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The dreaded move has finally been completed — starting February 8th, WhatsApp will share all its user statistics with its parent company, Facebook. Facebook, despite being the leading social media service in history, hasn’t had the cleanest of records when it comes to data security and transparency. So, it’s hardly surprising that the entire tech community is concerned with WhatsApp’s new policy. 

Amidst the chaos and confusion, a privacy-centric messaging app — Signal — has started making rounds as the worthiest alternative to WhatsApp. It doesn’t compromise on features and promises to give you the peace of mind you most definitely deserve. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the messaging application — discuss the privacy options it provides and the permissions it asks for. 

Related: How Does Signal Make Money?

The origin of Signal

Before we go deeper into the app and check out its privacy features, let’s take a step back and learn when and why Signal was created in the first place. 

So, if you were concerned about trusting a “new” unproven application, we’d like to assure you that Signal is far from the newest kid on the block. It has a proven track record for being a reliable messenger service and is proudly endorsed by the likes of Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, and Jack Dorsey. 

Related: Is Signal Actually Safe? 

How Private is Signal?

Signal isn’t the most pleasant-looking app out there and it could certainly use some polish. However, when it comes to keeping your chats private, there’s hardly a better service out there. Listed below is Signal’s cheat-sheet that helps it give you maximum privacy. 

End-to-End Encryption 

This is considered to be the gold standard in the world of encryption protocols. Having E2EE makes sure the message you send can only be read by the intended recipient. No one else — including the messenger developers or the government — is allowed to snoop. Additionally, Signal happily encrypts your profile info, call history, and more — something no other messenger provides.

WhatsApp also provides E2EE, of course, but that’s only for messages and calls. The logs it generates through limitless tracking is still up for sale. 

Peer review system

Having E2EE is awesome, but making the source code transparent and letting independent developers review them is truly out of the world. Unlike WhatsApp, Signal has a peer-review system, which makes sure nothing unethical is taking place. Even if Signal wished to implement something dodgy, the security experts and independent developers would be able to sniff it out in an instant by analyzing the open-source code. 

No Telemetry 

Signal — the open-source genius — only requires your phone number to get up and running. It doesn’t create your profile and send it up to the cloud. It stores all of your personal data on your device and no one — not even the developers — is allowed to access your stuff. 

Greed-free model 

Greed is often the driving factor behind big privacy breaches. So, it’s indeed encouraging that Signal doesn’t have a revenue model like Facebook’s WhatsApp. This open-source messenger service runs purely on donations from fans, which means that it won’t be selling sensitive information to unknown third-parties just to increase its stack of cash.  

Related: Who Owns Signal App?

What permissions must you grant Signal? 

Signal doesn’t need a lot of permissions to get going, and it follows a strict policy when it comes to safeguarding the information you provide. You, of course, have to put in your contact number to get started, but you might not even need it in the future.

Below is the list of permissions that Signal may “bug” you for. 

This is an optional permission and it doesn’t come into play until you ask Signal to show you the list of friends that are already on the platform. Even if you allow Signal to check out your contacts, rest assured that all information is cryptographically hashed before transmission takes place.  

Phone calls

Signal comes with the ability to make phone calls through VoIP. Allow Signal to make and manage phone calls to use the service. 

Gallery and camera

Another optional permission that doesn’t affect the way you use Signal, at all. Partial access is still not available on Android, so, you’ll need to give Signal access to your entire gallery. However, since no third-party transaction is involved, your data remains as secure as possible.

The same goes for your camera as well. Grant access to your camera to send quick snaps over Signal.  


Similar to the gallery information, you will need to allow Signal to fetch your location if you wish to share it with another Signal user. It’s optional, of course, and you should feel free not to use this feature. 

Support information 

Is Signal the right tool for you? 

After years of reigning supreme, WhatsApp believes it has enough firepower to bring its userbase over to the dark side. The service is used by pretty much everyone we come across, which can make the transition to a different messenger service quite challenging. Still, if you are someone who knows a thing or two about privacy and security on the internet, you must take the leap and switch to a messenger service that’s yet to sell its soul. 

As we have seen, Signal is an open-source, peer-reviewed, donation-driven messenger application that can take care of all your needs. Not only does it encrypt the messages you send, but it also masks even the most minute details such as profile information, call history, and more. 

Signal, in its current form, is a transparent, easy-to-use, feature-rich messenger service that doesn’t have the reach of WhatsApp. If you are willing to compromise on reach and focus solely on improved privacy and security, Signal is most definitely the go-to option. Else, for convenience and familiarity, consider sticking with the current champions, WhatsApp. 

