Tag Archives: Zuckerberg

When Congress becomes something more

So as I stated in ‘The Fantastic Four and the Bully’, the four getting grilled are not the bad guys. Well, there is some debate, but the foundation is that these four tech entrepreneurs are getting grilled by people who are clueless on tech matters. So as some read the BBC part “At issue is the fact that Apple doesn’t allow apps to be installed onto iOS devices from alternative marketplaces, and that it enforces tough rules over the way subscriptions and other digital items can be sold.” The issue soon becomes, will congress be responsible for any bad app and data gathering app that Congress would want to allow for? Even as an android user, I see that there are very few bad apples around, as such most apps are safe. There are a lot more dangerous apps on Android. This is not the fault of Google, there are several ways that a personal device gets to be the victim, there are a lot less issues on Apple, as such and as Congress might demand third party options, will they not be responsible for the damage that they put on Apple and its users? There is another side, a these tech giants come under fire, the chances of Chinese hardware makers making it bigger only increases by 35%-55%, how is that of use to congress? We might see Fitbit mentions and other mentions, but these products are closely followed by Asian alternatives, the entire setting does not add up. Then we get the advertisements, until Google Ads was here, we had DoubleClick, there were versions that equal Epom, with price tags that started at $250 a month, then $1000 a month, $2500 a month and higher. So, can the US Congress give us a list of all the small business and small startups that had that kind of cash? Google Ads was one of the first AFFORDABLE solutions for small business units, the fact that the bulk all switched should be a larger consideration, in addition, Google Ads was one of the first to truly die a larger rise to localisation and languages. Usually one or the other was missing, as such, is the growth of Goole Ads to be blamed on Google, or on all the others who could not be bothered? Not everything is perfect at Google, we all know that, but we also know that the ignorance in congress is a little too large to wonder who they are serving, they claim the people, but in reality? I am actually wondering who they are setting the stage for, I see it as a different stage that the one they tell us we are on.

And even as we accept Sundar’s optional defence of “Today’s competitive landscape looks nothing like it did five years ago, let alone 21 years ago, when Google launched its first product, Google Search”, we need to see that this landscape is largely influenced on the upcoming 5G and as it is now, especially as well over 50% of all searches are done via mobile, the only thing I see coming is that China gets a much larger share of it all and Congress intervening on matters that they do not comprehend is a much larger danger to that happening. I have always been favour of Huawei technology, that does not mean that I want China to have the bulk of all the business. The White House wants us to think it is the same, but it is not. They have set the stage that unites Huawei in a political tool for China to set a much larger field, they were pushed by US stupidity, not Huawei needs. The US took it away and now we see a very different stage, one where Huawei is still independent, but taking the customers that China is pointing at. The stage is changing and Congress is adding fuel to that fire by chastising the big four tech makers, each entrepreneurs. Each understanding the digital landscape. I had no clue in the early 90’s when Amazon started, I thought it was mad to continue when the losses were so great, now the owner has is worth in excess of $35,000,000,000, a personal value that exceeds a lot of nations. I am not saying that all is kind and kosher with each of the four, I am stating that when we are getting told changes, we are properly getting told by people who understand that business and in Congress, I doubt that they can rub together 2 one dollar coins on the subject on digital advertising. The more ‘diplomatic’ answer comes from Facebook’s own Zuckerberg. With “Our story would not have been possible without US laws that encourage competition and innovation. I believe that strong and consistent competition policy is vital because it ensures that the playing field is level for all. At Facebook, we compete hard, because we’re up against other smart and innovative companies that are determined to win” and some of them are Chinese. Some are Russian and others are all over the place, yet Facebook has other problems too, privacy and marketing do not go hand in hand, not in their granular market and that is where part of the problem lies. We could decide that from the four, they are the bad apple in this, but that would be wrong. I worked for people who had no idea how to dress a Facebook market when it was offered to them, their bullet point presentations could not deal with that unknown side of business, that was the strength for growth for Facebook, it was so new, there were no defining borders and there is where we see part of that problem, a lot never caught on, not to the degree that Facebook represents and there I see the dangers of the US Congress, they are not that clued in (as I personally see it). So as we get to one of the topics ‘One of the matters concerning the committee is the degree to which three of the tech companies now control the market for online adverts’ we need to recognise that these players made it affordable for a lot of businesses, the old way was dictatorial and something only rich companies could afford, they refused to give way and when Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon gobbled up the small fry, the large fry moved positions because their provider was no longer the bee’s knees. Three never ruled it, the grew it changing the rulers and the old stage should never return. And finally, according to numbers one in three uses Bing and Microsoft search and are therefor exposed to Bing Ads, so why is Microsoft not in that stage? There are 4 players and one has well over 20%, so why is Microsoft not in the meeting? Is that asking for too much?

Those who have read my articles over the year have seen that I have chastised each and every one of these four (5 if you include Microsoft), but here I see no blame, not from any of the 5, the stage was set, the rules were followed and when the opportunity was there 20 years ago, most would not wonder there, I was a personal witness when some stated that there was no future for a business form of Facebook in 1997, as such what is the US Congress bitching about? And as we look at the article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-us-canada-53582909) we see the graph by eMarketer, yet Microsoft and their Bing is absent, why is that? So whilst they claim it is merely about the smaller rivals, it is about something more and something different, I wonder if we will ever be told the truth. As I personally see it, the members of congress have a different set of needs and I wonder what they are.

 

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Direction X

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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