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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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Brilliance or Donkey mode?

The Guardian gives us two stories. One is of course all about the iPhone 7. At https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/07/apple-iphone-no-headphone-jack-second-generation-watch we see the revolution of another iteration by Apple. The interesting side is that the head jack is no more, so no headset plugging into your phone. The quote “one that tech pundits predict could have consumers staying away in droves” is one that I find debatable. You see, the article goes on (via two sides) on how head jacks need to remain. Yet Apple decided on a model that is more waterproof. A statement that I find slightly debatable as there is still a lightning connector and speaker holes. Yet that could be an error on my side. What is striking is the quote “Apple announced another new product on Wednesday – AirPods, a pair of barely-larger-than-earplugs headphones that Schiller said use a new kind of chip to deliver a “magical experience” without the usual hassle of Bluetooth pairing and un-pairing“, which means a new era of listening technology. I will not go deeper into that side, especially as I have no idea on the Airpods, yet one side unmentioned is that these ways of transmitting ‘audio’ means that the battery will see a new level of draining. Whether this is better or worse than the head jack is one I can only speculate on. What is a given is that these moves are usually paired with the gravitas of cajones that tends to change the technological battlefield by a fair bit, so it might not be a donkey idea but a brilliant one. Time will tell which one it is. So far Apple remained quiet on the field of true technical innovation so the bar is open on the gamble, but the fallout could be one worth watching.

The other side gives us the consoles. The lacking brilliance of Sony has been evident for a little while and now that they have released batch 1 of the PlayStation Pro for this November, pre-orders are off the hook. Yet in my view, this is more definitely going to be the Donkey idea for a long time. Apart from the price which is not too bad, the massive issue now is that they are offering 4K gaming. Now apart from it not actually being 4K gaming (for now), those in charge of this were blatantly lacking brainpower when setting together this package. You see 1TB just does not cut it. Consider 4K.com (at http://4k.com/news/unsexy-hard-drive-technology-needs-to-keep-up-with-4k-4872/) gives us “Given that a single minute of full ultra HD 4K video in native resolution takes up a full 2 GB of storage memory, large amounts of drive space become more crucial than ever before“. Now, games and movies are not the same, but consider that cut scenes are still going to be large and the average game has at least 30 minutes of cut scenes. That’s 60GB, which exceeds the Blu-Ray disc, which is not an issue for 4K Blu-ray’s, but how about your storage? What happens when you run out of space? I warned about this with the initial PS4 and 500 GB, so I updated to 2TB immediately. Now, that does not worry me, because I am not the average player, yet let’s not forget that after 10 games, the 500 GB edition had run out of space, what do you think 4K gaming will do with a 1TB drive? To equip that system with anything less than 2TB was sheer stupidity!

Even Microsoft saw that one coming and gave all these new versions a 2TB drive. It is likely that the Scorpion will have more than 2TB, but we will have to see. So not only did Sony drop the ball on hardware, they did it TWICE in a row, the same mistake. It seems that someone there is not thinking things through!

By the way, do not take my word for it, Sony themselves announced the new Blu-ray standard with a 1TB disc in March 2014, so I reckon that they are creating their own slippery slope all by themselves. Microsoft only needs to release the original Mass Effect trilogy on 4K within 6 months of releasing Andromeda and Sony could lose a massive stake in the gaming population. EA has clearly said that this would not happen, yet Microsoft has an option it did not have ever before, it has a title both gaming sides revere and desire. If that becomes a XB1 exclusive, Sony would end up crying a river of losses.

 

Still there is now a given we have not seen until these new systems, Sony botched the ball a second time and this time, the Sony fans might not be as forgiving as before, not only because of the initial PS4 launch fiasco (most day one games were not ready and the big title was delayed by well over 40 weeks). The issues that some faced with HD space, an issue most had not experienced on the PS3 gave more stress than people bargained for and the clarity of drive space is a lot more obvious on the PSPro than it was on the PS4.

So even if we see Sony to be in the ‘not so bright mode’, where should we see Apple? As stated before, I am not certain as there is no way to expect how the people will react to the new requirement of Airpods, the fact that the phone will now be waterproof could be the quality band aid the iPhone fans will accept as a trade-off. However, at $229 they are not the cheapest solution, so that also counts against them. Anyway, with the lightning adapter the old solution remains operational and if that cable is included with the iPhone 7 (yea right!) Phone owners would not have anything to complain about. Time will tell how Apple is seen. I think that they took a bold step in another direction and that might not be a bad thing.

Another part I found debatable was the quote Julie Ask, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research made. When we see “They’re not trying to win the race to the bottom like [competitors] Samsung or Huawei; they tend to go after the middle-class consumer that can afford the products“, we have to wonder what her data proves. Not unlike the claims she made on Bloomberg, there are a few sides that are actively ignored. For one, Huawei is NOT a bottom competitor (the quote was very peculiarly phrased), Huawei has shown to be an Android top runner and has been giving a stronger bang for the buck than the iPhone has been giving for the longest of time. My issue with Huawei is not the quality of hardware, but the limiting of availability of the higher models is an issue, one that seems to be due through agreements with the telecom companies, which is a big no no in my view. Which now also reflects back to the iPhone, which is now standard have larger sized phones, making Huawei trail. This is what the show from Apple revealed. Now for the fun part, I mentioned on my blog on July 28th 2016 how stupid this move was in the article ‘What we waste away‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/07/28/what-we-waste-away/), so less than 8 weeks later I am proven correct in more than one way. So not only is Huawei not offering a decent storage driven system, it is likely to lose a lot of market share as the 32GB Huawei P9 is pretty much the same price as the iPhone 7 128 GB Jet Black. How did Huawei not see this coming? Let’s not forget that (rumour) their CEO would be able to ask PLA Unit 61398 (Chinese Cyber warfare) what Apple was planning to do, nobody in charge there considered calling the honourable Ren Zhengfei informing him on the actions that ‘Imperialistic America’ was planning (read: Apple CEO)?

Brilliance can be found in all levels of technology, yet many of the players here seem to have been asleep these last 8 weeks.

Anybody for pancakes?

 

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