Related:  How to Delete Whatsapp Account and All Your Whatsapp Data

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What Do Macos Security And Privacy Permissions Protect You From?

Mac apps often request some kind of “permissions” during their installation. Since Apple expanded macOS Mojave’s Security and Privacy permissions, requests have only increased. What does this mean when an app wants “Accessibility permission?” Should you grant apps these permissions?


This permission is the most commonly requested, so our description starts here.

Accessibility permissions give apps extremely broad access to your Mac. Apps with this permission can access the entire system and control other apps. It’s like Full Disk Access plus Automation.

This was created for apps that help people with disabilities. Soon, other apps started asking for the same access. Some developers treat it as a blanket permission. It means the app will always have the access it needs. The app might not even need broad access, but developers request it to keep macOS from obstructing their app.

Malware could exploit this access to log activity or inject attacks. That’s why Accessibility permissions require a special feature. The user must turn on an app’s Accessibility access manually in System Preferences.

Here are some examples of what apps do with their access:

TextExpander inserts text, images, and other content into any document.

Alfred allows clipboard monitoring, snippet expansion, and simulating key events.

Dropbox updates the Finder UI with badges and progress icons.


This allows apps to request your current location. Because your Mac lacks a GPS chip, it accesses a database of Wi-Fi router locations. With this, Location Services grabs your location. Your IP address can also help estimate your location.

Camera and Microphone

These permissions are nearly the same. As the name says, they allow access to the FaceTime camera and microphone. System permissions, which also control file access, handle it. This prevents the application from accessing these resources unless explicitly permitted.


Permits the application to access the Photos database. This is different than accessing the camera. It’s also not as broad as accessing all the photo files on your Mac. It only permits access to the database. If you have photos stored outside the chúng tôi database, the app will not get permission to access them with this setting.

Calendar, Reminders, and Contacts

Like Camera and Microphone, these permissions provide the same control mechanisms over different areas of your Mac.

Contacts permission includes any contact information stored in chúng tôi Typically, messaging and email apps use this to access your contacts to send messages or identify senders.

Reminders allows access to the content of the Reminders app. This is used by ToDo apps and task managers to integrate with Apple’s default system.

Calendar permits access to the content of events in chúng tôi Schedule apps use this to view and edit calendar events.


This allows apps to control other apps. Normally, macOS “sandboxes” applications. This limits what the apps can touch. By default, apps can only access their own data. Automation lowers the sandbox walls slightly, permitting an app to change how other apps work. Automation permissions grant access to specific apps, not every app.

Full Disk Access

This permission allows apps to read, write, and modify files anywhere on your disk. Essentially, this permission provides arbitrary access to files throughout the system. It includes data in Mail, Messages, Time Machine backups, Home, and certain admin settings for all users on the Mac. This access is also included in the Accessibility permissions, so few apps request it.


Controls how much data an application sends “home” to its developers. This can include metadata, as well as your Mac’s hardware and software configuration, your location, and iCloud data. The permissions allow you to decide who can get the data.



Permissions allow you to control what happens on your Mac. By requiring a user okay before accessing sensitive data, macOS works with you to keep access limited. Carefully consider what you’re giving up before giving an application permissions on your Mac. You should only allow it with trusted apps.

Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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How To Change App Permissions In Iphone? – Webnots

There are hundreds of thousands of free and premium apps available in App Store. Though all those apps pass Apple’s stringent security criteria, most of the apps need permissions to access features on your iPhone. For example, a video conferencing app needs an access to your camera and microphone for you to connect to the calls. Over period you might have provided access to lot of apps. If you wonder how to change app permissions in iPhone and revert back unnecessary permissions, here is how you can do that.

Initial App Permission Request

Let us explain with some examples so that it is easy to understand the permissions you grant for apps. Microsoft Lens is the popular app for scanning documents and reading text from images using OCR technology. When you install this app and setup, you will see a screen asking you to allow access. The app needs access to photos for scanning, you can deny this access or provide access to selected photos or to all photos. The same Lens app also need access to your camera for taking pictures.

Example App Permissions in iPhone

Similarly, most of the apps ask permissions for sending notifications, using cellular data, accessing microphone, using location services, etc.

