News Recap: Amazon Fire Phone Privacy Concerns

By | June 19th, 2014|Uncategorized|

FireflyThis week, Amazon released its first phone, which boasts a number of unique features including 3D functionality, dynamic perspective, and a number of convenient tie-ins to Amazon’s book, music and TV-streaming services. While many are simply discussing the array of new features on the device, one reporter is concerned about the phone’s unique powerful identification system called Firefly and what it could mean for consumer personal privacy.

First, let’s start with what Firefly actually does. Nick Statt of CNET explains, “With the press of a button, you can scan and tag songs—much like the popular Shazam app—and films and TV thanks to, which Amazon owns. You also can identify text and phone numbers printed on paper, like countless third-party apps in the iOS and Android stores.” However, the vital detail of the Firely feature is its ability to use the phone’s camera to scan barcodes, identify items online and then price check more than 70 million products for the ultimate online shopping experience.

While Amazon’s Firefly feature seems incredibly convenient, John Koetsier of Venture Beat is worried about the privacy implications of using the phone’s camera to identify items in pictures and locate them online. Koetsier states that Firefly and the camera feature of the phone are one and the same. This fact, in tandem with Amazon’s free cloud storage, means each and every photo taken on the Fire Phone and stored in Amazon’s cloud has the potential to be analyzed for its content and metadata. Koetsier remarks, “By storing all the photos you’ll ever take, along with GPS location data, ambient audio, and more metadata than you can shake a stick at in Amazon Web Services, Amazon will get unprecedented insight into who you are, what you own, where you go, what you do, who’s important in your life, what you like, and, probably, what you might be most likely to buy.”

Do you think Koetsier’s concerns are valid? Should consumers be concerned about the privacy features of this device? How should Amazon respond to make sure consumer data is protected? Tell us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to check out our Tumblr for the latest industry news stories.

ID360 Conference 2013 – The Global Forum on Identity

By | May 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|

We spent the past couple days at ID360, the UT Center for Identity’s annual conference that gathers information security professionals from around the world to discuss issues in security, privacy and identity. Some of the hottest topics this week included identity management, Big Data and analytics, the definition of privacy and the shifting cybersecurity ecosystem. Three of our CSID team members spoke at the conference and covered a number of these topics.

CSID Vice President Bryan Hjelm kicked off Tuesday morning with a presentation on the future of identity. The identity protection industry started with credit-monitoring techniques like monitoring our credit reports for fraud. We then moved toward identity monitoring for personal information like email addresses and passwords. Now we’re taking it a step further, toward identity management. As an industry, we now focus on non-credit monitoring, child identity monitoring, small business monitoring and two-factor authentication. See Bryan’s poster below, next to a poster from CSID’s Joel Lang.


Later that afternoon, CSID president Joe Ross joined a panel of security leaders to discuss the impact of social and mobile Big Data on identity and privacy. A key takeaway from the discussion was that with so much social and mobile data out there, we, as individuals and businesses, have a real version of the once-fictitious “permanent record.” Once your information is posted on the Internet, it’s out there for good. It can be found by potential employers or predators years later. Joe also talked to the global aspect of such data, pointing out challenges we face in finding globally universal identifiers, as Social Security numbers are give only to U.S. citizens.


Lastly, CSID development director Joel Lang presented on the nature of malware and the importance of credentials. Just one piece of malware or one compromised credential can easily lead to an entirely infected or breached network.

For a more in-depth look at the conference, see the Twitter discussions. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the Resources section of our website for copies of Bryan and Joel’s topic papers and presentations.

Did you attend ID360 this year or last? What messages resonated most with you? As always, let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Our SXSWi Panel Picks

By | March 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|

sxsw2013Austin is a-buzz with preparations for the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival, and we’re so excited for it to kick off! For those of you attending this year’s events, here is a list of panels covering biometrics, identity, big data including healthcare, reputation management and privacy. And if you’re still in search of a place to stay, don’t forget to enter our giveaway before 3/6! See you at SXSWi!

Friday, March 8

I Know Where You’re Going: Location as Biometric

  • Summary: This session will discuss location data as the ultimate biometric identifier, including the legal and technical aspects of location information as biometrics, what this means for privacy and civil liberties and what consumers can do about it.
  • Speakers: Jennifer Lynch, attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Jeff Jonas, IBM
  • Date/Location: Friday, March 8, 3:30 – 4:30 pm, Radisson Town Lake

The New Nature vs Nurture: Big Data & Identity

  • Summary: Increasing availability of data changes how we are able to know and define ourselves – at the risk of being defined by algorithms that we can’t control
  • Speakers: Jen Lowe, Assoc Research Scholar, Columbia University Spatial Information Design Lab and Molly Steenson, Asst. professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Date/Location: Friday, March 8, 5 – 6 pm, Radisson Town Lake


Saturday, March 9

Who Owns the Data? Self-Tracking to Health 2.0

  • Summary: While the healthcare system is in the midst of reform, what must we do to put the massive quantities of data it holds to more efficient use for the community?
  • Speakers: John Wilbanks, chief common officer, Sage Bionetworks and Martha Wofford, vp consumer platform, Aetna
  • Date/Location: Saturday, March 9, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Sheraton Austin


Monday, March 11

Privacy in a Location-Based World

  • Summary: A discussion on the boundaries of privacy and location-based services
  • Speaker: Damien Patton, Founder/CEO, Banjo
  • Date/Location: Monday, March 11, 5 – 6 pm, Sheraton Austin


Tuesday, March 12

Privacy in the Age of Augment Reality

  • Summary: What will privacy and anonymity mean in the coming age of augmented reality – a future where online and offline data will seamlessly blend?
  • Speaker: Alessandro Acquisti, professor at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Date/Location: Tuesday, March 12, 9:30 – 10:30 am, Radisson Town Lake

What’s in a name? Anonymity, Then and Now

  • Summary: A legal and historical look at the anonymity and anonymous speech on the internet
  • Speakers: Nabiha Syed, a First Amendment lawyer, and Katie Engelhart, a historian and author
  • Date/Location: Tuesday, March 12, 3:30 – 4:30 PM, Austin Convention Center

Reputation as Currency: Is the Resume Extinct?

  • Summary: What happens when online trust and social reputation move beyond the commerce space? Could online reputation replace traditional validation engines?
  • Speaker: Leah Busque, TaskRabbit, Founder and CEO
  • Date/Location: Tuesday, March 12, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Austin Convention Center
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