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  1. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Monday announced that its research into the Ring app’s Android version identified several embedded third-party trackers sucking up “a plethora” of personal information. Three of the trackers aren’t included in Ring’s privacy notice—a list last updated a year and eight months ago. The civil liberties group, whose work focuses on privacy and other digital rights, said it had observed Ring for Android’s activity using tools for inspecting web traffic. EFF researchers found it was delivering users’ personal information to four marketing and analytics firms, including Facebook. In Facebook’s case, Ring hands over data whether its customers have Facebook accounts or not, the EFF said. Ring’s privacy policy makes clear that it uses web analytics services. “The service providers that administer these services use automated technologies to collect data (such as email and IP addresses) to evaluate use of our websites and mobile apps,” it says. However, the policy also claims to identify which third-party services specifically are used by the company. The list, last updated in May 2018, does not include Facebook and other trackers currently in use. Screenshot: Ring.com “Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimize the customer experience, and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing,” a Ring spokesperson told Gizmodo. According to EFF’s research, Ring for Android version 3.21.1 delivers a range of personal information to the following sites: branch.io, mixpanel.com, appsflyer.com and facebook.com. Gizmodo also inspected Ring’s web traffic can confirm the EFF’s findings. “The danger in sending even small bits of information is that analytics and tracking companies are able to combine these bits together to form a unique picture of the user’s device,” EFF said. Privacy researchers refer to this as a digital “fingerprint,” which marketing companies use to paint a complete portrait of a person’s likes and activities. A Ring spokesperson said that Ring takes steps to ensure its service providers’ use of customer data is “contractually limited to appropriate purposes such as performing these services on our behalf and not for other purposes.” In the case of business analytics service MixPanel—the only tracker identified by EFF listed among Ring’s third-party services—Ring provides access to users’ names, email addresses, and device information, such OS version and model, EFF said. Ring told Gizmodo that MixPanel is used to target messaging within the app when new features become available, including security-related settings. Other trackers help the company identify which in-app features are performing the best, it said. Ring was purchased by Amazon in the summer of 2018. The company markets a line of home security products, including the popular Ring Doorbell, which uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers to store footage. Privacy advocates have scrutinized Ring heavily over the past year, largely due to its quickly expanding local law enforcement partnerships, the terms of which appear often to restrain public officials from speaking freely about the services Ring provides. Gizmodo reported last year, for example, that Ring had edited the written statements of police officials. In some cases, Ring’s intervened to omit the word “surveillance” from quotes attributed to senior police officials, warning them that use of the term could elicit “privacy concerns” among consumers. “Ring claims to prioritize the security and privacy of its customers,” EFF Senior Staff Technologist William Budington said in a statement, “yet time and again we’ve seen these claims not only fall short, but harm the customers and community members who engage with Ring’s surveillance system.” Updated, Article was updated to reflect Ring data collected by Gizmodo confirmed EFF’s findings. Source
  2. DuckDuckGo launches Tracker Radar and open sources its code The privacy search engine company, DuckDuckGo, has announced the availability of Tracker Radar which helps users boost their privacy online. Users can benefit from the tool by using DuckDuckGo’s apps and extensions. To block trackers with Tracker Radar, DuckDuckGo periodically crawls a large set of the top websites. It then looks at how often a resource is used in a third-party context, how often it sets cookies, how it uses browser APIs, and how likely it is that those APIs will identify individual users. With this method, DuckDuckGo can keep its list regularly up-to-date and it can discover new tracking techniques more easily. Aside from releasing Tracker Radar for end-users, DuckDuckGo is also open-sourcing the code which developers can use to spin tools of their own and create custom tracker blocklists. The company said that Tracker Radar will also be useful for researchers that are interested in learning more about how users are tracked around the web. DuckDuckGo highlighted that typical tracker blockers either use blocklists which are crowd-sourced and therefore subject to priorities and bias, or use heuristics. DuckDuckGo said heuristics are problematic because they build an identifiable list of things to block. If you want to use this tool, you’ll find it built into the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser mobile apps on iOS and Android as well as in the DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials desktop browser extensions on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Source: DuckDuckGo launches Tracker Radar and open sources its code (Neowin)
