In this digital age, keeping care of your personal security is more important than ever. Today, there are dozens or even hundreds of ways that your privacy can be compromised, and while a good portion of the sources have to do with the Internet, not all of them do. Take for example the methods used by companies that the EFF has appropriately named, “Traitorware”.
The term might seem a little strange at first, but it’s fairly accurate. Essentially, “Traitorware” is the method of exposing personal data about you even though you didn’t give explicit consent. You might agree to an EULA, for example, but that might not cover methods of storing personal data without your knowing. Most people simply wouldn’t catch onto this act at all, but it’s very common.
As the EFF’s article points out, our photos store EXIF data that can record the date and time, location, and more importantly, the digital camera’s serial number. There have been many reports of printers that incorporate a secret code onto every-single page it prints as well. It’s not noticeable, but that’s half the point. In that printed information could be the printer’s serial number or even your name.
Of course, we can’t talk about traitorware and not reminisce about Sony’s famous CD rootkit. You remember… the one that had the potential of being installed onto your Windows PC simply by putting the CD into your ROM drive? This to me is one of the worst offenders, not because it proved to be a major inconvenience (though it had), but because Sony took it upon itself to install secret software on its customer’s PCs. That is simply unbelievable.
Fortunately, the EFF is on the case and plans to pursue this traitorware as is needed. Or, if companies want less of a hassle, they could simply stop utilizing our personal data without our permission.
Your digital camera may embed metadata into photographs with the camera’s serial number or your location. Your printer may be incorporating a secret code on every page it prints which could be used to identify the printer and potentially the person who used it. If Apple puts a particularly creepy patent it has recently applied for into use, you can look forward to a day when your iPhone may record your voice, take a picture of your location, record your heartbeat, and send that information back to the mothership.