Data Sharing

23 posts
U.S. military buys location data from apps

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: Some app developers Motherboard spoke to were not aware who their users’ location data ends up with, and even if a user examines an app’s privacy policy, they may not ultimately realize how many different industries, companies, or government agencies are buying some of their most sensitive data. U.S. law enforcement purchase of such information has raised questions about authorities buying their way to location...

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Student surveillance and online proctoring

To combat cheating during online exams, many schools have utilized services that try to detect unusual behavior through webcam video. As with most automated surveillance systems, there are some issues. For The Washington Post, Drew Harwell looks into the social implications of student surveillance: Fear of setting off the systems’ alarms has led students to contort themselves in unsettling ways. Students with dark skin have shined bright lights at their...

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DIY satellite ground station to receive images from NOAA

You can basically hook up an antennae to your laptop and start receiving images from space. This DIY guide from Public Lab amazes me. The NOAA satellites have inbuilt radio antennas that transmit the data collected by the AVHRR instrument on a frequency in the 137 MHz range. To minimise interference between satellites, each NOAA satellite transmits on a different frequency within the 137 MHz range. […] Your antenna is...

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Hidden trackers on your phone

Sara Morrison for Recode: Then there’s Cuebiq, which collected location data through its SDK and shared that information with the New York Times for multiple articles about how social distancing changed as stay-at-home orders were lifted and states reopened. This was just a few months after the newspaper gave Cuebiq’s location collection practices a much more critical eye in an expansive feature, and shows a possible shift in public opinion...

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Cataloging all the house number styles

Dan Kois walked all of the blocks in his ZIP Code and collected data on whether houses used serif or sans serif fonts for their house numbers: Between March 10 and May 25, I walked every street in Arlington, Virginia’s 22207, a total distance of about 200 miles, according to my Fitbit. The ZIP code covers a lot of territory, 6.37 fairly densely populated square miles, from the Potomac River...

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Failed CDC data pipeline

The New York Times reports on how the CDC struggled and failed on many levels. On the data front, where it was so important in the beginnings to gauge what was about to happen, the CDC failed to get accurate data to the people who needed to make decisions quickly: The C.D.C. could not produce accurate counts of how many people were being tested, compile complete demographic information on confirmed...

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Florida data manager fired over transparency of Covid-19 data

Rebekah Jones, GIS manager for the Florida Department of Health, was fired a couple of weeks ago, apparently for making the state’s Covid-19 data more accessible and transparent. Florida Today reports on an email that Jones sent to researchers: She warned that she does not know what the new team’s intentions are for data access, including “what data they are now restricting.” “I understand, appreciate, and even share your concern...

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Blockchain mapping

Shannon Mattern for The Atlantic on how blockchain might be useful in mapping and as a replacement for GPS: Crypto-cartographers hope to use it for spatial verification—confirming that things are where they say they are, when they claim to be there. How might this be useful? Well, you could know precisely when an Amazon delivery drone drops a package on your doorstep, at which point the charge would post to...

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When surveillance turns into stalking

Many surveillance apps cater to parents who want to keep tabs on their children who have mobile phones. Many of these apps are used for less parental purposes. Jennifer Valentino-DeVries for The New York Times reports: More than 200 apps and services offer would-be stalkers a variety of capabilities, from basic location tracking to harvesting texts and even secretly recording video, according to a new academic study. More than two...

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Tracking her boyfriend on Strava

Elizabeth Barber was in a long-distance relationship, and Strava was a way for her to connect with him. It became a point of anxiety when her boyfriend cycled with someone else more and more often. I was curious, and Strava is a joyless data bank for the insecure. When The Washington Post reported in January that US military bases are visible in the GPS shadows of uniformed Stravites, I was...

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