Tag Archives: Google Plus

Just like everyone else

For the longest of times, I have worshiped Google. I have always been pro Google, and having worked in their offices for a year, being exposed to the options within Google is just overwhelming (and the food is pretty much the best in the world). So what happens when you are shown that Google is basically just like all the other large corporations? What when you wake up to an early e-mail where google advises you on the new Google Home Hub and the Google Pixels 3 (which is appealing even if it is at the price of your soul), yet 150 minutes later, you are shown by the Wall Street Journal that Google is just like every other corporation at present, how would you feel?

I can tell you that an ice bucket of water over your head at that point would have seemed a soft caress in contrast to the rude awakening I was made privy to.

To get the better view, we need to go back to May 2108, where we were treated to: “Google Australia’s boss Jason Pellegrino, who spoke on a CEO panel at Sydney’s CeBIT tech conference today, told the audience there had to be a “utility exchange” for the data a business obtains, adding if there is no trust, it can prove detrimental“, as well as ““That was about a leaky bucket. That data was going to places that consumers didn’t expect, didn’t agree with and got not value out of themselves. “None of these data buckets should be leaky. However, it’s started a discussion about what’s in the bucket itself. The data that’s there has been used to deliver a great service – no one has been sitting there saying Netflix ‘I can’t believe the data that you’re sharing’ – because they are delivering a wonderful service.”“. So as we were given on Monday ‘Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public‘ with the two quotes: “Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal“, as well as “A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident“, so basically Jason Pellegrino (not the exquisite Italian sparkling water) was basically calling the kettle black, whilst we can agree at this point that he had no business opening his mouth in the first place in light of 3 years of hidden software screw ups. It seems to me that both are in equal hot waters. Even if we water it down (not using sparking Pellegrino) into a setting that Cambridge Analytica was doing it on purpose and that the implied setting by Alphabet Inc. is that their software engineers basically did not know what they were doing (to some extent). We can call a fair dinkum, but something this hidden for three years. What optional issues can we expect from the Google Pixel 3, with Android version 3.14159265418 (Android Pie), as well as the Google Home Hub where the consumer is optionally revealing all their daily needs (including the speculatively implied and roughly estimated 54,233 daily attempts to watch Pornhub) with or without the optional keywords Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, Shania Twain, Selena Gomez, Kirsten Dunst and Taylor Swift. Yes, that is the data those marketeers are willing to pay handsomely for, not to mention those unnamed parties speculatively involved in election persuasion consultancy projects.

It gets even more interesting that the Home Hub could potentially reveal when a person is at home or not (like on vacation), because there is no one who would want that data, right? Last week we would not have given it a second thought, yet with the revelations in the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-exposed-user-data-feared-repercussions-of-disclosing-to-public-1539017194) we now have a much larger issue. It was fun to see the review on the Verge where we see this puppy in action (the Google Home Hub) where the operator asks for the overview of the Pixel 2, whilst pre-orders of the Pixel 3 are happening all over the world, another fallen blobby in all this.

So as we see the turmoil that one of the world’s biggest tech giants will face over the last quarter of the year, we need to realise that you should never meet your idol whilst he is still alive. I reckon that Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai will be able to hold his cool for the smallest amount when he meets me, but that is presently not a given.

So as well are treated to “The closure of Google+ is part of a broader review of privacy practices by Google that has determined the company needs tighter controls on several major products, the people said. In its announcement Monday, the company said it is curtailing the access it gives outside developers to user data on Android smartphones and Gmail” we need to wonder what is next for the social media people. I actually preferred Google+ as it was less junk driven then Facebook. And it also gave me the timeline as a first instead of the populist drive, which still annoys me in Facebook. So even as some at Google as trying to wane us to slumber, the cold reality is : ‘the company has no evidence that any outside developers misused the data but acknowledges it has no way of knowing for sure‘. That is the immediate setting in this, we no longer know who has our details and we might never know how we were optionally specifically phished and targeted as per 2015, is that not a nice new reality to face?

