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[Source: This article was Published in mashable.com BY KARISSA BELL - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]

Here's something you might want to think about next time you check your email: chances are, at least some of your messages are being tracked.

From how many times you open a message, the time of day, and even what city you're in, the very act of reading an email can send a surprising amount of data back to the sender, even if you never respond. 

That unsettling fact was recently thrust back into the spotlight thanks to a much-hyped email startup called Superhuman. The $30/month invite-only email software beloved by Silicon Valley VCs and "inbox zero" adherents are so hyped, there's currently a waiting list more than 180,000 people long, according to The New York Times.

Then Mike Davidson, a VP at design platform Invision, pointed out that the email app had originally enabled its users to track who is opening their emails by default. The feature, which Superhuman dubbed "read receipts," allows message senders to see exactly when their messages are opened, what kind of device recipients are using, and where they are. And unlike, say, iMessage read receipts, which are opt-in, Superhuman's feature is enabled by default.

Davidson, who was previously VP of design at Twitter, penned a lengthy critique of Superhuman's "spying" on his personal blog, saying Superhuman "has mistaken taking advantage of people for good design." 

In response to criticism from Davidson and others, Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra said the company would update its software so “read receipts” would no longer be enabled by default and location information would be removed. 

But the fact is, Superhuman is far from from the only company quietly surveilling your email habits. Though it's relatively unheard of for an email platform to offer this level of tracking by default, it's astonishingly easy to embed tracking software into emails.

What is pixel tracking?

Most email-tracking programs use something called pixel tracking. Here's how email marketing company SendGrid explains its version of the feature:

Open Tracking adds an invisible, one pixel image at the end of the email which can track email opens. If the email recipient has images enabled on their email client and a request to SendGrid’s server for the invisible image is executed, then an open event is logged.

So when one of these "invisible" images is added into an email, the person who sent it is able to keep track of how often you open the message. It's also common to track whether or not you click on any links in the email. 

Marketers love these kinds of tools for obvious reasons, but there are a ton of similar tools out there that anyone can start using. But just because it's commonplace doesn't make it any less creepy or less of a massive privacy invasion. 

And while you might expect these tactics from email marketers, there's something even more troubling when you consider the implications of people using these in their personal lives. As Davidson outlines in his blog post, email tracking could in some cases pose a safety risk to people who don't realize they are being tracked just by opening their inbox.

Luckily, there are a few ways to block this type of tracking without ignoring your emails entirely.

Image blocking is your friend

One of the most straightforward ways to prevent email tracking software from working is to block images from displaying by default. This is a setting you can enable in just about every email service., though you should note that it means loading images in your email will require an extra click.

Prevent images from automatically loading in Gmail.

In Gmail, click on the settings gear to open up your email preferences. From the "general" tab, scroll down to images and check the box that says "Ask before displaying external images." Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "save changes."

If you use a non-Gmail email provider, you should be able to find a similar setting. Just look for something that says something like "ask before displaying external images." 

It's also important to note that if you use a third-party email client like Outlook or Apple's Mail app to check your email, you'll need to enable this setting in that email app as well. Again, you can typically do this in the app's settings. 

How to block external images in Apple's Mail app.

In Apple's Mail app for iOS, you can disable images by going to the main Settings app, selecting "Mail," and scrolling down to "load remote images." (Instructions for disabling images in the MacOS Mail app can be found here.)

Track the trackers

If fiddling with your email settings is too inconvenient, or you're extra curious about who might be keeping tabs on how often you're reading your emails, there's another option available as well. There are a number of browser extensions that will also block the tracking pixels while alerting you to which emails contain trackers. 

PixelBlock is a simple Chrome extension that blocks images from loading and displays a red eye at the top of messages when it detects a tracker.

Similarly, Trocker, which is available for Chrome and Firefox, will show you pixel trackers and identify links that are being tracked. 

And Chrome extension Ugly Email, alerts you to the presence of possible trackers in your inbox before you even open a message. 

Even with extensions, some trackers may still be able to slip through, but they tend to be pretty adept at identifying the most obvious offenders. Using these is also a pretty eye-opening look at just how commonplace email tracking is:

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in cnet.com written by RICK BROIDA - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Joshua Simon]

Google Maps is regularly being used by law enforcement, according to a New York Times report.

Not only is Google Maps tracking you, but a program called Google Sensorvault is potentially turning over your location data to law enforcement, according to a report from The New York Times. We'll show you how you make it more difficult for Google or at least not hand over the most granular data.