View Granted App Permissions

Unfortunately, most of the users simply press “OK” or “Allow” to all the pop-ups without understanding. Though it is needed and not a problem for granting access to reputed apps, it is always necessary to be careful instead of worrying later. For Lens app, in most cases you do not need to provide access to all photos. If you forgot what access you have provided for apps or wanted to revert the access back, then it is easy to do that in iPhone.

There are two possible ways to view and change app permissions in iPhone.

Viewing All Apps Accessing Specific Permission

As mentioned, iPhone groups and categorize the permissions required for major features in your phone like camera, microphone, photos, etc. You can view permission categories and find all the apps having access to each category. For example, you can find all the apps having access to your camera or photos. This is useful if you want to analyze the permissions based on the feature and do not know the name of specific app.

Tap on Settings app and go to Privacy section of your iPhone.

Here you will find different categories and tap on a specific item you want to check. For example, tap on Camera to find all the apps having permission to access your camera.

As you can see, Microsoft Lens app is having the access. Simply turn off the button to disable the access.

Disable Permission Based on Category

Remember, the app will request your permission again whenever you open it. Some apps will not work without appropriate permissions, as in this case with Microsoft Lens app which needs camera access.

App Asking Permission Again

View and Change Permissions of Individual Apps

It is also possible in iPhone to view all the permissions granted to individual app and change the permission if required. For example, you can view the permissions granted to Microsoft Lens app and remove the access to all photos. This is useful if you know the app name and wanted to change the permissions you have wrongly granted to that app.

Tap on Settings app and scroll down to see the list of apps installed on your iPhone.

Find the app for which you want to change the permissions and tap on it. The apps will be listed in alphabetical order so that you can easily find based on the sorting.

Let’s take the same example of Lens app. Tapping on it will show the “Allow Lens to Access” as the first option.

You can find the app is having access to photos, camera and Siri & Search.

You can disable camera access by turning off the switch. For photos access, tap on that option and change the permissions to none. You can also choose the “Selected Photos” option and give permissions for only few pictures that you want to scan/edit with the app.

Change Permission from App Settings Page in iPhone

Analyzing App Permissions with App Privacy Report

Android offers Permission Manager and Privacy Dashboard options to analyze the permissions apps are accessing on your phone. Similarly, iPhone also offers an App Privacy Report feature which you can enable and find which apps are accessing which permissions.

App Privacy Report in iPhone

Based on this information, you can understand the permissions used and the contacted domains when opening the apps. Remember, this is only a report for analysis the app permission usage. You will not be able to change the permissions directly from the report section. You need to use one of the above explained methods to change the permissions already granted for the apps.

Disable App Tracking

To disable tracking from other apps, you can do it in two ways similar to managing permissions.

View and Disable All Apps Tracking in iPhone

For individual apps, find the app from “Settings” page and tap on it. Disable “Allow Tracking” or similar option that shows in the app settings page.

Disable Individual App Tracking in iPhone

Cellular Data Usage for Apps

Disable Cellular Data Access Based on Usage

Similarly, you can access individual app settings page and tap on “Wireless Data” option and turn it “Off”.

Disable Cellular Access for Individual App

Final Words

As you can see Apple offers a complete control of permissions granted to apps. You can any time check and change the permissions based on categories or view all permission granted to individual app and disable them. in addition, you can use the App Privacy Report to analyze the usage of permissions and find the apps misusing the permissions.

Arlo Essential Indoor Camera Review: Privacy

Best Prices Today: Arlo Essential Indoor Camera




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The Arlo Essential Indoor camera is the latest smart security camera in the Arlo family, offering a budget-focused approach to smart home security with the signature Arlo flair. It’s unquestionably a well-built smart security camera in a portable form factor and a handy privacy shield, but with key features locked behind an additional paywall and an expensive price tag compared to similarly specced competition, it’s a bit of a hard sell. 

Is the Arlo Essential Indoor camera worth $99/£119? Carry on reading to find out. 

Design and build

The Arlo Essential follows the same design language as other cameras in the Arlo collection, sporting a similar rounded shape and a classic glossy white plastic body.

On the front you’ll find the camera sensor, capable of recording 1080p footage with a 130-degree field of view, an indicator LED and a mic, while the rear houses the micro-USB socket required for power and a speaker for two-way talk. 

One of the main talking points of the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is the inclusion of a privacy shutter, which covers the camera when not in use, as well as deactivating motion control and audio capture too. The contrasting white cover on the black front plate makes it easy to tell if it’s covered at a glance, and it’s easily activated via the Arlo app – but more on that later. 

