Skull echoes, accidental data collection, health apps, and more from this week in privacy

Here are our top picks from the lastest The Privacy Project round up, which includes more than 50 links to recent privacy-related reporting. (Be seeing you!)

5 things George Orwell understood: The brilliant author who gave us terms like “doublethink,” “thoughtcrime” and “newspeak” reminds us there’s a connection between clarity of language and truth. Story links to 75 audio hours of interviews with the author, who implores us to keep the faith of tolerance, decency, and humanity.

Lawmakers want to know how often U.S. spies accidentally collect Americans’ data: FISA’s Section 702 lets the National Security Agency collect—in bulk and without a warrant—the contents of foreigners’ communications. But if Americans are communicating with foreign targets, those messages get swept into the system.

1 million people are now connecting to Facebook without leaving a digital trail In a Facebook note, software engineer Alec Muffett said the number of Facebook over Tor users over an average 30-day period has about doubled in less than a year, now hitting 1 million.

Why does our privacy really matter? Philosophy professor Michael Lynch says that privacy violations erode individuals’ rights to autonomously make their own decisions and exercise individual power.

Could skull echos and brainprints replace the password? Researchers at Binghamton University in New York conducted a study in which some 50 participants were monitored via headgear fitted with 30 brain sensors while 500 images of things, such as celebrities, food and unusual words, flashed in front of them on a screen for less than a second each. The sensors captured how their brains automatically reacted to the pictures — and from that data, the researchers were able to figure out how to identify a person with 100 percent accuracy while using just 27 image responses collected from a handful of sensors.

British spies abused their powers to send people birthday cards “We’ve seen a few instances recently of individual users crossing the line with their database use for instance, looking up addresses in order to send birthday cards, checking passport details to organise personal travel, checking details of family members for personal reasons,” the newsletter says. “Another area of concern is the use of the database as ‘convenient’ way to check the personal details of colleagues when filling out Service forms on their behalf.”

Smartphone medical apps raise privacy concerns A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that privacy policies on health apps are often weak or completely missing. In addition, health innovations are not necessarily covered under health privacy laws or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Pam Dixon of World Privacy Forum warns that if users give medical information to someone who is not a doctor and not covered under HIPAA, the information is not bound by that privacy law.

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