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Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

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Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Old 12-22-19, 07:26 AM
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Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Here's a very interesting article about how easy it is for companies to track us by our cell phones.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/...ell-phone.html
Old 12-22-19, 09:32 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

I'm not surprised. After the Edward Snowden revelations, there was almost no concern about government surveillance, beyond a few editorials. If people aren't concerned about government surveillance, why should they be concerned about surveillance by their cellphone game?

The IT department at work gave me a headset so I could join online meetings. It was sitting on my desk while I was talking to a co-worker about door gaskets for cars. Five minutes later, the ad on DVD Talk was for door gaskets for cars. DVD Talk was listening to me speak, and selling the information to advertisers.

I was surprised, but not outraged. The time for outrage has passed. that battle was lost. The people are getting what they want.

There were a few publicized cases when police departments served subpoenas to Apple to help prosecute suspects. People got angry, and praised Apple for resisting. A smart police department would now just subscribe to the data tracking services.
Old 12-22-19, 06:33 PM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

This is not surprising at all.

Back in the day before phones diplaying the caller's number were standard, I remember stories of old style analog landlines being traced back to the original caller's number. (This was well known to kids/teenagers who were into things like prank phone calls, when they got nabbed).

From studying engineering and computer networks over the years, I strongly suspected the telecom companies would be able to record all the data (or metadata) going through their transmitters + networks when storage capacity was cheap enough. The Snowden revelations were basically just a definitive confirmation of what I suspected all along.

Old 12-24-19, 06:21 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

This is a major reason why I don't use a cell phone. The time for outrage has passed? For 99% of the populace, perhaps. They are pawns, the putty in the big companies' hands, of moulding and maliciously mining their data for profit. They value convenience over exposure and privacy. I refuse to be a part of it, even at the cost of some (forced) personal inconvenience. Government surveillance, like taxes, one can't control or turn off. So, there's not much that I can do about that except maintain a low profile, and not indiscriminately call attention to myself. Tin foil / straw hat argument, I hear those 99% crying. But, I live the life, low profile and discreet all the way.
Old 12-25-19, 11:34 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

I still use a landline.

The few times I had to have a cellphone or pager back in the day, it was a employer issued one. If I was off-the-clock, that pager or cell phone was placed inside a sealed metal box at home. (Basically functionally similar to a faraday cage or "tin foil helmet").

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

Nowadays if I'm issued an employer cellphone, I would be certainly removing the batteries and/or card when I'm off-the-clock.
Old 12-25-19, 11:41 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
So, there's not much that I can do about that except maintain a low profile, and not indiscriminately call attention to myself. Tin foil / straw hat argument, I hear those 99% crying. But, I live the life, low profile and discreet all the way.
If I wanted to maintain a low profile, I wouldn't be posting on ANY internet message boards at all.

If I wanted to be even more low profile, I also would be using tor (or another ip anonymizer) all the time for every internet connection which doesn't require a login/password.
Old 12-25-19, 01:58 PM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Frankly I refuse to carry around a cellphone (or pager back in the day).

I haven't tested it myself, but at times I wonder whether wrapping a cellphone entirely in aluminum foil can block all incoming and outgoing phone calls + data / metadata transmissions.
Old 12-26-19, 12:33 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by morriscroy View Post
If I wanted to maintain a low profile, I wouldn't be posting on ANY internet message boards at all.

If I wanted to be even more low profile, I also would be using tor (or another ip anonymizer) all the time for every internet connection which doesn't require a login/password.
Yes, I do that, and, really, this is the only message board that I regularly post on. And I use tor and anonimizer / fake MAC addresses and also IP connections that can't be traced directly to me. But, the problem is using a cellphone is about an order of magnitude worse than if one fails to use an IP anonmizer and / or public wifi networks.

Carrying a smartphone / cell phone, you're a walking, festering pile of data, just waiting to mined by the evil, rapacious companies. No thanks, not in this universe.
Old 12-26-19, 03:31 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
Yes, I do that, and, really, this is the only message board that I regularly post on. And I use tor and anonimizer / fake MAC addresses and also IP connections that can't be traced directly to me.
I don't have a "one size fits all" strategy for internet connections.