So as we need to realise “The company will stop letting most outside developers gain access to SMS messaging data, call log data and some forms of contact data on Android phones“, we might think it is no big deal, but this has the data potential to be a lot larger than any nightmare scenario that the UK ‘Hacked Off‘ ever envisioned in their nightmare settings that the press would have been up to, when people with less scruples (not by much though) have been given optional access to and let’s not forget, the criminals tend to be more creative then the law enforcers ever have been (or some of the intelligence services for that matter).

So even as we accept that the Google plus issue is a dwarf compared to the Facebook scandal, it still optionally victimised the setting through: “It found 496,951 users who had shared private profile data with a friend could have had that data accessed by an outside developer, the person said. Some of the individuals whose data was exposed to potential misuse included paying users of G Suite, a set of productivity tools including Google Docs and Drive, the person said. G Suite customers include businesses, schools and governments“.

I am not alone in this, a few hours ago, the New York Times are giving us: ‘How Will Google Play Its New Product Announcements on the Back of a Data Scandal?‘ (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/business/dealbook/google-data-products.html). It is not merely that part, we need to consider that at present only Apple has a seemingly clean slate and they can use this to their advantage. It is in the end watered down by the NY Times through “They’re all part of Google’s strategy to highlight the company’s services via hardware (rather than necessarily become best-sellers in their own right)“, they are all still ruled by software and the cold setting here is that it is their software that was incompletely tested and prodded by those who should have done so. I refuse to merely blame a programmer here, it is a much larger problem!

The failing here can be seen in places like Ubisoft, EA Games, Bethesda, Microsoft and several other large developers. The non-stop trivialisation of proper testing and proper timelines to test settings is at the back of all this. It is not merely a lacking QA, it is a non believe in the power of testers and longer conversations in their insights that is here as well. Issues seen in FIFA 19, several shortcomings in NHL 19, AC Odyssey bugs reported mere hours ago and the less said regarding the Microsoft Surface Go the better and the list goes on. These issues shows that Google is part of the entire problem, the quality testing and scrutiny is seemingly not done (or not done to the extent needed), and with the Google Pixel 3 just around the corner, with a lessened confidence level at present, would you at that point trust the Google Pixel 3XL 128GB at $1500, or will you play it cautiously and select the less powerful, but still a large step forward when selecting the Huawei nova 3i 128GB Handset at $600, in this day and age, can we feel comfortable with spending an optional $900 too much? I will admit that there are a few alternatives at that price, not merely Huawei, but the list of quality choices is very small.

The revelation that the Wall Street Journal exposed us to on Monday is probably the most inconvenient that Google has faced in a long time. Even before we see whatever Google has to promote in the near future on 5G capabilities and enabling technologies, they now have a visible problem to address. It is not merely a dent in their armour, it now shows us a Google that was optionally never the knight in shining armour it has largely been seen as, which is a much larger problem for Google then they are willing to admit to any day soon.

Too many are hiding behind hype terms like AI and machine learning, yet the realisation that non repudiation and authentication was required on many more levels where data is involved in all this, is a failing on several levels, predominantly the developers one and it is there that Google will possibly face a very hard time to come.

#Halfwaytotheweekendnow

 

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Within the realm of privacy

We all have an inherent need for privacy, we want things to be at our leisure of contemplated sharing. Yet, what is privacy? On one side we want privacy, but the next moment ladies will share whether their carpet is a landing strip or a martini glass, I for one do not care. If they want to share certain parts that’s fine with me. I am not too much about sharing. On the other side, apart from a few MP3 files, there is nothing interesting on my mobile. I reckon that my mobile is one of the dullest ones around.

So when I initially heard about the FBI wanting to access the iPhone of Syed Farook, I shrugged my shoulders and went ‘whatever!’ meaning that I was not opposed and I did not care. It was the techdirt site that has an interesting fact from the court case.

