Facebook submits 229-page document to congress detailing data abuses.

Here is yet another chapter in the drama of the Cambridge Analytica / Facebook user data abuse scandal. This week we are talking about a document dated June 8th (last Friday) from Facebook and containing answers to the Senators formal questions asked of the company during the April 10,11 hearings. The document in it’s entirety can be read here.

It is a good read and I encourage anyone with even a fleeting interest in the case to do so but to summarize many of the revelations are to be expected like the amount of time spent on the site and the users buying activities but further reading details the massive scope and scale of data recording.

For example Facebook records your mouse movements and whether or not your browser window is in the foreground or background of your screen. This is done as a safeguard against bots.

Facebook records literally every scrap of operating system and hardware data it can get it’s hands on. Battery level, signal strength, storage space, even down to recording file names.

They also record every bit of data they can get about your carrier, Their name, the IP provided to you, any cookie data they can scoop up. They also record everything they can from any wireless client devices that may be connected to your machine such as Wifi and Bluetooth. FB records the Wifi signals in your area, it also collects data about the Bluetooth devices in your area.

And of course it tracks your location, but also records camera information and hoovers up any photos you take unless you explicitly opt-out. Oh yea and all your call logs and SMS messages too, they help themselves to it.

So yea, literally everything they can get they do. Why would anyone expect them not to? Remember this is one of those new companies with inverted business models where you are no longer the customer but the product to be sold. And just like an old farm cow, you care going to be milked for every drop of data you can be. To be solved this problem is going to require people to view their own data as having value, Facebook certainly does. If Facebook wants data from us they can buy it from us for a fair market value.

Microsoft develops app to teach young children the reality of their sad dystopian future.

Microsoft is doing its part to bring mass surveillance to children everywhere, Now children will have not only their locations tracked via smartphone but also will track the apps they use and the amount of time they spend using them. Sound terrible? Well, it’s not the NSA they’re doing it for this time, (as far as we know) it’s parents who they are giving control over this sort of surveillance to. They have developed an app called “Microsoft Launcher” that will allow parents to track their children’s every move via their smartphone. The app is currently in preview, It requires a parent to create a “family group” where all the families devices can be tracked. and on the child side will come with a kid-friendly portal to MSN-Kids, a new Microsoft owned and child sterilized news feed. And also will work in tandem with Microsoft Edge, allowing for parental control over their children’s browsing. Yes, that’s right, They are still doing everything they can think of to force people into using their crappy web browser.

I’m against this. But first I have a lot of questions about how exactly this operates which so far have gone unanswered. Just how much control over the Android operating system are you giving this app? This is just a third party app obviously, and I believe it would take a kernel rewrite to allow Microsoft the kind of controls over the phone’s operating system to allow this system to work in the intended way. If the child cannot access the data he wants in Edge, won’t he do the same thing the rest of us do and simply use Firefox or Chrome? I just can’t see a lot of scenarios where this ‘protection’ can be defeated by a kid with even a basic understanding of computer science.

But beyond that, I can also see a big issue with how much data you are handing over about your family, to Microsoft, and for free. I understand that they super double pinky swore that they wouldn’t abuse our data this time, but come on. How does that saying go? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me consistently since Windows 3.1… How many hacked data dumps and revelations about data abuse do we need to see before we demand some sort of GDPR regulation in America?

And beyond data protection and the actual viability of the idea. Let’s talk for a moment about child psychology. I’m pretty obviously not a child psychologist, but that being said I’m continually surprised by moments where I can tell how to handle situations where a child just wants attention or needs recognition, or similar when the other supposed adults around me are clueless.  So I’d like all of you to do that oh so hard thing in an adults life and try to remember what it was like being 6, or 8, or 12. When you barely have any control over your own life to begin with. When you just wish so badly you could talk to an adult without them seeing you as being a little child. Imagine the kind of impact on a young mind when you realize you are being watched electronically everywhere you go. Not only that but it is not being done by the NSA (again not that we know) who are usually happy to sit back and collect data unseen, this is being done by a parental figure who regularly acts on that information. How would that revelation effect you into your later life? Would it become normal eventually? Would you accept surveillance in all aspects of your life? Is that the whole point of this in the first place? and that is the best case scenario here. You are introducing something potentially traumatic to a child at an age where it could easily become part of their personality. A brick in the foundation of their lives.

Parents are far from perfect. So handing them what to a small child must seem like omnipotent power, is asking for it to be abused. Sometimes very outwardly, those people will eventually go up against child protective services. But also sometimes very subtly, those unfortunate children grow up to be the rest of us. Just traumatized enough to be a self conscious-mess but sane enough to live the life of your average, non-questioning drone in the USA workforce. Again maybe that is the whole point.