  3. The Best Trackers to Help You Find Your Keys, Dog, or Kid These are the best Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and cellular clips to ensure you never lose anything ever again. “Systems!” My friends and Marie Kondo's internet shout. “All you need is a system. As long as you always put your things down in the same place, you’ll never lose anything again,” they say, as I stagger in the door carrying children’s backpacks, a bag of dirty laundry, my fanny pack, and dog food. Like Elizabeth Bishop, I have developed losing into a fine art. I hid my Kindle from the 2-year-old, and now I can’t find it. My husband borrowed my wallet to grab the car insurance card; while I was looking for that, the dog got out of the yard. You may feel ambivalent about stalking your friends or loved ones (please resist the urge to sew a tracker into your shady boyfriend's coat), but without Bluetooth and GPS trackers, I would barely be able to function. I’ve listed my preferred uses for each of my favorite trackers, but many of these are multipurpose—if you can stick it on a dog, you can also stick it on a kid, and vice versa. For more ideas, check out our roundups on kids travel gear and our many other buying guides, such as the Best Strollers. Best for Kids Jiobit Location Monitoring Clip The Jiobit uses a combination of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular, and GPS data to keep track of your small one wherever they may go. It remains my favorite tracker for small children, and I’ve also heard of caretakers using a Jiobit with dementia patients. In 2019, Jiobit released a firmware update that lets you use it to track your pets. Jiobit also has rigorous security protocols, like including a dedicated chip to access the Jiobit servers and burning away part of the circuit board, so you can’t steal it and physically reprogram it. It’s small, waterproof, and comes with a multitude of options for attaching it to your child. I threaded the tester through the zipper pull on my kid's rain jacket. Best for Dogs Fi Collar I’ve tested several dog trackers on my patient pups, but the Fi is my favorite, if only for the battery life. While other trackers need to be recharged every week or so, the Fi only needs to be charged every three months. I received it last October and have had to recharge it only once. You don’t need to fiddle around with attaching or reattaching it to a collar when you charge it, since it comes with its own collar, and the unit is IP68-rated and waterproof. It also uses a combo of Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular connectivity to keep 24/7 tabs on your dog. Use the app to designate a safe zone around your house and alert you if your dog wanders off the property. It also includes a dog activity tracker and a collar light for walks at night. Best for Hiking LynQ People Finder Two-Pack The dread creeps over you slowly, as you wait at the bottom of a ski run or a trail crossing. Where is your friend? Are they lost? Dead? The only way they could be slower than this is if they were dead!!! The LynQ is a rugged, rechargeable, one-button carabiner that uses GPS to keep tabs on your friends anywhere in the world. You don't need a phone, service subscription, cell service, or Bluetooth. You can add up to 12 LynQs to a group, set a home location at your car or tent, or set up a group boundary by scrolling and clicking through the device’s menu. I clipped the carabiner to my dog’s harness while hiking and watched the pointer swing back and forth as it kept tabs on her for me. It also has an onboard digital compass, if you need even more help getting oriented. Best for Remotes Tile Sticker Two-Pack In the past few years, Tile has made its ubiquitous Bluetooth thing-finders even more useful by making them more durable and waterproof. It also introduced replaceable batteries. Last year, it released the Tile sticker, which means you can now Tile many things you couldn’t Tile before. The stickers are useful for items that wander. I have one on the tiny remote for my Apple TV and the back of my Kindle Paperwhite. Each sticker is waterproof, has a three-year battery life, and offers a 150-foot range, which is more than big enough for my small house and pretty impressive for a tool that’s so small. None of the stickers have fallen off in the six months I've used them. Having a tiny bump on the top of the remote is a small price to pay for being able to find it when I need to put on Paw Patrol ASAP. Also Good for Keys Chipolo One I'm a Tile devotee—I have them on my key ring and in my wallet too. But my colleague Julian Chokkattu also likes the Chipolo One. It costs the same as a Tile but comes in a variety of attractive colors. As Julian notes, setup is simple. When you ring for your Chipolo, it's loud so that it's easy to find. If you mark an item as being lost in the app, another Chipolo user can help find it for you—if they walk past it, they'll update its location in your app. Like the Tile, you can choose to get alerts if you leave the house without your keys. As with many Bluetooth trackers, the connection can get wonky, but it's usually able to find an accurate last location. Best for People Your Phone As many of my colleagues have noted, the best people-tracker is the device that many of us keep nearby at all times. It's also the one I use the most often. Google Maps, Life360, and Apple's Find My are just three popular ways for people to share their location with close contacts. I use Apple's Find My all the time, whether to reassure my kids their dad will be home soon or to meet up with family members while traveling. Apple's Find My is the safest, as both Google Maps and Life360 require you to store location history. However, location sharing can be turned against you. You can also restrict the length of time that you share with a contact, or turn off location sharing in the app itself. Source: The Best Trackers to Help You Find Your Keys, Dog, or Kid (Wired)
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