By June 1, Congress must decide whether or not to reauthorize certain sections of the controversial USA Patriot Act (aka the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act), but even though it’s been nearly two years since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s massive and far-reaching data collection programs, many Americans either are only vaguely aware or don’t understand because it’s not easy to immediately see how things like PRISM and MYSTIC affect your daily existence. That’s why John Oliver not only went straight to Snowden for an explanation of these programs, but to have him put the snooping in terms many Internet-era perverts can understand: penis photos. [More]
You may now be able to change your thermostat from another continent, your fridge might know when you need to buy more eggs, and your connected TV recommends shows and movies. But is your data being used for things other than keeping your house warm, your eggs in stock, and your kids entertained — and, just as importantly — is it secure? [More]
It’s no secret that consumers’ online habits influence the advertisements they’re shown while surfing the internet. But Verizon Wireless just upped the ante when it comes to sharing your online activities with marketers. [More]
Is your GPS stealing your identity? It might seem far-fetched, but some privacy advocacy groups are concerned that companies tracking consumers’ location data could put you at risk. [More]
We all know (or should know) by now that there’s a whole lot of information about us floating out there on the Internet. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others are busy collecting that info from data brokers and using it in ways seen and unseen. But it’s hard to put a finger on just what about you these companies have, something a new bill called the Right to Know Act is seeking to change in California. [More]
Talks between the White House and the Internet industry over a “Do Not Track” tool for consumer use on websites have been going on for almost a year now, but it seems neither side can exactly agree on what should be involved. Would giving consumers the power to keep their data from being collected end up killing Internet business or simply increasing privacy for those surfing it? [More]
Here’s what Ted wanted. He already has an XM Radio subscription, and he wanted to buy a replacement radio. His was broken, but Best Buy carries them, and Best Buy stores are everywhere. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Just stop in, exchange money for radio, leave, walk out. Not so fast, there, Ted: Best Buy needs your name, address, and phone number before they can sell you a radio. And they have no idea why. [More]
Consumerist reader Eyebrows McGee (probably not her real name) suggests a clever and subversive technique for sticking it to the Loyalty Program Man: swap your loyalty cards with other shoppers. The cardexchange.org website is a one-stop destination for finding someone out there you can exchange with. But before you visit it, you should consider the consequences and risks.
Google Voice Local Search has emerged from the Google Labs to provide free directory assistance. A call to 1-800-GOOG-411 connects you to a pleasant automated operator who asks for your city and state. From there, you can narrow your search by business or category. When Google finds your business, it offers to either connect you for free, or text the details to your phone. The service does not currently support ads.