Tag: privacy

Kakao Talk Privacy Problems

I was always too busy to try to research why something about Kakao Talk bothered me.  The first time I put it on my mobile device I was mesmerized by the way it, without any involvement of my own, loaded a contact list of people I knew who were using it, or not.  I was mesmerized until I thought about where that data came from and then realized it came from my own phone’s contact list.

So this thing raided my contact list and grabbed data without me ok’ing it…  people I had called just once from my phone are now my Kakao friends…

Then I watched pretty much every Korean I knew show up on this.  Then a few folks from Iran, then pretty much right across the board.

Then I saw photos being shared and the app taking over as the main hub of the phone.  When they introduced a kind fof VOIP peer-to-peer calling it was game over.  Kakao *was* their phone.

Within short notice I deleted the app.  I don’t recall if I closed the account..

Today a Korean student of mine pointed out that she thought she was ‘ok’ in terms of privacy because she doesn’t really use Facebook.  I asked if she used Kakao Talk.  She said ‘yes’.  I said ‘There you go.  You are in danger.” She was shocked. The problem is that I didn’t have anything concrete to tell her.  So I decided to do some research for her.  Here is what I found to start with and your comments would be great to hear.  Perhaps some stories of privacy issues.

This story should just about sum it up.  When the police came knocking, Kakao Talk quickly handed over what they asked for.

Here is a quote from their privacy policy that should concern you [my comments in these bracket things:

KAKAO will collect the following information to make our services better.

When you sign up for the Services or in the course of your use of the Services, KAKAO will collect your telephone number, contact information saved on your smartphone [I read this as *ALL CONTACT DATA*] or other device [other devices, like computers or wherever else you have installed this tentacled animal] (telephone numbers and names of third parties) [I read ‘third parties’ as ALL YOUR FRIENDS and FAMILY IN YOUR PHONE] , device-specific information, operation system and hardware information including the OS version, CPU and LAN card information, legal guardian information (if you are under 14 years of age), your status information [whatever you type in your status updates they know *AND USE*], name, birth date, ID [ID??????  WTF??], photos (including meta-information) [meta information includes *WHERE YOU ARE* by the way, if you didn’t know], service usage history, email address, location information [they already got that from your photos], IP address [this shows where you are as well] and cookies through the official website of KAKAO, individual applications or programs. KAKAO will also collect shipping information (including the name, mobile phone number and address) [Oh. Now they just take your mailing address.  Don’t worry. They already got it pretty close from the other data they took from you above] to ship your purchases [That’s a nice cover]. In addition to the above information [wait! We haven’t taken enough yet! We want MORE!], KAKAO may collect your credit card information [Why not? The CEO needs a bottle of wine with lunch], carrier information, gift certificate number or other information required for payment processing when you use paid services. Given the nature of the Services, the personal information we collect may differ depending on the application or program. Before you get started with an application or program, KAKAO will inform you of the personal information we collect to which you must consent in order to use the Service [that, sucker, was the little checkbox you clicked before you were allowed to start using it].

If that wasn’t enough, they also have special agreements with a bunch of other companies that they share your information with.  That means, that you will also have to study each of these companies to see how they are using your photos and information.  Good luck. You may need a few hundred years to do that.  Whenever you use their ‘services’ [what does that mean?] you agree to let them send all your data to:

We provide the following personal information to third parties to handle customer enquiries:

Parties to be provided with your personal information

  • Gifticon: SK Planet
  • Giftishow: KT mhows
  • GiftTing: Wincube Marketing
  • Cootoo: CJ E&M

It doesn’t get any better from there.

My recommendation would be to rid yourself of this app and it’s agreements ASAP.

One day your data will hurt you.

 

 

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Enough bothering me for my cell phone number, Google!

So Google (gmail, specifically since that’s all I have left with them) used to bother me a little bit.  Once in a while they would sneakily try to get me to register my mobile number in connection with my Gmail account under the cover of ‘extra security’.

Hey, Wayne.  Just enter your mobile number here and then you can recover your password and stuff if you lose it. – Mister Googal

Sounded good.  I considered it briefly until I thought again about why Google should have my number associated with 4 quadrillion advertisers and the rest of my personal information that they have gradually sucked onto their servers over the last ten years (yes, I was an early gmailer).

I refused to give it to them for the last three years or so when the message would pop up from time to time.

