Privacy Threats 2010

EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundation) compiled a list of the important trends in law, technology and business that would play an important role in shaping online rights in 2010, and companies that in the past year managed to infringe on the privacy of the individual. EFF plans to revisit these trends as the year progresses, as stated by its technology manager, Tim Jones. Learn about privacy threats in 2010.

1. Global Internet Censorship

Filtering initiatives in Australia and Europe that follow similar steps undertaken in China and Iran highlight the globalization of internet censorship and a battle for internet legitimacy. There are growing concerns about the ways in which restrictions in different countries reinforce each other, on the basis of child protection, cybersecurity and IP enforcement. Blocking of websites isn’t just for autocratic regimes now, as democracies follow suit.

2. Cyber-security Legislation  Stirring in U.S. Congress

As healthcare reforms occupied Washington, federal technology legislation took a back seat. It is, however, doubtful that the case would be the same in 2010. Key provisions of the Patriot Act are up for re-authorization before April 1 and The Snowe-Rockefeller Cyber-security Act, which would grant the president the power to disconnect the Internet, is likely to resurface sometime this year.

3. Net Neutrality

Most know Net Neutrality is an abstract idea. But what would be its implications when it makes the transition from idealistic principle into real-world policies, privacy threats 2010 would tell, as the FCC attempts to institute Net Neutrality this year. How much the FCC can be trusted is yet to be seen as it tends to lean towards the demands of corporate lobbyists and “public decency” advocates more than individual civil liberties and is already promising exceptions from net neutrality.

4. News Organisations Revolt Against Google

News Corp. and other bigwigs in the media zone were unhappy with Google and its effect on their businesses. They don’t appreciate a search engine selling advertisements regarding their content without getting money for it, even if their content is openly consumable online. The print world is expected to force changes to current copyright law, and apply pressure on intermediaries to stop functioning for search engines like Google.

5. Online Video 

Like print, the TV industry is slowly being taken over by the internet and radically disparate industries are engaged in a battle for dominance. Two initiatives that should be tabbed are TV Everywhere a new DRM-laden attempt by the mainstream TV industry to outsmart innovative technologies like Boxee and Selectable Output Control, Hollywood’s latest effort to decide what you can record on your DVR, rather than the viewers.

6. Cracking GSM, SSL 

Two very significant problems expected with cryptography implementations, concern cell phone security, and web browser security. Devices that intercept phone calls that use GSM technology are expected to get cheaper and an increase in public demonstrations of the ability to break GSM’s encryption are bound to increase. The mobile phone industry needs to urgently change its obsolete security systems. SSL is probably the best web security system available, but in the past year several flaws regarding its practical use have been highlighted and it needs to immediately aim to improve.

7. Hardware Hacking

An active electronic hobbyist community is becoming a threat to manufacturers who threaten them with legal action. EFF, on the other hand, has supported these hardware hackers. Phone jailbreaking and multiple uses of electronic devices are expected to increase in privacy threats 2010.

8. Web Browser Privacy

In the 1990s web browsers who wished to protect their privacy could simply de-activate or limit their browser’s use of cookies. This proved effective against the worst online tracking practices.

But in 2010 corporations are seeking to track individuals’ use of the web by unexpected methods of profiling. At the same time, awareness and scrutiny regarding them have also risen. Most major sites share ones web activity with several advertising networks. Technical or legal restrictions on the tracking of web activity are limited and allow even mail companies to profile an individual’s web usage and exploit accordingly.

9. Location, Location, Location

The government’s ability to track individuals using mobile phones and information on social networking sites and transportation systems is increasingly threatening freedom. Location privacy is becoming a big issue in courts across America, as organizations like EFF oppose such government control.

10. Social Networking Privacy

Networking sites like Facebook have more than 350 million users, with their personal information openly available. This is used by both law enforcers to convict and by lawbreakers and hackers to infringe upon privacy. It is yet to be seen in privacy threats 2010 is laws would be made stringent or would a scam only lead to networking sites taking their users seriously.

[Via eWeek]