Tag Archives: Equifax

The systemic variable we forgot

We all have moments that are etched in our souls. It can be for the weirdest reason; it might not even make sense to the person when it happens. It sticks with them and what they had not realised at that time what or why, it takes time for the person to realise what the brain worked out instantly in the sub conscience. For me that moment was Stanley Kubrick. I saw 2001 early in life, I saw it in Cinerama and I never understood what I saw, I loved what I saw, and was caught unaware that Cinerama was merely a phase; yet that was not the moment. My moment was ‘the Shining‘. I was caught by the trailer, after that by the movie. I had read the book, but Kubrick had done something more with the King book. That feeling was reignited in me again when they used the movie in a part of the ‘Ready Player One‘ movie.

It is this part that will matter a little further down the line. For now I need to start with the Bloomberg article ‘Coke Names on Bottles Spell Money for Fintech with Data Focus‘ (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-02/data-is-money-for-fintech-that-helped-coke-put-names-on-bottles). The article is 2 weeks old, yet it connects to something that happened yesterday (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/18/experian-to-offer-a-way-to-add-your-phone-bill-to-your-credit-report.html). Even when we ignore the initial part ‘You may soon be able to use your cell phone bill to boost your credit score‘, you see, like many Kubrick movies what you are reading is not what matters. Even the initial quote “Experian, one of three major credit bureaus in the U.S., announced that it will start factoring in phone and other utility payment history into some consumers’ reports early next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.” The second part is a little more to the point, yet still they will not give you the goods, which is “Your credit score is a measure of how trustworthy you are in the eyes of financial institutions. Showing that you’re consistent about paying your utility bills gives lenders more reason to think you’re a safe bet.

It is not merely about paying the bills, which is still a must. It is how much of a product are YOU? You are no longer a person, you never were, you are product for enabling and facilitation, that is all that you are to them. The collaboration of Fintech and Technology is about long term facilitation. As the technology and digital age of marketing reaches saturation, we are confronted with the stage of 4G, ‘wherever I am’. this stage is very important, because wherever you are, you are either ‘an enabling consumer’ or you are not. Those who are not have little or no value to these corporations. It is the second stage of what was called: ‘those who have’ and ‘those who do not have’ and it is now a lot more immediate. The tranche of facilitation is directly important to corporations as this is directly converted to value and corporate drive, and your credit score is a first hurdle to them. Even as they are all about a 700, or a 750 score, we are merely misrepresented. It is the 500-700 range that has the larger fortune for them and that is who they want in their partial view for now; it is facilitation towards a group of corporations. When that falters you are out of the game and you will pay exceedingly more for the same as you are considered ‘a risk’. This is the stage where we see ourselves as this is the first icon towards those getting into the 5G game and those who are told (just like a technology firm recruitment drive), ‘you are not the perfect fit for now‘.

That game will continue and expand to a much larger degree; the companies are expanding on the ‘low-risk’ populations on a global scale. The game for Fintech also changes. As we are presented: “By using Experian Boost, those consumers could see their scores increase immediately after they link their bank accounts. And around 1.5 million consumers with no scores could receive a score“, we are not informed on the change where you in advance hand over your financial data and financial stages, so that those in an early stage can be made enablers to a much larger degree as long as they commit. So the telecom and Fintech are maximising potential to have low risk customers, whilst still charging risk enabled margins to all. For them it is win-win no matter how you slice it. Soon thereafter you will started receiving the ‘pay now, avoid a lowered credit score’, which will at some point translate into imparting ‘mortgage fears’ with any late payment.

CNBC then gives us the next level of ‘misrepresentation’, or is that merely ‘partial misinformation’? As we get “This move is the latest in a series of efforts from credit report agencies to increase scores as lenders look for new ways to assess risk levels“, you see the driving change is not new ways of assessing risk, it is about having a much larger population with credit scores as the three players are trying to be the largest player and here they unite. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are staging a new setting where they have credit scores upfront, not when it has become an optional issue, but as possible risks rise. It is not merely: ‘overhaul how negative information is handled‘, which now connects to “since the overhaul, which was initiated after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found problems with credit reporting, firms have stripped tax-lien and civil-judgement data from credit reports, and millions of collection accounts have been removed. A year after the changes were made in June of 2017, 25 percent fewer consumers had a collection account on their credit report“, it basically gives them the setting that they have 25% less information, when you have a data population of one billion, 25% adds up fast, in addition, as 7 years old data falls off the debt data, having a new method (like phone bills) add it to the credibility of yourself, they get data with rollover capacity.

