Ashkan Soltani

Ashkan Soltani was the Chief Technologist of the Federal Trade Commission.[1] He was previously an independent privacy and security researcher, based in Washington, DC.

Between 2010 and 2011, he worked for the US Federal Trade Commission as a staff technologist in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, where he assisted with the investigations of Google and Facebook. He has also worked as the primary technical consultant to the Wall Street Journal's What They Know series investigating online privacy.

In 2011, he testified at two different hearings held by US Senate committees focused on privacy related matters. Julia Angwin, in her 2014 book Dragnet Nation, describes Soltani as 'the leading technical expert on ad tracking technology'.[2] He was part of the team at The Washington Post that shared the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with The Guardian US and earned the 2014 Gerald Loeb Award for Large Newspapers[3] for their coverage of the disclosures about surveillance done by the US National Security Agency.[4][5][6][7]

Ashkan Soltani
Ashkan Soltani (7250137444)
ResidenceWashington, DC, United States
Alma mater
OccupationChief Technologist, Federal Trade Commission; Privacy and security researcher
Websiteashkansoltani.org

Flash cookie research

Soltani's first high-profile research project was a 2009 study, supported by the National Science Foundation's Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Computing, documenting the use of zombie Flash cookies by several online advertising networks.[8] Soltani and his colleagues at Berkeley revealed that websites were recreating tracking cookies after consumers deleted them by storing the unique tracking identifiers in Flash cookies, which were not automatically deleted when consumers cleared their browser cookies.[9]

After the publication of Soltani's research, class action law firms filed suit against several advertising networks and websites. Quantcast, Clearspring and VideoEgg collectively agreed to pay a total of $3.4 million to settle the lawsuits.[10]

ETag tracking research

In 2011, Soltani and Berkeley law professor Chris Hoofnagle published a follow-up study, documenting the use of web browser cache ETags to store persistent identifiers.[11] As with the case of Flash cookies, the identifiers stored in the ETags persisted even after consumers deleted their browser cookies.[12] The ETag tracking issue caught the attention of several members of Congress, who wrote to the Federal Trade Commission in September 2011 and urged the agency to investigate the use of advanced tracking technologies as a potentially unfair or deceptive business practice.[13]

Several companies performing ETag based tracking that were identified by the research team were subsequently sued by class action lawyers. In January 2013, KISSmetrics, an online advertising network, settled its ETag related lawsuit for $500,000.[14]

References

  1. ^ "Federal Trade Commission Appoints Ashkan Soltani as Chief Technologist". Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  2. ^ Angwin, Julia (2014). Dragnet Nation. New York, NY: Times Books, Henry Holt & Company. p. 178. ISBN 978-0805098075.
  3. ^ "UCLA Anderson School of Management Announces 2014 Gerald Loeb Award Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. June 24, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  4. ^ Barton Gellman; Craig Timberg & Steven Rich (5 October 2013). "Files show NSA targeted Tor encrypted network" (PDF). The Washington Post. (Contributors: Ashkan Soltani and Julie Tate)
  5. ^ Barton Gellman & Ashkan Soltani (15 October 2013). "NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally" (PDF). The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  6. ^ Barton Gellman & Ashkan Soltani (31 October 2013). "NSA taps Yahoo, Google links" (PDF). The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  7. ^ Barton Gellman & Ashkan Soltani (4 December 2013). "NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show" (PDF). The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  8. ^ Singel, Ryan (2009-08-10). "You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again". Wired News. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  9. ^ Soltani, Ashkan; Canty, Shannon; Mayo, Quentin; Thomas, Lauren and Hoofnagle, Chris Jay, "Flash Cookies and Privacy" (August 10, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1446862
  10. ^ Davis, Wendy (2011-11-23). "Metacafe Promises Not To Use Flash Cookies For Tracking". MediaPost New. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  11. ^ Ayenson, Mika, Wambach, Dietrich James, Soltani, Ashkan, Good, Nathan and Hoofnagle, Chris Jay, Flash Cookies and Privacy II: Now with HTML5 and ETag Respawning (July 29, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1898390
  12. ^ Singel, Ryan (2011-07-29). "Researchers Expose Cunning Online Tracking Service That Can't Be Dodged". Wired News. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  13. ^ Lee, Timothy B. (2011-09-27). "Congressmen blast "supercookies" as privacy menace". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  14. ^ Davis, Wendy (2013-01-23). "KISSmetrics Finalizes Supercookies Settlement". MediaPost New. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash is a deprecated multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich Internet applications, desktop applications, mobile applications, mobile games and embedded web browser video players. Flash displays text, vector graphics and raster graphics to provide animations, video games and applications. It allows streaming of audio and video, and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone and camera input. Related development platform Adobe AIR continues to be supported.

