • stepnsteph@mail.i2p . If you want to use GMail or some other service to send me mail then change it to i2pmail.org instead of mail.i2p.
    • i2P-Bote, for those who already did a thing:

    You now have the tools to take the Internet and your privacy into your own hands.  Again, if you’re so inclined.

  6. RetroShare Cert

    My RetroShare cert is located here: http://pastebin.com/JKJ38fP9

    The software’s at: http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/ .

    It’s an instant messenger with file sharing, voice communication, message forums, group chat, and so on.  Built on the idea of privacy (none of that sneaky spying nonsense).  Much easier to use than GnuPG or other options.

    Sadly this doesn’t seem to work with existing IM programs.

  7. Firm: Facebook's shadow profiles are 'frightening' dossiers on everyone | ZDNet →

    Attention getting headline aside, the issue is nonetheless unpleasant.  Facebook is creating profiles for people who do not have Facebook accounts. These so-called “shadow profiles” are constructed, at least initially, when users on Facebook add your data: Your name, phone number(s), email addresses, photos of you (particularly when they tag you), and so on.

    It becomes more problematic when Facebook responds saying that they have no intention of providing a way to let people remove these “shadow profiles” or of “opting out”.  Not that we should have to “opt out” in the first place, but that’s a different post.

    In other words, as we all know, Facebook is the biggest creeper on the Internet.

  8. Websites Vary Prices Based on Location →

    edit: It’s important to note that at least one of the stores in this WSJ article used the person’s browsing history to determine the cost of their products. I strongly recommend getting Ghostery (click here) to protect yourself from this and other forms of profiling that companies are doing to you without your knowledge. As you can see, it can actually cost you money.

    This reminds me of Amazon’s “Prime” subscription that’s supposed to give free shipping on lots of stuff.  Through testing I discovered that having a Prime subscription actually increased the cost of everything. In some cases it simply tacked the shipping cost onto the price displayed on the web page and then labeled shipping as “Free”.  In many other situations, the cost of the products displayed was more expensive (up to about $3) than what what was shown to non-Prime members.

    Obviously I cancelled my subscription at that point, but at least I got my money out of it via their streaming service.

  9. Instagram & Facebook Asking For Your Government Issued Photo IDs Now, Too →

    Hey, facebook and Instagram users.  You’ll want to read this. lol XD  You best be willing to give some corporation your government issued ID and birth certificate and / or other official papers.. lol.. really?  Yeah really.  This is legit.  You all just enjoy that.  My god I’m laughing so hard right now.

    Leaving facebook was one of the best things that I’ve ever done, ever.

  10. The Nonexistent Facebook Democracy Is Now Gone for Good →

    Forbes lays it out in plain, straight forward language and tears into Facebook in the process.

  11. LinkedIn cracked, 6.5 million passwords obtained

    LinkedIn, the “professional” social networking site, has been cracked.  The passwords of 6.5 million accounts have been obtained and released to the public.

    Apparently, LinkedIn has been very slow in responding to the situation, and in reading their response it appears that they’re still trying to distance themselves from responsibility.

    Anyway, just a PSA.

    edit: Forgot the link: http://gizmodo.com/5916332/bigpenis-and-65-million-other-sad-stupid-leaked-linkedin-passwords

  12. Stop CISPA!


    A new bill faces Congress that poses a greater threat to our online privacy and free speech. This bill will allow government agencies to access our information through web service providers. CISPA already has SUPPORT from Facebook, Microsoft, and many other companies that have no motivation to oppose it. It’s up to us.

    Spread the word, fight CISPA!

    Good grief.  I see that they’re taking the shotgun approach, combined with the bait and switch approach, to getting their invasive crap pushed into law.

    I wonder if this one will get stopped?  I’m skeptical that it will.