Keep in mind that a 2018 Associated Press investigation reported that even if you manually disable Google Location History, Google Maps and other apps may retain data about your whereabouts

We also recently learned that Facebook is tracking you even after you deactivate your account, so it's not just Google that you have to worry about. (Alternatively, you may want to at least turn off Facebook's facial recognition feature.)

The Web App Activity toggle will fully disable Google location tracking but good luck finding it unless you know exactly where to lookJPG

The Web & App Activity toggle will fully disable Google location tracking, but good luck finding it unless you know exactly where to look.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

"Google maintains that such location-tracking features are intended to improve your experience. But that notion is at odds with the definition of "off," said Princeton computer scientist Jonathan Mayer. "If you're going to allow users to turn off something called 'Location History,' then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off," he said.

Indeed even when Location History is toggled off in your Google account settings

Feel free to disable Web & App Activity on Android, but keep in mind you'll lose out on a lot of location-based services.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Indeed, even when Location History is toggled off in your Google account settings, AP discovered, actions like searching for something in your browser, checking automatic weather updates and opening Google Maps will record your location. Princeton researchers were able to verify AP's claims.

If you want to fully disable location tracking (which, keep in mind, will limit certain apps' location-driven capabilities), you need to disable another setting called Web & App Activity.

On Android: Venture into Settings, then tap Google > Google Account > Data & personalization. Now tap Web & App Activity and toggle the setting off.

On desktop (also for iOS): Open Google in a new tab, sign into your account if you're not already signed in, click your profile picture (upper-right corner) and then click Google Account. Now click Personal info & privacy > My Activity, then click Activity controls in the lefthand toolbar. Click the Web & App Activity toggle to turn it off. While you're at it, make sure Location History is toggled off here as well.

It bears noting that unless you're involved in a murder investigation, Google's location tracking has largely altruistic motives: providing personalized experiences, location-oriented recommendations and so on. Heck, it's how Google is able to serve up weather reports based on where you are. Of course, it's no doubt used for marketing and advertising purposes as well.

If that bothers you, now you can opt out -- for real.

Categorized in How to

[This article is originally published in popsci.com written by David Nield - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Issac Avila]


Your phone is logging your activity.

Every time you grab your phone to participate in a group chat, watch a YouTube video, or search the internet, you leave a digital trail of activity. This footprint can compromise your privacy the next time a friend borrows your device. It also puts your personal information at risk should your phone fall into really unscrupulous hands.

In this guide, we'll explain how you can prevent your device from logging and storing data where other people can easily stumble across it. We will focus on cleaning up your phone's local storage, as opposed to limiting the information that apps send to the cloud.

Go incognito

The web browser on your phone, like the one on your computer, offers a data-limiting incognito or private mode. When you open a session in this mode, the app will forget the pages you visit and the keywords you search as soon as you close the window.

However, private browsing doesn't make you invisible. For instance, if you log into Facebook's web portal in incognito mode, the social network will record your activity. Your internet service provider (ISP), will also see your browsing, and it may log your online behavior as well. To hide your browsing from your ISP, you'll need to rely on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) (more on that in this roundup of security gadgets and apps). But if you simply aim to clean up the record left on your phone's local storage, then this mode tidies up after itself very effectively.

The process for using this mode will depend on the browser app you prefer. For example, to launch incognito mode with Chrome, tap the Menu button (three dots) on the top right of the page and choose New incognito tab. If you forget to browse incognito, you can still clear your saved data. Just hit Menu > Settings > Privacy > Clear browsing data.

For iPhone users who rely on Safari, tap the Show pages icon (two squares) on the bottom right of the screen and choose Private. Now, when you tap the Plus button to open a new window, it will be an incognito one. To erase data collected outside of private mode, open the Settings app and select Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

Erase messages

Unless you use a chat app with self-destructing messages, it will keep records of your conversations. Of course, most people like to check back on their old communications, but you don't need to preserve every moment of a years-long thread. You can delete these old conversations manually, or try a less time-consuming option: Automatically erase chat history after a set period of time has elapsed.

On iOS, open the Settings app, go to Messages > Keep Messages, and set messages to automatically disappear after 30 days. Within the app itself, you can manually erase conversations from the front screen: Swipe left on the thread and then tap the Delete button.

