Tag Archives: VIZIO

The danger of Colbert and the Press

When we see an interview with General Michael Hayden and Stephen Colbert, it is hard to imagine, but it is actually Stephen Colbert who is endangering the lives of many. Did you realise that? First, the interview (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buI8aO7nRDM) should be watched. It is a brilliant interview. Getting a former CIA and NSA director in view is always a little awesome and the man plays the audience brilliantly. Now, I say ‘play’ and I mean that in the best positive way. He is funny direct and answers the questions clearly. It is Hayden that gets the applause and it was an applause that was well deserved. He debunks conspiracy theorists and cuckoo cases all over America. Then something happens, suddenly Colbert does something dangerous and stupid. At 4:55 he plays the game regarding Smart TV’s spying on you, he plays us all as he is linking this to the CIA. What happened was that on February 6th the FTC fined Vizio $2.2 million for collecting viewing histories without users consent (at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/02/vizio-pay-22-million-ftc-state-new-jersey-settle-charges-it), pretty much the same thing that Microsoft seems to be doing to its Xbox population at present and uploading their data into the Azure cloud (without consent).

This might seem like a nuisance, but it is a lot more than that. Large corporations have run out of spreadable funds and like any other corporations, they now need to optimise. It is almost the same situation that SPSS was selling when it offered companies a product called AnswerTree (back in 1997). Marketing firms had to get a certain quota, let’s say 4%, now to get there you could either throw more money on it, and going from 2% to 4% did not just mean a little over 100% more to get the growth. No, with their product AnswerTree, you could make an inventory of who you mailed and who responded and started to prune the tree of those who responded a lot below quota, so basically, the mailings became more efficient, a more clever path to the people buying and it is all perfectly legal and acceptable. That is what is happening now in new ways and Vizio got caught because it happened in an automated way without any level of consent. So who did not get caught? Because I can tell you right now that the bulk of the people with a smart TV have not considered where this data is being logged.

Now, I am going to ask you a question: ‘If marketing is harassment, is the marketing contact that you purchase from still a harasser?

If we have all the do not call registers, how long until these marketeers use other methods? Free games, free apps and free TV shows, all connected, you just have to agree to advertisements connected to them. It is a mere reward for exposure which is all perfectly valid. In all this the CIA was not a factor or a danger. It is the large corporations that are classifying you, more important, it is the links that they can resell that are a danger to your way of life, which is why at times smart TV’s are sold with 60% discount (speculation from my side).

In 2015 I would never have expected to be able to afford a 55 inch smart TV, it is huge (and I was happy with my 42 inch one) but it broke, I had a decent job, but the surprise that a brand new 100 Hz Sony 55 inch was priced down from $1900 to $800 (very lucky me), which was just ridiculous as the next TV (almost the same as my broken one) was a 40 inch at $699, which was perfectly decently priced for those days. Now, we can hang onto the idea that it was just a crazy sales, which does happen, but to flood the market with something almost twice the size, with much higher specifications at next to the same price as a small B-brand TV is too weird. It is almost like having a Canon 5D at the normal $2500 and offering next to it a Hasselblad X1D-50c at $3000, which would be awesome as these babies go for $13,000. It would be 20Mp versus 50Mp. As a photographer I can tell you that I would kill for a Hasselblad 50 Megapixel camera (and as I know the Evidence Act 1995, I might get away with it).

So, I hope you understand the weirdness of such good deals. And in all this, Sony has the ability to capture this data (I am not accusing them of doing this, I have no evidence of any kind that this is happening), but the threat to our privacy is real. Now you might not think that this is important. Yet consider that this data could be sold, how many hours are you not sporting, how many hours do you watch TV and what do you watch? How long until you suddenly get a 12% spike in health insurance? There is where the difference is! You see, these players are very very interested in that data, minimise their risk and charge extra to anyone that is a risk. In my case it does not matter, my smart TV is connected to my console and my Blu-ray player, so there is no ‘smart’ data to capture. What is important for these sales people that the 0.5% of the group that I represent is not the issue, their value is the 80%+ that does connect their TV for Netflix and other reasons, that is where their value is and it is potentially bringing in millions, so the 60% discount is a joke to them. That is the part Colbert smoothly walked over whilst he joked about the CIA and the press at large stayed away from that FTC ruling, so there is one of the dangers.

