Swiss Sue Google over Street View Functionality

November 16, 2009

The Swiss are known for guarding personal privacy, so it comes as no surprise they consider Google’s Street View an invasion of privacy.

Switzerland’s federal data protection commissioner, Hanspeter Thuer, has announced plans to bring a lawsuit against Google and force the company to make changes to its Street View functionality.

Citing specific concerns over the exposure of persons and cars being shown on Street View, particularly outside sensitive locations such as hospitals, prisons or schools, Thuer also wants to ban images taken within enclosed areas such as walled gardens and private streets.

According to the commissioner, Google refused to implement the majority of recommended privacy measures to protect Switzerland’s strict tradition of personal privacy, and as a result, he is bringing the case to the Federal Administrative Court.

Until this case is settled, Thuer has asked the court to require Google to remove all photographs taken in Switzerland and to cease taking any more photos in the country.

This isn’t the first uproar over Street View’s the invasion of privacy. Google has been heavily criticized in Europe, Japan, and here in the US for exposing individuals without first obtaining consent.

In response to the lawsuit, Google said it believes Street View is legal and is disappointed by the prosecution, which it will “vigorously contest”.

If YOU find Street view invasive, read my blog How to Remove Images of Your Home from Google’s Street View



Microsoft Updates their Online Safety Website

November 6, 2009





To address advances in technologies (to so-called Web 2.0), Microsoft has redesigned their Consumer Online Safety Education website at

Caveat: LOOKBOTHWAYS provided the content for Microsoft’s brochure series, as well as some other materials for the site. We are also listed as a resource on their community page.

The site is clean, easy to navigate and has updated, relevant materials to help protect yourself, your family, your computers and I recommend the site.

In addition to solid advice on Internet safety, security and privacy topics, be sure to check out some of their other features:

Sadly, my all-time favorite Microsoft safety video is not on the site – it uses a little live mouse to teach concepts. Maybe they’ll get it on the site shortly…


New tool calculates Your ID Theft Risk

November 3, 2009

newtool1Symantec has released a new Risk Calculator tool that lets you get a sense of how much your information is worth to online thieves, and how at risk you are to having that information stolen.

It’s a useful tool for not only understanding the underground economy, but for reviewing your own online actions from a security perspective.


Facebook Announces it will Retain Profiles of Deceased Members

November 1, 2009

Recognizing the expanding role social networks play in chronicling lives, Facebook has launched new functionality that enables families to memorialize deceased family member’s sites.

This is important functionality, and it looks like Facebook has carefully addressed safety concerns. For example, memorial sites do not show contact information, new people will not be able to log in, the deceased’s profile will not appear in the “suggestions” section, and only confirmed friends of the deceased will be able to find the site in a search.

For families and friends, the ability to keep these digital scrapbooks permanently can be a tremendous source of comfort. Access to the information can also help generate the list of friends to notify of the death and funeral, and provide a format for allowing friends to share their memories of the deceased.


U.S. Ruling – IP Addresses Are Not Personally Identifiable Information

October 27, 2009

A federal judge for the United States District Court in Seattle has ruled that IP addresses are not personally identifiable information. ‘In order for “personally identifiable information” to be personally identifiable, it must identify a person. But an IP address identifies a computer,’ US District Court Judge Richard Jones said in a written decision.

The ruling came in response to a class action lawsuit filed in 2006 by consumers against Microsoft when a Windows update installed new anti-piracy software onto computers.

This ruling contradicts a European Union decision from January 2009 where Germany’s data-protection commissioner, Peter Scharr told a European Parliament hearing on online data protection reviewing the practices of search engines that when someone is identified by an IP, or Internet protocol, address, ‘then it has to be regarded as personal data.’

As soon as you visit any website, your IP address is available to that site. Websites typically collect a record of all IP addresses that visit, combined with information about the time of the visit, even if this record is never leveraged or associated to an individual. This information is useful because it indicates which ISP you use, and – with some exceptions – your general location like the city in which you live.

Unlike general websites, ISP’s know who you are even if your IP address is dynamic (meaning it changes periodically or every time you connect to the internet) because they know what number was allocated to which customer and when.


Join the Podcast: A Safer Internet With Linda Criddle

October 19, 2009

saferdates1Upcoming Radio/Podcast Show: 10/27/2009 4:00 PM (Pacific Time)

Call-in Number: (718) 766-4680

Join Safer Dates as we celebrate “National Cyber Security Awareness Month” by interviewing Linda Criddle, president of the Safe Internet Alliance, an organization devoted to promoting a safe Internet and better education to protect all users, especially children, teens and the elderly, from Internet corruption, crime, and abuse by driving initiatives through industry, education, government, and non-profit entities.

Linda is also the founder and President of LOOKBOTHWAYS, Inc., a company that develops internet safety technologies and products while providing product design, safety reviews, and other consulting services to leading technology companies, regulatory bodies, and law enforcement, as well as offering practical assistance to consumers navigating the online world through a consumer internet safety site,

Linda collaborates with local, state, national and international law enforcement agencies, teaching how to understand and track predators online. She works with government organizations in the U.S. and around the world to advise on, and prepare, internet safety regulations and legislation. In addition, Linda is an author of the award-winning consumer-oriented books, “Look Both Ways: Help Protect Your Family on the Internet,” and “Using the Internet Safely for Seniors For Dummies.” She has also written “Internet Safety for Educators”, a distance-learning course offered through Universities.

Our interview will explore tools to empower you to have a safer internet experience. The future of the internet is up to all of us. So let us join together and help promote an internet ethic of respect and accountability online.

Hope you can join us,


Soldiers Personal Data Still Leaking Online

October 4, 2009

Washington Post – Soldiers Personal Data Still Leaking Online

Sensitive personal data – including Social Security numbers, blood types, cellphone numbers, e-mail addresses, and the names of soldiers’ spouses and children – belonging to tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers continues to be compromised via P2P networks. As recently as this week computer users in countries like Pakistan and China have downloaded this information according to Tiversa, a company specializing in P2P intelligence.

According to the Washington Post, Tiversa saw personally identifiable data on Special Forces soldiers on servers in Pakistan in May and notified military criminal investigators. This isn’t the first breach, in April 2008, Tiversa found spreadsheets of Army promotions with personal data of 60,000 soldiers, as well as data on several thousand civilians and soldiers from the 1st Signal Brigade, and information about soldiers in the 3rd Special Forces Group.  

The Army’s Special Operations Command confirmed that data was breached, but insisted it was an isolated incident, that those involved in the breach had been punished, and that they now have measures in place to reduce the chances of a breach happening again.

Robert Boback, chief executive of Tiversa, said such precautions are not sufficient safeguards. “Every company, agency and defense contractor will say that they have a policy against P2P on company-owned equipment and blocking, usually through intrusion detection,” he said. “The fact remains that these documents are still going out.”

Given the tremendous sacrifice our soldiers are making to protect the safety of others, it is a sad reflection on the state of Internet (in)security that we are unable to defend our own troops.

Read the full article from the Washington Post here