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Paul Merrell

The Spectre of an Advertising Meltdown: What You Need to Know - Lawfare - 0 views

  • The information security world is focused on two new security vulnerabilities, “Spectre” and “Meltdown”, that represent vulnerabilities embedded in computer hardware. Lawfare readers should respond in two ways: keep their operating systems up to date and, critically, install an ad-blocker for your web browser. (Here are guides on how to do so in Chrome and Firefox.) In fact, a proper response to Spectre should involve ad-blocking on all government computers. Other than that, don’t worry. Readers who just wanted to know what to do can stop reading. But for those curious about some of the technical background on these vulnerabilities and why ad-blocking is an essential security measure for a modern computer, read on.
Paul Merrell

It's Time to Nationalize the Internet - 0 views

  • Such profiteering tactics have disproportionately affected low-income and rural communities. ISPs have long redlined these demographic groups, creating what’s commonly known as the “digital divide.” Thirty-nine percent of Americans lack access to service fast enough to meet the federal definition of broadband. More than 50 percent of adults with household incomes below $30,000 have home broadband—a problem plaguing users of color most acutely. In contrast, internet access is near-universal for households with an annual income of $100,000 or more. The reason for such chasms is simple: Private network providers prioritize only those they expect to provide a return on investment, thus excluding poor and sparsely populated areas.
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee, has seen more success in addressing redlining. Since 2010, the city has offered public broadband via its municipal power organization, Electric Power Board (EPB). The project has become a rousing success: At half the price, its service is approximately 85 percent faster than that of Comcast, the region’s primary ISP prior to EPB’s inception. Coupled with a discounted program for low-income residents, Chattanooga’s publicly run broadband reaches about 82,000 residents—more than half of the area’s Internet users—and is only expected to grow. Chattanooga’s achievements have radiated to other locales. More than 450 communities have introduced publicly-owned broadband. And more than 110 communities in 24 states have access to publicly owned networks with one gigabit-per-second (Gbps) service. (AT&T, for example, has yet to introduce speeds this high.) Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed a pilot project in 2015 and has recently urged her city to invest in municipal broadband. Hawaii congressperson Kaniela Ing is drafting a bill for publicly-owned Internet for the state legislature to consider next year. In November, residents of Fort Collins, Colo. voted to authorize the city to build municipal broadband infrastructure.
Paul Merrell

Judge "Disturbed" To Learn Google Tracks 'Incognito' Users, Demands Answers | ZeroHedge - 1 views

  • A US District Judge in San Jose, California says she was "disturbed" over Google's data collection practices, after learning that the company still collects and uses data from users in its Chrome browser's so-called 'incognito' mode - and has demanded an explanation "about what exactly Google does," according to Bloomberg.
  • In a class-action lawsuit that describes the company's private browsing claims as a "ruse" - and "seeks $5,000 in damages for each of the millions of people whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016," US District Judge Lucy Koh said she finds it "unusual" that the company would make the "extra effort" to gather user data if it doesn't actually use the information for targeted advertising or to build user profiles.Koh has a long history with the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary, previously forcing the Mountain View, California-based company to disclose its scanning of emails for the purposes of targeted advertising and profile building.In this case, Google is accused of relying on pieces of its code within websites that use its analytics and advertising services to scrape users’ supposedly private browsing history and send copies of it to Google’s servers. Google makes it seem like private browsing mode gives users more control of their data, Amanda Bonn, a lawyer representing users, told Koh. In reality, “Google is saying there’s basically very little you can do to prevent us from collecting your data, and that’s what you should assume we’re doing,” Bonn said.Andrew Schapiro, a lawyer for Google, argued the company’s privacy policy “expressly discloses” its practices. “The data collection at issue is disclosed,” he said.Another lawyer for Google, Stephen Broome, said website owners who contract with the company to use its analytics or other services are well aware of the data collection described in the suit. -Bloomberg
  • Koh isn't buying it - arguing that the company is effectively tricking users under the impression that their information is not being transmitted to the company."I want a declaration from Google on what information they’re collecting on users to the court’s website, and what that’s used for," Koh demanded.The case is Brown v. Google, 20-cv-03664, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose), via Bloomberg.
Paul Merrell

How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler - Glenn Greenwald - 1 views