Nowadays I work from a starting assumption that the feds and their international counterparts have already hacked tor, if they are diligently watching one particular person. Against a general dragnet for a fishing expedition, tor might still be effecdtive for somebody who is a person of "no significance" (ie. hiding in the cacophony of encryption scrambling and different ips).

For example, I rarely ever use torbrowser unless I really have to. (I occasionally use my own custom configuration of Firefox, with the tor proxy program). I don't entirely trust who is running the tor exit nodes, and generally won't use tor on important websites which require a login/password. I don't waste my time on illicit websites which require a login/password.


I keep several browser configurations around, with specific types of browsing activities in mind. The Firefox ones all use a similar user.js file, with all the custom hardening + garbage reduction stuff I have figured out over the years.

When I'm doing some shopping at a reputable online retailer, I don't use stuff like dns-over-https, tor, etc ... (I sometimes run nslookup.exe on the hostname of the online retailer's web site addresses).

For general websurfing of stuff that is frivolous and not too important (ie. general news, tv / movie / music stuff, sports, gossip, trivia, youtube, etc ....), I'll use dns-over-https but not tor on Firefox.
Old 12-26-19, 11:22 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

If I was slightly more paranoid, I wouldn't be using operating systems like M$ Windoze10 or MacOS. Running OpenBSD or Linux (with some hardening) booted up from a flash drive would minimally satisfy such paranoia.

As an additional layer, running the web browser inside a virtual machine which can be deleted afterward.
Old 12-26-19, 11:46 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
Carrying a smartphone / cell phone, you're a walking, festering pile of data, just waiting to mined by the evil, rapacious companies. No thanks, not in this universe.
This isn't my main objection in regard to cellphones. (This is secondary for me).

My main issue for disfavoring cellphones, is that I prefer to not be always available and reachable to family, friends, acquaintances, etc ... In the case of an employer issued cell phone when I'm off-the-clock, I am strictly off-the-clock and unavailable if there are no strict "always-on-call" clauses spelled out explicitly in the employment contract.

If a local friend or family member wants to contact me when the landline/cellphone is off, they have to be at my front door and knocking on the door. (I don't answer doorbells).
Old 12-26-19, 12:35 PM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by morriscroy View Post
This isn't my main objection in regard to cellphones. (This is secondary for me).

My main issue for disfavoring cellphones, is that I prefer to not be always available and reachable to family, friends, acquaintances, etc ... In the case of an employer issued cell phone when I'm off-the-clock, I am strictly off-the-clock and unavailable if there are no strict "always-on-call" clauses spelled out explicitly in the employment contract.

If a local friend or family member wants to contact me when the landline/cellphone is off, they have to be at my front door and knocking on the door. (I don't answer doorbells).
That last one seems like a weird distinction to make. Like if a friend was at your door ringing the doorbell, too bad unless they knock? Or do you prep all your friends for this?

Otherwise, I completely understand the annoyance at people wanting immediate responses all the time because of cell phones.
Old 12-26-19, 01:07 PM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
Like if a friend was at your door ringing the doorbell, too bad unless they knock? Or do you prep all your friends for this?
I prep them.

Old 12-26-19, 09:39 PM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by morriscroy View Post
This isn't my main objection in regard to cellphones. (This is secondary for me).

My main issue for disfavoring cellphones, is that I prefer to not be always available and reachable to family, friends, acquaintances, etc ... In the case of an employer issued cell phone when I'm off-the-clock, I am strictly off-the-clock and unavailable if there are no strict "always-on-call" clauses spelled out explicitly in the employment contract.

If a local friend or family member wants to contact me when the landline/cellphone is off, they have to be at my front door and knocking on the door. (I don't answer doorbells).
Yes, the "always available" fetish of today's society is an invasion of my privacy, so I'd put that reason for not carrying a smartphone around as just about equal to the security breaches.

Sure, different internet configs for different sites, and VMs for easy "erasure". But most of my internet browsing is shamefully still done on a Win10 box, with a highly, highly expunged version of the OS. All the crap has been manually taken out before anything's installed, at the base level by rewriting the .WIM file on the install media. My .WIM for a "good" Win10 install is only around 1.0GB and installs to 5 GB vs 30 GB for a stock Win10 install with all the bloat, spyware, and security loopholes.

