Episode 409

Privacy Perspectives


August 9th, 2019

39 mins 14 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

We examine why it's so difficult to protect your privacy online and discuss browser fingerprinting, when to use a VPN, and the limits of private browsing.

Plus Apple's blaring bluetooth beacons and Facebook's worrying plans for WhatsApp.

Episode Links

  • Apple bleee. Everyone knows What Happens on Your iPhone – hexway — If Bluetooth is ON on your Apple device everyone nearby can understand current status of your device, get info about battery, device name, Wi-Fi status, buffer availability, OS version and even get your mobile phone number
  • Facebook Plans on Backdooring WhatsApp - Schneier on Security — In Facebook's vision, the actual end-to-end encryption client itself such as WhatsApp will include embedded content moderation and blacklist filtering algorithms. These algorithms will be continually updated from a central cloud service, but will run locally on the user's device, scanning each cleartext message before it is sent and each encrypted message after it is decrypted.
  • Signal — Privacy that fits in your pocket.
  • xkcd: Security — Turns out it's a $5 wrench, even better!
  • Jim Salter on Twitter — I wonder why #privacy wonks aren't talking about browser fingerprinting more frequently? Privacy Badger, Ghostery, etc don't do a damn thing to prevent or mitigate Canvas / WebGL #fingerprinting.
  • Browser Fingerprinting: What Is It and What Should You Do About It? - PixelPrivacy — Browser fingerprinting is a powerful method that websites use to collect information about your browser type and version, as well as your operating system, active plugins, timezone, language, screen resolution and various other active settings.
  • Canvas Fingerprinting - BrowserLeaks.com — The technique is based on the fact that the same canvas image may be rendered differently in different computers. This happens for several reasons. At the image format level – web browsers uses different image processing engines, image export options, compression level, the final images may got different checksum even if they are pixel-identical. At the system level – operating systems have different fonts, they use different algorithms and settings for anti-aliasing and sub-pixel rendering.
  • WebGL Browser Report - WebGL Fingerprinting - WebGL 2 Test - BrowserLeaks.com — WebGL Browser Report checks WebGL support in your web browser, produce WebGL Device Fingerprinting, and shows the other WebGL and GPU capabilities more or less related web browser identity.
  • AmIUnique — Device fingerprinting or browser fingerprinting is the systematic collection of information about a remote device, for identification purposes. Client-side scripting languages allow the development of procedures to collect very rich fingerprints: browser and operating system type and version, screen resolution, architecture type, lists of fonts, plugins, microphone, camera, etc.
  • Panopticlick — Panopticlick will analyze how well your browser and add-ons protect you against online tracking techniques. We’ll also see if your system is uniquely configured—and thus identifiable—even if you are using privacy-protective software. However, we only do so with your explicit consent, through the TEST ME button below.
  • How private is your browser’s Private mode? Research into porn suggests “not very” | Ars Technica — This leaves browser fingerprinting as a method to tie your profiles together—and unfortunately, Incognito mode doesn't appear to help.
  • Privacy Tools - Encryption Against Global Mass Surveillance — You are being watched. Private and state-sponsored organizations are monitoring and recording your online activities. privacytools.io provides services, tools and knowledge to protect your privacy against global mass surveillance.
  • ‘Fingerprinting’ to Track Us Online Is on the Rise. Here’s What to Do. - The New York Times — Fingerprinting involves looking at the many characteristics of your mobile device or computer, like the screen resolution, operating system and model, and triangulating this information to pinpoint and follow you as you browse the web and use apps. Once enough device characteristics are known, the theory goes, the data can be assembled into a profile that helps identify you the way a fingerprint would.
  • Digital 'Fingerprinting' Is The Next Generation Tracking Technology | The Takeaway | WNYC Studios — This growing technology is almost invisible, making it impossible for users to opt-out of the tracking system. As it becomes more popular, tech companies are developing new ways to try and protect consumers from this form of tracking. But is it going to work?
  • New Warning Issued Over Google's Chrome Ad-Blocking Plans — The plans, dubbed Manifest V3, represent a major transformation to Chrome extensions including a revamp of the permissions system. As a result, modern ad blockers such as uBlock Origin—which uses Chrome’s webRequest API to block ads before they’re downloaded–won’t work.
  • Comment on Chrome extension manifest v3 proposal by gorhill — The blocking ability of the webRequest API is still deprecated, and Google Chrome's limited matching algorithm will be the only one possible, and with limits dictated by Google employees. It's annoying that they keep saying "the webRequest API is not deprecated" as if developers have been worried about this -- and as if they want to drown the real issue in a fabricated one nobody made.
  • CanvasBlocker
  • Ghostery
  • Disconnect