[conspire] (forw) [Evals] Joey Hess In The News...

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Aug 14 10:48:10 PDT 2009

Joey Hess, to explain, is a Debian developer who worked with me at VA
Linux Systems.

The bit about Palm, Inc. explaining that they're doing nothing that they
didn't disclose intention to do in their Privacy Policy
(http://www.palm.com/us/company/privacy.html) is worth noting, as this 
keeps coming up whenever someone discovers user-tracking measures in
Google Android phones, Apple iPhones, etc.:  Inevitably, there turns out
to have been somewhat vague contractual language by which the company
made sure it was covered.  One of several possible morals:  Read
contract clauses carefully, and assume the other guy will abuse any
right he/she claims to get you to agree to.

Example:  Terms of use on Google Docs
(http://www.google.com/google-d-s/intl/en/terms.html):  Clause 11.1

  11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in
  Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
  By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a
  perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive
  licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly
  perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit,
  post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the
  sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the
  Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the
  Additional Terms of those Services.

"Services" is defined elsewhere as "Google's products, software,
services and web [sic] sites".  So, in putting your own private data on
Google Docs, you are granting Google, Inc. a licence to "reproduce,
adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display
and distribute" your files anywhere on any of its sites provided Google,
Inc. can reasonably claim it did so to "display, distribute and promote
the Services".  Forever:  Its right to do so doesn't cease when/if you 
stop using the service, or even if you cancel your Google login.

Now, for context, I'm not trying to pick on Google, Inc.:  Its Terms of
Service are, in general, not only quite benign and enlightened but also
written in a manner easy for non-lawyers to understand, which is
commendable.  My point is that, as eyebrow-raising as that particular
grant of rights is when you find and comprehend it, the licence
agreement as a while is a breath of fresh air compared to most such

That is one reason why I _still_ strongly favour doing substantively all
of my own computing locally, using open source software running on
machines under my own sole control, consulting local databases and
interacting with the rest of the world only in ways I understand and
plan for -- and do without the convenience of "location-based
services".  It's also why I continue to like paper maps and paper
telephone directories:  If firms want to know what information I've
looked up and when, they can offer me money for the data, rather than 
taking it through permissions they give themselves in Terms of Service.

And that's another reason why NoScript, Adblock, and User Agent Switcher 
continue to be your friends, as is running your own local DNS nameserver.

(There's a current proposal here in the USA to make "white pages"
telephone directories no longer provided by default to customers.
Instead, we're being told people should use Internet and similar lookup 

----- Forwarded message from That Robert Guy <stgermain at gmail.com> -----

Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2009 21:06:14 -0700
From: That Robert Guy <stgermain at gmail.com>
To: evals at lists.merlins.org
Subject: [Evals] Joey Hess In The News...

If you haven't seen this...

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

    Palm criticised over Pre privacy

Palm has responded to claims that its recently-launched Pre smartphone
abuses owners' privacy.

The company issued a statement after one owner discovered his phone
was sending data every day back to Palm.

The information included the current location of the phone and how
long each application was used for.

In its statement, Palm said it took users' privacy "seriously" and
said it gave phone owners ways to turn features on and off.

The discovery was made by software developer and Pre owner Joey Hess,
who found that his phone was reporting his location over a secure
connection back to Palm. It also sent back information about
application crashes - even those not seen by a Pre owner.

Also in the daily update sent to Palm was a list of the third party
applications installed on the phone.

In its privacy policy, Palm does explain that it will gather
geographical data to help with location-based services. However,
commentators were puzzled as to why it needed to gather so much data
and why owners were not told about what it had gathered.

Mr Hess found a way to disable the reporting by editing the phone's

Palm issued a statement about Mr Hess' discovery and said it "offers
users ways to turn data collecting services on and off".

It added: "Our privacy policy is like many policies in the industry
and includes very detailed language about potential scenarios in which
we might use a customer's information, all toward a goal of offering a
great user experience."

"We appreciate the trust that users give us with their information,
and have no intention to violate that trust," said Palm.

---- ---- ---- ---- ----

It may well provide a privacy policy - the question is
can someone other than a PhD lawyer understand them
and/or figure out, other than hacking the phone
how to diable Big Brother?!  Nah...

"We are one, after all, you and I.
Together we suffer, Together exist,
and forever will recreate each other."
                  -- Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

Evals mailing list
Evals at lists.merlins.org

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