Unfortunately, not all chat apps offer this auto-expunge function. To leave no trace of conversations on your phone, you may have to turn to manual deletion. This may be time-consuming, but it isn't difficult. For example, in Android's default SMS app, Messages, you delete a conversation by long-pressing on it and then tapping the Trash icon on the top right of the screen.

Some apps make it easier to purge your entire history all at once. In the case of WhatsApp, open the app and head to Settings > Chats > Chat history > Delete all chats. Then make a note to regularly check back and re-erase your latest messages.

Another solution is to only send the aforementioned self-destructing messages. Apps with this option include Telegram MessengerFacebook Messenger, and Snapchat. For more information, check out our guide to self-destructing message apps.

Limit app logging

Each of the apps on your phone will take a slightly different approach to log your activities. Some of them let you avoid their gaze by using incognito mode, while others will stop tracking you if you ask.

For example, the Android version of YouTube (this is not yet available in the iOS version) just added an incognito mode, which doesn't track the videos you watch. To activate this mode, open the app, tap your avatar on the top right of the screen, and pick Turn on Incognito.

On the other hand, Google Maps will track your location by default, which lets it accumulate a lot of data about your real-world movements. To stop it, head to the settings: Launch the app, tap the Menu button (three lines) on the top left of the screen, and hit Settings (on Android) or the cog icon (on iOS). Within the settings, select Personal content and turn off the location history feature.

There are millions of apps on the market, with no hard and fast rules about how to keep them from recording your behavior. But in general, a good first step is to check for the aforementioned settings—incognito mode and stopping tracking.

If you don't find these options, you'll have to clear your activity manually. This process will vary depending on your operating system.

In Android, open Settings > Apps & notifications, pick an app from the list and hit Storage > Clear storage. This wipes all the data that the app has stored locally. Afterward, the app will behave as if you've installed it from scratch, so you'll need to log in again, set up your preferences, and so on.

On iOS, you won't find an identical option, but you can achieve the same effect by uninstalling and reinstalling an app. Open the Settings app, tap General > iPhone Storage, and select one of your apps. Then choose Delete App to wipe all of its data. Finally, re-install the program from the App Store.

It's not very practical to do this for all of your apps every day. But you might choose to run a manual clean-up at set intervals (say once a month), before you go traveling, or whenever you want to make a fresh start.

Delete search history

Many mobile apps store data locally and in the cloud, so they can sync your information to other devices. That means, to clear search logs from your phone, you'll have to wipe the records across multiple platforms.

For example, your Google account will store the history of searches you've run from your Android phone. To wipe these records, you actually have to access them from the web. Open your browser and head to your Google activity history page. Click the Menu button (three lines) on the top left, then Delete activity by. Set the time span and content type—to erase everything, those should be All time and Search, respectively—and click Delete. This will wipe your search history across all the Google-linked products you use, including Android and the Google search engine.

Categorized in Internet Technology

Your iPhone is tracking you. The iPhone has a built-in feature that tracks everywhere you go and notes when you visit frequent locations as well as how long you stay there and when you arrived and departed. The purpose of collecting the data is so that your photo can give you personalized traffic alerts and similar notifications. Apple has said that they data is only stored on your phone, but still there are some of us out there that would prefer that the data was never collected in the first place.

Luckily, it’s very easy to see exactly where your iPhone has tracked you, clear that data, and prevent your phone from tracking you in the future, if you’d like. To make things happen, you first need to go into the Settings menu (the gear icon on your iPhone’s home screen) on your iPhone and then clock Privacy. From there, click on Location Services, and then System Services. From there, you’ll want to scroll down to “Frequent Locations” and then toggle the switch from on to off. You want the button to be gray for off, or green for on.

If you’re curious where your phone has noted you visit (and who isn’t?), popular locations are grouped by city at the bottom of that window. Tap on a city, and you’ll be able to see all your frequently visited stops there. If you tap on a particular location within that map, for instance a coffee shop,  you’ll be able to see detailed information about when you were there. You can also clear your history from that list of cities if you want to remove all the previously-tracked information from your device.

Keep in mind, all that data is only stored on your iPhone, not shared elsewhere, so by removing it and preventing tracing you’ll be missing out on some customized features and alerts going forward.

Author : Emily Price

Source : http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2017/01/05/your-iphone-is-tracking-you-heres-how-to-stop-it/

Categorized in Internet Technology

New coin sized device lets you track anything for less than you think.

Now you don't need an expensive tracking unit or annoying monthly subscription service to keep tabs on your car. You can track your vehicle's last known location anywhere in the world without breaking the bank and it's easier than ever before!