Footnote 7, on page 18 details four possible ways that Apple and the FBI had previously discussed accessing the content on the device without having to undermine the basic security system of the iPhone, and one of them only failed because Farook’s employers reset the password after the attacks, in an attempt to get into the device“, so the boss went into ‘auto-moronic’ mode and did not check? He acted without knowing? So when we see “The ‘owner’ of course, being the San Bernardino Health Department, who employed Farook and gave him the phone. Basically, what this is saying is that if the password hadn’t been reset, it would have been possible to try to connect the phone to a ‘trusted’ network, and force an automatic backup to iCloud — which (as has been previously noted) was available to the FBI. But by ‘changing’ the password, apparently that option went away“, should we consider that his boss was stupid, or that his boss was scared he had done something wrong and this was his/her way of covering the mess up? (at https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160219/17463033656/footnote-reveals-that-san-bernardino-health-dept-reset-syed-farooks-password-which-is-why-were-now-this-mess.shtml).

For the record, that was clear speculation on my side!

What happened was that Apple, the firm that initially ‘screwed over’ its customer base with error 53. A few days ago, the Guardian reported ‘Apple ordered to decrypt iPhone of San Bernardino shooter for FBI‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/17/apple-ordered-to-hack-iphone-of-san-bernardino-shooter-for-fbi). In there we see the important quote: “In 2014, Apple began making iPhones with additional encryption software that they said they could not unlock, even if faced with a court order. Apple said this was done in the name of consumer privacy and cybersecurity, but the company has been locked in a public feud with the FBI since“. I understand that there is a need for privacy. My issue is why THIS level of privacy is needed. One could speculate that this is to keep the financial adviser’s customer base happy. I reckon that those people look for other means the moment their actions could be monitored, or investigated afterwards. Again, speculation from my side.

You see, I do not comprehend why law abiding citizens are so in fear, of what the government finds out. Most people can’t stop selfie themselves, their fashion and body parts to social media on a global scale. They tend to Facebook all details, especially when they are far away from home to ‘all’ their friends, so that the department of discreet entry and removal operations can empty their homestead in the meantime. With so much sharing, what privacy do you think you still have?

So back to the Granny Smith of automation, the next article (again the Guardian) gives us ‘FBI escalates war with Apple: ‘marketing’ bigger concern than terror‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/19/fbi-apple-san-bernardino-shooter-court-order-iphone), here we see the subtitle ‘Court filing from Department of Justice says Apple is more concerned with ‘its marketing strategy’ than helping FBI unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone‘, which is fair enough when we consider that a failed marketing equals an alleged death in those houses. The quote “Cook called for public debate and has been backed in his fight by some of tech’s biggest names, including Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai, WhatsApp and whistle-blower Edward Snowden“. I think that this is less about Americans and more about the 7 billion non-Americans that have this false fear of the CIA and the NSA. Yet in all this, the only true group to fear this is the 0.0001% of the population, I do not even register and in that regard most do not even register. Like the previous mass surveillance marketing ploy, simple fear mongering.

Now, let it be said that I have nothing against a person’s privacy and there is nothing wrong with wanting privacy, yet when we consider the 1.5 billion on Facebook, the 100 million on Instagram, the 307 million on Twitter and over 100 million users on Pinterest, we have well over 80% of the iPhone users on social media all sharing from mere events attended up to the grooming of the most private of parts, Which makes the shout for privacy a little too hilarious.

So how does this fit legally?

Well first there is the part that the DoJ is now relying on. It is the All Writs Act of 1789, which states “The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law“, which sounds rather nice,

Yet the fact that the DoJ needs to rely on an act that has, according to several press sources, only been used thrice is a little too novel.

When we consider that the ‘self-destruct’ was enable by Farook’s boss (making the device useless to thieves), only leaves the DoJ without options. What is interesting is when the last cloud backup has happened, had it happened at all? Too many question that are all in the realm of speculation and none of it gives way to legislation. The question becomes should it be? I am not opposing the FBI, CIA or NSA. Yet these alphabet groups do know that they are fishing in murky waters. You cannot expect a corporation to set a product meant for 1,000 million to have options for the internally build exemption of 5,000-7,000 users. The math just does not add up!

I was talking about the legality, so let’s continue there.

