Tim Sparapani joins PrivacyMate as a Strategic Advisor

sparapaniChevy Chase, Maryland

Tim Sparapani was the first Director of Public Policy at Facebook. There, he developed and led the implementation of the company’s interaction with federal, state, local and foreign governments and with opinion and policy makers.  He managed these roles as Facebook grew from 150 million to more than 900 million active users and from 350 employees to more than 3,000.  Prior to Facebook, Tim was Senior Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he helped advance the constitutional principle of the right to privacy, representing the ACLU before Congress, the Executive Branch and the media.  

Tim is a frequent public speaker on topics related to emerging technologies. He has testified before Congress five times and given more than 500 TV, radio and print interviews.

He is also the Principal at SPQR Strategies, PLLC, is a legislative, legal and strategic consultant who helps companies understand and respond to the pressures created for businesses, consumers and governments by emerging technologies. Tim’s specialties are privacy, technology and constitutional law.

At PrivacyMate, Tim will keep us ahead of the curve while navigating the complex world of personal information privacy for our partners and clients.

Doxxing: the online privacy nightmare and how to avoid it

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Doxxing is the internet based practice of researching and broadcasting (publicizing) private or identifiable information about a person, typically with malicious intent.

The internet makes it simple to find private information about a person, such their date of birth, address and phone number, simply by typing their name into a search.  People search sites have replaced calling 411 or using the White Pages because they are quick and easy to use.  Doxxing, however, takes things a few steps further down a dangerous path.  Doxxers seek to tie an anonymous online profile to the true identity of the person behind it and then publicly reveal that person’s name, along with personal details ranging from home addresses and unlisted numbers to their Social Security number, children’s names or credit card information.  Anyone who uses social media or has an identity online is subject to getting doxxed.

Unless you go off-grid, the best way to prevent being “doxxed” is to stop data brokers from storing, selling and spreading your personal information.

This can be a daunting task.

Data brokers, also called information brokers or information resellers, are businesses that collect personal information about us and sell it to others.  Data brokers scour the online and offline world to collect hundreds of pieces of information about each of us so that they can construct a “profile” and sell that profile to the highest bidder.  These exchanges lead not only to our information spreading across the web, but also telemarketing calls, junk mail, spam, identity theft and, sadly, doxxing.

There is a way to protect against data brokers.  Each is obligated to offer you the opportunity opt-out and remove your information from their databases, servers and repositories.  The problem is, we are aware of several hundred online and offline data brokers.  The task of contacting them all would take days, if not weeks, of full time work.

The best long-term solution is to look into a company like PrivacyMate who will ensure your information gets removed and stays removed.

Uber tracks us before and AFTER the ride. Here’s how to stop it.

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Uber has announced it will now be tracking you after you leave the car.  They say this tracking happens for five minutes post-ride but one wonders how they then will simply stop.  Is Uber taking our privacy seriously?

In fairness, Uber claims it will help cut down the frustration experienced when drivers and passengers can’t locate each other.  On their website, they said: ‘Uber collects your location data from the time of trip request through five minutes after the trip ends, including when the app is in the background.

Whether you think its Orwelian or just a tad bit invasive, here’s how you can protect your privacy from Uber’s tracking of your location:

On iPhone: Open Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Uber >  ‘Never.’

On Android phones running Marshmallow, do this: Open Settings > Apps > Uber > ‘Permission’ > ‘Location’ (disable it)

Or, when you download or update (or re-install) the app, a pop-up message will ask you if you are happy to ‘Allow ‘Uber’ to access your location even when you are not using the app’

You can say no (the option will read ‘never’ or ‘don’t allow’).

What are other geo-location apps doing about our privacy?