Časoris
V pogojih uporabe omrežij in aplikacij mora biti vedno jasno zapisano, katere podatke o nas zbirajo in komu jih lahko posredujejo. Foto: Melpomenem/Dreamstime
V pogojih uporabe omrežij in aplikacij mora biti vedno jasno zapisano, katere podatke o nas zbirajo in komu jih lahko posredujejo. Foto: Melpomenem/Dreamstime

Whistleblowers and independent technology researchers are making our world better

Do you know who whistleblowers are?

You might think of simply whistling tunes, but that’s not the right answer.

A whistleblower is a person who chooses to disclose illegal or potentially harmful activity that he or she has witnessed – usually in the course of his or her work.

Such a person is very principled and also has a lot of courage because he stands against someone (or something) much larger than himself – this is what we call integrity. This person is someone who is willing to sacrifice a lot personally for the good of the community.

But what does it mean to be an independent technology researcher?

This means that neither the technology organizations you are investigating nor their competing organizations are paying for your work.

Felix Krause is an independent researcher, who used to be an engineer at Google, but now he uses his knowledge to investigate what big technology corporations are doing.

He is mainly interested in whether they invade our privacy more than they admit to us. He did the research from the point of view of using iOS, which is considered a more private and secure choice.

What happens when we click through Facebook and Instagram?

In the terms of the use of networks and applications – it must always be clearly stated which information about us is being collected and to whom it can be forwarded.

Korporacija Facebook je sedaj Meta. Vir: Pixabay
The Facebook corporation is now Meta. Source: Pixabay

Krause recently discovered that when we use Facebook (FB) and Instagram (IG), when we click on a link, an additional stalker is attached to us – invisible to us. It is a piece of software code that follows us and records all our activities on other pages.

He discovered this by programming a tool that detected any additional commands that a browser or application adds to a website.

For normal browsers and most apps, the tool doesn’t detect changes, but for FB and IG it found about 18 extra lines of code.

With this serious security problems can arise because they can intercept, for example, the passwords that we enter.

So is Meta (the corporation that owns FB and IG) intentionally intercepting our passwords and other sensitive information that we enter on other websites?

Probably not, but they definitely added secret stalkers to their software code quite deliberately because they want to know as much as possible about us and our habits. The more they know about us, the more they can earn from it.

What does TikTok know about us?

Of course, Meta is not the only one using such approaches. Among other things, Krause revealed that TikTok is also very curious.

Ameriški predsednik Donald Trump razmišlja, da bi ukinil TikTok. Vir: Adobe Stock
Source: Adobe Stock

When you open any link in the TikTok iOS app, it opens in their in-app browser. TikTok records everything you type, including passwords and credit card information. It also records every screen touch, which is every link you click.

All these revelations have been eye-opening, but we don’t know yet what they will change.

What can we do?

We probably won’t all become technology researchers, but for starters, we need to realize that using social networks isn’t always just carefree fun.

Also, it would be wise to learn at least a little bit about the basics of privacy protection.

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Glossary

iOS is a mobile operating system developed by Apple for its devices. Most devices use the Android operating system, whereas iOS is the second most used.

A browser, or web browser, is a computer program that enables access to the World Wide Web, allows you to browse the Internet, and displays HTML documents and multimedia content.

A corporation is a large company or group of companies that work as one for business purposes.

***

The original version of this article was published on October 1st.

Podprite Časoris - poljubno

Maja

Vreča dela na Arnesu in sodeluje v projektu Safe.si. Želi si, da bi čim več ljudi razumelo ozadja novih tehnologij - da bi bili več kot le uporabniki, da bi bili pametni uporabniki interneta.

Rebecca

Svetina is an English translator, EFL educator, and graphic designer. She is an American who has lived in Slovenia since 2008. She loves hiking and traveling with her family.

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