The question is not merely how just or how dangerous it is, it will soon become a stage of how discriminating it is. And even as that needs to be untangled, the Telecom companies and Fintech are now working together on how to select the cream from the others, making debt risk a valuating currency to add to their profit margins, as life without mobile phones is becoming increasingly important.

You see, you yourself will become the new system variable in all this. You are requested to freely hand over certain data that will identify you as an enabler to these large corporations and a larger facilitator to stamp out the credit value that you have and as such the technological abilities that you are allowed, or offered to be at a certain price. In a saturated 4G market getting the high end facilitators to be technological enablers for 5G matters to all who are ready to cash in, a lot of it and fast.

So when Bloomberg gave us: “Cassin, 51, who runs Experian Plc, has helped transform his company from a credit-reference firm into a broader data and software business. After starting with maintaining vast datasets of personal credit histories, most of its growth now comes from advising big companies on how to monetize the information they have on customers and supply chains, while avoiding privacy scandals” two weeks ago, they gave us a lot more than you realised. Brian Cassin has found a way to set the new stage, a stage he merely adopted from social media solutions like Facebook. Get them to hand over their billing history freely (for optional extra credit rating points) and as long as every bill is paid, he is happy to do just that, it is when the new stage adds other elements, that is when you either hand over more data, or lose credibility points and that is the stage of enabling them. From my data side, I would go with the premise that it is basically a brilliant move to get data. From the other side is that a financial setback will hurt more and when it is staged against your mortgage, that danger could become surreal for the person involved. It is basically a hidden trap that until you step into it, it is not a problem, when you do you will not merely hurt yourself, you will change the surrounding you are in by a much larger degree and the people handing over those details will not realise the trap they offered themselves up for until it is too late.

Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards also gives us: “You are the best judge of your ability to take on a new loan”. That is the part that bites, because more often than not, you are not. When you think back, who hasn’t made the fatal mistake when thinking: “I can buy this now, if I make sure that I only buy …….. next week“, you see, the actual premise is “If I do not buy these …… now, I will have enough money to buy …… next payday“, we do not do that, because we think we can gratify now and resolve later, and when there is a setback, we merely push it forward, which now becomes making the now initial issue an actual problem. We have all done that, and I have made that mistake a few times when I was younger. That is the immediate value for whoever uses that Experian solution as at that point the risk factor increases a lot and it will impact a few more items soon thereafter. It is a very dangerous setting for anyone under financial pressures.

Yet overall Experian is making a brilliant move to upgrade their data value in light of the 25% setback and basically these three players (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) will upgrade their value by a lot this way. It will not end here, as Bloomberg gives us the thoughts of Cassin with: “Experian also helps protect against identity theft, and it still runs the core credit-scoring business, whose newer services include allowing lenders to quickly assess applications for car finance via text message. It’s also working with Amazon’s Alexa platform to explore new technologies like voice recognition to use in credit scoring“, the new field for Experian will grow as a much more axial player of 5G in the centre of it all. Identity theft will now no longer be merely around those with a stolen identity, their services will become a founding force is what will be the establishment of non-repudiation. As I stated, 4G was ‘wherever I am‘, yet with 5G it will be about ‘whenever I want it‘ and there the threshold of non-repudiation will rise, it is not merely about streaming, data access of what is there. It will be new levels of domotics, smart devices and automatic deep learning solutions, those paths require a level of non-repudiation, not merely authentication. The expert Varun Gulshan has been informing via academic papers the part of ‘Validation of Deep Learning Algorithms‘ and when you grasp that part, you will see the stronger requirement of non-repudiation over authentication, as Fintech is catching on there, the game evolves in a very different path, parallel the same, but in operations needs quite different and requires a much larger comprehension. Even as his stage was about the application in a medical field, its application applies to a lot more technology shores. The stage of non-repudiation (it can only be diabetic retinopathy and/or diabetic macular edema) and nothing else, versus the stage that we see when we consider ‘this could be diabetic retinopathy and/or diabetic macular edema (optional stage for authentication). As we see the evolution in finding the different stage, we see a new level of machine learning; we see a stage with a setting of being able to see the positive, the negative, the false positive and the false negative. The ability to differentiate between the four is actually a much larger difference than most realise. One could argue that we have a stage where the 95% certainty becomes a 98.1% certainty, making the larger risk no longer existent and the 3.1% difference translates to a trillion dollar market of facilitation, spread over the larger three mind you, so as they unite, they also grow their exponential growth in these area’s as we see basic needs being adjusted to facilitation with fees towards the risks that customers virtually pose. I state virtually for the mere reason that this field is basically new, evolved from an origin, but still brand new and all the companies who have ever been involved with invoice chasing will see that impact and they all want to be on board.

