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About Julia Angwin

Julia Angwin is a senior reporter at ProPublica. From 2000 to 2013, she was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where she led a privacy investigative team that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting in 2011 and won a Gerald Loeb Award in 2010.

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In August, my e-mail was attacked. Hate groups overwhelmed my inbox and the inboxes of two of my colleagues, and shut down ProPublica’s email much of the day. (I wrote about this incident in a previous newsletter.) This week I wrote about the low cost and high effectiveness of such attacks. The assault on ProPublica — a […]

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By Julia Angwin, ProPublica, and Hannes Grassegger, special to ProPublica In the wake of a terrorist attack in London earlier this month, a U.S. congressman wrote a Facebook post in which he called for the slaughter of “radicalized” Muslims. “Hunt them, identify them, and kill them,” declared U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, a Louisiana Republican. “Kill […]

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Every January, I do a digital tune-up, cleaning up my privacy settings, updating my software and generally trying to upgrade my security. This year, the task feels particularly urgent as we face a world with unprecedented threats to our digital safety. We are living in an era of widespread hacking and public shaming. Don’t like […]

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By Julia Angwin, Terry Parris Jr. and Surya Mattu, ProPublica Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump. But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them, including their […]

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Facing a wave of criticism for allowing advertisers to exclude anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people from seeing ads, Facebook said it would build an automated system that would let it better spot ads that discriminate illegally. Federal law prohibits ads for housing, employment and credit that exclude people by race, […]

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Algorithms are ubiquitous in our lives. They map out the best route to our destination and help us find new music based on what we listen to now. But they are also being employed to inform fundamental decisions about our lives. Companies use them to sort through stacks of résumés from job seekers. Credit agencies […]

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Last week, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new privacy rules for Internet providers. The proposal was immediately praised by privacy advocates as “a major step forward” and lambasted by AT&T as an effort to place a “thumb on the scale in favor of Internet companies.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stopped by our offices to explain the […]

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By Julia Angwin, ProPublica Verizon agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle Federal Communications Commission charges that it violated customers’ privacy when it used a hidden undeletable number to track cellphone users. In the settlement, Verizon also agreed to make its unkillable “zombie” cookie opt-in, meaning that users are not tracked by default. Previously, users had […]

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By Julia Angwin, ProPublica The FBI’s much-discussed request to Apple can seem innocuous: Help us extract six weeks of encrypted data from the locked iPhone of Syed Farook, an employee of San Bernardino’s health department who spearheaded an attack that killed 14 people. Most people believe Apple should comply. But the FBI is demanding a […]

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By Julia Angwin, ProPublica Some people make dieting resolutions in the New Year. I make security and privacy resolutions, because those are the things that keep me up at night. After all, as a journalist, it’s important for me to give my sources assurances that I will keep their communications confidential. And in today’s world, that […]

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TV makers are constantly crowing about the tricks their smart TVs can do. But one of the most popular brands has a feature that it’s not advertising: Vizio’s Smart TVs track your viewing habits and share it with advertisers, who can then find you on your phone and other devices. The tracking — which Vizio […]

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By Julia Angwin, ProPublica Since Edward Snowden exposed the extent of online surveillance by the U.S. government, there has been a surge of initiatives to protect users’ privacy. But it hasn’t taken long for one of these efforts — a project to equip local libraries with technology supporting anonymous Internet surfing — to run up against […]

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By Julia Angwin, ProPublica It’s easy to feel hopeless about privacy these days. In the post-Snowden era, we have learned that nearly every form of communication-from emails, phone calls, to text messages 2013 can leave a digital trace that can and likely will be analyzed by commercial data-gatherers and governments. Here are some ways to keep […]

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By Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson, ProPublica; Charlie Savage, the New York Times and Henrik Moltke, special to ProPublica Without public notice or debate, the Obama administration has expanded the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents. In mid-2012, […]

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By Julia Angwin, ProPublica The man who built the free e-mail encryption software used by whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as hundreds of thousands of journalists, dissidents and security-minded people around the world, is running out of money to keep his project alive. Werner Koch wrote the software, known as Gnu Privacy Guard, in 1997, […]

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