Artists may produce Flash graphics and animations using Adobe Animate. Software developers may produce applications and video games using Adobe Flash Builder, FlashDevelop, Flash Catalyst, or any text editor when used with the Apache Flex SDK.

End-users can view Flash content via Flash Player (for web browsers), AIR (for desktop or mobile apps) or third-party players such as Scaleform (for video games). Adobe Flash Player (supported on Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux) enables end-users to view Flash content using web browsers. Adobe Flash Lite enabled viewing Flash content on older smartphones, but has been discontinued and superseded by Adobe AIR.

The ActionScript programming language allows the development of interactive animations, video games, web applications, desktop applications and mobile applications. Programmers can implement Flash software using an IDE such as Adobe Animate, Adobe Flash Builder, Adobe Director, FlashDevelop and Powerflasher FDT. Adobe AIR enables full-featured desktop and mobile applications to be developed with Flash and published for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii U, and Switch.

Although Flash was previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content, it is slowly being abandoned as Adobe favors a transition to HTML5. Flash Player has been deprecated and has an official end-of-life at the end of 2020. However, Adobe will continue to develop Adobe AIR, a related technology for building stand-alone applications and games.

Chris Hoofnagle

Chris Jay Hoofnagle is an American professor at the University of California, Berkeley who teaches information privacy law, computer crime law, regulation of online privacy, and internet law.Hoofnagle has contributed to the privacy literature through a set of surveys that establish that most Americans prefer not to be targeted online for advertising and that, despite claims to the contrary, young people care about privacy and take actions to protect it. Hoofnagle is the author of Federal Trade Commission Privacy Law and Policy, a history of the FTC's consumer protection and privacy efforts.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is an independent non-profit research center in Washington, D.C. EPIC's mission is to focus public attention on emerging privacy and related human rights issues. EPIC works to protect privacy, freedom of expression, and democratic values, and to promote the Public Voice in decisions concerning the future of the Internet.

EPIC pursues a wide range of civil liberties, consumer protection, and human rights issues. EPIC has pursued several successful consumer privacy complaints with the US Federal Trade Commission, concerning Snapchat (faulty privacy technology), WhatsApp (privacy policy after acquisition by Facebook), Facebook (changes in user privacy settings), Google (roll-out of Google Buzz), Microsoft (Hailstorm log-in), and Choicepoint (sale of personal information to identity thieves). EPIC has also prevailed in significant Freedom of Information Act cases against the CIA, the DHS, the Dept. of Education, the FBI, the NSA, the ODNI, and the TSA. EPIC has also filed many "friend of the court" briefs on law and technology, including Riley v. California (U.S. 2014) (concerning cell phone privacy), and litigated important privacy cases, including EPIC v. DHS (D.C. Cir. 2011), which led to the removal of the x-ray body scanners in US airports, and EPIC v. NSA (D.C. Cir. 2014), which led to the release of the NSA's formerly secret cybersecurity authority. EPIC also challenged the NSA's domestic surveillance program in a petition to the US Supreme Court. In re EPIC, (U.S. 2013) after the release of the "Verizon Order" in June 2013. One of EPIC's current cases concerns the obligation of the Federal Aviation Administration to establish privacy regulations prior to the deployment of commercial drones in the United States.

EPIC works closely with a distinguished advisory board, with expertise in law, technology and public policy.

Based in Washington, D.C., EPIC engages the national debate over the future of privacy. With an office in Somerville, Massachusetts, EPIC works on state and local issues across the country. And with strong ties to organizations around the world, EPIC has a global presence.

Gerald Loeb Award winners for Large Newspapers

The Gerald Loeb Award is given annually for multiple categories of business reporting. The "Newspaper" category was awarded in 1958–1973. It was split into two categories beginning in 1974: "Small Newspapers" and "Large Newspapers". A thirdh category, "Medium Newspapers", was created in 1987. The small and medium newspaper awards were combined together as "Medium & Small Newspapers" in 2009–2012, and "Small & Medium Newspapers" in 2013–2014. The last year newspaper categories were awarded was 2014.

Global surveillance

Global surveillance refers to the mass surveillance of entire populations across national borders. Its roots can be traced back to the middle of the 20th century when the UKUSA Agreement was jointly enacted by the United Kingdom and the United States, which later expanded to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to create the present Five Eyes alliance. The alliance developed cooperation arrangements with several "third-party" nations. Eventually, this resulted in the establishment of a global surveillance network, code-named "ECHELON" (1971).Its existence, however, was not widely acknowledged by governments and the mainstream media until the global surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden triggered a debate about the right to privacy in the Digital Age.