The other danger is organised crime. How long until people realise that being away from home means no TV? That means that the smart TV logs are not showing movement. How long until the criminals can connect smart TV usage and social media action into, which house is empty? Oh and as you advertise on Facebook that you are on Cuba, how long until you realise that you gave away the info that your house is unprotected? More important the quote “Oversharing on social media could not only leave you open to burglary but it could also invalidate your home insurance policy” is not a joke, this quote was given 2 years ago. Justice Gibson of the District Court of New South Wales raised the issue as early as 2014, the courts are not ready for this and for the most, they are only dealing with the fallout that Contract Law is giving them, more precisely the contracts that Insurance agencies have been working on. With currently well over 80% of Australians on social media (which is actually low compared to Scandinavian nations), the consideration of implementing certain risks is an essential need for any insurance agent. Yet, at what point can usage of social media be seen as evidence towards negligence? Mobile phones tells us where we are, smartphones tell everyone what we do (through our usage), and Smart TV’s give us what we watch, out interests and our activities, or lack thereof. At what point is any of this evidence to act, to surcharge to act as a penalty or as an option to nullify the security of insurance?

That is the part not considered and it gets even worse!

This is seen in the news that is hitting us now through what is marketed as Vault 7. CNN Money (at http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/09/technology/cia-smart-tv-wikileaks-public-hacks/) gives us the news on how the CIA is spying, although they do also mention “security researchers say the methods imitate exploits that were discovered — and made public years ago“, So when I see “Samsung warned users about exactly this type of susceptibility in 2015. The company told CNNTech this week that it is ‘urgently looking into the matter.’“, my question becomes: ‘How much data did you collect?‘, so as the warning is 2 years old, apart from making batteries explode, did you do anything to stop this threat? And as we see Dan Trentler, CEO of the Phobos Group security firm state: ‘That appears to be the same exploit he witnessed in action onstage at a security conference in 2013, he said‘, can we give accusation that there is nothing innocent going on and the level of negligence shown in one article spanning 3 years of events, that is enough to warrant a much larger investigation into privacy invasion by large corporations?

 

It is not about just consent, they are mining our choices and leaving us with less. You might not consider this or comprehend this, but it is an optimised way of American business. I have to explain this.

I was confronted with a larger group of board members of a large firm. As an ‘upper’ grunt I had two distinct jobs. One give the best service to my clients and protect them as much as possible from any negative event, which is what any good Technical consultant does. And I had to be faithful and supportive to my bosses, which is what a loyal employee does. Now consider the meeting where we get the premise: ‘What if you cannot service your client 100%, but only 80%, would that be acceptable?

Now, the danger here is that my answer would be a solid ‘No!’ A danger from the corporation side when we consider the introduction of service level agreements, the introduction that the client was unwilling to pay for the service given. How do you take a stand (driven by wisdom) at that point?

This is where you the consumer are at, but it comes from another direction. Places like Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, HP, IBM and Apple are all in the optimisation phase, because the economy is still not great and most of us would only be able to afford one of these devices, perhaps a second one for Christmas if we are lucky. So as we can get 2 out of 5, so how do corporations go about getting the largest share you can? Now we get to the AnswerTree part, you become smarter in how you get to your audience to choose you, not merely marketing but marketing to the most likely buying population. The question then becomes what options you have at your disposal. Do you sacrifice one device so you get an option to see 2 more options for alternative sale and get the contribution needed? The reasons is that in this day and age, it is not about revenue, when you are a listed company, when you have stakeholders, it will be about contribution (revenue minus costs), if you fail that, no great bonus, no mistress, no fast car and in the end no job.

