A reading list of articles and other links I use to inform my work at Small Technology Foundation, posted every weekday. Continued from the Ind.ie Radar, and Ind.ie’s Weekly Roundups. Subscribe to the Laura’s Lens RSS feed.
Is Europe closing in on an antitrust fix for surveillance technologists?
“The EU’s updated privacy framework, GDPR, requires consent to be specific, informed and freely given. That standard supports challenges to Facebook’s (still fixed) entry ‘price’ to its social services. To play you still have to agree to hand over your personal data so it can sell your attention to advertisers. But legal experts contend that’s neither privacy by design nor default.”
“So there are now two lines of legal attack — antitrust and privacy law — threatening Facebook (and indeed other adtech companies’) surveillance-based business model across Europe.” “…the German FCO decision against Facebook hints at an alternative way forward for regulating the dominance of digital monopolies: Structural remedies that focus on controlling access to data which can be relatively swiftly configured and applied.”
German Regulators Just Outlawed Facebook's Whole Ad Business
“Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts…”
“If Facebook loses the appeal, then Germany will become a grand experiment in whether the surveillance economy is actually essential to the operation of social media. Other Europeans and Americans may demand they are given the same option.”
Apple Is Removing 'Do Not Track' From Safari
Written by Kashmir Hill on Gizmodo.
“Almost every internet browser has an option in its privacy settings called “Do Not Track,” which, if you turn it on, sends an invisible request on your behalf to all the websites you visit telling them not to track you. It’s been around for years, but as Gizmodo recently reported, it doesn’t do anything because almost no websites actually honor the request not to be tracked because the government never forced them to comply with it.”
“For that story, we asked all the browser-providing companies why they still had the option, given that it could mislead users into thinking it was actually protecting their privacy.”
How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent
“Data is powerful and can inform on us in unexpected ways. Companies learn all about you, but also all about your friends who haven’t signed up for these services.”
As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants
Written by Gabriel J.X. Dance, Michael LaForgia and Nicholas Confessore on New York Times.
“Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.
The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.”
To a man with an algorithm all things look like an advertising opportunity
“It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your algorithms are, when you treat pregnancy as an advertising event, an opportunity to be monetized, you will get situations like this. When your engineers consist largely of twentysomething dudes, you will get situations like this. When you think about your users as data-points rather than thinking, feeling, complex human beings, you will get situations like this.”
This early GDPR adtech strike puts the spotlight on consent
“In Fidzup’s case, complying with GDPR has had a major impact on its business because offering a genuine choice means it’s not always able to obtain consent.”
Fascinating to see what is a genuinely GDPR-compliant consent flow. Hopefully the complexity of which will make businesses see the collection of people’s data as risky and expensive.
Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret
“At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States”
Seized cache of Facebook docs raise competition and consent questions
“The files also spotlight several issues of concern relating to privacy and data protection law, with internal documents raising fresh questions over how or even whether (in the case of Facebook’s whitelisting agreements with certain developers) it obtained consent from users to process their personal data.”
‘Good for the world’? Facebook emails reveal what really drives the site
“The emails provide an uncommon window into the thinking of Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives as they sought revenue streams amid an industry-shaking shift from desktop to mobile computing. Executives considered charging developers fees to gain access to user data – something Facebook now claims it would never do – and discussed other schemes to leverage the company’s scale and vast troves of user data into revenue. At one point, Zuckerberg mused about how Facebook could mimic financial institutions as an “informational bank” whose assets were user’s personal information rather than money.”