The dinky-looking Arlo Essential is one of the more compact indoor cameras on the market, measuring in at 52 x 49 x 113mm, but it can’t quite beat the Ring Indoor Cam and its dinky dimensions. Still, if you’re on the lookout for a small camera that’ll blend into your home, the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera should do the job. 

Like the Ring Indoor Cam and other smart cameras, the Arlo Essential utilises a ball and socket joint on a stand connected to a circular base plate. The joint allows you to angle the camera with ease, while the circular base plate can be used to stand the camera on a shelf.

There is a mounting kit in the box if you want to secure the camera higher up, but with the relatively short 2m cable required to power the unit, you don’t get the same freedom that you would from a battery-powered camera. 

Features and performance

Setup is a fairly simple process, requiring no more than downloading the Arlo app from the App Store or Google Play and following the on-screen instructions to connect the camera to your Wi-Fi network. While some smart cameras are quite complex (and at times frustrating) to connect, the Arlo Essential Indoor was connected and streaming video within a few minutes of being taken out of the box.  

Once the camera has been set up, you can simply leave it to do its thing; it’ll automatically start monitoring for motion, and you’ll get an alert on your smartphone once movement is detected. 

With that in mind, you’ll be greeted by a home menu listing all currently installed cameras complete with a thumbnail previewing the last captured option event. Tapping on the camera provides direct access to the live feed with the ability to communicate with those nearby using two-way talk, along with access to motion events and a Settings menu to tweak camera preferences.

There’s also a Library tab that’ll let you view footage from multiple cameras in chronological order, and there’s also a Mode tab that’ll let you customise how and when the system operates. 

Captured events offer a great snapshot, thanks to the 1080p capture and 130-degree field of view, though it’s not quite as expansive as competing cameras that can offer up to 160 degrees. 

Generally speaking, the quality of video captured (and streamed in real-time from the app) is great both during the day and night, even retaining some of that quality when digitally zooming, though it’s worth noting that night vision is limited to black and white capture. It can’t compete with more expensive options in the Arlo family, with the Arlo Pro 3 shooting in 2K and the Arlo Ultra going all the way up to 4K, but it should suffice for simple home monitoring. 

While it’s frustrating that some features are locked behind a paywall, rather than simply offering cloud storage, but the £2.49/$2.49 a month subscription is more palatable than most, and you get a three-month free trial too. 

What about when you don’t want the Arlo Essential Indoor to capture motion? That’s where the privacy shield comes into play. It’s activated via the Arlo app whenever you ‘disarm’ the system, and it’ll retract once the system is armed. There’s also a geofencing feature that’ll automatically arm and disarm the system based on your location which should make things feel more seamless. 

There is a catch though; if you’ve got multiple Arlo products on the app, you’ll have to disarm everything to enable the privacy shield. With this in mind, a physical switch on the camera itself would’ve been helpful, allowing you to quickly disable the indoor camera without, for example, disarming an outdoor camera monitoring your garden. 

You can set custom scenes via the Modes menu that’ll allow you to disable the indoor cam while keeping other products active, but it is a bit of a headache for existing Arlo users. 


Take the Ring Indoor Cam for example; it costs half the price at £49.99/$49.99, it offers a wider 140-degree FOV and colour night vision, plus none of the smart features (aside from cloud storage) are locked behind a monthly subscription.

If the privacy shield is enough to tempt you, you can buy the Arlo Essential Indoor from retailers including Arlo and Amazon in the UK and Amazon in the US. 


There’s also a privacy shield that’ll disable monitoring as well as audio capture when you’re at home, giving you peace of mind, though enabling it will disable any other Arlo products by default.

best security camera chart. 

Specs Arlo Essential Indoor Camera: Specs

2Mp sensor

1080p@30fps video recording with 130-degree FOV

Night vision (B&W)

Motion detection with optional AI object recognition

Wired w/ 2m microUSB cable

Single microphone


1x LED light

12x digital zoom

Wall/ceiling mount included

Hma Pro Vpn Review: Good Speeds, New App


Good speeds

Tons of servers and country options


Privacy policy is still less than ideal

Not much in the way of extra features or customization

Our Verdict

HMA offers solid VPN speeds, a wide range of country choices, and a crazy amount of servers. Its privacy policy has also improved, but it still logs more data than privacy-conscious types would be comfortable with. Overall, our recommendation hasn’t changed. HMA is good for basic uses, but if you’re trying to be as anonymous as possible online this VPN is not ideal.

