The Washington Post published new revelations from Edward Snowden’s leaked documents that revealed that the NSA is scooping up millions of email and IM address books globally. This is a serious piece of snooping business, and it deserves immediate attention on a policy level. For people who are reading this and wondering what you can do today, right now, here are some immediate steps to take.
Facebook gives you the option to use use secure browsing when a secure connection is available. This is a security option that all Facebook users should use. It is a no-brainer to say yes to. Facebook has turned this option on by default, but the rollout for this option may not have reached your area. Also, there may be some country-level differences. It is worth taking a few steps to make sure turn this option is on. It is well worth it, and we highly recommend it for all users.
We have updated our much-visited Search Engine Privacy Tips in light of recent events surrounding online privacy. First, search engine encryption has become much more important for a number of reasons, which we discuss in the revised tips. Several search engines are now using encryption by default, including Google, DuckDuckGo and others. Additionally, WPF has been receiving reports from consumers about “fake” search engines containing viruses. Our new tipsheet has been refreshed to reflect these recent trends and issues.
WPF’s new interactive map identifies Health Information Exchanges in California. A Health Information Exchange, or HIE, is technology that enables the electronic movement of health-related information among health care providers and others. HIEs are an increasingly popular way for hospitals, pharmacies, labs, and emergency room physicians to share patient information. HIEs can exchange records across one hospital, across multiple hospitals in a region, or across a whole state. If your health information is being shared through an HIE, your lab test results, medications, medical history, or other clinical information related to your health care may be included in the sharing. See more about HIEs and our California HIE Map here.
How unique are you? We played with a data privacy tool today here at WPF that showed us if the combination of our birthdate and zip code made us statistically unique. The more unique you are, the more identifiable you are in a sea of supposedly “anonymous” data. This tool was developed by Dr. LaTanya Sweeney at Harvard’s Data Privacy Lab, and using it will tell you how easily you can be identified from records that may not even have your name on them.