That is the system variable that we forgot, we forgot us as a mere variable in what drives our value, not the value that others impact on us, the value that we press for in ourselves, even if the impact is from the outside sources we face every day. Experian (and others) have found a way to charge us for the risk we are towards our value. So when we see an optional $60 for 200GB, we will soon face the option to get it at the starting price of $60, with an additional risk charge. You might think that this will never happen, but it is already happening, and when Fintech evolves the risk pattern, we will pay optional more, or face credit worthiness loss, losing 20 points when we are late with payment, seeing only 2 points repair per month, that is the part we do not see here. CNBC and Bloomberg only give the ‘business opportunity’ and the harshness of risk in the other direction was downplayed through ‘a natural fit for building solid credit‘, a statement that is not untrue, no one denies that. To see that hidden trap, you need to see the economic impact that 2004 and 2008 brought the people and how long it took them to restore those losses, I can tell you now that a large group of people in the US still have not recuperated, even when we realise that most families have mum and dad work 2 jobs. that is seen in part when we realise that at present both parents work full time in 46% of these households, the number is generic and weighted making it to some degree debatable, and some sources indicate that 30% of that group has both parents working more than one job, the latest information gives us that this is based on 2016 numbers, so it is incomplete at present, I personally fear that most politicians are not that eager to dig into that shameful setting, and as I am presenting these facts, we see no clear path that the quality of life is not getting any better for many, it merely becomes more risk driven than ever before enabling an evolving systemic problem to all households.

Technologically it is brilliant and opening many (fin)tech doors all over the place; looking with a humanitarian view, it is not a good thing, we are merely enabling others to degrade us to an algorithm part, something that was already the case, but until recently never to the degree we are about to see.

 

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Playing the player

It happens, we sometimes meet those players who have it all, and they also have the ego and naive approach, so basically stupidity in a neatly wrapped package. This is not about one of these people, this is about someone who got to be smart about it and even as my psyche is slightly vexed and upset on the game played, I have to admire the fact on someone making close to half a billion playing it. We get to the Australian Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/hedge-funds/nintendo-trader-who-made-a-massive-short-bet-against-the-games-maker-revealed-20180730-h13cmo). the title gives the goods with ‘Nintendo trader who’s made a $540 million bet against the games maker revealed‘, the quote “Gabriel Plotkin, head of New York hedge fund Melvin Capital Management, has accumulated a $US400 million ($540 million) short bet against the Japanese game maker, according to regulatory filings” and in normal cases this is not an issue, the market is all about ups downs, I get that (I might not agree).

It is also part of the problem here. You see, the Nintendo Switch has been breaking records since the start and whilst it is about to push Microsoft down into a third position, it is equally breaking several other records. It has surpassed the historic global sales of the first Xbox, the GameCube, the Wii U the PS Vita, as well as the Nintendo 64. It is unlikely to surpass the Original Nintendo Entertainment System (over 61 million) for at least another year, but we see that the Switch has surpassed most of its own lifetime sales except for one console and 4 handhelds. It has done that great in less than two years. With the additional revenue from the software which is also breaking new records, one would think that there is no stopping Nintendo, so when I reported on the issue that I had with the Analyst making those brash announcements on being short by 10%, I was not sure on who is riding the ‘expected sales’ talk and why expectations are so high, were they inflated to be artificially high?

Well, it seems to me that someone made a truckload of money on the work of others. I am honestly unsure how to feel about that. I think I have to accept that this is how the Wall Street game is played; I merely accept that I do not have to like it.

So when I see “Nintendo will report first quarter earnings on Tuesday after the market close. Analysts estimate revenue will rise 21 per cent from a year earlier, while operating profit will jump 58 percent“, I wonder how that game was played. You see, two days ago, I wrote ‘The state of the gaming union‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/29/the-state-of-the-gaming-union/), and when I was confronted with “even Jefferies’ Atul Goyal, widely considered to be the most optimistic of all analysts when it comes to Nintendo’s prospects on the market, has slashed his price target for the company by more than 10 percent, attributing his depressed outlook on a concern that Nintendo’s sales for the Switch in 2018 may not meet expectations“, which came from https://gamingbolt.com/jefferies-analyst-believes-switch-sales-will-see-a-slowdown-this-year. This is an issue I have raised before. Not in regards to Nintendo, or gaming though. So how come that we see, and merely take for granted the words of an analyst giving us ‘missed target for the company by more than 10 percent‘, that whilst we see the records broken and the forecast is: “revenue will rise 21 per cent from a year earlier, while operating profit will jump 58 percent“, at what point was there any validity on slashing the stock price? Is there an interaction between analysts like Atul Goyal and Hedge funds managers like Gabriel Plotkin?