Today, though, they changed their message.  Now they said “Keep your account more secure!  Know instantly if someone is messing around with your account!”  It showed an image of some evil dude hacking your computer while your mobile displays an alert.

First of all, if evil dude hacks your gmail, now he’s got your mobile, too. But worse than the evil dude having your mobile, Google has it!

I’m not surprised that El Googoo wants it so bad, though.  They aren’t even close to unintelligent.  In fact, they are so good at what they do that it’s disturbing.

And for that reason alone I won’t hand over my mobile number.

In fact, all of this stuff has motivated me further to get ‘off the grid’.  Thanks to a few friends, I’ve dusted off my ham radio and started using that.  I’d like to see M. Gougou try to spam me there.

I’d also like to propose a challenge to everyone out there to un-google with me.  I’ve started slowly but I’m making progress.  I bet you can’t do it!

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Why Ubuntu: A Bird’s Eye View

I have been a happy member of the Ubuntu community and user of the product for years now.  Today I decided to ask the internet ‘why’.  I had my own reasons why but I wondered what Mr. WWW was telling people.

I was surprised.  I couldn’t find any short summary.  It was all too product-based or too philosophy based but didn’t quite sum up the ‘big picture’ for someone who wanted a quick read.  I was tempted to call this post “Ubuntu: Why all the Hype?”

I remember Randall Ross saying somewhere… or writing somewhere something about ‘How Many P’s are there in ‘Ubuntu’?”  I searched his blog but was unable to find the P’s.  I’ll kindly request that Randall officially publish those or if someone could fire a link to these in the the comments below that will be much appreciated.  The P’s that I remember are Philosophy, People, Product which are the key things that got me moved over to Ubuntu and kept me there.  I think Privacy might have been one, too.

Even the official Why Use Ubuntu page on ubuntu.com wasn’t really that satisfying for me.

So without further adieu, my spew:

~philosophy~

  • it doesn’t cost you money, and therefore is not reserved for the elite.  A child in a poor country has the same rights to be involved as a rich man
  • it is built by the community and therefore for the community.  Instead of a boardroom of software execs deciding which new thing they can craft up that will keep the users in bondage to their business model, a grandpa alone in Moosejaw (that’s a real place, by the way) can, with the help of the community, suggest or even write a change to the system and watch it take place before their eyes.  They can do software instead of being done by software.
  • you remain in control of your hardware that you paid for.  Now that I’ve been an Ubuntu fanboy for a while, I find it disturbing to think that the operating system – the thing that has complete control over your hardware – could be shipped to you pre-installed without your consent.  The company could limit you from what you could do with that hardware you paid for, or they could give themselves power over it without your consent.  I no like.

~people~

  • you’re not alone.  There are people out there who are really excited about Ubuntu and they’ll help you.  They want to see you succeed because when you succeed so do they.  People are volunteering lots of their time to organize meetups, to write helpful material and to write code to improve everything.  You can join or start local groups and you can network online.  Instead of clicking aimlessly online you can talk to people.

~product~

  • it’s unified.  it is the only operating system to have unity (hence the name Unity) from a PC, to a laptop, to  a netbook, to a tablet, to a TV all the way down to a smart phone (search ‘Ubuntu Phone’).  Across all hardware, Ubuntu unites them.
  • it works.  Ubuntu never fails to amaze me.  Whenever I use it, everything just feels and works better.  I don’t get paralysing crashes, slow bootups, lag times, etc.  Its smooth and it works.
  • it’s fast.  On one occasion I was forced to use a big slow operating system.  For fun I decided to boot Ubuntu from a USB stick which should be slower than the native operating system since it’s running on the external drive.  To my surprise it was like someone handed me a new laptop – it was alive again and snappy fast.  The proof is in the pudding.
  • it’s safe.  I challenge you to find any virus written for Ubuntu and if you do, I challenge you to show me that it had any negative impact.  I have not so much as thought about viruses since I made the switch years ago.  Want the world to see everything you do on your hardware?  Do not use Ubuntu!
  • it’s both cool and creative.  I just love the way that every few months I have something to be excited about. I know that someone in the community has changed something for the better and that soon enough when I upgrade to the next release something will get cooler.  Compare that to my crippling and enslaving experience with big proprietary company’s updates when I dreaded the next release because I knew something I paid for in the past would no longer be supported and I would have to pay extra to get it working again.
  • it’s simple and easy.  My mom and dad are 74 years old and have been with Ubuntu for years.  They haven’t experienced any major problems and if they did the community was there to help get it resolved – for FREE
  • its growing.  Although I don’t have the reference here I was under the understanding that Ubuntu was the fastest growing operating system in the world (reference needed).  The point is is that it’s not dying like many other systems and seeing a downward curve.
  • its freakin’ awesome.  No further comments

~project~

I found another P in Ubuntu.