So here we see the rundown on how Stephen Colbert became a danger to you, he made it into a CIA joke, whilst the bitter and solemn truth is that the real danger is the invitation you readily give out to all manner of freebie givers, only to learn the hard way that they get back what they gave out in tenfold, just by collecting your inactions and sell it to whomever can transform that into personal profit. So whilst some people are falling asleep reading (at http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/essentialguide/Providers-adjusting-to-greater-use-of-social-media-in-healthcare) how social media is interacting in health care, consider what an insurer would give to know that you visited a free clinic for the third time this quarter. It might not cost them anything, but it will set a flag to raise premiums the next year. Did you consider that? And as we shrug at seeing “Social media analysis done with natural language processing has given care facilities a more efficient way to get patient feedback“, many will ignore, just like the previous example on raising premiums. Even as you consider a visit for planned parenthood to be perfectly natural and normal (which it is), but when the insurer realises that you will be needing to visit an OBGYN in the near future, you better realise that you are lucky if your premium rises with only 5%. That is the way business is done and the initial ‘risk’ numbers to which you were held at premium are 10 years old and you fall in a much higher group. Only the super healthy teenager who does not get sick gets the low increase, that whilst he was actually a 0% risk. How fair is that and why is the media not all over that on a daily basis?

The CIA was never worthy to be mentioned in this regard, for 99% of the Americans they are nothing as these 99% of Americans were harmless so the CIA never cared to begin with and that is the group Colbert was aiming for which is odd in one way and on the other hand, we do get that he is a comedian who is trying to entertain 100% of his clients, those who tune in on his version of humour. He cannot be faulted for that, the press at large however can be faulted and they should but they stay away from it for other reasons. Mainly because they want a slice of the Samsung $700 million advertisement budget (that is for the USA alone), Microsoft and Sony are in similar predicaments, which is why certain events will not make the front cover any day soon. The reason of data collection being the most obvious one, but at times it can be trivialised as they are only gamers, or it is only a console and consent is overrated. I’ll let you be the judge of what matters and what not, just remember, when you are no longer within the 80% of the group they cater for and you already bought the device, where will your rights be, or your service provider? Perhaps you get the same answer Microsoft gave me: ‘we have no control over uploads, that is all with your internet provider!‘ Interesting how my consent was manoeuvred around in all of this.

 

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Is it a Prise, Prize or Price fight?

This is an interesting time, you see, many will not yet realise it, but we are roughly 19 months away from a game changing moment in our lives. There are groups of people scurrying to get to a virtual starting position, because they have learned the hard way that not setting the stage for the fight means that they will lose out the second time and this time there will be no third round for them. If you are at this point considering that I am kidding or that my statement is over the top, you better reconsider fast, because Orange Poland is now starting to get backers who have serious amounts of cash and last Wednesday, AT&T released ECOMP (their version) in San Francisco. They called it Indigo and it is one of two markers that are now actively in place to set the stage for massive shifts in Big Data. Yes, you are reading this correct!

This is not just a stage of evolution, this is now starting to be a stage of transition. As the people are marketed into a sullied state of dreams, they are tempted to seek what the places bring to them. Places like Tableau relying on AdWords top placement to show how important they are in this industry, with others using the same path on how ‘the magic quadrant of Big Business‘ is the solution, on how we see the ‘Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader‘, but the truth is actually in another direction. Places like AT&T who basically got their asses handed to them as they did not act in the 90’s, they now see that being there ahead of the game is the only move left to them, because AT&T sees that America will not make them great, it will not make them the global player. That is the first shift we see are now witnessing.

