Originally published September 7 2013
Clever test reveals online email hosts like Google are routinely reading your email, following your links
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) If you haven't figured out by now that virtually everything you do online is being monitored, in some fashion, by some agency or telecom, this should convince you once and for all.
According to London's Daily Telegraph, the major social media sites - Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been caught spying on messages sent across their networks. Claims made in a recent study have led to new criticism about privacy rights from a number of groups, the paper added.
Per the Telegraph:
The findings emerged from an experiment conducted following revelations by U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden about government snooping on internet accounts. Cyber-security company High-Tech Bridge set out to test the confidentiality of 50 of the biggest internet companies by using their systems to send a unique web address in private messages. Experts at its Geneva HQ then waited to see which companies clicked on the website.
According to the paper, during the operation, which lasted 10 days, six of the 50 companies examined were found to have opened the link. Among those participating in this shameless act of privacy invasion were Facebook, Twitter and Google, along with Formspring, a discussion forum.
Companies deny what they are doing, but there's no question they are doing it
"We found they were clicking on links that should be known only to the sender and recipient," said High-Tech Bridge chief executive Ilia Kolochenko. "If the links are being opened, we cannot be sure that the contents of the messages are not also being read.
"All the social network sites would like to know as much as possible about our hobbies and shopping habits because the information has a commercial value," Kolochenko continued. "The fact that only a few companies were trapped does not mean others are not monitoring their customers. They may simply be using different techniques which are more difficult to detect."
Earlier this year, German scientists said another tech giant - ever heard of Microsoft? - was also spying on customers and users of its popular Skype messaging and telecom service.
The Telegraph reported that the cowards at Facebook declined to comment on the findings of the new research. But a spokesman for the social media site said that the company "had complex automated systems in place to combat phishing (internet identity fraud) and reduce malicious material," the paper said.
Officials at Twitter also declined comment on the study directly but said that the company also utilized "robotic systems" to prevent spam messages from reaching customer accounts.
A spokesperson at Google was more blatant - and arrogant. "There is nothing new here. It simply isn't an issue."
We beg to differ.
"In principle these companies should not be opening the links, but in practice they are giving a service to customers," an independent expert, who was not named, told the Telegraph. "The protection provided outweighs any potential commercial gain."
Critics said there should be more safeguards, but I say that begins with CEO's who have ethics.
Nick Pickles, head of a British consumer watchdog group called Big Brother Watch, said, "This is yet another reminder that profit comes before privacy every day for some businesses."
He added, "Companies such as Google and Facebook rely on capturing as much data as possible to enhance their advertising targeting. They intrude on our privacy to build an ever more detailed picture of our lives."
Irony, hypocrisy surround behavior of these companies
Ironically, in July, many of these same companies, along with another tech giant, Apple, joined a broad alliance of tech companies and civil liberties groups calling for greater transparency regarding U.S. government surveillance programs.
In a letter, "the alliance - whose members include 63 companies, investors, non-profits and trade organizations - will call upon President Obama and congressional leaders to allow Internet, telephone, and Web-based service providers to report national security-related requests for information with greater specificity," Fox News reported.
In particular, the alliance wants tech firms to be allowed to report how often government requests information about users; the amount of individuals, accounts, or devices for which information was requested; and the number of times government sought communications content, basic subscriber information and/or other information.
Also, many of these companies have accepted millions in taxpayer dollars to turn over spy data on users; that story is here: http://www.naturalnews.com
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