Global surveillance by category

This is a category of disclosures related to global surveillance.

Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)

Ongoing news reports in the international media have revealed operational details about the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners' global surveillance of both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. The reports mostly emanate from a cache of top secret documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which he obtained whilst working for Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest contractors for defense and intelligence in the United States. In addition to a trove of U.S. federal documents, Snowden's cache reportedly contains thousands of Australian, British and Canadian intelligence files that he had accessed via the exclusive "Five Eyes" network. In June 2013, the first of Snowden's documents were published simultaneously by The Washington Post and The Guardian, attracting considerable public attention. The disclosure continued throughout 2013, and a small portion of the estimated full cache of documents was later published by other media outlets worldwide, most notably The New York Times (United States), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Der Spiegel (Germany), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), L'espresso (Italy), NRC Handelsblad (the Netherlands), Dagbladet (Norway), El País (Spain), and Sveriges Television (Sweden).These media reports have shed light on the implications of several secret treaties signed by members of the UKUSA community in their efforts to implement global surveillance. For example, Der Spiegel revealed how the German Foreign Intelligence Service (German: Bundesnachrichtendienst; BND) transfers "massive amounts of intercepted data to the NSA", while Swedish Television revealed the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) provided the NSA with data from its cable collection, under a secret treaty signed in 1954 for bilateral cooperation on surveillance. Other security and intelligence agencies involved in the practice of global surveillance include those in Australia (ASD), Britain (GCHQ), Canada (CSEC), Denmark (PET), France (DGSE), Germany (BND), Italy (AISE), the Netherlands (AIVD), Norway (NIS), Spain (CNI), Switzerland (NDB), Singapore (SID) as well as Israel (ISNU), which receives raw, unfiltered data of U.S. citizens that is shared by the NSA.On June 14, 2013, United States prosecutors charged Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property. In late July 2013, he was granted a one-year temporary asylum by the Russian government, contributing to a deterioration of Russia–United States relations. On August 6, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama made a public appearance on national television where he told Americans that "We don't have a domestic spying program" and that "There is no spying on Americans". Towards the end of October 2013, the British Prime Minister David Cameron warned The Guardian not to publish any more leaks, or it will receive a DA-Notice. In November 2013, a criminal investigation of the disclosure was being undertaken by Britain's Metropolitan Police Service. In December 2013, The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: "We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we've seen."The extent to which the media reports have responsibly informed the public is disputed. In January 2014, Obama said that "the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light" and critics such as Sean Wilentz have noted that many of the Snowden documents released do not concern domestic surveillance. The US & UK Defense establishment weigh the strategic harm in the period following the disclosures more heavily than their civic public benefit. In its first assessment of these disclosures, the Pentagon concluded that Snowden committed the biggest "theft" of U.S. secrets in the history of the United States. Sir David Omand, a former director of GCHQ, described Snowden's disclosure as the "most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever".

Google Safe Browsing

Google Safe Browsing is a blacklist service provided by Google that provides lists of URLs for web resources that contain malware or phishing content. The Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Vivaldi, and GNOME Web browsers use the lists from the Google Safe Browsing service for checking pages against potential threats. Google also provides a public API for the service.Google also provides information to Internet service providers, by sending e-mail alerts to autonomous system operators regarding threats hosted on their networks.According to Google, as of September 2017, over 3 billion Internet devices are protected by this service.

HTTP ETag

The ETag or entity tag is part of HTTP, the protocol for the World Wide Web. It is one of several mechanisms that HTTP provides for web cache validation, which allows a client to make conditional requests. This allows caches to be more efficient, and saves bandwidth, as a web server does not need to send a full response if the content has not changed. ETags can also be used for optimistic concurrency control, as a way to help prevent simultaneous updates of a resource from overwriting each other.

An ETag is an opaque identifier assigned by a web server to a specific version of a resource found at a URL. If the resource representation at that URL ever changes, a new and different ETag is assigned. Used in this manner ETags are similar to fingerprints, and they can be quickly compared to determine whether two representations of a resource are the same.

