Privacy Please

S5, E195 - Trading Privacy for Profit: Navigating the Data Brokerage Dilemma

January 11, 2024
Privacy Please
S5, E195 - Trading Privacy for Profit: Navigating the Data Brokerage Dilemma
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Show Notes Transcript

Could your phone be spilling your secrets without your consent? Join us as we unravel the unnerving truths behind data privacy infringements, spotlighting the FTC's recent clampdown on X mode. In this enlightening conversation, we explore the treacherous terrain where personal phone location data is bartered for profit, inviting listeners to contemplate the fine line between technological convenience and privacy erosion. We're not shy about the tough questions or the complex answers, with nods to thought leaders like Jeff Jokisch and Heidi Shey for their expert perspectives on this critical issue.

This episode is a tapestry of humor, insight, and a serious call to action for tighter regulation in a market that all-too-often undermines our societal values for the sake of profit. Tune in, and you might find yourself weighing the true price of digital convenience against the cold reality of a world where your every move could be for sale.

Shout outs:

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/heidi-saas-31a7a16_analysis-of-proposed-consent-order-to-aid-activity-7150572092676009984-cd8C/

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/jozian_locationdata-locationprivacy-databrokers-activity-7150638135587078145-Qp8D/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

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Speaker 1:

Oh, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to privacy, please, camera. I be here with Gabe Gums. We're back at you with another show. How you?

Speaker 2:

doing sir doing well. It's good to see you again this week. It's good to see you. It's good, it's so. First second full week into the new year. Mm-hmm, yeah, how's it treating?

Speaker 1:

yourself. It's treating me well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, can't complain a little cold down here in Florida, to goddamn cold down. Yeah, they move. I didn't move here for the.

Speaker 1:

Back now. We had wins yesterday. What was that? I don't know. That's not the hurricane season was over. It's crazy top tornado warnings yeah. Just clean my yard for real. Oh, it's sticks and I need any leaves.

Speaker 2:

And it's nonsense. Whatever it's not going out there to rake it. It's 60 degrees. For Christ's sake, it's cold, it is.

Speaker 1:

It's cold, it's too cold.

Speaker 2:

everybody up north is like how they're mad at us right now. They salty. Take that salt and go put it on your snow, don't at me.

Speaker 1:

So, gabe, let's dive into some some hot, some hot topics. We'll shout out little shout out to our friend Jeff Joe kish. He did post something about this and we found this pretty fascinating. But if you guys aren't familiar with a company called X mode, it is basically a Data broker that sells your personal information. So apparently, what was it? Ftc bands X mode from selling phone location data and orders firm to delete collected data. There's a Lot that we can unpack here, but what are your thoughts on this at first?

Speaker 2:

so a Couple of more shout out. So, heidi, heidi sass did a really good write up on this. We'll post the. We should post the links.

Speaker 2:

This we will post links to both chefs chefs Just comments, and Heidi's Heidi's you know, too long, didn't read on it which is absolutely fabulous. My primary take on it is that this information was first or or, like some of the flags, first came about when this information was sold to, you know, the US government and and Defense agencies, and so I obviously have significant challenges with organizations selling our, our privacy data. But and Our government intentionally has these checks and balances built into it where you, where you're, your trust is on On their ability to actually do those things might be a different conversation, but, but there are ultimately checks and balances built in, and so this article is about the FTC. One of those checks and balances. Right, like Telling these organizations no, you cannot do that, like you cannot sell citizens, move location data in this way, like there's there's lots of other reasons behind it, and I think I do does a much better job of covering those things and I will.

Speaker 2:

But but the biggest challenge I see here, that and the largest set of questions to be asked, is Not around just companies like X mode, I just assume. Shut every single one of them down, because I can't think of value that they add to society and sometimes, sometimes, we should control the markets. Yes, don't at me again, folks. I don't want to hear any. You, you, you firm capitalist, libertarian socialists or anyone else for that I want your feedback on these topics.

Speaker 2:

I'm telling you that I do not believe that all organizations necessarily should exist just because they can make a profit. Right Like there's some business like verifier is not allowed to exist. Right Like, so we already regulate business like let's not pretend like we don't whoa yeah, you haven't hired Before just a once. But not normal. I mean I Long day, so I'm still stressed out. Been a long year, my my breakfast was cold, my coffee was hot, you know.

Speaker 1:

Listen, you can't get mad at Denny's for going to Denny's, you know, Sam.

