Road Trip from Germany to the Retreat in the Alps

At the beginning of March, I started my retreat stay in the French Alps to take care for myself and rest. Before the great rest though, I had to get from Brussels to the Alps: My first road trip.

The black slope for all road trip novices. Photo by Raul Taciu.

At the beginning of March, I started my retreat stay in the French Alps to take care for myself and rest. Before the great rest though, I had to get from Brussels to the Alps: My first road trip.

If the mountain won’t come to the prophet, then the prophet must go to the mountain.1

If the mountain is very far away, the prophet is well advised to rather ride by horse, Uber or even take a plane. I was lucky to get the chance to use the car of the family. Unfortunately, this car was not in Brussels, but in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. Though, a car is much smaller and more mobile than a mountain, it was again me who had to go get the car.

  1. According to Wiktionary, the prophet is in the Turkish proverb retold by Francis Bacon actually Muhammad. The form I know has been generalised to all prophets. They have a common problem here. Maybe they should have asked Atlas, who was used to carry heavy stuff. :thinking: ↩︎

Node Script to Display Cookies

With some advice from StackOverflow, I wrote a short node script that I placed in the file $HOME/bin/get-cookies.js with the executive bit set via chmod +x $HOME/bin/get-cookies. It relies on the library puppeteer to control a browser instance of headless Chromium, which must be installed first via npm i puppeteer.

Then, you can call get-cookies.js https://google.com to get all installed cookies upon request of the page given as a parameter (here: https://google.com). Note that Puppeteer creates its own Chromium user profile which it cleans up on every run.

get-cookies.js

#!/usr/bin/env node

const puppeteer = require('puppeteer');

const url = process.argv[2];

(async () => {
  const browser = await puppeteer.launch({ headless: true, args: ['--disable-dev-shm-usage'] });
  try {
    const page = await browser.newPage();
    await page.goto(url, { waitUntil: 'networkidle2' });

    var cookies = await page._client.send('Network.getAllCookies');
    cookies = cookies.cookies.map( cookie => {
      cookie.expiresUTC = new Date(cookie.expires * 1000);

      return cookie;
    });

    var persistantCookies = cookies.filter(c => {
      return !c.session;
    });

    console.log({
      persistantCookies: persistantCookies,
      persistantCookiesCount: persistantCookies.length,
    });
  } catch(error) {
    console.error(error);
  } finally {
    await browser.close();
  }
})();

Privacy-friendly Wizard House Quiz

You also do not want to read the lengthy privacy policy of www.pottermore.com and create an account, just to know your Wizard House Quiz? Here you have a privacy-friendly alternative.

You also do not want to read the lengthy privacy policy https://www.pottermore.com/about/privacy and create an account, just to know your Wizard House Quiz? Here you have a privacy-friendly alternative.

Browsing with HTTP Referer and Data Protection

Web browsers inform web servers in many cases about the referring webpage when users browse the web. I consider if this can be a good data protection practice.

Consider a web page with URL α on web server A containing a link to a web page with URL β on web server B. If a web page visitor clicks on the link to β, many browsers send along with the request to server B for the web page β the referring webpage α. This information is sent in form of a HTTP request header.

Open Letter: Call for a collaborative data protection FAQ

We call the international data protection and computer engineering community to found a collaborative data protection knowledge database (GDPR FAQ).

A programmer working alone from home
A programmer working alone from home.
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Brussels, the 6 June 2018

Dear Data Protection and IT Professionals,

The EU’s new law General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR for short) applies from 25 May 2018 onwards. It consists of 99 articles and 173 recitals that fill together 88 pages in the official publication. Different than a technical standardisation document, many of those articles must first be interpreted under consideration of case law from past judgements and published opinions of data protection authorities. As a result, even compliance questions for relatively simple applications such as a mailing list cannot be answered without profound study of many legal documents. Complex concepts such as privacy by design and pseudonymisation are the source for many questions yet to be answered.

At the same time, the tech industry has worked for many years on solutions to setup fairly easy personal data processing applications. Thanks to e.g. Google Sheets, Doodle, Mailchimp, or Wordpress, even non-experts can nowadays become data controllers with only few clicks or swipes. The development of peer-to-peer protocols for distributed databases, e.g. Bitcoin, Dat, or IPFS, has the potential to further lower the initial hurdle to become a data controller—up to the point of unconsciousness of the controller.

Pagination