PRISM (surveillance program)

PRISM is a code name for a program under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collects Internet communications from various US Internet companies. The program is also known by the SIGAD US-984XN. PRISM collects stored Internet communications based on demands made to Internet companies such as Google LLC under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to turn over any data that match court-approved search terms. The NSA can use these PRISM requests to target communications that were encrypted when they traveled across the Internet backbone, to focus on stored data that telecommunication filtering systems discarded earlier, and to get data that is easier to handle, among other things.PRISM began in 2007 in the wake of the passage of the Protect America Act under the Bush Administration. The program is operated under the supervision of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court, or FISC) pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Its existence was leaked six years later by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who warned that the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew and included what he characterized as "dangerous" and "criminal" activities. The disclosures were published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013. Subsequent documents have demonstrated a financial arrangement between the NSA's Special Source Operations division (SSO) and PRISM partners in the millions of dollars.Documents indicate that PRISM is "the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports", and it accounts for 91% of the NSA's Internet traffic acquired under FISA section 702 authority." The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the FISA Court had been ordering a subsidiary of telecommunications company Verizon Communications to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers' telephone calls.U.S. government officials have disputed some aspects of the Guardian and Washington Post stories and have defended the program by asserting it cannot be used on domestic targets without a warrant, that it has helped to prevent acts of terrorism, and that it receives independent oversight from the federal government's executive, judicial and legislative branches. On June 19, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama, during a visit to Germany, stated that the NSA's data gathering practices constitute "a circumscribed, narrow system directed at us being able to protect our people."

Redlining

In the United States and Canada, redlining is the systematic denial of various services to residents of specific, often racially associated, neighborhoods or communities, either directly or through the selective raising of prices. While the best known examples of redlining have involved denial of financial services such as banking or insurance, other services such as health care (see also Race and health) or even supermarkets have been denied to residents. In the case of retail businesses like supermarkets, purposely locating impractically far away from said residents results in a redlining effect. Reverse redlining occurs when a lender or insurer targets particular neighborhoods that are predominantly nonwhite, not to deny residents loans or insurance, but rather to charge them more than in a non-redlined neighborhood where there is more competition.In the 1960s, sociologist John McKnight coined the term "redlining" to describe the discriminatory practice of fencing off areas where banks would avoid investments based on community demographics. During the heyday of redlining, the areas most frequently discriminated against were black inner city neighborhoods. For example, in Atlanta in the 1980s, a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles by investigative reporter Bill Dedman showed that banks would often lend to lower-income whites but not to middle-income or upper-income blacks. The use of blacklists is a related mechanism also used by redliners to keep track of groups, areas, and people that the discriminating party feels should be denied business or aid or other transactions. In the academic literature, redlining falls under the broader category of credit rationing.

Samy Kamkar

Samy Kamkar (born December 10, 1985) is an American privacy and security researcher, computer hacker, whistleblower and entrepreneur. At the age of 16, Kamkar dropped out of high school and one year later, co-founded Fonality, a unified communications company based on open source software, which raised over $46 million in private funding. He is possibly best known for creating and releasing the fastest spreading virus of all time, the MySpace worm Samy, and being subsequently raided for it by the United States Secret Service, under the Patriot Act. He is also known for creating SkyJack, a custom drone which hacks into any nearby Parrot drones allowing them to be controlled by its operator, and for creating the Evercookie, which appeared in a top-secret NSA document revealed by Edward Snowden and on the front page of The New York Times. He is also known for his work with The Wall Street Journal and his discovery of the illicit mobile phone tracking where the Apple iPhone, Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone mobile devices transmit GPS and Wi-Fi information to their parent companies. His mobile research led to a series of class-action lawsuits against the companies and a privacy hearing on Capitol Hill.

Spotlight (software)

Spotlight is a system-wide desktop search feature of Apple's macOS and iOS operating systems. Spotlight is a selection-based search system, which creates an index of all items and files on the system. It is designed to allow the user to quickly locate a wide variety of items on the computer, including documents, pictures, music, applications, and System Preferences. In addition, specific words in documents and in web pages in a web browser's history or bookmarks can be searched. It also allows the user to narrow down searches with creation dates, modification dates, sizes, types and other attributes. Spotlight also offers quick access to definitions from the built-in New Oxford American Dictionary and to calculator functionality. There are also command-line tools to perform functions such as Spotlight searches.

Spotlight was first announced at the June 2004 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, and then released with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in April 2005.A similar feature for iOS 3.0 with the same name was announced on March 17, 2009.

Timeline of global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)

This timeline of global surveillance disclosures from 2013 to the present day is a chronological list of the global surveillance disclosures that began in 2013. The disclosures have been largely instigated by revelations from the former American National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

University of California, Berkeley School of Information

The UC Berkeley School of Information or the I School is a graduate school offering four degree programs: a professional master's degree in Information Management and Systems (MIMS), a professional master's degree in Information and Data Science (MIDS), a professional master's degree in Information and Cybersecurity (MICS), and an academic doctoral degree. Created in 1994, the I School is UC Berkeley's newest school. It was previously known as the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) until 2006. Its roots trace back to UC Berkeley's School of Librarianship founded in the 1920s. The program is located in UC Berkeley's South Hall, near Sather Tower in the center of the UC Berkeley campus.

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