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Ding ding goes the alarm clock

The Guardian is waking us up. I was already awake as I have mentioned this danger close to two years ago; actually I gave rise to the risk even before anyone had heard of Cambridge Analytica. As we see the quote: “The government is launching an inquiry into the use of personal data to set individual prices for holidays, cars and household goods, amid rising fears of a consumer rip-off” from the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/04/inquiry-personal-data-dynamic-pricing-consumer-fairness). You see, the issue is a lot larger and people are just not waking up to this danger. They all think that it isn’t really an issue, or that it will not hit them. Well, think again, it is already hitting you and the field of impact is growing on a nearly daily basis.

Setting the stage

The quote goes way beyond “Philip Hammond, has asked a panel of experts led by Jason Furman, a former adviser to Barack Obama, to examine competition in the digital economy, including how machine learning and algorithms are used to set prices and whether firms could gang up to disadvantage consumers“. You see, the large issues are actually the ones that are known in advance. World Business Forum, Forbes Women’s Summit, B2B Marketing Forum, E3, ComiCon, Call Center Week and so on. Some of these places are not merely known in advance, some will go to known places like Viva Las Vegas, so the impact is not as large as one would think, although an additional 2500 hotel rooms is still an impact. No, it is the other stuff, the IP World Summit – Amsterdam, the London Law Expo 2018. Niche markets where we think that it is merely a business venture and the expenses will not be noticed, that is where the coin is found and the impact and influence is felt over a larger group.

Even as it is currently states as ‘could’, the quote “when you think about posting to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you probably don’t consider how it could affect your insurance. The truth is, social media could very well become a standard part of the insurance underwriting process in the not too distant future“, I personally believe that it is already impacting people. The example in the US Insurance agent is: ‘Taking pictures while driving and uploading them to social media could result in having your policy non-renewed based on the implication that you are a distracted driver‘, Yet in Ireland alone we see ‘14,000 drivers caught on their phones in 2017 – and some were posing for selfies‘. Now consider that you must comply with: “If you received a fixed penalty notice for a road traffic offence, you will need to disclose this to motor insurance providers for five years if you were 18 or over at the time“, at this point your premium goes up by a fair bit, it is something that can often be checked and even those not convicted can be hit with an increase, you have become a risk. In addition, tat lovely new phone you have is also the issue as ‘Why social media posts could invalidate your home insurance‘. Here it is not merely what you do, but where you were. So as we see: “Insurers are increasingly rejecting claims made by customers whose houses have been burgled while on holiday if they have shared the fact that they are away from home on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram“. Yet, this is the small stuff. Life insurances are seen harsher. Insurance companies are getting more and more savvy in analysing photos online. You see, that one cigarette, or even a cigar to celebrate a birth has impact. The policy is: ‘if you smoke at all, you are considered a smoker and your rates will be higher‘, it gets to be worse. If you claimed that you were a non-smoker and the insurance company can find two pics of you smoking, you could be regarded as fraudulent and it nullifies your life insurance, so as you get planted six foot deep at some grassy field, whomever you left behind ends up not getting a penny. Decades of premiums paid down the drain. This is the direct and clear stuff, yet in that stage, we see the impact of fees, premiums and algorithms. The story takes a deep turn for the worse there.

