Jan has a friend who is a model and she's had some embarrassing private photos appear on the net. Leo says that could fall under the revenge porn law, and it could allow her to prosecute them. Most reliable places will take the images down if they had been contacted. If she's having trouble getting them taken down, the sites may be outside the US and it's hard to prosecute across international borders. But in time, that will change.
Nuris has an Alcatel phone and her mom is getting weird texts. Leo says that it sounds like someone else is texting her, and it could easily be someone texting the wrong number. Leo has a hunch that T-Mobile has crossed a few wires, and they'll need to fix it.
Citizenfour is an Academy Award winning documentary on the story of Edward Snowden. He was a contractor for the NSA as a systems administrator working out of Hawaii, and that's how he was able to obtain information. What he did with that information is what became so controversial. He went to Hong Kong, and contacted journalists to give them this information he had collected, but didn't want anything released that would risk the lives of government operatives. Instead, he wanted journalists to tell the world, Americans in particular, what the NSA had been up to.
Ed thinks his HTC One Android phone has been hacked. Can it be tracked? Leo says that every cellphone made is trackable. In order to use a cellphone, he has to connect to a tower, so it's able to triangulate his position at any given moment. If he's worried about that, then he shouldn't have a cell phone.
The internet is a public place, and whatever you post to it is out of your control. The one exception to this is encrypting your data, however. This will ensure that only you and the recipient will be able to read the data. Here are a few open source tools for public key encryption:
Daryll's wife freaked out because she typed the first letter of her name into a computer she never used before and it said "Hi Gina" to her. Then she downloaded Google Chrome and it mirrored her sister's desktop 10 miles away. Leo says the only way that could have happened is if she was logged into it before, or her sister was.
KNFB Reader reads printed text, but it uses a server-based back end and Paul is concerned about privacy. Leo says that end-to-end encryption fixes that, but the recipient needs to have the encryption as well, making it very inconvenient. But they could work it into the back end on any app. What we do in general is in public though, and there are benefits to that.
With the 113th Congress winding down at the end of 2014, members have decided to do nothing to revise the privacy provisions of the Patriot Act, allowing the National Security Agency to collect data on Americans. Leo says that tech companies are no better. There are a few companies that are going with open source encryption of messages, like Facebook, WhatsApp, and the Google Nexus 6 is encrypted by default.
Dennis is vacationing and he's concerned about privacy on the public hotel Wi-Fi. Leo says that's when a Virtual Private Network, or VPN can come in handy. It's like a tunnel through the internet that is encrypted and nobody can see his traffic. But it will be a little bit slower. He uses TalkaTone and wants an encrypted phone line. Leo says it's a good option, but he also recommends RedPhone. It has end to end encryption.
News broke this week of the U.S. Marshals Service program that's been ongoing since 2007 to gather information from Americans' cellphones. It uses small fixed-wing Cessnas equipped with 'dirtboxes' that imitate cell towers to get identifying information from citizens. According to those familiar with the program, these planes make regular flights and can scoop up data from tens of thousands of phones in densely populated areas. The program is meant to locate individuals under investigation and fugitives, but it collects information from all cellphones.