Linux and tor for more secure sites. Turn off Javascript in almost all cases.

Custom FF scripts like you for a dally driver.

Why we have to go through so many hoops to get a workable, actually usable, lean OS and browser really pisses me off. It's hours of work even for "experts" and all bets are off for novices (ie, the pawns of Microsoft and the rapacious IP companies).
Old 12-28-19, 12:14 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

My current setup for netsurfing, is unfortunately also Windows10. I use the Sandboxie program to sandbox Firefox and the mailreader, so that all the leftover junk can be easily deleted in one swoop when I'm finished.

The primary reason I'm still on Win10 with a sandbox program, is that the people I live with are also using my computer for casual netsurfing. Unfortunately they're very computer illiterate and can't follow instructions which are too complicated. So I set up Firefox and the mail reader programs to be sandboxed such that they're just point-and-click, and that these computer illiterates can minimally follow simple instructions to delete everything junk from the sandbox once they're finished with Firefox + email.

I keep a virtualbox setup, but don't really use it much. I don't currently have any nasty netsurfing habits which would require extensive virtualization.

Last edited by morriscroy; 12-28-19 at 12:19 AM.
Old 12-28-19, 12:31 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

If I wasn't living with anybody else, I would probably be running Linux with a minimal x-windows setup. It would probably end up looking like an imitation of the old x-windows/motif (or cde) layout on an old Sun Sparc workstation, or the Nextstep layout on a Nextstation from the early 1990s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motif_(software)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common...op_Environment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NeXTSTEP

Last edited by morriscroy; 12-28-19 at 08:22 PM.
Old 12-30-19, 02:12 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
The time for outrage has passed? For 99% of the populace, perhaps. They are pawns, the putty in the big companies' hands, of moulding and maliciously mining their data for profit. They value convenience over exposure and privacy. I refuse to be a part of it, even at the cost of some (forced) personal inconvenience.
I use to think almost exactly like this when I was younger back in the day. It was somewhat easier to preserve anonymity / privacy, before the internet became ubiquitous.

With privacy being eroded as time went on, I have come to the realization it is easier to just "hide in plain sight" than to go to great lengths to preserve anonymity. So most of the data trail I leave behind online which is not "anonymized", is mostly stuff which is rather generic and mainstream to the point of banality or outright boring and largely useless for identifying. Observing that someone does a lot of searches for boring stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek, boring actors/celebrities, Kanye West, the Beatles, Nickelback, etc ... doesn't really stick out in a crowd flooded with useless data.

For stuff I don't want anybody to know that I'm searching + reading, I'll fire up tor and use another search engine like duckduckgo.

The entire point of the exercise is to look extremely generic and so boring that most of my data trail is useless.
Old 12-30-19, 02:56 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by morriscroy View Post
I use to think almost exactly like this when I was younger back in the day. It was somewhat easier to preserve anonymity / privacy, before the internet became ubiquitous.

With privacy being eroded as time went on, I have come to the realization it is easier to just "hide in plain sight" than to go to great lengths to preserve anonymity. So most of the data trail I leave behind online which is not "anonymized", is mostly stuff which is rather generic and mainstream to the point of banality or outright boring and largely useless for identifying. Observing that someone does a lot of searches for boring stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek, boring actors/celebrities, Kanye West, the Beatles, Nickelback, etc ... doesn't really stick out in a crowd flooded with useless data.

For stuff I don't want anybody to know that I'm searching + reading, I'll fire up tor and use another search engine like duckduckgo.

The entire point of the exercise is to look extremely generic and so boring that most of my data trail is useless.
Good points, and safety in numbers does work, as it generates millions of trails of "useless" / ubiquitous data. Even for me, the good fight is not really worth it any more, especially when you're talking about hiding in plain sight, and using / generating a generic datatrail, by so doing nobody's going to bother to BOTHER with you, steeped in boilerplate data, where the breadcrumbs lead to other 1000s of data "clones." This is intelligent design, and shows there's definitely more than one way to skin a cat / think outside the box.
Old 12-30-19, 10:28 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

One feature of duckduckgo in conjunction with tor that is useful, is that duckduckgo will tell you if there are any recent known problems with the tor exit node you are currently using (until it cycles out). Though they don't state the exact nature of the "problem".