The real and the not so real stage

Consider that every convention is online, every events is documented. Instead of the airlines setting the stage of the need for an additional plane in advance, they do that and increase the price of the fee. We might think that it is normal when we see: “The average cost of a flight out of the UK to all destinations between the 16th and 31st of December is 12 per cent higher on the big day itself“, yet if you knew this a year in advance, the increase is a little less normal, even as we understand that the bulk wants to get there on that day, now consider that this is applied to a stage where it is not thousands, but hundreds more and the issue is not Christmas, but an event in New Jersey, or a convention in Budapest. Yet, this is still merely the top of the iceberg. What if it is not a flight, but an item you desperately need to buy online? Not some Ubermeal, but the version of ‘John Lewis to launch £10,000 ‘private shopping’ service‘, a service where you always pay premium. Now, we might not care as these people are wealthy and they will not mind paying a few extra £’s on the dollar. Yet, that model will also impact the general population, it’s merely the stage as something becomes a ‘phase’ we all want it, most people tend to be sheep, and there is a loaded part here. Is it wrong for a place like John Lewis to maximise on their stock? It is merely ‘whether firms could gang up to disadvantage consumers‘, is that still the case? The point is that this is becoming a grey area. Even as we see the customer care part of: ‘another new service is called the Shopping List, under which a member of John Lewis’s team can be booked free of charge to gather either a specific basket of items or to help pick out gifts for specific people‘. The data behind it can become much more lucrative. Even as we see the battering that many of these stores have taken, and we are notified (again) of ‘It has also spent millions of pounds on improving its home delivery infrastructure and IT systems to cater to demand for online shopping‘. That data can prove to be invaluable setting the next stage in all this and the question is not merely what the watchdog is saying it is, but the underlying part becomes, if this is about staying afloat, about maximising the revenue, is there a case of ‘disadvantage consumers‘, or are we seeing the data impact of optional fraudulent claims of healthcare benefits whilst the subscriber was not completely honest on the application form. Even as I agree that the people need to wake up, even as I have stated that the people are in a vice, part of it is done to themselves. Now, I am less inclined to stand on the side of the insurance on the burgled house whilst doing the dance party 24:7 on Ibiza. It was not the person; it was the burglar in all this that is at fault. Yet the opposite that ‘telling’ a person that a house is safe and unguarded is still a dangerous step and even as we are so shareable in some ways, we need to see that this data is now a hazard to the quality of our lives. The question is more ‘what should you never do‘ and not ‘did you set yourself up to be the disadvantaged consumer?‘ We all know that Christmas presents are the best bought two days after Christmas, so even as we know that the price is higher on December 24th; can we blame the seller for charging 110% 21-24 December, knowing he will try to sell it as 65% on December 27-30? We forget on the stage that we set ourselves. On a rainy day an umbrella might optionally be £1 more expensive, yet is this data we are looking at, or can we claim that we know that we are knowingly selling to aquaphobes that day? The second is a clear stage of ‘disadvantage consumers‘. This stage is moving as dashboards can be changed in every way. You see if the answer does not match, you merely change the question which is politics 101. Data is actually almost the same, it is not on the results; it is now the population that makes the result. It is the grasp of an Old Dutch joke: “We see the impact where mothers are no longer working in families with 2.4 children“, so basically a pregnant woman with 2 children is unlikely seek employment, or to be employed; it is the same yet presented completely different. And when you consider the stage (the 70’s) is behind that, we see that this stage has merely matured in both the application of the spoken word, as well as the stage of presented facts. If we see that a number is, or that a factor applies, we automatically assume certain stages. As it is about a gender, or a location, yet it is still a weighted part, a presented population (the people that were part of the equation) and this field is growing exponentially. Consider that Google is adding close to a million facts every hour (highly speculative), this ensures not merely what is known about a person; it also makes its advertisement drive more efficient. Google’s non advertisement share grew by 14% in the last year. The other side, its advertising accounted for a total of 111 billion U.S. dollars. To make this grow, data granularity becomes increasingly important and even as Google does not allow individual access to data, the fact that some facts can be found, means that more and more will be known about everyone and a lot of it through our own actions. Selfies, Geo-tagging, and other parts are making identification and classification happen in all this. Even as we push forward in one direction, we give it away in another. It does not matter whether we move in Google Ads, or push towards Amazon Ads. We give away our details and we think that what one sees, none of the others see it, it is that part that is the folly, whatever we share online is almost instantly known to everyone and machine learning is merely making the exchange (read: collecting) of our details more efficient.

