rDigital News: Facebook privacy settings, Ann Cavoukian, and the NSA

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In the world of digital media, “privacy” has almost become a buzz word. When everyone voluntarily uploads personal information what does our “right to privacy” really mean? After much debate, recent news suggests that there may be hope for our online privacy yet. Facebook announced that it will change its default settings to private rather than public and Ontario’s privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian took a public stance against cybercrime legislation that would give the government, what she called, “overreaching surveillance powers.”

But while these headlines reflect a fight for privacy, the battle is still ongoing.

Catch up on the latest in this week’s rDigital News roundup:

Facebook privacy settings

Facebook is notorious for the data bargain it makes with its users. Millions upload personal content and photos without considering who is able to view it. In a statement released Thursday, Facebook took an unprecedented stance in defence of its users privacy.

“While some people want to post to everyone, others have told us that they are more comfortable sharing with a smaller group, like just their friends. We recognize that it is much worse for someone to accidentally share with everyone when they actually meant to share just with friends, compared with the reverse.

So, going forward, when new people join Facebook, the default audience of their first post will be set to Friends. Previously, for most people, it was set to Public.” – Facebook statement

In addition to shifting the automatic audience for uploaded content from public to “friends,” the social network also introduced a Privacy Checkup program for existing users to help address concerns.

Ontario privacy commissioner raises concern over cyberbullying bill

Ontario information and privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian is urging parliament to redraft Bill C-13, aimed at combating cyberbullying, in an effort to protect Canadian’s privacy online. The bill would make it an offense to post or transmit “intimate images” of anyone without their consent, but according to Cavoukian, many of the sections pertaining to surveillance go beyond what is necessary.

In CBC’s recent coverage, they get to the heart of the debate: Do we have to choose between online privacy and our safety? 

According to Cavoukian, we can have both.


NSA recording all calls in Afghanistan and Bahamas

Photo credit: wikicommons
Photo credit: wikicommons

It seems that in the world of online privacy, one step forward  comes with multiple leaps back. Recent documents obtained by The Intercept and WikiLeaks indicate that the NSA is recording nearly all domestic and international calls made in the Bahamas and Afghanistan.

“While one might seriously question the moral exceptionalism which would deny another nation and its people the right to react to a mass rights infringement in a manner of its own choosing, such claims of risk by the US government have in any event consistently fallen short,” wrote Julian Assange in the statement, posted Friday. ” It is the US government’s “responsibility” to protect its assets. It has had an egregious amount of time to do so. Given the above we believe any ongoing perceived risks to be fanciful or willfully embraced by the US goverment. But we also reject the implication that it is the role of the international press to protect US assets from arrest for the mass infringement of the rights of another nation’s people.”

Read the full post on WikiLeaks here.



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