I hope that this has been helpful in converting you from darkness to light and from folly to wisdom.  The great part about having a free will is that no one will stop you from smashing your own head against a cement wall if you want to.  That’s your right.  No one  can take that from you (although they probably should).

Do what you choose but I strongly recommend doing your due diligence and doing the right thing wherever you can.  Imagine regaining your freedom and how sweet that would feel?  It’s empowering.

Join the Ubuntu Project today.

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Diaspora – Social Media that Actually Excites Me

Originally posted at www.blenzseymour.com at Sun, 10/02/2011 – 21:09

Finally.

After what seems like years, I got my invite to sign up at Diaspora. The coolest thing to me is that you probably don’t even know what it is yet. Don’t worry – people like me will spread the news quick. In a few words, it’s a dumbed down version of Facebook, Twitter and Google + (dumbed down is actually a good thing, by the way, if you didn’t know) and, get this –

YOU OWN YOUR OWN CONTENT! *

*if you want to set it up that way

Did you catch what I just wrote? This is the thing so many people have been waiting for. Why did I kill my Facebook account a year or so ago? Because I just didn’t like the way Facebook was starting to own our social lives. Like everyone else, I don’t mind actually posting about my life and seeing what everyone is up to, but I started to think about the trail this kind of stuff leaves. Then, I went to delete my account to find out that… it didn’t really seem to delete. In fact, I bet if I went there today and just tried to enter my old username and password that it would spring back to the condition before I ‘deleted’ my account. I haven’t tried that though, so I might be wrong. Point is this: If I start posting personal things I want to, as much as possible, be sure that I can erase that content forever and not leave some kind of ‘social trail’ behind me.

Diaspora is awesome. If I wanted to, I could set up a computer just for my family and install ‘my own social media website’ just for us. I could post photos of my daughter, my wife, even a picture of my gross farmer’s tan… and no one in the public would ever know (unless a hacker hacks in but that’s always a risk). It’s just… perfect. But, you don’t have to be that exclusive. You can set it up just like Google + (I kind of wonder if Google actually stole this concept from Diaspora…) with the ‘circles’ concept except they are called ‘aspects’ in Diaspora. You can stay pretty open about hooking up with people, and then just maintain your privacy via your ‘aspects’ and who you share your content with.

So, yeah. Remember when Facebook was pretty simple and didn’t have farm animals harassing you? It’s like that.

I know this isn’t a very cohesive blog but I just wanted to bang out a shout-out for the crew at Diaspora who has finally done something worth getting excited about. I’m already working with some local folk to set up our own pod. Here are some quick ideas I’ve already thought of where Diaspora might be useful:

1. A private way to network employees (large enterprises with high security)
2. Political party members (they want to discuss things totally off the public radar, I’m sure)
3. Family pod: a pod just for the family that will never host any other users other than actual family members so you can share extremely private information if need be without risk of content ending up in the wrong hands
etc
4. Education: teachers and students… somehow?

I mean check out their dumb-simple homepage:

https://diasp.org/

I love these guys.

If you want to join, you could ‘try’ to get an account here by filling out a request (it’s still Alpha release):

www.joindiaspora.com

…Or, you could beg me to send you an invite by following us on twitter @seymourblenz and I might find it in my heart.

See you in there…if you’re lucky

Oh yeah! One last thing: It works well.

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If you Care about Freedom, Ramp up your Ham

I think it’s interesting how most people who claim to care about freedom don’t have a ham radio (amateur radio) license, especially you folks in open source.

You reject and rebel against the Monopolists in Redmond and the Fruit Devices from Cupertino recognizing that they are dictating how you will and will not use the thing you are spending all your money on.

You recognize that it’s freaky and weird to give all the power of your privacy and information over to a company.

You think it’s insane that someone would participate in something where not paying a license fee could jeopardize a business or the functionality of someone’s day-to-day.