In this a very similar view can be found in the movie Assassins Creed. Now, it got written off by a several critics, but the beauty of the product is not in the movie, which is still bringing in a decent amount of profit (millions) for first time producer (and actor) Michael Fassbender. The reason why this movie is so interesting is seen in the revenue. Only 25% came from the US, the rest international. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does it to some degree where the US and international set is 50/50, the US is no longer the bulk of the income for, a basic issue that now needs addressing, especially by the American players.  That time has gone and these players have caught on that in 22 months the infrastructure is either in place, or they are out of the race. Even as we still see large players (like the Dutch KPN) rely on presentations on how ‘great’ they are. Certain players are realising more that tactics need to change, the presentation is no longer enough, and they need to be ready sooner than ever expected.

This is seen in another way, a way I already saw coming. This time it is the Canberra Times (at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/ftc-accuses-vizio-of-spying-on-smart-tv-customers-20170206-gu70p5.html) that gives the goods. We see ‘The US Federal Trade Commission said on Monday that Vizio used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers‘, which reminded me of my blog article ‘The back door‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/12/29/the-back-door/), which I wrote on December 29th 2016 with the part “consider the amount of mail you have at present and see what happens when 10 devices are added to your house profile. The refrigerator, your smart TV, your smart recorder, your game console, your laptop/tablet/PC, your 5 smart devices” as well as “A large group of people will get more and more access to your way of life. In addition, there will be an option to influence your way of life, which is a side nobody signed up for“, a stage that is now coming a lot faster than I expected. The Vizio case is only the most visible one now, this whilst more evidence is coming that Microsoft is engaged in similar actions. Is it not interesting that Microsoft is not mentioned? Perhaps that is because they are only doing that outside of the US? What is interesting is that with Vizio, places like Time.com states how to deactivate certain options, there are more and more indicators out there that this is not an option with Windows 10. How many devices use that? The other part we need to know is that the Vizio case started all the way back in 2014. So it took the trade commission well over 2 years to get there, and for how long was data collected? The interesting part is however not there, it is in the quote “manufactured VIZIO smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices. In addition, VIZIO facilitated appending specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value, the agencies allege. VIZIO sold this information to third parties, who used it for various purposes, including targeting advertising to consumers across devices, according to the complaint“. You see, the issue is not seen towards one place, when you consider ‘including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices‘, this implies that Vizio played the field and was also getting the data from Consoles (which hurts Microsoft and Sony) as well as Foxtel (several data paths), so did Vizio get dobbed in? You see, in 2014 this field was in its infancy, now in 2017, whilst data will be the essential centre stage to all matters big data related, now it gets to be a different thing and still the media at large is asking way too few questions on the who, where and for how long. And as our exposure is set to 2014 cases that are only decided now. Even as now suddenly a wave of newscasts is hitting the screens of people on how Microsoft has privacy tools, how Microsoft is trying to quash gag orders. Microsoft is part of all this from the ground up. Whilst within a Chinese wall environment, one side of the wall is boasting that they champion the privacy of others. As we see that there are now Microsoft privacy tools, we see that that part comes with the small quote “coming to future editions of Windows 10“, which is the case because Microsoft and AT&T are very aware that being alive is being in the game and data is the one element that allows them to do it in an affordable way. There is an additional side, which was brought by Forbes. It is just a week old and gives us the consideration we actually need. The part where we get hit with ‘Tempest in a Teapot’, which could just be a storm in a teacup is not that minor an issue. You see Forbes own Thomas Fox-Brewster is setting the stage, but is he doing it intentionally so? consider “Trump’s decision should only affect the privacy of data handled by government agencies, not private companies” as well as “the only way in which the order may affect non-U.S. individuals lies in the manner the Department of Homeland Security handles personal information“, which is actually the part we should not care about. It is the ‘private companies‘ part that is the actual danger. First we need to take a look at the legal part. Now, I can do that, but the experienced people at DLA Piper (at https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2016/07/privacy-shield-is-final/) did that and I just hate inventing the wheel twice. Yet in that part the following issue rose, and it did so because it has happened before (and it will happen again). It is seen in this part ‘Secure personal data and ensure the ability to restrict secondary uses‘ and the issue is not because of that part exactly, it is because of the technological side to it. You see the restrictions on data and backup data are not the same, backup data is not seen as data. Forbes actually raised it in 2012 with “First and foremost, IT auditors need to come up to speed on the implications of auditing data that’s beyond the organization’s control and beyond the organization’s home borders. While some auditors are worried, many are more optimistic that these requirements provide business opportunities within the security, compliance and auditing community as organizations move data and long-term storage into the cloud” as well as “When data is moved beyond an organization’s technological and geographic borders, the organization runs the risk of losing control of how that data complies with regulatory compliance. By addressing legal and regulatory challenges up front through technology, an organization can begin architecting an off-premise, cloud-based storage solution that meets the business’s needs as well as keeps regulatory compliance at bay“, yet only now, or better stated only recently do we see a shift that places like SAP are now realising that technicians and consultants have their own agenda’s and an American one does not see things the same way a European technician sees things. Computer Weekly raised it, but they did so with the interesting quote “data analytics technology, will ensure that only technicians in Europe will have access to potentially sensitive data held in its cloud datacentres, if companies demand it“, you see, it’s the ‘if companies demand it‘ part that matters. If provider A has an infrastructure yet it gets its backup serviced by consultancy provider B who uses a different cloud and cloud system, where is the security set when system B is in the USA and system A is in Italy? There we might see the term ‘data safety is not impacted‘, yet it is equally not impacted when Intelligence Agency ‘who gives a damn‘ has mirrored that backup and now has 100% of all data. That is the realistic issue that the Privacy Shield addresses, but does it do that in equal measure for a cloud corporate infrastructure? Is the backup party vetted, or even identified? You see, this is not about paranoia or what people learn about me. This is about large corporations getting an even more unbalanced advantage. That part is not addressed because those supporting large corporation only need to delay things (Vizio 2014 is evidence enough). It is Kevin Werbach from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania who gives the parts I have been referring to. In a podcast on innovation we get “Companies like Uber and Airbnb are built on algorithms. They’re built on software that understands supply and demand and matches people on both sides of the network“, THIS IS IT!