In McCabe v British American Tobacco Australia Services Ltd,’ and the appeal, British American Tobacco Australia Services Ltd v Cowell (Representing the Estate of McCabe (deceased)), exposed some of the difficulties that plaintiffs who sue large corporations may face in litigation involving access to documentation. The Victorian Court of Appeal reversed the first instance decision which had struck out the defence of a tobacco company (‘BAT’). The basis for the first instance decision was that BAT had systematically destroyed documents that might have been relevant to the plaintiff’s case. It important to state WHO destroyed documents. You see, in case of Farook it was the boss who ‘destroyed’ the options for information retrieval. The important issue is that INTENT becomes near impossible to prove. In addition that case gives us: “The High Court declined the opportunity to clarify the law in this important area by refusing leave to appeal. The effect of this case, absent statutory reform, is that corporations may destroy potential evidence provided that their actions do not constitute an attempt to pervert the course of justice or a contempt of court. These are notoriously difficult to establish” (source: Playing for keeps? Tobacco litigation, document retention, corporate culture and legal ethics by Matthew Harvey and Suzanne Lemire. The reason for going towards this case is that the entire approach to mobile architecture and auto-backup could instigate updates where the mirror is encrypted extern from Apple. Which means that any phone would have an XML set-up and data object, but the object would be irretrievable. The ‘responsibility’ for proper password maintenance would be kept with the ‘client’ or end user. Taking Apple out of the equation leaving the DoJ with the apple pie made from the famous Granny Smith (AKA Janet Abigail Doe).

This takes the entire cyber conversation towards Spoliated Evidence, where we see “a party is faced with the fact that certain key evidence has been destroyed, altered, or simply lost“, destroyed implies intent, but proving that is next to impossible (which got us the tobacco case. Altered is basically what the DoJ faces as the boss decided to reset the password, again malicious intent becomes next to impossible to prove, whilst lost is not in play in this case but could clearly complicate the issue if that was the case, as the DoJ would have no implied evidence at all.

This entire endeavour goes even further south when we consider Federal Insurance Co. v. Allister, 622 So. 2d 1348, 1351 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993), where the Fourth District decided to set forth five factors to consider before imposing sanctions for spoliation of evidence. They were:

  • whether there is prejudice;
  • whether the prejudice can be cured;
  • the practical importance of the evidence;
  • the good faith or bad faith surrounding the loss of evidence;
  • Possible abuse if the evidence is not excluded.

As bad faith is now linked to the degree of wilfulness, we get back to intent. If mere ‘negligent loss’ does not cut the cake and the cake cannot be devoured without the essential evidence, the entire issue goes nowhere really fast. Basically, it boils down to the boss of Farook having one set of glasses on with the limiting mindset of cost if his mobile was ‘abused in usage’, leaving Apple in the clear shrugging their shoulders going ‘not my problem now’, whilst in all this we are left with no evidence linking to intent or malice. That small scope that was available will in all expectations to be diminished further. It basically solves all of Apple’s problems.

In the need for privacy we have gone from exceptionally rare to just hilariously ridiculous. The Guardian article (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/20/apple-fbi-iphone-explainer-san-bernardino) shows in equal measure another side. Which comes from Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat from Oregon. Here we read “Some are calling for the United States to weaken Americans’ cybersecurity by undermining strong encryption with backdoors for the government,” he wrote on Medium on Friday afternoon. “But security experts have shown again and again that weakening encryption will make it easier for foreign hackers, criminals and spies to break into Americans’ bank accounts, health records and phones, without preventing terrorists from ‘going dark’“, as such correctly implying that the medication will end up being a lot worse than the disease they face. In addition to that, should Farook have relied on another path, for example receive orders and message a ‘guild’ within a Facebook RPG game, the wasted time on the iPhone becomes nothing more than an iconic episode of the Comedy Capers. With these games receiving billions of messages a day, parsing though 1 of a dozen games would take years. The fact that none of this required any encrypted android or IOS system, just a mere desktop like millions of students use makes for the case against the Alphabet teams. When looking at Extremetech, we see a quote that is important in all this, the quote: “how terrorist organization uses social media to spread its message and radicalize curious readers. GWU’s research found that while ISIS uses a wide range of services, including Facebook, Google Plus, Kik, WhatsApp, and Tumblr, Twitter is the social media site of choice. Twitter already patrols and bans the accounts of ISIS supporters“, it casually forgets the 3-4 dozen accounts that do not raise any flags, the accounts that ACTUALLY bring details of the attacks to the transgressors.

 

 

 

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