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HMA Pro in brief:

P2P allowed: Yes

Business location: Czech Republic

Number of servers: 1,080+

Number of country locations: 210+*

Cost: $59.88 per year

VPN Protocol: OpenVPN (Windows)

Data encryption: AES-256

Data authentication: AES-256-GCM or SHA1

Handshake: 2048-bit TLS and SHA-256

If there’s one thing you can say about HMA (Hide My Ass), it doesn’t sit still very often. Since last we looked, the well-known Avast-owned VPN service released a new version of its app, and it’s time to kick it around a bit and see what’s new. The new look is quite different from that smartphone-style app that we looked at in 2023, and overall it’s a pretty good new design.

When you first open HMA it has two primary columns. On the left is something a little more smartphone-like with a large on/off slider, a big tile at the bottom with your selected VPN location, and in between those two elements, your home IP—when you connect, it also adds your VPN server’s IP address. This default view has an animated version of the HMA donkey mascot, Jack. When you activate the VPN, Jack puts on a variety of disguises to indicate you’re on the VPN. Sometimes those disguises are amusing, while other time he looks like a total jack… well, you know.

Note: This review is part of our best VPNs roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

HMA Pro 5 with an active connection.


On the rightmost panel are a number of smaller boxes that can either display information or provide quick links to take actions such as opening preferences, activating auto-connect, or watching your current bandwidth usage. This area doesn’t appear to be customizable, though you can dismiss boxes that aren’t useful.

There isn’t anything in the way of power-user features. No multi-hop, no VPN protocol options, or anything like that. If you need these kinds of features then HMA is not the best option.


One notable issue with HMA is its country selection options. HMA offers more than 200 country options with multiple locations in the larger countries. If all you care about is getting a connection for that country then just select the country you want, and HMA will take care of the rest.

However for some countries, including the United States, there are virtual location servers. So instead of a U.S. server actually being in the United States it pretends to be there, but the physical machine is actually in, say, Brazil or Singapore. If you don’t like using virtual location servers that aren’t really where they’re supposed to be, then try choosing a specific location manually from within the app.

Overall, HMA is fairly simple to use, though virtualized country locations may complicate it for some.


HMA has always been a top performer and that continues this time around. It has dropped a bit, but is still inside our top 10 VPNs for speed (at this writing). HMA retained 36.21 percent of the base download speed across five locations and multiple testing days. That should be more than enough for most uses.


Privacy, anonymity, and trust

HMA requires an email and password to sign up for an account, which is standard for VPN services. As for payments, HMA accepts credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal and PayNearMe. There are no cryptocurrency options as of yet, and HMA does not accept cash via PayNearMe.

As for the privacy policy, HMA says it’s now a no-logs VPN, and an audit by Versprite verified that. The company says it doesn’t log originating IPs, DNS queries, browsing history, or the content of data that runs through its network.

On the server side, HMA does log the day you last connected to its servers but not the time of day, and it logs bandwidth usage in order to “plan for new network capacity and server improvements.” All of this data is kept for 35 days.

From the VPN clients, HMA logs connection events such as a connection, disconnection, failed connection, and so on. This information is not tied to user data. HMA also logs “application events,” which basically means how you use the app such as using a new feature, uninstalling, and so on. It also logs crash reports that are sent and generated by users. All of this data is stored for two years and then deleted on a rolling basis.

That’s an okay privacy policy but there are more minimal policies out there that collect even less data, and many VPNs aren’t collecting data about how people use the app. That said, for most people this feature should be fine. But if you’re extra concerned about privacy, then I’d say HMA is not for you.

Bottom line

HMA has a lot of things people want: tons of servers, heaps of country connection options, fast service, and a relatively easy-to-use app. It’s also available at a good price. It doesn’t have a lot to offer those who want extra features or customization, or those looking to maximizing privacy. But if all you need is something to get Netflix overseas or a simple app for connecting while on public Wi-Fi, HMA can get the job done.

*HMA uses virtual servers meaning some of its country locations are not physically located where they appear to be.

Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

Privacy Advocates Monitor Facebook, Uneasily

(Reuters) – Over the past six years, social networking has been the Internet’s stand-out phenomenon, linking up more than one billion people eager to exchange videos, pictures or last-minute birthday wishes.

The sites, led by Facebook with more than 400 million users, rely in large part on people’s willingness to share a wealth of personal information with an ever-expanding network of “friends,” either ones they actually know and see from time to time, or those they have met virtually through the Internet.