  • As Silicon Valley censorship radically escalated over the past several months — banning pre-election reporting by The New York Post about the Biden family, denouncing and deleting multiple posts from the U.S. President and then terminating his access altogether, mass-removal of right-wing accounts — so many people migrated to Parler that it was catapulted to the number one spot on the list of most-downloaded apps on the Apple Play Store, the sole and exclusive means which iPhone users have to download apps. “Overall, the app was the 10th most downloaded social media app in 2020 with 8.1 million new installs,” reported TechCrunch.It looked as if Parler had proven critics of Silicon Valley monopolistic power wrong. Their success showed that it was possible after all to create a new social media platform to compete with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And they did so by doing exactly what Silicon Valley defenders long insisted should be done: if you don’t like the rules imposed by tech giants, go create your own platform with different rules.
  • But today, if you want to download, sign up for, or use Parler, you will be unable to do so. That is because three Silicon Valley monopolies — Amazon, Google and Apple — abruptly united to remove Parler from the internet, exactly at the moment when it became the most-downloaded app in the country. If one were looking for evidence to demonstrate that these tech behemoths are, in fact, monopolies that engage in anti-competitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws, and will obliterate any attempt to compete with them in the marketplace, it would be difficult to imagine anything more compelling than how they just used their unconstrained power to utterly destroy a rising competitor.
Paul Merrell

Free Software Pioneer Quits MIT Over His Comments On Epstein Sex Trafficking Case : NPR - 1 views

  • Free software pioneer and renowned computer scientist Richard Stallman resigned from his post at MIT following recent comments about one of Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking accusers. He also resigned as president of the Free Software Foundation.
Paul Merrell

California's Attorney General joins the long list of people who have had it with Facebook * The Register - 0 views

  • California’s attorney general has gone to court to force Facebook to hand over documents as part of an investigation into the company. Xavier Becerra filed a “petition to enforce investigative subpoena” with the Superior Court of California in San Francisco on Wednesday morning, arguing that Facebook’s response to his subpoenas has been “patently inadequate.” Citing a “lack of cooperation” not just with his office but also the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Xavier Becerra points out [PDF] that it took Facebook a year to respond to his initial inquiry to produce documents relating to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where Facebook allowed a third party to access vast amounts of personal information through its systems.
  • Not only that but Facebook flat out refused to “search communications involving senior executives,” meaning that it refused to search for relevant information in the emails and other communications of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, among others. “Facebook is not just continuing to drag its feet, it is failing to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas and interrogatories,” the filing states.
  • The filing comes the same day that 7,000 pages of internal Facebook files were published online. Those documents were obtained and leaked amid a lawsuit between Facebook and a third-party app developer and were labelled as “highly confidential” by the antisocial network. The main upshot of those files is that they show Facebook used the data it gathered on millions of its users as a business weapon: it provided people's profile information to companies that, for instance, agreed to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on adverts within Facebook, and it cut off developers that posed a competitive threat to its ever-growing stable of companies and services (or developers that wouldn't pay up, or were just too sketchy for the internet giant.) This confirms earlier reporting. CEO Zuckerberg also continues to avoid visiting London, or anywhere in the UK, out of fear he will be arrested for repeatedly failing to comply with a request by Parliament to answer questions about Facebook’s actions, as revealed in the tranche of documents.
Paul Merrell

YouTube is planning to delete all accounts that aren't "commercially viable" starting December 10 - NaturalNews.com - 0 views

  • Content creators everywhere are starting to panic about an upcoming policy change over at YouTube that threatens to eliminate all accounts and channels on the Google-owned video platform that are deemed to no longer be “commercially viable.” In the “Account Suspension & Termination” section of YouTube’s “Terminations by YouTube for Service Changes,” guidelines, the company explains that, as of December 10, 2019, “YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service, if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.”
Paul Merrell

U.S. looking at ways to hold Zuckerberg accountable for Facebook's problems - 0 views

  • Federal regulators are discussing whether and how to hold Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for the company's history of mismanaging users' private data, two sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News on Thursday.The sources wouldn't elaborate on what measures are specifically under consideration. The Washington Post, which first reported the development, reported that regulators were exploring increased oversight of Zuckerberg's leadership.While Facebook has come under scrutiny for its privacy practices for years, both of the Democratic members of the FTC have said the agency should target individual executives when appropriate.Justin Brookman, a former policy director for technology research at the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, said Thursday night that while the FTC can name individual company leaders if they directed, controlled and knew about any wrongdoing, "they typically only use that authority in fraud-like cases, so far as I can tell."
Paul Merrell

Shocking Leak Reveals Facebook Leveraged User Data To Reward Friends, Punish Enemies | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • As traders focused on bank earnings and the outlook for global growth, NBC News wrested the market's attention back toward Facebook by publishing a report on what appears to be the largest leak of internal documents since the data privacy scandal that has dogged the company for more than a year erupted with the first reports about Cambridge Analytica's 'improper' leveraging of Facebook user data to influence elections.
  • Some 4,000 pages of documents shared with the network news organization by a journalist affiliated with the ICIJ, the same organization that helped bring us the Panama Papers leaks, revealed that Facebook had employed sensitive user data as a bargaining chip to attract major advertisers and close other deals between 2011 and 2015, when the company was struggling to cement its business model following its botched 2012 IPO.
  • Facebook essentially offered companies like Amazon unfettered access to its data in exchange for agreeing to advertise on Facebook's platform, according to the documents, only a small fraction of which have been previously reported on. All of this was happening at a time when the company publicly professed to bee safeguarding user data.
Paul Merrell