How we get charged

Yes the alarm clock needs to go ding dong, preferably at 100db so that you actually wake up. Even as it was a little over 6 months ago, Miles Brignall gave us: “Next time your car insurance renewal comes through, don’t fall into the trap of describing yourself as unemployed if, for example, you are retired, a student or a housewife/house husband. If you do, you could end up paying 50% more“, a comparison where they merely changed recorded occupation, now consider how up to date your LinkedIn account is. Do you still think that it will not matter your case? When you are confronted with: “MoneySuperMarket says students and retired people who mistakenly describe themselves as “unemployed” have the most to lose – potentially up to £700 a year in the worst cases. Retirees who do the same may have to cough up an additional 37%, it found.” Now we see the danger, this is not maximised ‘retail effort’ this is clearly a stage of ‘disadvantage consumers‘ and it came from an optional direction we never considered, because if LinkedIn is the one place where we can get a new job, how dangerous should their system be regarded when our cost of living could be hit by an additional 50%? And this is not via Hacked Data, this is you the optional consumer and in need of services being as visible as possible, a part you never expected is now affecting you in other ways too.

I have always believed that LinkedIn is a massive force for good, yet others have found an alternative use of that and with hundreds of thousands facing an optional £250 a year extra; we now have merely one side that starts amounting to some serious cash. So when you tell me who ignores such serious levels of cash, I will at that point introduce you to a liar. It is that simple in this day and age, machine learning is merely changing the threshold of you paying extra. It is a great benefit, but in some hands it will be their revenue benefit, and takes your cost of living through the roof.

Yet the question for me remains that even as I believe such a watchdog to be essential, there is a question on how effective they will be at the end of the day, because when the conversation degrades to a ‘he claimed‘, whilst ‘he gave in writing‘ against ‘he posted freely online‘, to the opposition trying to make a ‘disadvantage consumers‘ case, we will end up seeing a case that is unlikely to ever be won.

 

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MI5 to the rescue?

That is what one might think when we read the Guardian. The article: ‘MI5 to take over in fight against rise of UK rightwing extremism‘. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/28/mi5-lead-battle-against-uk-rightwing-extremists-police-action) gives us: “It comes amid growing global fears of the threat posed by far-right terrorists. In the US in recent days a man was charged with sending 13 pipe bombs to opponents of Donald Trump, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton“. It all makes sense, let’s be clear about this. When we look at the MI5 site we get: “The role of MI5, as defined in the Security Service Act 1989, is “the protection of national security and in particular its protection against threats such as terrorism, espionage and sabotage, the activities of agents of foreign powers, and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means”“. This all makes sense, and their mission statement is at (https://www.mi5.gov.uk/what-we-do). The Guardian also gives us: “Four extreme rightwing alleged plots have been thwarted in the UK since March 2017, compared to 13 Islamist plots. But with around 100 investigations into the extreme rightwing currently live, the threat is assessed as growing“, so one would think that a big shout out is due to all the boys and girls at MI5. Yet, it is not that simple. You see when we see the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics giving us: ‘the political right opposes socialism and social democracy. Right-wing parties include conservatives, Christian democrats, classical liberals, nationalists and on the far-right; racists and fascists‘. My issue is not with MI5 or with their mission statement. My issue is with the setting that there is a grey area that lies between ‘Right-wing parties include conservatives, Christian democrats, classical liberals, nationalists‘ and ‘racists and fascists‘. You see, that borderline is getting more and more blurry. It is perhaps a lot more visible in the US where the Washington Post gave us earlier this month: ‘States can’t punish businesses for boycotting Israel, federal judge in Arizona says‘, when corporations will be allowed racism through ‘freedom of speech‘. So when we see: “In his personal life, he avoids companies he considers complicit in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. His aim had been to extend his boycott to his one-person law office — for instance, refusing to purchase from Hewlett-Packard because its information technology services are used at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank“, now we get the setting that companies are getting punished for selling to the Israeli government. When we see this change, we see the opening of a lot more options for both bias and optionally racism, merely as it undermines his First Amendment rights. I understand that there is a touchy legal setting here, yet when we transfer this to the European side of things, it changes the game by a lot. Even when we consider “The ACLU challenged the legislation in both cases. Its success in protecting boycott activity in the courts is notable, as a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushes for federal legislation penalizing cooperation with boycotts sponsored by international governmental organizations. Even after modifications made by the bill’s Senate sponsors — Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) — the civil-liberties group argues that the measure would be unconstitutional“, we see a setting where MI5 has a much larger issue to deal with.