Speaker 2:

That's true, but hitman work off hitman work.

Speaker 1:

It's where.

Speaker 2:

It's where it's okay, but but there's a larger privacy conversation to be had here about how our government which you know, by using a third-party data broker, is both a a nice clever way around, what, what is, is the rightful way to go about. You know, say subpoena, you know, getting a, even a visus, a pina to get Cameron's data. If there's this other legal entity that is allowed to just sell you this data, I, like the government, gets to circumvent those other checks and balances. And so I find it interesting also that the FTC, which is, you know, part of one of our legislative arms Um, is it? I think it is, ooh, civics class, I don't recall. It's certainly not part of the executive branch, and the FTC doesn't make, it, doesn't make any rules. So it's not part of the legislative branch, right, oh?

Speaker 1:

This was. I don't know if it was stated on, but this also bans Google and Apple From doing this. It's inclusion in apps yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, if I recall, google and Apple were told, like they told developers to stop, to stop using those modules also. Right, it does break the question whether or not you know Google or Apple sells that data also, like they are not data brokers. But do they sell that data?

Speaker 1:

This could be an interesting question to our friend, our ethical hacker friend. It's names, it'll come to me. I want to maybe tag him and ask him about the situation, if he's ever digged into it. You know what I'm talking about, right.

Speaker 2:

I don't know. I mean, we have a lot of friends.

Speaker 1:

You should know all the names. I'm an ethical hacker.

Speaker 2:

A lot of our friends are ethical hackers You're going to have to be more specific.

Speaker 1:

Thomas Hansen. Which one Thomas?

Speaker 2:

Perkins Thomas, I was going to say that. Robert, there's at least four or five that have been on the show. That's fair, that's fair.

Speaker 1:

I'll shout out to Thomas and all of our other friends yeah, you know the guy, the guy who acts the things, it breaks things. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

That guy, that guy I mean you could have said the lady who acts the things but I still wouldn't have known, because we've had not less than five or six of those on the show. Also, that's true, we keep company with some ethical hackers. We've been known to cover it with some folks.

Speaker 1:

Well, the question before we go on what do you think the ban could influence? The broader scope of all the other multi-billion dollar companies, like data broker industry?

Speaker 2:

That's the thing for me. This is a bit of a red herring, if you would. This is a bit of a it's not a completely red herring. Let me answer your question. I think it sets a clear precedent and it draws a line in the sand that now, with anyone tiptoes across it, everyone can be held to the same standard. That's the great news there.

Speaker 2:

The red herring for me is like it tells me nothing about the intent behind why the government was collecting all that data. I can theorize until I'm blue in the face, and I'm certain we all can, because you can take it from the very innocent end of hey, we just wanted to track people that were already naughty to all the way to George Orwell. And collecting this data over time and minority report, I don't know what you start doing with it. It draws a commercial line in the sand. That's great, but I really want to revisit the part where it was being sold to my government. I want another response, if not from the FTC, from someone else, that doesn't just say this data can't be sold. I want to also say it cannot be purchased by these people, it cannot be consumed, gathered. I know I'm asking for things that might be.

Speaker 1:

Okay, let me ask you this, gabe, at that point how can we, as consumers, ensure that our location data is handled responsibly? Is there a way that that is even Horses out of the barn. I know you carry around a phone that horses out of the barn.

Speaker 2:

The only genuine answer is you unplug from the matrix. How?

Speaker 1:

do you like, there are secure phones Out of the barn.

Speaker 2:

There are secure phones you can purchase. There are secure phones that you can purchase. You want me to go?

Speaker 1:

back to a flip phone, a dinosaur phone, what?

Speaker 2:

is this yeah?

Speaker 1:

Actually it might be good for our civilization. Have you looked outside lately? Most people are just like it looks like they're playing Pokemon Go 24-7. Yeah, that's for truth, and some actually might be, if it's still a thing.

Speaker 2:

I don't remember. If it is, I'm trying to remember there was Darknet Diaries. That was it Darknet Diaries, jack Reisider, if you've never checked out Darknet Diaries, you absolutely should. They cover a lot of hacking topics. It overlaps, obviously. They're in the security space. They did a great episode covering secure phones, some of the many different ones that were out there, some of the many problems that arose because of it, some of the reasons why some of those organizations ended up closing up shop.