You relish and brag about your freedom – and rightfully so.

You are a warrior in the battle against the Man and the eyes of Big Brother.

Have I puffed you up enough?  Very well, then. Get ready to be brought low.

If you don’t have a ham radio license don’t come around calling yourself a man.  You are a pansy-boy, sissy-girl.  And if you’re already a girl, you’re a flaky fan-girl – a Barbie Doll at best.

Real men have hams.

Real women have call signs.

Real men speak to real women with their ham radios.

The service on your cell phone (except for a 911 call) is merely leased to you by likely one of a few mobile service monopolists.  If they had their way, they would also charge you for that 911 call.  Until the Ubuntu Phone was announced a couple of days ago, even the operating system on that smart phone that you pack with you is owned by someone else – and the data on it – don’t kid yourself.

So don’t tell me you love freedom that much.

“Oh, but I use a dumb phone,” you say.

Nice try.  Let’s see how well your dumb phone works during an earthquake or if you don’t pay your bill.  But really, nice try.

A ham radio requires a little studying, but once you get it, you’ve got yourself a ‘free cell phone forever’ – if you can find someone to talk to.  And that, in essence, is the root of the problem.

The only people who seem to have a ham radio are wearing Depends, on serious medication or are serious geeks – and I mean serious.  That’s why I always went alone.  I didn’t want anyone to find out that I hung out with these people and liked what they liked.

But lately I’ve been thinking about it.  It’s almost like the whole system we live in is Anti-Ham.  The test isn’t that hard… so why aren’t more people doing it?  In Canada you get free custom license plates for your car with your call sign! Isn’t that reason enough?  Nope.  Still no one does it. You can make a free call to your family if they have licenses – unlimited airtime – for free. Not good enough.  You can connect to the internet with it and speak to ham radios all around the world: you could speak to your ham-buddy climbing a mountain in South Korea from  just like he’s around the corner – for free.  Still not good enough.

It’s almost as if the entire system is Anti-Ham and we shouldn’t be surprised.

Ham radio gives power to the people – like Ubuntu, unions or voting.  To put it in perspective, you can take away my cell phone and I can still remain connected to the world – while mobile.  That’s a power I’m assuming the mobile service providers don’t want you to know or think about.  I’m assuming they are not rushing around trying to help promote ham radio.

My parents have a cabin where only one cellular network works.  Instead of taking my advice and getting licensed and throw a killer ham radio in their car and cabin (maybe $500-$750 capital investment?) they will likely spend well over $2400 over the next five years to get suited up with a monthly mobile plan on that network.

Hams own their own network!

Enough about this already.  You get the point.  Get licensed and track me down on the ham waves.

My call sign is VE7CAK (that’s Charlie Alpha Kilo” to you)

“Be a man.  Do da light fing.” – R. Peters

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The Ubuntu Phone (U-Phone)

I don’t usually get excited much these days because all advancements in smart phone technology seem to be coalescing to a very dangerous point – monopoly of your life and complete control over your privacy.

In Randall’s article he announced the first thing that excited me in this arena since Angry Birds – The Ubuntu Phone. He explains well about why it’s awesome.  However, he only hints as to why it’s important but I wanted to make sure people started thinking about the ‘why’ right away.

No one can deny that there are currently really only two options out there for people who want to own a smart phone: Bondage Bot (Android) and Fruit Devices (Apple products).

Symbian (Nokia) seems dead.  Rest in peace, by the way.  You were the best before this U-Phone announcement.

Microsoft is laughable.  Actually, it’s more like an uncomfortable laugh –  like when you politely laugh at the socially-awkward person who inappropriately blurts something weird out as they try desperately to fit in to what’s happening.

Blackberry is App-less in Arizona (that looks like ‘appless’ without the dash which is weird, eh?).

I don’t think we need to worry too much about the latter three, but the former two do concern me.

The Fruit People from Cupertino seem to want to control their victims by telling them how they will or will not use the hardware (that they paid way too much for) and by making them think they are cool.

Team Bondage-Bot seem to make the most useful and addictive tools for our daily lives while subtly buying every small company under the sun and gathering every last piece of information about you and storing it on their servers.

Both options are freaky and I no rike it.

So, a big thank you to all the people out there in Ubuntu-Land who have given me something to be excited about again – a smart phone that leaves me with the freedom we deserve.  This is Ubuntu Gangnam Style

 

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