Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘privacy

Amazon’s AI Coalmine Canary

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Happy Thursday.

So Amazon has announced that it is going to spend $700M to retrain 100K of its workers (a third of its workforce) by 2025, and seems to be doing so as an acknowledgment partly due to the impact of technology and automation on jobs.

Plus, it’s just good, smart business.

Subheads directly from the Amazon press release:

Programs will help Amazonians from all backgrounds access training to move into highly skilled technical and non-technical roles across the company’s corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network, or pursue career paths outside of Amazon

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network

Employee upskilling investment builds on Amazon’s $15 minimum wage and comprehensive benefits including medical insurance, 401k savings plan, and generous parental leave

I like BI’s headline: “Jeff Bezos just sent a clear signal that AI will remake American jobs.”

Deadend Jobs – Skills Retraining + Artificial Intelligence and/or Robotic Automation = Canary in the Coalmine.

Retrain, or become a Luddite.

Meanwhile, the French have passed a 3 percent digital services tax on sales in France for large Internet companies with over 25M Euros in French revenues. 

Expect U.S. retaliatory tariffs from Monsieur Trump, tout suite!

Next: Bird scooters are losing money hand over handlebars, some $100M in the first quarter, with revenue shrinking to about $15M. 

But hey, go ahead and continue stringing scooters across the downtown Austin landscape in a bid to drive up your next Series round.

You’re gonna need it if you only have $100M left in the scooter piggy bank!

Finally, I said to anyone who would listen in 1999 that one day, privacy would be considered a competitive differentiator. Well, I finally feel vindicated, and not dealing with privacy and data protection is finally carrying a hefty price that business can no longer ignore.

OneTrust, a company which builds tools to help companies navigate data protection and privacy policies both internally and with its customers, has raised $200M in a Series A and that values the company at $1.3B.

Billion, with a “B.”  That should buy lots of privacy.

Written by turbotodd

July 11, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Facebook Going Private?

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Facebook’s going private.

Not in the market sense of the term, but rather, in the sense that Mark Zuckerberg and company have decided to double down on privacy.

That, and I have a vast area of swampland in south Florida I can sell you for cents on the dollar.

But seriously, at its F8 developer conference yesterday, these were the words Zuck spoke:

“I believe the future is private…This is the next chapter for our services.”

As CNET had reported, Zuckerberg last month indicated Facebook would refocus the entire company around privacy, and that infrastructure of all of Facebook’s services — Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger — would be more technical integrated and prioritize end-to-end encryption.

As to what the company introduced in yesterday’s keynote, Business Insider described it this way:

the California-based tech giant announced a sweeping redesign of the social network — ditching its iconic blue menu bar and replacing it with a cleaner, white design, and placing greater-than-ever emphasis on groups.

And this:

The new Facebook design also gives Stories — the buzzy ephemeral-photo-sharing format — prominent placement at the very top of users’ feeds.

There are also significant structural changes that place greater emphasis on user-created groups. Users can post to groups directly from the homepage, groups are given greater prominence on the left-hand sidebar (on desktop), and new tools are being added to specialized types of groups.

The redesigned mobile app will launch “right away,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed announcement, while it’ll roll out more slowly on desktop — “in the next few months.”

As of this morning, I’m still waiting for those changes to arrive.  That, and privacy on Facebook, which still makes chuckle out loud when I write that.

Why?

Because I’ve yet to figure out how a social network whose business model is based entirely on monetizing our personal information makes such a model work with private, more personal and encrypted communications.

But maybe I’m just slow.

Written by turbotodd

May 1, 2019 at 9:24 am

Posted in 2019, facebook

Tagged with , ,

Send A Telegram

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Happy Monday.

There’s been no end of excitement here in Austin the past few weeks.

First, we had a good ten days of SXSW. Then this weekend an apparently very exciting Indy Race.

And this week, the WGC returns to Austin Country Club for the Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament.

It’s enough to make one want to send a telegram.

And BleekingComputer is reporting that one can do just that, with more privacy capability than ever, with the new and improved Telegram app.

Telegram announced today they have had added a feature that allows users to delete any message in a one-on-one chat and have ti be removed from both chat user’s devices.

This builds on the initial “unsend” feature which allowed users to remove any message they’d sent within the last 48 hours fromm both devices.

“Today, we are giving hundreds of millions of users complete control of any private conversation they have ever had,” Telegram stated in a blog post. “You can now choose to delete any message you have sent or received from both sides in any private chat. The messages will disappear for both you and the other person – without leaving a trace.”

I would imagine this feature will be very popular with journalists, whistleblowers, and human rights activists everywhere.

Written by turbotodd

March 25, 2019 at 11:46 am

Posted in 2019, messaging, privacy

Tagged with , ,

What A Week in Tech (and Privacy)

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What a headspinning week in tech!

I don’t really even know where to begin.

On the one hand, we saw more stratospheric (and sometimes recordbreaking) tech earnings from the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon.

On the other, we saw more privacy gaffes that make me think my personal digital data was a lot safer during the 2016 elections than it was here in the present of 2018.

The New York Times’ Mike Isaac suggested in an article yesterday that Tim Cook and Apple held significant cards in their enterprise agreement faceoff with Facebook.