That is why the players need the data and as much as they can. Do you think that people like Mike McNamara (Target Corp) got a massive oversized budget for the fun of it? No, he realised (and successfully sold that to the board of directors), that if he had the data and the systems in place he can take K-Mart and Walmart to town and take chunks of their share, in the next 6 months we are likely to see the first small victories, small in start but it will be a growing wave, have no doubt about that part. These are the advantages that larger corporations have and some are doing it ethically acceptable. Yet in a similar fashion I see that those taking a different path are not questioned or hold to any level of accountability. How is that for screwed up? I have nothing against these places, but in the global setting, Target would gain an advantage against the Dutch C&A if this continues. I believe that to some degree competitiveness is a good thing, but what happens when the tools available are not available to all? What happens when one retailer is ethically kept blind, whilst the outside competitor has a dataset describing the national population in excellent detail? Where is the fairness then?

So are we facing a fight with three players? That is not a given, there are a few elements in motion over the next 18+ months so there will be shifting. Except those who are claiming and considering not participating, they are pretty much out of the game for good. Nokia is now re-joining the mobile fight, trying to bring a competitor to the Pixar XL and the iPhone 7 to the fight (Nokia P1), what was interesting is that they avoided the one ‘mistake’ the Google Pixar has. It will be one way for people to get a cheap solution this year, but will it be enough?

Not enough data to tell and that is where it sets the pace of the continuing fighters, who has the data? Which might be the premise of a joke. Three fighters were getting into the match. One thought it was a prize fight, one thought it was a prise fight and one assumed it was a price fight.

Which player do you think will be the one left standing in the end?

 

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