As you know, most aftermarket tracking units are expensive and must be installed by a professional. Similar services offered by car manufacturers as a “concierge service” are actually expensive monthly subscriptions that they conveniently hide in you car payment. Either way, they are both costly and require you to pay a monthly bill just to maintain the service. But don't we already pay enough monthly bills?

The good news for you is technology is solving many of life's most annoying problems: Like losing and forgetting where you parked your car!

One company has created a tiny device with an advanced tracking app that works with iPhone or Android phonesand it could be exactly what you're looking for.

What is it?

TrackR is a small and discreet device the size of a coin that is revolutionizing the way people keep track of their most important things. Over 1.5 million people around the world are using TrackR everyday to find anything including: keys, wallets, purses, backpacks, cars, and even pets.

How does TrackR work?

Simple! You only need to install the thin battery (included) in the TrackR, download the free app on your iPhone or Android, link the device to the app and then attach TrackR to whatever you want to keep tabs on. In less than 5 minutes you are ready to go!

Once it's all set up you can even attach it to your suitcases when you travel, cars, your keys, your wallet, your expensive electronics and anything else you can think of.

The possibilities are endless!

Tracking your stuff really is that easy. No monthly subscriptions or bills to pay! You have enough stress to deal with – let TrackR keep tabs on your valuables while you tend to life's real problems.

Let's say you want to track your car. Simply hide the tiny device anywhere like under the floor mats, in the glove compartment or in the trunk. (Somewhere it won't be found if your car gets stolen!)

Now, if you ever forget where you parked your car you can quickly find it using your smartphone. All you need to do is open the app on your phone, click on the "lost item" icon and it will tell you the exact coordinates of the last known location of the TrackR.

How much is this going to cost me?

Unlike most tracking units sold today, the TrackR only costs $29 USD! That is a great deal considering it gives peace of mind knowing the exact coordinates of your TrackR's last known location even if you're not the one driving it.

You can buy it directly from the company's website by clicking here. Make sure to buy from the official site as there are many knock offs on the market today.

UPDATE: As a special summer sale, the company is now offering an incredible "Buy 3 – Get 2 FREE" deal to all new customers.

>> Claim Your "Buy 3 - Get 2 FREE" Deal <<

TrackR makes a great gift for anyone who tends to lose their keys, wallets, or anything else.

What else can I do with TrackR?

As we said before the TrackR has unlimited possibilities. Do you have a pet that is always getting lost? Attach TrackR to their collar and know when they run out of the house. Do you find yourself misplacing your wallet or keys too often? Then attach it to them and see where you last left them!

The TrackR even comes with two sided tape so you can stick it to flat surfaces like underneath bike seats or your expensive electronic devices (because bikes & electronics are easy targets for thieves!)

Attach it to anything that's important, valuable or easy to lose and relax...

Now that you're aware of the potential of this brilliant invention, we'll go over how easy it is to use & set up, just so you don't have any doubts:


        1: Order the today and it will be delivered to you in about a week (ships globally!)
        2: When you get it, install the battery in the TrackR, download the app on your iPhone or Android and link the device to the app, and then hide the device in your car (or attach it to anything else you want to track)
        3: Relax. Now you don't have to worry about misplacing your valuables or seeing your car's last known location. TrackR has you covered!Click Here To Visit The Official TrackR Website

    Source : http://smartfinancialtips.com/

    Categorized in Internet Technology

    The search giant on the Internet, Google, has updated its privacy policy to ensure protection of its users’ personal information. A provision on the technology firm’s privacy statement had been ruled out. In this statement, Google promises not to integrate cookies on personal information without approval from each user.

    Ever since Google had changed its method of tracking its users, their personal information on their account had been incorporated with the company’s search records on the Internet.

    ProPublica, a non-profit news agency, had conducted a study on Google’s changes in its privacy statement. They research explained that the search engine had promised primarily to keep the two sets of data as separate entities so as to protect user’s information. However, it had update its policies so that it deleted the statement that supports this promise. They used to state that they would ask for user’s consent before the combine cookie data with personally identifiable information.


    Google had slightly been scrutinized because of this turnaround. In the media, reports had been centered on Google’s tools that enable users to watch and maintain advertisements rather than the new influence that Google had acquired.