But at the same time it has concentrated vast amounts of data — telephone numbers and addresses, people’s simple likes and dislikes — on the servers of a small number of companies.

In Facebook’s case, the social networking tsunami has spread in barely six years from the Harvard dorm room of founder Mark Zuckerberg, 25, to envelope almost half a billion people — enough to be the world’s third most populous country.

That in turn has raised profound privacy issues, with governments in Europe and North America and Asia concerned about the potential for data theft, for people’s identities to be mined for income or children to be exploited via the Internet.

Data protection authorities from a range of countries held a teleconference this week to discuss how they can work together to protect what they see as a steady erosion of privacy, and the European Union too is studying what role it can play.

They may not be able to hold the social networking wave back, but policymakers are looking at what they can do to limit what they see as the “Big Brother”-like role of some sites. A showdown between privacy and Internet freedom is looming.

“We cannot expect citizens to trust Europe if we are not serious in defending the right to privacy,” Viviane Reding, the European commissioner in charge of media and the information society, said in a speech in January, laying out her concerns.

“Facebook, MySpace or Twitter have become extremely popular, particularly among young people,” she told the European Parliament. “However, children are not always able to assess all risks associated with exposing personal data.”


The privacy debate has been around as long as the Internet, but the explosive growth of social networking, and deepening concern about the impact it may be having on social interaction, has intensified discussion in recent months.

Incidents such as the Israeli soldier who announced details of an upcoming military raid via Facebook, and the murder conviction in Britain of a serial rapist who posed as a boy on the site, have fueled the fears of both lawmakers and parents.

Facebook has added fuel to the debate, with the company deciding in December 2009 to substantially change its privacy settings, effectively making members’ profiles more openly accessible unless users altered the settings themselves.

Zuckerberg explained the move in January, saying social behavior was shifting as a result of the Internet and that privacy was not the same now as it was even six years ago.

“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” he told an audience at a technology conference.

“That social norm is just something that has evolved. We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are,” he said.

That may well be the case — and the trend for teenagers to share naked or near-naked pictures of one another online or via mobile phones may suggest mores are changing — but privacy campaigners believe the slope is getting too slippery.

Thomas Nortvedt, the head of digital issues at the Norwegian Consumer Council, a government body, sees Facebook’s alteration of its privacy settings as a turning point.

“The privacy settings on Facebook have raised awareness on … privacy as a whole, not only by the people but also by the governments and the regulating authorities,” he told Reuters.

“They see that this is, if not a problem, then at least a challenge and something has to be done about it.”

As Canada’s privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, told data protection experts on Tuesday: “We want to send a strong message that you can’t go on using people’s personal information without their consent… Do your testing before, and make sure they comply with privacy legislation.”


With government authorities raising their concerns ever more loudly, Facebook and other sites have amended some of their practices, or highlighted the range of measures they say they are already taking to protect members’ privacy and data.

As a result of the Canadian Privacy Commission’s investigation, Facebook agreed to adopt some recommendations, including explaining why users have to provide their date of birth at registration and introducing ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ privacy settings for user-published content.

But other recommendations — such as limiting the ability of third-party applications to pull non-essential user information — were not immediately applied. Though the Commission was satisfied with Facebook’s further proposed privacy changes as of last August, a new investigation began this January in light of the site’s amendments to its privacy policy.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union and its 500 million citizens, does not regulate on privacy issues, leaving it up to the EU’s 27 member states, but it can issue guidelines or directives for corporate practices.

In February, the Commission unveiled its “Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU,” a voluntary pact involving 25 websites that agreed to safety measures for users under 18, including making profiles private and unsearchable by default.

But the agreement was drawn up before Facebook announced the changes to its privacy settings, a move that frustrated the EU.

“I can’t understand that,” Commissioner Reding said on the EU’s Safer Internet Day in February. “It’s in the interests of social network sites to give users control of their privacy.”

In the coming months, Reding and her team are expected to study the activities of sites such as Facebook and Google, which recently launched its own social network, and pay close attention to any perceived privacy slippages.

Authorities in Canada, Spain, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands are watching closely too.

No one wants to be seen be legislating against the freedom and fun of the Internet. But watchdogs also see privacy as an cornerstone of democratic societies that also needs defending.

“What we’re going to do in the coming months and years is organize ourselves as enforcement agencies in an international way,” Jacob Kohnstamm, the chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority, told privacy protection chiefs this week.

“So that the gap between the online market being global and the enforcement being national is going to be filled up by actions like we start today.”

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