Am I the only one asking that question?

If it was a bubble and someone shorted on that seeing the bubble is bursting like in the Big Short, I say ‘Yay!’ to the one doing it, or better those making money of stupid people deciding to make bubbles and hypes. People making money from stupid people relying on greed is a nice thing, it is like instant karma watching a Cobra seeing a nice snack, only realising too late that it is a Mongoose and the snake ends up not having any dinner and becoming a meal himself. Yet in this case, we need to accept that Wall Street seems to have its own view on natural selection and that the price of getting mentioned there is that you are merely the next meal for some. Still, when it is a faltering Microsoft, an error full of Facebook, Equifax breaches, they all happen and they will therefor take a few additional hits. In light of all Nintendo issues, apart from one solvable issue, the Switch has been doing stellar and now the issue rises more and more that what analysts predict is almost like selling fairy tales and in that setting pragmatism and realism will never ever win. This makes me wonder on the checks and balances on forecast analysts.

I might be jealous that Gabriel Plotkin made close to half a billion, but the setting does not make sense. Many who are actually in this field might laugh out loud, and that is fine. Still, logic no longer applies here, 3+3 is no longer 6 and that offends my logical way of thinking. Apart from me having been pro-Nintendo for the better part of two decades, the math does not add up on the Nintendo Switch. Consider the parts

  1. At Amazon recently, the top 10 sales chart for games was 90% for Nintendo
  2. Nintendo Switch is still breaking records, still on a firm route to be the second largest next gen console, surpassing another player, which it had not been able to do since they entered the market.
  3. Seven Switch games published by Nintendo have sold over 1 million copies each. And “Super Mario Odyssey” has sold nearly 10 million copies. For a system this short on the market, these are stellar achievements. In addition “Super Mario Odyssey” is bought by almost 60% of those owning a Switch that is nothing short of exceptional, it might not have been in the old days where everyone with a PlayStation had Tomb Raider, especially with the large game market nowadays, but it is still quite the achievement.

When we see the demand for Nintendo Switch continuing, the sales racking up and the records that are currently being broken, how unrealistic were the forecasts from analysts? That is where my mind is at. So whilst we saw the 10% drop given two days ago, where was the reality there? That is what makes the issue for me, so when we see someone walking away with half a billion at the expense of Nintendo, the question becomes

Was the Market played, were both played and how was this play possible?

My mind tends to go towards the inside job equation. I cannot say that this is an accusation, mainly because I do not know or comprehend that market. Yet, I do know games and consoles and in all this, the setting of Nintendo does not add up. So whatever Melvin Capital Management and Gabriel Plotkin did to make this play out the way they have shown that they are really intelligent, no one denies that. Yet, in light that Nintendo got slammed because of this, in light of all the gains they have made does not add up for one iota.

Yes, many graduate from the London School of Economics will have a laughing field day on this, I get that, but the sentiment form me stands, the numbers do not add up because the forecast is set in a too unrealistic way from my point of view and that is where the people behind the screens create turmoil that seems unacceptable to me.

In this, the funny part is that Yahoo Finance actually gave me something that I do not agree with, but the phrasing is actually important here. With ‘Massive Short Bet Against Nintendo After Shares Drop‘, we see (at https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sac-alum-plotkin-makes-massive-050808098.html). the quote “There’s a new villain in the world of Nintendo Co. Gabriel Plotkin, head of New York hedge fund Melvin Capital Management, has accumulated a $375 million short bet against the Japanese game maker, according to regulatory filings. The former star trader at SAC Capital Advisors accounted for as much as 7 percent of Nintendo’s daily volume in recent weeks, contributing to stock declines since May that have stunned analysts” starts funny, because I am not certain if Gabriel Plotkin is a (or even ‘the’) villain, or the new Warrio. You see the part that we see is ‘contributing to stock declines since May that have stunned analysts‘, that was not the case, analysts started the 10% drop that started it all, the question is whether this was an intentional play to decrease the value of Nintendo, and if there was intent, do any of those analysts have any connections to Microsoft? If there is a villain Microsoft is a much more likely one than the facilitator Gabriel Plotkin seems to be.

the other quote that seems to be important here is: “Many analysts were bewildered when shares began dropping sharply in May, leading to the biggest gap in a decade between brokerage targets and the actual stock price. Goyal called the declines “shocking” at the time“, the quote seems to be in opposition to “the most optimistic of all analysts when it comes to Nintendo’s prospects on the market, has slashed his price target for the company by more than 10 percent“, which I commented on two days ago. Something made him slash the prices, so there was no shock. Now we get to the part on how Atul Goyal got from one place to the other. Did Gabriel Plotkin play Atul Goyal, or did they play the market together?

