The Week in Privacy

small_3947339012Internet users familiar with Bill Gates – but privacy policies, not so much

More than 80 percent of American adults can identify Bill Gates in a photograph. But, Pew Research says, only about half that percentage know that companies with privacy policies don’t always keep user information confidential.

Many people appear confused about what a company privacy policy entails, Pew staffers told PCWorld. And public awareness of corporate privacy policies hasn’t changed much over the years.

“Despite all of the data breaches, news stories, and policy discussions that have been happening around this issue over the last decade,” Pew researcher Aaron Smith said, “Americans are not substantially more informed about this subject than they were a decade ago.” Read More

Shop Smart This Holiday Season With Blur: Part II

small__5284717124Part I of this series delved into the account signup process at (the nation’s No. 1 holiday shopping website). Blur can help you register for Amazon – or any e-commerce site – with a masked email address and a complex, hard-to-guess password. Plus, Blur will save your login information so you never need to remember it.

But signing up for an account is just the first step: you want to actually buy things! Here, we’ll talk about how Blur can secure your online purchases with Masked Cards. Note that you will need a Blur Premium account to use Masked Cards.

Let’s get into it! Read More

5 secure tips for mobile holiday shopping

Will you use your smartphone for online shopping this holiday season? If so, listen up.

Last year, 52% of online shoppers used their mobile device to make a purchase. There is no denying that mobile shopping is convenient and good for online commerce, but you must not forget that tapping to buy comes with risks, especially if you increasingly rely on public WiFi.

In order to educate online shoppers, this year PRIVATE WiFi has teamed up with our partners at the National Cyber Security Alliance to help consumers be safe online when using their mobile devices as they shop.

Read More

Shop Smart This Holiday Season With Blur: Part I

small__5311724037We at Abine just introduced Blur, the world’s first all-in-one tool for managing and securing one’s information on the web. Blur generates and saves passwords, stores billing information, and quickly creates “masked” email addresses and credit cards. Plus, we’ve made sure it’s easy to use, so you can browse (and shop!) securely with minimal hassle.

If you’re planning to make an online purchase this holiday season – and more than half of people are, according to the National Retail Federation industry group – Blur can help keep your personal information secure. It’s the ideal shopping assistant!

Let’s walk through the process of using Blur to shop online at These steps apply at other e-commerce sites, too. Just make sure you install the Blur extension in your web browser before getting started. Read More

The Week in Privacy

Surveys show growing concerns about online privacy

People on both sides of the Atlantic are coming around to what we at Abine have known for some time: you can’t take privacy for granted on the web.

Three-quarters of Irish adults believe online privacy is important, new Microsoft research says. And nearly 90 percent think foreign governments must respect Ireland’s privacy laws when doing business in the country.

Privacy worries appear to be mounting stateside, too. Pew’s Internet and American Life Project reported last week that 91 percent of American adults agree that they have lost control over how companies access and use their personal information.

Wyoming may become 11th state to enshrine privacy in its constitution

Wyoming may join 10 other states in establish consumer privacy protection in its constitution, the Washington Post reports.

A member of Wyoming’s legislature is sponsoring a bill that would require state law enforcement officials to prove the necessity of violating a citizen’s privacy before doing so.

“I think the problem is a general societal erosion of privacy rights,” the lawmaker, Chris Rothfuss, said.

WhatsApp implements end-to-end encryption in Android app

Messages sent in WhatsApp’s Android messaging app are now fully encrypted, the company announced this week.

The encryption technology – open-source software called Textsecure – requires a client-side key to de-encrypt messages, meaning that WhatsApp communications on Android are now all but uncrackable.

WIRED called the move “by some measures the world’s largest-ever implementation of this standard of encryption in a messaging service.” The technology will be rolled out to WhatsApp’s iOS app at a later date.

Automakers join in privacy pledge

More and more cars are being equipped with advanced connectivity technology like 4G data services – but there’s no need for drivers to worry that their privacy will be compromised.

That’s what automakers are asserting, at least. A coalition of 19 car companies sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission promising that they wouldn’t release drivers’ location data to law enforcement without a warrant – or that they’d sell that data without drivers’ express consent.

In response to the move, US Senator Ed Markey questioned the companies’ motives for collecting data at all.

“Consumers [do not have] a choice whether sensitive information is collected in the first place,” he said.

Harsh words for Uber on privacy practices

Ridesharing company Uber irked the media this week when an executive proposed digging up personal information about a journalist – and now a member of Congress is calling for scrutiny into Uber’s privacy policies.

US Senator Al Franken, in a letter to the company (PDF), dubbed its seeming disregard for media members’ privacy “troubling”.

Franken went on to say that he had “serious concerns” about the “scope, transparency and enforceability of Uber’s policies”.

Uber raised eyebrows last month when news broke of its “God View” rider-tracking tool.