I speculate the folks running duckduckgo might be keeping lists of tor exit nodes which have been known to be compromised by corrupt operators. Here's some older articles from 4-5 years ago which addressed this issue, such as via "honeypot" experiments.

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/201...rs-exit-nodes/
https://boingboing.net/2016/07/01/re...-100-spyi.html
Old 12-30-19, 10:45 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motif_(software)
Old 12-30-19, 11:06 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
... and shows there's definitely more than one way to skin a cat / think outside the box.
For some cases, I'll use tor in conjunction with duckduckgo (or google occasionally) for doing a particular search, and just copy the links to a text file. (I don't use the bookmarks feature on Firefox or chrome based browsers).

If the webpage of interest is relatively generic and non-identifying (such as many instagram and twitter feeds), I'll read them without using tor.

Even for something like reading facebook, I generally don't use tor at all. (Facebook actually has a tor onion address, which I rarely ever use it).

My thinking on this issue is that facebook, instagram, twitter, etc ... is so ubiquitious, that using tor (or a vpn) for reading them would stick out like a sore thumb,.
Old 01-09-20, 10:18 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Even before the internet became popular, I always assumed that anybody could be hacked at any time. Offline this means that anything you say/do can be used against you, both figuratively and literally.

When I was a kid/preteen, I knew very well that anything I say or do will be known. From a lot of first hand experiences, I was one of those kids/teenagers who couldn't keep a secret easily and would be the rumor monger at school and/or the nearby hangouts. I always got blowback from other folks who were always scolding me for "broadcasting" stuff they wanted to keep private/secret. So I knew very well that if I couldn't keep my mouth shut, there will be many other people who wouldn't keep their mouths shut either.

By the time I came across local BBSes (and later the internet), I knew very well that anything that I write on BBSes and online will leave behind a data trail.

When I was in college, I was doing silly stuff like running programs which cracked passwords on the university computers and setting up some fake login screens which logged passwords. (Cracking passwords was easy in those days, when dictionary words or simple strings were common passwords. All you had to do was run the password function through a dictionary file and compare the hashes). So I knew early on that there was no privacy/security on a computer system.

Old 01-09-20, 10:22 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

When I was younger, I use to read/watch a lot of technical and scifi type stuff from books, movies, tv shows, documentries, etc ....

Due to my past first hand experiences and temperment, I was always fascinated by how future technologies (whether plausible or fantasy) could be used in principle to hack/wiretape for information.
Old 01-09-20, 10:55 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

In regard to general security, my starting assumption is that I assume that I am always being hacked / wiretapped. Both online and offline.

If nothing comes out of such hacking (both figuratively and literally), then I consider it my lucky day when nothing of consequence happens.


If one uses disguises such as hoodies, forgeries, encryption, tor, sunglasses, po boxes, etc ... then all that does it make the hackers / wiretappers work a lot harder. Metaphorically like a getaway car being chased by several police cars, where one is throwing nails behind.
Old 01-09-20, 11:28 AM
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Re: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
I'm not surprised. After the Edward Snowden revelations, there was almost no concern about government surveillance, beyond a few editorials. If people aren't concerned about government surveillance, why should they be concerned about surveillance by their cellphone game?

The IT department at work gave me a headset so I could join online meetings. It was sitting on my desk while I was talking to a co-worker about door gaskets for cars. Five minutes later, the ad on DVD Talk was for door gaskets for cars. DVD Talk was listening to me speak, and selling the information to advertisers.

I was surprised, but not outraged. The time for outrage has passed. that battle was lost. The people are getting what they want.

There were a few publicized cases when police departments served subpoenas to Apple to help prosecute suspects. People got angry, and praised Apple for resisting. A smart police department would now just subscribe to the data tracking services.
Wouldn't it seem more likely that you had been searching for door gaskets, and that cookies resulted in the targeted advertising?

It just seems too disconnected for your headset to be monitoring your conversation, and that it somehow picked up on the gasket conversation and passed that info to your browser, and then to DVDT.

I'm not saying it's impossible, just that the first method would seem much more likely.

I would experiment with it, and feed it something you've never searched for, then see if that shows up in your advertising.

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