I might not have noticed if they had played Microsoft with their bungles on the Xbox and Surface fields, I might not have noticed on the PlayStation reaching certain levels of saturation, or even IBM, who got the ‘tits up’ claim from the Register. There would be an impact, especially with the ‘troubling storage underperformance‘ that their cloud had. Yet in opposition the Nintendo setting did not add up and I wonder if it ever will add up, unless certain analysts are proven to have set the stage of (intentional or not) creating an anticipation bubble that was too unrealistic. That was merely my view and I believe that I am not the only one having certain questions in all this.

Merely ask yourself on how stock drops 10%, that whilst operating profits are set to be jumping 58 percent in the last year alone and more profits are clearly in the sights of all who see what Nintendo is doing, creating, as well as achieving.

#SwitchIsLife (or so they allegedly say at Nintendo)

 

 

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Direction X

It is the Columbian (at http://www.columbian.com/news/2018/apr/15/harrop-facebook-wont-alter-its-lucrative-practices-without-regulations/) that gives us a light to work with today. A light that some US congressman and US Senators have been pushing for, so it is fun to have a go at that point of view. Now, do not mistake my opposition to it as a way to invalidate the view. I do not agree with the point of view, but many have it. So I see it as a way to inform the readers on the things that they need to know. Froma Harrop starts with three events. We see:

  • Mark Zuckerberg in 2006: “We really messed this one up. …We did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them.”
  • Zuckerberg in 2010: “Sometimes we move too fast. … We will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.”
  • Zuckerberg early this year: “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. … There’s more we can do here to limit the information developers can access and put more safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”

Now, they are valid events, but the dimensionality is missing. With the exception of certain Google products, Facebook has been the biggest evolving platform on a near daily basis, the integration with mobile apps, mobile reporting, stories, clips, annotated pictures, travelling, and so much more. Over a period of 10 years Facebook went from a dynamic page (for each user or group) to a collected omnibus of information available to all their friends. That is a level of growth that even Microsoft has not been able to compete with and in all this, there will always be mistakes. Some small and trivial and some will be bang up monsters of flaws. Compare this to Microsoft who did not push forward with its Xbox360, no it offered for sale a more powerful machine whilst trimming the functionality down by close to 20% (personal projected loss) with the shift from Xbox360 to Xbox One and Xbox One to Xbox One X. A data collecting machine of greed (whilst everyone is ignoring the data that Microsoft is uploading), pushing users like a bully, to do what they wanted the user to do or be left out. So when exactly did Facebook do that to that degree? Sony with its PlayStation at least pushed forward to some degree.

Froma makes a nice case with: “The law will require them to obtain consent for use of personal information in simple language. (Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings.)“, this is nice in contrast to some consoles (like the Sony consoles) who suddenly made it illegal to use second hand games on their consoles in their terms of service, they quietly backed away when it blew up in the faces of Microsoft. In all this, yet with my sense of humour and realising where this article was, it was not without a giggle that I took a look at the Columbia Journal of European Law (at http://cjel.law.columbia.edu/preliminary-reference/2017/mind-the-gap-loopholes-in-the-eu-data-privacy-regime/) where we see “any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that, although the information is not processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, the set is structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible“, which now leads to “This language of “specific information [that] is readily accessible” indeed was interpreted by the English courts in a manner conflicting with the Directive. In Durant v. Financial Services Authority, the English and Wales Court of Appeal formulated a two part test to evaluate whether a filing system is caught by the Directive:” and that now leaves us with “(i) [T]he files forming part of [the filing system] are structured or referenced in such a way as clearly to indicate at the outset of the search whether specific information capable of amounting to personal data [] is held within the system and, if so, in which file or files it is held; (ii) [The filing system] has, as part of its own structure or referencing mechanism, a sufficiently sophisticated and detailed means of readily indicating whether and where in an individual file or files specific criteria or information about the applicant can be readily located.

So in that case Froma is left with a piece of paper to be stationed where the sun does not shine and it merely took the case Durant v. Financial Services Authority to show its ‘lack‘ of complexity, or did it? She is right that ‘Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings, it merely took law lord Sir Robin Ernest Auld (a former Lord Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales) a hell of a lot more than a night course, more like 25 years on the bench as a lawyer, an elected judge and his ascension to lord justice of the appellant court to get it all figured out.