And Kara Swisher wrote in the Gray Lady that Tim Cook “has become the critic-in-chief for Facebook” — particularly when it comes to privacy matters — even as Apple had to face up to its own privacy snafu with FaceTime Group chats (although Apple said today it had fixed that particular flaw).

Thankfully I don’t use such group chats, but it was still not exactly reassuring that the privacy industrial complex is clearly growing bigger and making billions and still doing a sheit job of protecting our data.

Those two missions — making lots and lots and lots of money and protecting users’ personal information — now seem to be not only completely at odds, but almost at war.

And that’s before we really turn the volume up on artificial intelligence’s capabilities and the genies (and demons) that that could unleash.

TGIF.  I need a beer.

Please, just don’t tell my Facebook page or my FaceTime app — my insurance company might be listening.

Written by turbotodd

February 1, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, facebook

Tagged with , , ,

Google in the Hot Box

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai is in the hotbox today on Capitol Hill as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee.

I’ve had some of the later testimony on in the background, and there have already been lots of questions about data and data sharing, preloaded apps, privacy, DoubleClick cookies and the merging of offline data (which I found sooo 1999!).

The New York Times is following much more closely, and here are some highlights of what they’ve observed:

Republican lawmakers displayed the party’s growing distrust toward Google, raising a broad array of tough questions on the search giant’s market power, plans to relaunch service in China, and whether the site suppresses conservative content. At the core of their questions was a concern over the company’s commitment to free expression.

Kevin McCarthy, House Republican Leader, had this to say:

“All of these topics — competition, censorship, bias, and others — point to one fundamental question that demands the nation’s attention. Are America’s technology companies serving as instruments of freedom or instruments of control?”

There was also discussion around liberal-leaning biases of employees and whether or not those biases “affect[ed] filtering decisions for its search engine,” a claim many right-leaning leaders have suggested in the past.

Location information was also prevalent, and Texas Republican Ted Poe held up his own smartphone and asked Pichai if Google was tracking his whereabouts if we walked to the other side of the room.

Pichai’s response: “Not by default,” suggesting it depended on the congressman’s app settings.

The Times also observed that Google’s been taking heat both internally and externally for “Project Dragonfly,” it’s initiative to build a censored search engine that could be used in the Chinese market.

My observation: Regulation of American Internet giants is not a question of if, but when, and how much. They’ve amassed too much personal data far too quickly and treated it with reckless abandon, and now the question becomes what measures can an American regulatory regime take that has both teeth for the consumer but doesn’t stifle innovation for industry.  

It’s a tall order and a complicated ask, but they, that’s why all those lobbyists get paid the big bucks! ; )

Written by turbotodd

December 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Another Facebook Breach

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Happy Friday!

Well, depending on who you ask.

The BBC, Gizmodo, and others are reporting a new Facebook data breach, this time of private Facebook messages of at least 81,000 unfortunate souls.

It’s being reported the culprit was a Chrome Extension exploit, and is apparently not related to the more widespread September breach previously reported of 120 million Facebook accounts.

Some details:

The hackers, who may be Russian since they reached out to the BBC Russian Service, appear to have the Facebook messages of at least 81,000 people, mostly of Russians and Ukrainians, but also from people in the U.S., UK, and Brazil, according to the BBC.

“Browsers like Chrome can be very secure, but browser extensions can introduce serious gaps in their armor. The addition of browser extensions increases what is otherwise a small attack surface. Malicious extensions can be used to intercept and manipulate the data passing through the browser,” said Rick Holland, CISO of Digital Shadows, which helped the BBC analyze the breach.

As to the content of those messages:

Many of the messages are relatively benign and include simple chats about going on vacation and attending concerts. But as you’d expect, there are also more sensitive discussions, including “intimate correspondence between two lovers,” as the BBC describes it.

Hoped all 81K Facebook users whose private messages were sold!

Written by turbotodd

November 2, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Tim Cook and the Data Industrial Complex

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TechCrunch is reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook has begun to basically throw down the gauntlet with respect to the global trade in digital data, suggesting that it has exploded into a “data industrial complex.”

“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” warned Cook. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

“Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm.”

This discussion came about as a result of a keynote speech Cook was giving to the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Brussels.

Cook also addressed the issue of artificial intelligence, saying that “at its core this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. But advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency.”

“For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility.”

I find it fascinating that Cook tied up AI and privacy. He’s clearly looking well ahead to where some of the next major digital battlegroups are likely to take place, and the raw horsepower AI could bring to privacy violations.

Cook went on to say that Apple is “in full support of a comprehensive, federal privacy law in the United States.

He argued that a U.S. privacy law should prioritize four things:

  1. Data minimization — “the right to have personal data minimized”, saying companies should “challenge themselves” to de-identify customer data or not collect it in the first place
  2. Transparency — “the right to knowledge”, saying users should “always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for, saying it’s the only way to “empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t”. “Anything less is a shame,” he added
  3. The right to access — saying companies should recognize that “data belongs to users”, and it should be made easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal data
  4. The right to security — saying “security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights”

Over the past several years, Apple has positioned itself as a protector of digital privacy rights. However, it should be noted that  Apple is also far less dependent on digital advertising revenue as are other key players in the tech space (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.)

Written by turbotodd

October 24, 2018 at 11:49 am

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