    The rest of this post is to everyone:

    With SOPA, PIPA, and now CISPA (and who knows what the next attempt will be), it’s probably time to add an additional security tool to our Internet Security / Anti-Virus software.  Everyone (or at least hopefully most of us!) has anti-virus software on our computers that blocks viruses, trojans, spyware, and so on.  It’s only natural to add a VPN service to that list of PC security tools.

    In short, a VPN “cloaks” your Internet traffic.  This does not encrypt your traffic to the entire Internet.  However, it does prevent your ISP from having any knowledge of what you’re doing online.  It also prevents them from “inspecting” or “spying” on your Internet traffic, so they will have no information to share with others.  This will go a long way toward protecting you from the invasive behaviors that certain legislature is trying to make possible.

    Since a VPN only “cloaks” your traffic from the eyes of your ISP, you will still need to be mindful of the information that you provide to websites, like Facebook.

    An additional benefit of a VPN is that it hides your real IP address, so websites that you visit (like Google) can not build a profile about you based on your browsing habits, and they can’t track your location via your IP address (which is very easy to do.  Click here to see for yourself.)

    For the truly concerned, I’d suggest purging (most, if not all) personal information from Facebook and Google Plus (and similar accounts).  Your friends already know who you are, where you live, what your school is, where you work, and so on, so they’re probably not going to need Facebook for anything other than quickly contacting you or making plans to go out.  In my experience, this has worked out rather well (and the people who are not actually friends of mine, well, they didn’t need that information).

    When getting a VPN service, you need to weigh your needs of speed versus privacy.  For example, if you use Netflix or Hulu to stream movies and TV shows, and you’re in the U.S., then you’re going to want a VPN service that’s located in the U.S. so that you have the best possible speeds.  The same is true if you stream a lot of HD video off of YouTube.

    If you just browse the Internet, chat, and don’t stream a lot of video, then you can probably use a service from the UK or Sweden, who will protect your privacy a lot more than a U.S. based service would.

    My VPN service is based in the U.S.  Using this service I can easily stream 1080p HD video, do video chats in Skype, and use Magic Jack to make VoIP phone calls.  I even play Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition through my VPN service, although that does tend to have some lag to it.  It’s not bad, though.

    My service is WiTopia.net.  If you splurge the money on their Cloakbox Pro then every form of Internet communication from your house will be “cloaked” from your ISP (this is what I use).  If you get the less expensive PersonalVPN or PersonalVPN Pro services, then you will install certain security software on your PC, and only the Internet traffic from that one PC will be “cloaked”.

    Their Cloakbox Pro is very easy to install and get running.  It is almost certainly the easiest way to “cloak” everything from your house.  Unfortunately Tumblr blocks (at least some of) Witopia’s servers, so you would need to find an alternative way to access Tumblr, such as using Tor.

    My hobby is in Internet security & privacy (particularly privacy), so this is something that I’ve been doing for quite some time.

    An alternative to WiTopia is SecurityKiss, which is based in Ireland.  Their speed is okay, although not good enough (in my experience) to stream 1080p videos.  However, it’s perfectly fine for browsing the Internet, chatting, using Tumblr (Tumblr doesn’t block them as aggressively), and doing the usual stuff.  SecurityKiss offers the option to purchase their service using bitcoins, which will prevent any money trail leading back to you, if you’re concerned about that sort of thing.

    SecurityKiss is priced very reasonably (pricing info here), but they do not offer a “Cloakbox” service.  They do offer a free plan to test them out, but the freebie service is very limited in the amount of data that you can transfer.

    I hope that helps.  Later, folks.

  13. I wonder:  Does this bother you?

  14. you know you’re a nerd when…

    …you’re connected through your VPN, checking your i2P console, watching a live gaming stream, and run a simple Tor relay through Vidalia. All while wishing that the latest episode of your current anime was out, but no, that’s on Monday.  I hate mondays..

    Happy data privacy day.

    Anyway, just a (bemused?) observation.  Now, enough of this nonsense & back to the usual stuff for this blog.