So as we get that out of the way we also need to look at “The companies will have to notify users of a data break-in within 72 hours of its discovery. They’ll have to give up monopoly control of the personal information; people will have the right to obtain a copy of their data and share it with others“, it took Sony a hell of a lot longer to figure out that they were breached and notify people. So now consider the breaches of Equifax (143 million), eBay (145 million), Yahoo (3 billion) and Target stores (110 million). the implication of alerting that many people is not just weird, it is actually dangerous as people tend to overreact do something stupid and lock their accounts, these 4 events could set the stage for close to 4.5 billion locked accounts. The entire 72 hours, that whilst the discovery does not guarantee that the intrusion is stopped opens the entire system up for all kinds of hackers to have a go at that victim and truly make a much bigger mess of it all. Now the people should be informed, but the entire 72 hours was (as I personally see it) pulled out of a hat. In all this the latest Facebook issue was not done by hackers, it was done by corporations who intentionally abused the system, they set their profit knowingly at the expense of the users of that system and exactly who at Cambridge Analytica is currently under arrest and in prison? It seems to me that Facebook, clearly a victim here, has made mistakes, yet the transgressors are not held to vigorous account, yet the maker of the system is. Now, let’s be clear, Mark has clearly some explaining to do. Yet, when we see “Facebook failed in an attempt to get a handle on the Cambridge Analytica scandal Monday, after British authorities ordered its auditors to vacate the political consultancy’s offices” (source: Fortune), all this whilst the offices of Cambridge Analytica ended up being raided 5 days later, I have never seen authorities giving bank robbers that level of leeway, so why was this level of freedom given to Cambridge Analytica? When we consider that this data could be transplanted to writable objects (Blu-ray) in mere hours, it seems to me that giving them 5 days to wipe the evidence is a lot more questionable than merely thumping Facebook for the flaws.

The one part I truly disagree with is “Many of us have a need to connect and share. But expecting much privacy in a business model that relies on selling your information is highly unrealistic“, you see, here we see two levels of privacy, that what the person shares, free of will and that what is accessed. In one part the privacy from the outside is partially an easy thing, because Google with AdWords has shown that to be a clear option, their advertisers can create and address a population to the granularity available, yet the results of this marketing is done in a level of aggregation, individual records per person are not available. The fact that apps could capture it was a given, but the fact that all unique identifiers were optionally possible was kept in the shadows and that is where Cambridge Analytica worked. Now, this is a generalisation, but it fits the overall issues. Facebook could have done better, yet it was massively naive when it thought that the paying corporations would not try to get their fingers on EVERY part they could. In that I wonder what data the insurance companies in the end got a hold on.

So when I see “Tech investor Jason Calacanis has set up a contest — the Open Book Challenge — to create a Facebook replacement. Finalists will be given $100,000 and residence in a 12-week incubator“, when we see it in the light of “Facebook has delivered Zuckerberg a net worth of over $60 billion” must be the easiest pickings for Jason Calacanis that any entrepreneur has ever been a part of. It is like the pyramid games after 15 rounds whilst the top person stayed on top never having to pay more than 0.0001% of the total earning, not even Las Vegas in its wildest times offered such odds.

So I am very much against regulations, it is merely a way for governments to get a hold of that data. Now I am not against that if it truly serves national security, but the fact that actual criminals and terrorists use such systems to elude identification and strike form a distance merely makes it a waste of time and most analysts know this. Now, we also know that when we know where exactly to look, Facebook could reveal stuff, but to hold those billions of accounts to optionally find merely one person is an extremely bad application of time management.

In the end, the one additional part I liked was Zuckerberg stating “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook. I run it. And I’m responsible for what happens here”. I like it because of the realisation that in all the bungles of IBM in the last 30 years, especially the PS/2 range, at what point did any of them stand up and tell their consumers that they screwed up? Especially in line of the setting that the average Model 80 (80386) computer was 400% more expensive at merely 28% of the power of a Taiwan clone, in addition the on board time clock battery has given the user more headaches than a hammer and the graphical underperformance offered should be forgotten at the drop of any hat.

So in this Zuckerberg kept his head high and in all this the entire setting of data abuse is still not addressed by either the US or UK government, in all this there is absolutely no indication that the abusers will be facing punishment or prison, so in all this the law failed the people a lot more than Facebook ever did, especially in the light of issues like this have been going on for years, but we do not get to read that part, do we?