In short, I think this is a terrible application of technology. And I’m usually the person who defends children against people who complain about the quantity of screen time they get on tablets and game consoles. A violent video game will never do the kind of damage that a legitimate reason to be paranoid can do to a child.

Gizmondo; Your worst Alexa nightmares are coming true.

Your Worst Alexa Nightmares Are Coming True

What’s the most terrifying thing you can imagine an Amazon Echo doing? Think realistically. Would it be something simple but sinister, like artificially intelligent speaker recording a conversation between you and a loved one and then sending that recording to an acquaintance? That seems pretty bad to me.

Tech giants hit with 8.8 billion in lawsuits regarding forced consent barriers on day one of GDPR.

Sorry for the late post, crazy day. It was also day one of GDPR enforcement in Europe, and it would seem that the easy transition hoped for by tech giants like Google and Facebook just got a lot tougher.

Max Schrems is an Austrian data privacy activist. Max took objection to the practice of forced consent in software. Basically what happens is after you install a shiny new piece of software a window pops up with a long list of demands you need to agree to or you are simply not allowed to use it. Somehow the tech companies consider this a binding contract. Many people agree with that philosophy. After all, you did sign the document, or clicked agree, or whatever other form it took. I have even seen this shady business practice performed in such a way where even the act of paying for the service is marked as showing your consent to a long list of small print legalize. I don’t think of this as being a binding contract at all and I will try to explain my reasoning shortly but more importantly, the GDPR doesn’t agree with that statement and neither did Max, and lucky for Max he seems to have the kind of bankroll to do something more about it than just blog.

Max hit Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Google for a combined total of 8.8 Billion Euro with a capital B. Go you, Max. I’m sure this will result in a lot of positive press and at the very least will settle for more cash money than any one man can ever spend. But more importantly for the rest of us, it will show how much resolve the European Union has for enforcing such legislation, and also how many headaches and how much cash the big tech companies are willing to spend on keeping their stranglehold on your personal data.

Looked at objectively the tech companies have a vested interest in spending as much as it takes to fight this, for collecting data and selling it is their entire business model. They all work on a flipped business model. Where you are no longer the customer, you are the product. I have heard people before complain about Google’s customer service. Funny thing is Google has great customer service. Sign up for Google Adwords and spend cash on search ads and Google will be at your beck and call to address your every concern. This is not unprecedented, Broadcast TV worked off this model for a long long time. Then again look what is happening to them now that digital streaming offers a better product, and most people reluctantly accept advertisements as an acceptable way to get a product for free. What is much much more disturbing is the idea of these companies selling dumps of highly personalized data to whatever company or organization that currently has the cash to pay for it. (Note; the government would never have to pay, their payment is allowing the tech giant to keep existing.) Given these tech companies in question, Google and Facebook both claim that they do not sell data directy to third-party firms, but scenarios, where the firms are able to truthfully say this and still sell the data, are possible. For instance, they could not be selling the data but giving it away for lucrative contracts or massive discounts on services needed. The sure thing is that if there are loopholes they will be exploited. Doublespeak is an existing and real problem in American corporate structure.

A lifetime ago I used to work in the ski industry. This problem to reminds me of that time. When the resorts would have this sort of implied consent form on the back of every ticket in small print. Their logic was that if a person bought a ticket they were then agreeing to every word written on the back of the ticket. Totally ignoring the fact that you don’t even see the ticket until after you pay for it, thus could never agree to anything it says let alone read it in the first place.

People would inevitably get hurt at the ski area and would also inevitably have to sue to cover hospital and lost wage costs, and surprisingly they would win more often than not. I would always hear the words ‘contract under diress’ come up in these cases. Which basically means that a contract cannot be enforced if a person was coerced or forced to sign it, and it is not that hard of an argument to sell that nowhere in the process from marketing to booking to traveling and physically walking up to the ticket booth is there any discussion of this contract being signed. Your first introduction to the contract is when you notice on the lift after you have already paid for it and thus allegedly agreeing to it. You cannot and should never be forced to sign away your rights. The ski resorts have legal obligation to keep you as safe as they can including an obligation to close their doors if conditions make that impossible.

So to close, Trying to coerce someone into a contract is a crap business practice and pretty much goes against the principal of being a decent human-being with their shit together. It should be illegal to the extent that it isn’t already, which it (to my interpretation of the law) is.