Companies

Just in case you feel safe with Twitter

Just got a press release by email from David Rosen (@firstpersonpol) of the Public Citizen press office. The headline says “Historic Grindr Fine Shows Need for FTC Enforcement Action.” The same release is also a post in the news section of the Public Citizen website. This is it: WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Norwegian Data Protection Agency today fined Grindr $11.7 million following a Jan. 2020 report that the dating app systematically violates users’ privacy. Public Citizen asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to investigate Grindr…

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Going #Faceless

Facial recognition by entities other than people and their pets has gotten out of control. Thanks to ubiquitous surveillance systems, including the ones in our own phones, we can no longer assume we are anonymous in public places or private in private ones. This became especially clear a few weeks ago when Kashmir Hill (@kashhill) reported in the New York Times that a company called Clearview.ai “invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and…

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How customers help companies comply with the GDPR

That’s what we’re starting this Thursday (26 April) at GDPR Hack Day at MIT. The GDPR‘s “sunrise day” — when the EU can start laying fines on companies for violations of it — is May 25th. We want to be ready for that: with a cookie of our own baking that will get us past the “gauntlet walls” of consent requirements that are already appearing on the world’s commercial websites—especially the ad-supported ones. The reason is this: Which you can also see…

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Hey publishers, let’s get past mistaking tracking protection for ad blocking

Here’s what the Washington Post tells me when I go to one of its pieces (such as this one): Here’s the problem: the Post says I’m blocking ads when I’m just protecting myself from tracking. In fact I welcome ads. By that I mean real ads. Not messages that look like real ads, but are direct marketing messages aimed by tracking. Let’s call them fake ads. Here’s one way to spot them: When you see one of those in the corner of an ad, it means the ad is “interest…

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New Rules for Privacy Regulations

The Wall Street Journal has an informative conversation with Lawrence Lessig: Technology Will Create New Models for Privacy Regulation. What underlies a change toward new models are two points: the servers holding vast user databases are increasingly (and very cheaply) breached, and the value of the information in those databases is being transferred to something more aligned to VRM: use of the data, on a need to know basis. Lessig notes: The average cost per user of a data breach…

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Volvo’s In-Car Delivery Service

In Volvo launches in-car package delivery service in Gothenburg, Volvo’s new service “lets you have your Christmas shopping delivered directly to your car.” Intriguing idea that saves on parking hassles like those people who are waiting/idling around the favored spots. With just days to go before Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the busiest online shopping days of the Christmas season – Sweden’s Volvo Cars has unveiled a brand new way to take some of the hassle out Christmas shopping.…

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AT&T’s paint job on confusing pricing

In AT&T Ridding Some Retail Stores of Cash Register, Counters and Other Clutter, John McDermott of AdAge explains how the company is making its stores “warmer” to improve the “shopping experience” there. Which is all fine, as far as it goes. Where it doesn’t go is toward fixing AT&T’s pricing. I explain that in a comment under the piece, which I’ll format in a “warmer” way here: Nice as these showrooms may be, they are still just a paint job…

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For personal data, use value beats sale value

There’s an argument that goes like this: Companies are making money with personal data, and They are getting this data for free. Therefore, People should be able to make money with that data too. This is not helpful framing, if we want to get full value out of our personal data. Or even to understand what the hell personal data is. Stop and think about this for a second: Everything on your hard drives is personal data. So is every thing…

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The Internet of me and my things

Let’s say this key ring is yours and you’ve lost it. If somebody scans the QR code with their smartphone, they will see a message from you. The message can say whatever you want (such as, “Help! I’ve misplaced these, please call or text me at this number”), and you can update it any time, because the information is in your personal cloud. You can host your personal cloud yourself, or you can have it hosted elsewhere, such as at SquareTag,…

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Discounts are free if your time has no value

“Love it or hate it, Black Friday is all about the deals,” AdAge says, in Target, Amazon, Poised to Win Black Friday. That love/hate conflict speaks to the mixed blessings (and curses) of tying a store’s — or a whole market’s — success to “deals” alone. The bargains, for both retailers and customers, can be Faustian. Exhibit A: Kmart. Back around the turn of the millennium, I attended a retail conference where two of the speakers were myself and Lee Scott, then…

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