 

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The congressional sham

The papers are ‘covering’ live the entire Facebook hearing, we see several papers covering it and I think that this is a good thing. Yet, most papers are not without flaws. The fact that I have been writing about the entire mess of data privacy since 2013 makes it to the best of my knowledge a Capitol sham at best (pun intended) . you see, these so called senators are all up in arms and we see the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/10/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-hearing-congress-testimony) give quotes like “from data privacy to Russian disinformation“, you see, it is a lot less about data privacy than it is about the Russians. The anti-communist gene in Americans is too strong; the yanks get too emotional and become utterly useless in the process. So is it about the 44 senators grilling Mark Zuckerberg, is it about their limelight and about their re-election visibility, or is it about global data privacy? I can guarantee you now that it will not be about the last part and as such we will see a lot more warped issues shine on the congressional dance floor.

In that regard, when you read “They demanded new detail about how Facebook collects and uses data and elicited assurances that it will implement major improvements in protecting personal privacy“, it might be about that, but it will be a lot more on oversight and how the US government wants to be able to ‘check’ all that data. They wanted access to all that data since Facebook became one year old. So when we see ‘Sen. Kennedy: “I don’t want to have to vote to regulate Facebook, but by god, I will. That depends on you.”‘ you better believe that the ‘depends on you‘ can be read as ‘as long as you give us access to all your data‘, which contains the shoe that fumbles.

So when we see “Several asked for detailed answers about how private, third-party companies, such as the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, gained access to personal data on 87 million Facebook users, including 71 million Americans“, we see the valid question, yet that did not require a congressional hearing, so that is merely the icing that hides the true base element of the cake. It is the honourable Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee that gives the first goods: “Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook”, you see, freedom of data and misuse of information as set by insurances. The statements like ‘Insurance companies warn that under certain circumstances, posting about your holidays on social media could result in your claim being declined if you are burgled‘. These senators were not really that interested in all this whilst the entire insurance issues have been playing as early as 2010; they were likely too busy looking somewhere else. The entire privacy mess is a lot larger. We see this at the Regis University site when we take a look at: “A new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reveals nearly one in five Americans (19%) has been the victim of some form of cyber stalking, defined as any persistent and unwanted online contact with another individual. Through aggressive social media contact, repeated emails or other methods of online connectivity, cyber stalkers represent a serious and growing threat to men and women who otherwise wish to disengage from those who make them feel uncomfortable. Still, the NCSA report shows only 39% of those who believed they were being stalked online reported the incident to authorities“, so was there a senatorial hearing then? No, there was not. In addition, a situation where one in 5 Americans is subject to stalking, yet in all those years almost nothing was done. Why is that? Is that because the overwhelming numbers of these victims have tits and a vagina, or merely because they are less likely to be communist in nature?

Does this offend you?

Too bad, it is the direct consequence of inaction which makes todays issue almost a farce. I stated almost! So, is the issue that the data was downloaded, or that the data on millions of Americans is now in the hands of others and not in the hands of the US government? This loaded question is a lot more important than you might think.

The fact that this is a much larger farce is seen when the Democrat from Illinois decides to open his mouth. It is seen in “Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), asked Zuckerberg what hotel he stayed at Monday night and the names of anyone he messaged this week“, was it to break the ice? If all 44 senators do that, then we see evidence why the US government can’t get anything done. It is actually another Democrat that gives rise to issues. It is seen in Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “We’ve seen the apology tours before… I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are different rules of the road.”, the man makes a good case, but I am not certain if he is correct. You see, unless the US government is ready to lash out massively in the abuse of data towards any corporation found using social media on exploiting the privacy of its members, and insurers are merely one part in all this. You see, the rules of the road have been negated for some time in different directions, unless you are willing to protect the users of social media by corporate exploitation, Richard Blumenthal should not really be talking about traffic rules, should he? This directly links to the fact that 90% of hedge funds were using social media in 2014. Were they properly looked at? I wonder where those 44 senators were when that all went down.

The one part that will actually become a larger case comes from Massachusetts. “Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) plans to introduce a new bill Tuesday called the CONSENT Act that would require social giants like Facebook and other major web platforms to obtain explicit consent before they share or sell personal data“, it will change the business model where data is no longer shared, or sold, but another model where all this is set up by Facebook and he advertiser can get the results of visibility in top line results. That is the path Facebook would likely push for, a more Google approach in their setting of AdWords and Google analytics. Facebook is ready to a much larger extent on this and it is a likely path to follow for Facebook after all this. Yet in all this the theatre of congress will go on a little longer, we will know soon enough. In the end 44 senators will push regarding “The Federal Trade Commission is investigating violations of a 2011 consent decree over privacy policy at Facebook that could lead to record fines against the company“, in the end it will be about money and as it is more likely that the data on Americans made it to Russia, the fine will be as astronomically high as they could possibly make it. They will state in some way that the debt of 21 trillion will have nothing to do with that, or so they will claim. In the end Mark Zuckerberg partially did this too himself, he will get fined and so he should, but the entire theatre and the likelihood that the fine is going to be way overboard, whilst in equal measure these senators will not chase the other transgressors is a much larger case and calls for even more concern. You see, there is a much larger congressional sham in play. It was exposed by Clay Johnson, formerly of the Sunlight Foundation, (more at http://www.congressfoundation.org/news/blog/912). The issue is not merely “On the Hill, congressional staff do not have the tools that they need to quickly distill meaning from the overwhelming volume of communications that they receive on any given day“, it is that Facebook has been able to add well over 400% pressure to that inability. That given is what also drives the entire matter of division in American voters. I myself did not think that ‘fake’ news on events did any serious damage to Democrat Hillary Clinton, from my point of view; she did that all to herself during her inaction of the Benghazi events.