Speaker 2:

But, to answer your question, if you don't want your location data to track, there's only one way it's to remove the means to do so. Now, if your question is more, how do you keep your location data from being sold, I think the answer is you have to join the movement of people that do not find it agreeable, right, right. What do I mean by that? There are a lot of lay folks, people that likely don't listen to this podcast, that don't through no fault of their own, just don't take their own privacy as seriously, and so it's up to us, as privacy advocates, to drive that message home to anyone that will listen to us drawn on about it for more than five seconds, right, yes?

Speaker 1:

Well, I think the FTC's action definitely underscores the importance of obviously going after these data brokers and holding them accountable Freaking data brokers and like what about policymakers? And strengthening like privacy laws even further. Obviously, it takes time, but maybe this is a good step in the right direction. For sure, yeah, yeah, I don't know.

Speaker 2:

I approve of the decision overall, but again, I would turn our listeners definitely onto a couple of those posts. Go check out Heidi's posts and I love the way she opens it. I hate all capital letters. Data brokers and I'm right there with you. I am right there with you, sister. I can't. I detest data brokers. I don't even like using the word data brokers and I'm just going to refer to them as absolute data thieves. Some of you know them, some of you know them colloquially as data brokers, but they are data they're data traffickers, so are they like pirates?

Speaker 2:

I like pirates.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, I do too, I'm a pirate. I don't know, though, would you really want to be a pirate though?

Speaker 2:

Short answer yes.

Speaker 1:

They were pretty dirty.

Speaker 2:

I mean, but they had a code of conduct, that's true, a strict code of conduct.

Speaker 1:

You know what's funny? I just thought about this. This whole scenario is something that we've brought up in the past and it goes back to where do we strike a healthy balance between technological advancement and protecting user privacy?

Speaker 2:

It's getting harder every day. It's technology advances, it gets harder, and technology outpaces the law. It always has, it always will by design, I should add, which is okay. You don't want to be too close on the heels, because it's hard to tell what the impacts of some of those decisions might be Now is it by human design? Or machine design.

Speaker 1:

Or artificial intelligence.

Speaker 2:

It's by human design.

Speaker 1:

It's by human design.

Speaker 2:

I like pirates. As far as we know, they also value equality, right, like data brokers don't value equality. They see our data. They're after our loot, yeah they're after our loot. They're after our booty. They're trying to get to our booty.

Speaker 1:

Shout out to booty who doesn't love those? My kid still eats those. That's good.

Speaker 2:

I'm glad that's where that went, but shout out to booty.

Speaker 1:

You know what I'm talking about the cheese puffs, the cheese slits.

Speaker 2:

I understand I understand. I was just agreeing. Shout out to booty.

Speaker 1:

Shout out to booty, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Totally pirate Again. I love pirates.

Speaker 1:

I'm a big pirate fan, Big pirate fan Shout out to Johnny Dent All right, there, it is. There it is. Any last thoughts on this game? Anything, no.

Speaker 2:

Again, I do really want to give credit to some of the folks who spend their time like, steeped in the law and the practice of it. So definitely go check out Heidi's breakdown of this. We'll post that. Have a look at Jeff's comments. But I invite a larger conversation around why this data was allowed to be sold, because that's just an obvious circumvention of a collection of citizen data that just shouldn't have happened.

Speaker 1:

Because who cares? They're getting money.

Speaker 2:

That's accurate, but this is the classic, the report of buried the lead on this. For me, they really buried the lead on this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. Well, it's super interesting. We'll keep track of this, but, gabe, thank you sir.

Speaker 2:

Always, always, last shout out before we go we're still launching some new stuff, right Like this digital life coming to you. Soon We'll be announcing a whole bunch of new things. We got a new domain, we got new shows, we've got new sponsors, we've got new guests. It's a whole new world. A whole new world.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, and this musical number is brought to you by. I'm just kidding.

Speaker 2:

But seriously Data thieves, data thieves.

Speaker 1:

Who is now known as. Just so you know what was it Outlogic, outlogic.

Speaker 2:

That's right If you see them before it comes out. That's their new name people, so look out for it. Outlogic Look out. Keep an eye out for that, stay away, stay away, stay away.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, stay away, but we're coming for you. But stay away, stay away, stay away, stay away, stay away. All right, listeners, we'll see you next week. Thanks for tuning in Right on.

Speaker 2:

Bye bud.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for tuning in, you too, over there here Up here we will stand. There are a lot of stuff out there. All right, everybody read it. My name's.