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.
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.”
Google faces GDPR complaint over ‘deceptive’ location tracking
“Google is processing incredibly detailed and extensive personal data without proper legal grounds, and the data has been acquired through manipulation techniques,” said Gro Mette Moen, acting head of the Norwegian Consumer Council’s digital services unit in a statement.
“When we carry our phones, Google is recording where we go, down to which floor we are on and how we are moving. This can be combined with other information about us, such as what we search for, and what websites we visit. Such information can in turn be used for things such as targeted advertising meant to affect us when we are receptive or vulnerable.”
Can Facebook be forced to comply with privacy laws?
“Facebook is accused of undermining democratic institutions, but its CEO fails to face up to MPs at a hearing in London.”
Al Jazeera Inside Story featuring @aral.
The City of the Future Is a Data-Collection Machine
“The city is literally built to collect data about its residents and visitors, which Cavoukian was clear-eyed about when she signed on to be an adviser. She’s worried about Sidewalk using all these cameras and sensors to track people on an individual level, to create real-life versions of the personal profiles Google already uses to track people online. Without anonymization, she said, a single person’s activities could be connected across multiple sources and varying databases to track his movements over the course of the day.”
Wanted: The ‘perfect babysitter.’ Must pass AI scan for respect and attitude.
“The systems depend on black-box algorithms that give little detail about how they reduced the complexities of a person’s inner life into a calculation of virtue or harm. And even as Predictim’s technology influences parents’ thinking, it remains entirely unproven, largely unexplained and vulnerable to quiet biases over how an appropriate babysitter should share, look and speak.”