All Posts in privacy

July 9, 2013Published by: Anton Perreau

Privacy as a priority: Facebook rolls out Graph Search

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 14.23.31

A few months ago, Facebook announced it was developing Graph Search - a new tool for users to harness each others data by enabling smart searching through phrases. For so long, Facebook has been built to provide search results within specific search dimensions. Now though, users can dig a little deeper. Even more importantly, brands will be able to target more effectively.

Search has always been an appealing feature - the foundations of so many successful websites. It's a long term goal for Facebook to provide insight alongside search. Whilst one of the key focuses on Graph Search has been the use of language, another aspect to which we've been drawn to is on privacy. Whatever concerns they may have been, Facebook Graph Search is rolling out right now.

Facebook isn't naive to users' concerns over privacy and if you're a Facebook user you'll have seen more prominent alerts over the last few days, inviting you to reassess your privacy settings. On a site plagued by so many privacy concerns in the past, it's a welcome sign to see privacy concerns prioritised. However, by providing a user the option to choose what they share publicly, Facebook compromises on the quality and accuracy of the result and ultimately questions whether unlimited privacy controls on Facebook profile data will exist for an extended period.

Facebook Graph Search is very much still a work in progress; a tool that will only become more accurate as more users try it out. The way we see search now will likely be dramatically different in a matter of months. In the meantime, enjoy searching for friends who live in Bognor and love cats - they might just be searching for you too.

June 10, 2013Published by: Fereshta Amir

PRISM news round-up


The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Hugh D'Andrade decided to give the NSA's logo a makeover following recent events. View the original image here.

News on the National Security Agency (NSA) snooping over Apple, Facebook and Google has been on everyone’s lips since late last week. The first of the leaks came out on Wednesday night when the Guardian reported that a US secret court has ordered phone company Verizon to hand over millions of records on telephone call metadata to the NSA. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the NSA and FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading US Internet companies.

The Guardian then revealed classified documents on Friday containing top-sectet information on NSA program PRISM, the program set up in 2007 to help the United States monitor traffic of potential suspects abroad that collects emails, documents, photos and other material for agents to review. The documents state that Prism operated with the assistance of communications providers in the US; AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk and Yahoo. The document also states that GCHQ, the UK’s security agency had last year generated 197 intelligence reports from PRISM and had access to PRISM since at least May 2010. The Guardian last night revealed the identity of the former CIA technical worker as the source of the leads about US surveillance programs: Edward Snowden, who is currently employed by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Over the weekend, technology giants have been under pressure as speculation rise on their co-operation with the US spy agencies and as further details emerged. Apple, Facebook and Google have issued strongly worded denials that they had knowingly participated in PRISM. Meanwhile, Mashable look at what the NSA could possibly have found on the internet and Gizmodo at how the NSA logo should really look. Our client Tim Summers from Temple bright adds a legal perspective to the debate: “We must have mechanisms to ensure that governments can be called to account, to ensure that their legal powers are used only for their proper purposes.” Read more on Channel 4 news. We'll certainly be watching closely for further developments on this news.