from the you’re-not-being-consistent dept

We’ve famous just a few occasions how the TikTok ban is essentially performative, xenophobic nonsense that operates in a weird, facts-optional vacuum.

The greatest pearl clutchers relating to the teenager dancing app (Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, and many others.) have been totally absent from (or downright detrimental to) numerous different safety and privateness reform efforts. Many have opposed even probably the most fundamental of privateness guidelines. They’ve opposed shoring up funding for election safety reform. Most are totally absent after we speak about issues like our dodgy satellite tv for pc community safety, the SS7 mobile community flaw exposing wi-fi communications, or the whole lack of any significant privateness and safety requirements for the web of damaged issues.

As in, many of the “experts” and politicians who assume banning TikTok is a good suggestion do not appear to comprehend it isn’t going to genuinely accomplish a lot in full context. Chinese intelligence can nonetheless glean this (and far more knowledge) from all kinds of sources because of our wholesale privateness and safety failures on numerous different fronts. It’s sort of like banning sugary soda to place out a forest hearth, or spitting at a thunderstorm to gradual its advance over the horizon.

Yet the most recent working example: Joseph Cox at Motherboard (who has been an absolute wrecking ball on this beat) found that non-public intel companies have been in a position to simply purchase consumer location knowledge gleaned from telephone apps, permitting the monitoring of customers in immensely granular vogue:

“A threat intelligence firm called HYAS, a private company that tries to prevent or investigates hacks against its clients, is buying location data harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples’ phones around the world, and using it to unmask hackers. The company is a business, not a law enforcement agency, and claims to be able to track people to their “doorstep.”

This, after all, comes on the heels of numerous scandals of this kind, the place app makers, telecoms, or different firms gather and monetize your delicate location knowledge with zero significant oversight and little to no transparency, promoting it to any nitwit with a nickel. The world adtech location surveillance market is such a sophisticated mess, even consultants and journalists have a tough time monitoring what knowledge is being collected and who it is being bought to:

“The news highlights the complex supply chain and sale of location data, traveling from apps whose users are in some cases unaware that the software is selling their location, through to data brokers, and finally to end clients who use the data itself. The news also shows that while some location firms repeatedly reassure the public that their data is focused on the high level, aggregated, pseudonymous tracking of groups of people, some companies do buy and use location data from a largely unregulated market explicitly for the purpose of identifying specific individuals.”

Do of us hyperventilating about TikTok not notice Chinese intelligence may also entry this knowledge? If so, why have not I seen equal histrionics in relation to location knowledge from of us like Josh Hawley? This huge, worldwide community of telecoms, adtech distributors, and knowledge brokers are engaged in wholesale, largely unaccountable surveillance of huge swaths of human beings. And but, exterior of some lawmakers like Ron Wyden, numerous lawmakers and regulators who’ve risked embolism with their TikTok outrage have been totally silent relating to the threats posed by firms like HYAS:

“HYAS differs in that it provides a concrete example of a company deliberately sourcing mobile phone location data with the intention of identifying and pinpointing particular people and providing that service to its own clients. Independently of Motherboard, the office of Senator Ron Wyden, which has been investigating the location data market, also discovered HYAS was using mobile location data. A Wyden aide said they had spoken with HYAS about the use of the data. HYAS said the mobile location data is used to unmask people who may be using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide their identity, according to the Wyden aide.”

Either you care about U.S. knowledge safety and privateness or you do not, and I’m starting to suspect that many of the of us who assume TikTok poses an existential risk to the republic aren’t partaking in an excellent religion understanding of the particular drawback. With no privateness guidelines, transparency, or consistency we’re a sitting duck for malicious actors, be they state-sponsored hackers, intercourse offending jackasses, or U.S. legislation enforcement officers out over their skis.

Want to genuinely shore up U.S. safety and privateness issues? Pass a easy however significant privateness legislation for the web period. Fund election safety reform. Shore up our communications community safety. Stop hamstringing and defunding privateness regulators on the FTC. Mandate transparency within the adtech market. Create some unified requirements for the privateness dumpster hearth that’s the web of issues. Hyperventilating over a single Chinese-owned teen dancing app, then appearing as if you happen to’ve cured most cancers is harmful, counterproductive, and aggressively silly in full context.

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Filed Under: adtech, knowledge, knowledge brokers, location, location knowledge, privateness
Companies: tiktok