Safe display of external images in Gmail

Official Gmail Blog lets us know that the latest update to Gmail now safely shows external images.  Most other email programs and services disable image show by default, because these can either contain all kinds of malware, or they can be used for tracking.  Gmail solves it now by downloading those images and serving them to users from its own servers.

But thanks to new improvements in how Gmail handles images, you’ll soon see all images displayed in your messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android. Instead of serving images directly from their original external host servers, Gmail will now serve all images through Google’s own secure proxy servers.

So what does this mean for you? Simple: your messages are more safe and secure, your images are checked for known viruses or malware, and you’ll never have to press that pesky “display images below” link again. With this new change, your email will now be safer, faster and more beautiful than ever.

I’m not the biggest fan of HTML emails, but since I have not much choice in this area, I’d rather receive emails with images – at least I won’t be trying to make sense of empty layouts with no text anymore.

Facebook Android app update is insane …

… even for me.  I’ve been saying for a while that the privacy is pretty much dead, but this new update of Facebook Android app is asking for way too may permissions even for my taste.  Some of the things that it “needs” now are: access to make phone calls without user intervention, accessing information about other running applications, and drawing over other applications’ screens, so you won’t even know anymore who is responsible for what you are seeing.

When I got an update notification, I thought, at first, that that was a mistake of some sort or a really late and lame April 1st joke.  Albeit it’s not.  Even Slashdot runs the story.

For now, I’ll hold the old version.  Maybe Facebook will rectify this new change.  If not, then I’ll get rid of it and go back to Twitter and, possibly, Google+.

Police can film people without consent under certain circumstances

POLICE may film or take photographs or people without consent under conditions to be specified by the attorney-general, justice minister Loucas Louca said yesterday.

“Following a meeting with the commissioner for the protection of personal data, the attorney-general, the police chief and I, it was decided that the police may video-record people under certain circumstances,” Louca said.

Debunking “If you have nothing to hide …” argument

I am quite a publicly open person.  There are very few things about me, which are not published online or which I am not open to discuss with strangers.  So one could say that I am not much concerned about my privacy.  Given that, and the recent advance in technology – photo and video cameras, storage space, centralized database, and search – I do often say that the privacy is dead.  Some people hate it, some people like it, yet others are neutral.  But I see it more as a fact, rather than a distant future possibility.  And that often gets me into discussions about privacy with people who fill different.

Since I don’t really care much about it, I might have used the “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” argument.  Not because I strongly believe it, but because I think this is the case most of the time.  Today I came across an article that provides a few reasons for why that is a dangerous argument to use.  And I have to say that it made me think and agree with a few points that it raises.

It’s not you who determine if you have something to fear: You may consider yourself law-abidingly white as snow, and it won’t matter a bit. What does matter is whether you set off the red flags in the mostly-automated surveillance, where bureaucrats look at your life in microscopic detail through a long paper tube to search for patterns. When you stop your car at the main prostitution street for two hours every Friday night, the Social Services Authority will draw certain conclusions from that data point, and won’t care about the fact that you help your elderly grandmother – who lives there – with her weekly groceries. When you frequently stop at a certain bar on your way driving home from work, the Department of Driving Licenses will draw certain conclusions as to your eligibility for future driving licenses – regardless of the fact that you think they serve the world’s best reindeer meatballs in that bar, and never had had a single beer there. People will stop thinking in terms of what is legal, and start acting in self-censorship to avoid being red-flagged, out of pure self-preservation.

I still think that the privacy is dead.  And it’s still not a big issue for me.  But I do understand people who worry about it a bit better now.