Part of that is seen in a paper by the Anti-Defamation League. They give us a top 10 of anti-Israel groups. Here we need to notice Al-Awda, perhaps the largest Palestinian-American grassroots organization. We are informed on: “While Al-Awda champions itself as a Palestinian rights group that advocates for “right of return,” its core ideology is predicated on the notion that Israel’s existence is illegitimate, Zionism is racism and resistance against Israel is justified. Many of Al-Awda’s supporters readily express support for terrorist groups, including waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags at anti-Israel rallies and posting messages to Al-Awda’s listserves demanding violent resistance against Israel” and they seem to be growing. Their Yahoo groups in Sweden and London are implied to be on the rise, they are gaining steam in the US (to what degree is unknown and I was not able to find more data), yet in all settings Universities seem to be the growth foundation going all the way to Sydney Australia; so there is momentum and all this is not merely done through individuals. It is my personal belief that this wave is gaining momentum, partially due to focussed ideology, which is not a crime mind you, but those people become facilitators to a lot more and there is our number two issue. MI5 is now confronted with a lot more work, merely because they have to look into these people and first ascertain whether they are merely ideologists who seek ‘a fair playing ground‘ for those who do not have it, whilst enabling extremism to a degree that they did not intend to give. The entire anti-Israel is perhaps the strongest visible example, yet when we recollect the entire ‘Hezbollah flags fly once again at London’s Quds Day march‘, we see clear evidence that I am right. So when we got treated 5 months ago to: ‘Police: We can’t stop people flying Hezbollah flags on London march‘, we accept that it is a legal part, yet the facilitation in all this is clear, it is given and it is continuing and there lies the issue for MI5. How can they act against the extreme right, whilst the buffer zone between the right and extreme right is large enough to give a protective shield to Hezbollah recruitment drives? So when we recollect the words of Metropolitan Police Commander Jane Conners where she stated: “Purely holding a flag does not necessarily incite religious or racial hatred. It is the words or actions of the person holding the flag that can cause incitement“, I personally respectfully decline to agree with that part, even as she academically is not wrong, she is absolutely incorrect with the given statement.

And it does not stop there, the entire Anti Saudi Arabia setting is evolving as well, it is not merely evolving as an Anti-Saudi-Arabia, it is in part driven as Pro-Iranian, you know the people funding terrorist organisations like Hezbollah (firing missiles from Yemen into Saudi Arabia), a part the media is steering clear from for a few reasons. That too counts as a problem, as it intensifies the complications for the security services. Technically a person is allowed to be as pro-Iranian as they feel like, especially former Iranians building a new life. Yet in all this the plot does not thicken, it merely gets larger. It is seen a few hours ago when Ahmad Dastmalchian, the former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon states: “Hezbollah is an “effective actor” in the Middle East region“, the statement is more intelligent than you might think, as it is actually giving Hezbollah the cloak of facilitation, the mantle of enabling and the shroud of enacting, all settings that Hezbollah is staged in, via and through the acts of Iran and their activities in the UK are growing.