In the end I believe that the bulk will go after Mark Zuckerberg for whatever reason they think they have, whilst all hiding behind the indignation of ‘transplanted data‘. The fact that doing this directly hit the value that the rest of his data has is largely ignored by nearly all players. In addition, the fact that the BBC gave us ‘More than 600 apps had access to my iPhone data‘ less than 12 hours ago is further evidence still. So when will these 44 senators summon Tim Cook? The fact that the BBC gives us “Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you many never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it” and the fact that this is a given truth and has been for a few years, because you the consumer signed over your rights, is one of those ignored traffic rules, so the statement that Richard Blumenthal gave is a lot larger than even he might have considered. It is still a good point of view to have, yet this shown him to be either less correct on the whole, or it could be used as evidence that too many senators have been sitting on their hands for many years and in that matter the least stated on the usefulness of the European Commission the better. So when we read “The really big data brokers – firms such as Acxiom, Experian, Quantium, Corelogic, eBureau, ID Analytics – can hold as many as 3,000 data points on every consumer, says the US Federal Trade Commission“, we see that Equifax is missing from that list is also a matter for concern, especially when we consider the events that Palantir uncovered, whilst at the same time we ignore what Palantir Gotham is capable of. I wonder how many US senators are skating around that subject. We see part of that evidence in Fortune, were (at http://fortune.com/2017/10/10/equifax-attack-avoiding-hacks/) we see “Lauren Penneys, who heads up business development at Palantir, advised companies to get their own data and IT assets in order—both to better understand what risks do exist and to improve readiness to respond when a breach does happen“, she is right and she (validly) does not mention what Palantir Gotham is truly capable of when we combine the raw data from more than one corporate source. With the upcoming near exponential growth of debt collection, and they all rely on data and skip tracing of social media data, we see a second issue, which these senators should have been aware of for well over two years. So how protective have they been of citizens against the invasion of privacy on such matters from the Wall Street Golden Child? Even in London, places like Burford Capital Ltd are more and more reliant on a range of social media data and as such it will not be about traffic rules as the superrich are hunted down. We might not care about that, mainly because they are superrich. Yet as this goes on, how long until the well dries up and they set their nets in a much wider setting?

We claim that we are humane and that we set the foundation for morally just actions, but are we? The BBC actually partially addresses this with: “Susan Bidel, senior analyst at Forrester Research in New York, who covers data brokers, says a common belief in the industry is that only “50% of this data is accurate” So why does any of this matter? Because this “ridiculous marketing data”, as Ms Dixon calls it, is now determining life chances” and that is where the shoe truly hurts, at some point in the near future we will be denied chances and useless special rebates, because the data did not match, we will be seen as a party person instead of a sport person, at which point out premiums would have been ‘accidently’ 7% too high and in that same person we will be targeted for social events and not sport events, we will miss out twice and soon thereafter 4 fold, with each iteration of wrong data the amount of misconceptions will optionally double with each iteration. All based on data we never signed up for or signed off on, so how screwed is all this and how can this congressional hearing be seen as nothing more than a sham. Yes, some questions needs to be answered and they should, yet that could have been done in a very different setting, so as we see the Texan republican as the joke he is in my personal view, we see “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Zuckerberg about 2016 reports that the company had removed conservative political news from its trending stories box, and followed up with questions about its moderators’ political views. When Zuckerberg said he didn’t ask employees for their political views, Cruz followed up with “Why was Palmer Luckey fired?”“, we wonder if he had anything substantial to work with at all. So when you wonder why Zuckerberg is being grilled, ask yourself, what was this about? Was it merely about abuse of data by a third party? If that is so, why is Tim Cook not sitting next to Zuckerberg? More important, as I have shown some of these issues for close to 5 years, why was action not taken sooner? Is that not the more pressing question to see answered?

 

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