December 12, 2012

Privacy – an even hotter topic for 2013?

Written By Martin Sandhu

As we hurtle toward Christmas and inevitably the New Year it seems online privacy may be an even more discussed topic next year than it has been in 2012.

Obviously the Communications Data Bill has been the focus of the press for the last week, with many politicians falling out over its contents. Whilst the bills primary aim is to bring specific legislation, and hopefully more security, to the largely unregulated internet, critics have nicknamed it the ‘snoopers’ bill and are worried that the new laws could cause an infringement on privacy.

Aspects of the bill include internet service providers having to store for a year all details of online communication in the UK, as well as all web browsing history and details of messages sent on social media, webmail, voice calls over the internet and gaming.

However, the privacy conversation doesn’t stop their. A report by Federal Trade Commission has found that most mobile and tablet apps aimed at children are collecting significant amounts of information without parental permission – possibly breaching a number of laws.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said "While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes protecting kids’ privacy, we haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids. In fact, our study shows that kids’ apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents.”

The report found that the most commonly shared information was the device ID that can contain personal information including names, phone numbers, friends lists, emails and location data. Of the 400 apps reviewed, 235 shared this information with third parties.
And even the Government’s IT systems aren’t robust enough to prevent privacy breaches – An investigation by Channel 4 News identified a number of weaknesses in the Universal Jobmatch site , many of which allow hackers to access data including scanned images of people’s passports.

The new website replaced the old Jobcentre Plus site last month. Channel 4 News believe the information which could be obtained through hacking the site could be used by online criminals for identity fraud or to illegally access banks accounts and emails.
It’s highly important to not only make sure that your company and it’s employees sensitive information cannot be accesses, but also that your customers details are safe too. With privacy becoming such a huge concern a business that take online security very seriously will likely have a winning edge of those who are more lax.