The next part is speculative (some might say highly speculative), yet I believe that CNN when they gave us (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/17/uk/uk-anti-semitism-intl/index.html) 10 weeks ago the setting of: ‘Anti-Semitism is so bad in Britain that some Jews are planning to leave‘, I absolutely (as a conservative) disagree with the accusations that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic. He is also not anti-Semantic and that is where the issue lies. As he is trying to be more pro-Palestinian (or perhaps refuses to be anti-Palestinian, which is not the same) he actually enables anti-Semitic activities (not intentionally) and that is where the shoe becomes too tight for MI5. As we have a field so polarised, finding where the danger lies becomes a much harder mission and as such finding out the truth without revealing your hand is close to impossible. So when CNN gives us “Two people have previously been imprisoned for threatening to murder him for being Jewish, Lewis said. Now, he said, he’s reached the stage where he’s “almost being desensitized to the threats” — from both right and left — such is their regularity“, I am personally left in the understanding that many actions have been enabled by other actions, which is part of the nightmare setting for MI5. The second one is not merely a stage of miscommunications, it is almost hilarious when (using an example) hear that the market researcher who hated polls was offered membership in UKIP, which by the way is, merely my sense of humour acting up. It is a much larger problem. You see, the Independent gives us (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tommy-robinson-court-case-live-updates-trial-latest-edl-jail-sentence-old-bailey-contempt-free-a8596981.html) the stage where: “Tommy Robinson has walked free from court again after his contempt case was referred to the Attorney General“. If we see this in its execution, we might see the stage of ‘the Court of Appeal ruled that procedural failings had “given rise to unfairness”‘, yet is that the true setting, or is there support in the legal weeds for right winged groups? That question comes to mind when we see the Guardian revelation ‘Tommy Robinson could make more than £1m from a potential trip to the US next month, making him one of the best funded far-right figures‘ a mere 2 days ago. To see this much support and funding, places clearly places corporations in the line of shielding against acts against some of the far right players and that is where MI5 is about to fall short. If corporations are part of this, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that some MP’s will make demands and ask open questions in the House of Commons that should not be asked. Not because they are wrong to ask, but because they hinder and optionally invalidate the MI5 process of investigation. You merely have to ask how often such questions of hindrance was given in support of the IRA in the last three decades to give consideration that there is polarisation in the UK, giving a larger question mark whether the rise of rightwing extremism can we stopped, or merely slowed down a little.

You merely have to consider the ‘wisdom’ given in Operation Petticoat, a movie (and absolute classic) from 1959. The quote “In confusion there is profit” is very apt to this situation. Nothing entices miscommunication like a polarised political field. The UK with their pro-Iranian and Pro-Saudi think tanks are partial proof of that and there is nothing that loads a field like enticing politicians to seek the limelight with a cause that can be twisted six ways form Sunday, even as the politicians are not doing anything wrong or shady, that part was clearly seen with the entire Jeremy Corbyn thing and it is not close from over, because that part can be seen when we dig into the EDL and their ant-Islam agenda’s. The Guardian gives part of that (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/25/tommy-robinson-and-the-far-rights-new-playbook), yet I believe that it goes beyond what the Guardian has (and I have absolutely no evidence either). It is my personal belief that their quote: “The Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson covered Yaxley-Lennon’s story extensively on his show; Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, tweeted his support, while the US ambassador for international religious freedom reportedly lobbied the UK on Yaxley-Lennon’s behalf. The UK Independence party is debating offering Yaxley-Lennon membership, while Stephen Bannon, the former Trump adviser and co-founder of Breitbart, has described him as “the fucking backbone” of his country and proposed including him in a new far-right venture, a pan-European network called The Movement“. I think that those people (like Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump Jr and Stephen Bannon) come with corporate cloud. The ‘£1m from a potential trip to the US next month’ is merely the frothing on the icing of the cake. the actual financial support could go a hell of a lot faster, even as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon might not get a penny, $2 to $3 million in Google Ads funding (which is 100% tax deductible) goes a long way covering the UK in text and display ads for a year on keywords from ‘immigration‘ to ‘financial support‘, whilst blanketing a whole range of websites with some ‘the EDL is there for you‘ slogans. That is the stage and that is what MI5 faces on the short term. By the time MI5 has a handle on things, we see that the message is already getting spread by parties where they have no influence and the MP’s will not be willing to hand them any favours. That is the reality of the show we are about to see.

It is not the ‘contempt of court‘ failure we need to fear it is the optional ‘contempt of others through advertisements’ that becomes the worry and these people are clever enough to phrase it as to not upset any filters, they will have the know-how and experience at their back and call for that.

We can in the near future consider that it sucked to be Andrew Parker in 2018-2019, oh K?

 

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