    DoubleClick is actually an online advertising company acquired by Google. This company employs the cookies to monitor surfing people’s surfing behavior through their IP address. This mechanism allows the company to point their ads to the right target. With cookie information, DoubleClick can predict the surfing habit in one’s location. However, it is unable to determine one’s identity.

    DoubleClick-.jpgMeanwhile, Google had all the names, email and other information in their search data.

    Many organizations of Google’s users had filed a complaint against the company to the Federal Trade Commission during this acquisition. They contest that their privacy had been violated by this provision change in Google’s privacy statement.

    Sergey Brin, on behalf of Google, guarantees the complainants that they are being very watchful of people’s personal information. Data security is their primary concern when it comes to advertising.

    Another disputed update on its privacy policy was made by Google in the year 2012. This update permits the company to share user’s data within a variety of Google’s services. DoubleClick, however, had been kept away.

    The practical implication of this move is that Google can already make up ample information on people’s online habits. Additionally, DoubleClick advertisements can be embodied according to the keywords that a person uses on his or her Gmail.

    Google, however, attested that the change is only voluntary. It is also intended to provide users with greater control of their data. Besides, Google is not the only online firm which tracks people in this method.  Many other websites, including Facebook, are doing the same.

    Users have the ability to elect or refuse these changes. They can access their “My Account” settings to opt-out of this feature.

    Source : opptrends

    Categorized in Internet Privacy

    Google used to be considered a paragon of privacy, but their latest change is cause for concern.

    The company’s corporate motto is the now-famous slogan, ‘Don’t be evil’ – and for a long time it lived up to this.

    When in 2007, the search engine purchased the online advertising service DoubleClick, many observers were concerned about the impact it would have on users’ privacy.

    But founder Sergey Brin assured us that it was the “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”

    And so it was.

    Google kept your web-browsing records separate from your name and any information that could personally identify you.

    But now the tech giant has changed its privacy policy and people are understandably concerned.

    The personally identifiable information the company knows about you from your Google accounts (Gmail, Drive etc) can now be matched up with your browsing history.

    This means that they can put a name to your browsing records and build up data-rich profiles that know about you than you know about yourself.

    To be fair, most websites are doing this anyway – but storing personally identifiable information is a much bigger deal when Google does it, because of the sheer scale of data it has on its users.

    Should I be worried, and how do I stop it?

    Some people won’t be too worried about this change in policy – the more information that Google has on you, the better it’s able to target advertisements that are in line with your interest.

    But you’d also be well within your rights to be concerned.

    What this potentially means is that Google and its advertising arm has a profile of you that identifies you by name with every website you’ve visited, every video you’ve watched and every search term you’ve typed.

    If the prospect of that makes you uneasy, there are a few simple steps you can take (especially compared to Facebook, Google is actually very transparent with its privacy controls and makes it easy to customise it to your liking):

    1. Go to the ‘Activity’ tab in your Google accounts
    2. Under ‘Web and App Activity’, uncheck the box next to “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services.”
    3. You can also delete all your past activity.

    Source : techly

    Categorized in Search Engine

    The FCC’s privacy regulations will be ineffective.

    Letter to the editor:

    Consumers are growing increasingly concerned about online tracking and privacy protection. In response, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed sweeping new privacy rules specifically on Internet service providers. But, as USA TODAY’s story “They really are watching you: Web tracking surges with online ads” makes clear, it is the huge advertising networks of social and search companies that are really tracking us everywhere we go.

    Strangely, the FCC has refused to get involved in privacy matters of Pokémon Go or any other phone application, search engine, social network or streaming video provider. The new privacy proposal is a half measure that only regulates the Internet provider but not the content we visit every day. That’s where the big bucks are made from harvested personal information — location, email, browsing and buying habits and more.

    The FCC’s privacy regulations will be ineffective and, by promising protections that aren’t really there, dangerous.

    Drew Johnson, Protect Internet Freedom; Las Vegas


    We asked our followers if they would stop using their favorite websites or phone apps if they were collecting personal information. Tweets edited for clarity and grammar:

    Let them have it! The more they know about me, the less crappy ads I’ll see.

    — @_ONeill_

    They’re welcome to collect whatever info they want. However, I deserve the right to block and collect theirs as well.

    — @johnx1doe

    Depends on the info. I expect most websites are collecting, and I would push for more stringent privacy and data sharing legislation.

    — @JJGolding0

    Stop using these sites.

    — @NRG_64

    Source : http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/08/23/phone-giving-away-information-tellusatoday/89220888/

    Categorized in Internet Technology


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