Chris Hannah


Open Letter to GCHQ on the Threats Posed by the Ghost Proposal #

Sharon Bradford Franklin and Andi Wilson Thompson writing for Lawfare:

Last fall, Lawfare published a piece by Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson of GCHQ entitled Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate. Our organization, the Open Technology Institute, has worked alongside other people and organizations to coordinate a response from an international coalition of 47 signatories, including 23 civil society organizations that work to protect civil liberties, human rights and innovation online; seven tech companies and trade associations, including providers that offer leading encrypted messaging services; and 17 individual experts in digital security and policy. Our coalition letter outlines our concerns that the GCHQ proposal poses serious threats to cybersecurity and fundamental human rights including privacy and free expression. We shared our letter with GCHQ officials on May 22, and we are now releasing it to the public as an Open Letter to GCHQ.

In the open letter, which is notably backed by Apple, Microsoft, Google, WhatsApp, and others, explains how the “Ghost Protocol” would work, the consequences, and also the recommend to abandon the idea completely.

Lawfare and the letter explain the Ghost Protocol quite well, but in essence it means every message and conversation would also be sent to a hidden recipient. Similar to how BCC works with email.

It’s pretty serious stuff. And I sincerely hope it’s abandoned. However, institutions like GCHQ seem to always have another idea up their sleeves to try and bypass your personal privacy.

Here’s one section from the paper I found interesting about the risks it creates in regard to cybersecurity, and threats to human rights:

The GCHQ’s ghost proposal creates serious threats to digital security: if implemented, it will undermine the authentication process that enables users to verify that they are communicating with the right people, introduce potential unintentional vulnerabilities, and increase risks that communications systems could be abused or misused. These cybersecurity risks mean that users cannot trust that their communications are secure, as users would no longer be able to trust that they know who is on the other end of their communications, thereby posing threats to fundamental human rights, including privacy and free expression. Further, systems would be subject to new potential vulnerabilities and risks of abuse.

Read the Open Letter to GCHQ

Snapchat Can Now Share Your Location #

Snapchat has just released a new feature, and it’s one that can be taken in a few different ways. It’s Snap Map, and basically it’s a way to share and view peoples locations.

To activate Snap Map, just pinch to zoom out, and you can view any of your friends that are currently sharing their location with you.

In their short video showing the new feature (Now unavailable), it seems as it’s being advertised as a way to see where your friends are, so you can go hang out with them.

But at the same time, it’s very easy to accidentally share your location with more people than you want. This becomes a much bigger problem with a service such as Snapchat, as the majority of users are very young.

Fortunately, there is a setting in Snapchat where you can limit who can view your location. I would suggest turning this feature off completely, but it’s not a problem if it’s managed properly.

So here is how to fine-tune your privacy preferences in Snapchat:

1st Method – From Settings

  1. When viewing your profile in Snapchat, press the settings icon in the top-right hand corner.
  2. Scroll down to the section labelled “WHO CAN…”.
  3. Tap on “See My Location”.
  4. You can then choose any location sharing options from here.

2nd Method – From Snap Map

  1. When viewing the map using Snap Map, press the settings icon in the top-right hand corner.
  2. You get moved straight to the location settings, where you can choose any sharing options.

Location Sharing Options

When sharing your location in Snapchat, there are three different options to choose from (of course there’s also the option to not share it at all, by never enabling the feature).

  • Ghost Mode (Location is hidden)
  • My Friends
  • Select Friends…

So you can either hide it completely, share your location with all of your friends, or just to a selected group. In some cases, “My Friends” is a completely fine option, but that only makes sense if you only add close friends. But if you like to add other people you don’t know very well, or you just want to completely sure who you’re sharing your location with, the latter “Select Friends” option is much better suited.

Extra Tips

  • When using “My Friends”, any friends added will automatically be allowed to view your profile.
  • When using “Select Friends…”, people you allow to see your location won’t be notified, they will simply be able to see you on their map.
  • Your location is only received while you are using the Snapchat app, and apparently not in the background.
  • Any location data is deleted after a few hours.
  • To clear your last locations, toggle Ghost Mode on and off. This will clear your past data, but keep your sharing settings the same.
  • The last tip – Just be careful who you’re giving your location to.