Dept. of Justice Accuses Google of Illegally Protecting Monopoly - The New York Times - 1 views

  • The Justice Department accused Google on Tuesday of illegally protecting its monopoly over search and search advertising, the government’s most significant challenge to a tech company’s market power in a generation and one that could reshape the way consumers use the internet.In a much-anticipated lawsuit, the agency accused Google of locking up deals with giant partners like Apple and throttling competition through exclusive business contracts and agreements.Google’s deals with Apple, mobile carriers and other handset makers to make its search engine the default option for users accounted for most of its dominant market share in search, the agency said, a figure that it put at around 80 percent.“For many years,” the agency said in its 57-page complaint, “Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising and general search text advertising — the cornerstones of its empire.”The lawsuit, which may stretch on for years, could set off a cascade of other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general. About four dozen states and jurisdictions, including New York and Texas, have conducted parallel investigations and some of them are expected to bring separate complaints against the company’s grip on technology for online advertising. Eleven state attorneys general, all Republicans, signed on to support the federal lawsuit.
  • The Justice Department did not immediately put forward remedies, such as selling off parts of the company or unwinding business contracts, in the lawsuit. Such actions are typically pursued in later stages of a case.Ryan Shores, an associate deputy attorney general, said “nothing is off the table” in terms of remedies.
  • Democratic lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee released a sprawling report on the tech giants two weeks ago, also accusing Google of controlling a monopoly over online search and the ads that come up when users enter a query.
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  • Google last faced serious scrutiny from an American antitrust regulator nearly a decade ago, when the Federal Trade Commission investigated whether it had abused its power over the search market. The agency’s staff recommended bringing charges against the company, according to a memo reported on by The Wall Street Journal. But the agency’s five commissioners voted in 2013 not to bring a case.Other governments have been more aggressive toward the big tech companies. The European Union has brought three antitrust cases against Google in recent years, focused on its search engine, advertising business and Android mobile operating system. Regulators in Britain and Australia are examining the digital advertising market, in inquiries that could ultimately implicate the company.“It’s the most newsworthy monopolization action brought by the government since the Microsoft case in the late ’90s,” said Bill Baer, a former chief of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. “It’s significant in that the government believes that a highly successful tech platform has engaged in conduct that maintains its monopoly power unlawfully, and as a result injures consumers and competition.”
Paul Merrell

Google's web app plans collide with Apple's iPhone, Safari rules - CNET - 0 views

  • Google and Apple, which already battle over mobile operating systems, are opening a new front in their fight. How that plays out may determine the future of the web. Google was born on the web, and its business reflects its origin. The company depends on the web for search and advertising revenue. So it isn't a surprise that Google sees the web as key to the future of software. Front and center are web apps, interactive websites with the same power as conventional apps that run natively on operating systems like Windows, Android, MacOS and iOS.  Apple has a different vision of the future, one that plays to its strengths. The company revolutionized mobile computing with its iPhone line. Its profits depend on those products and the millions of apps that run on them. Apple, unsurprisingly, appears less excited about developments, like web apps, that could cut into its earnings.
Paul Merrell

Press corner | European Commission - 0 views

  • The European Commission has opened formal antitrust investigations to assess whether Apple's rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules. The investigations concern in particular the mandatory use of Apple's own proprietary in-app purchase system and restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps. The investigations concern the application of these rules to all apps, which compete with Apple's own apps and services in the European Economic Area (EEA). The investigations follow-up on separate complaints by Spotify and by an e-book/audiobook distributor on the impact of the App Store rules on competition in music streaming and e-books/audiobooks.
  • iPhone and iPad users can only download native (non web-based) apps via the App Store. The Commission will investigate in particular two restrictions imposed by Apple in its agreements with companies that wish to distribute apps to users of Apple devices: (i)   The mandatory use of Apple's own proprietary in-app purchase system “IAP” for the distribution of paid digital content. Apple charges app developers a 30% commission on all subscription fees through IAP. (ii)  Restrictions on the ability of developers to inform users of alternative purchasing possibilities outside of apps. While Apple allows users to consume content such as music, e-books and audiobooks purchased elsewhere (e.g. on the website of the app developer) also in the app, its rules prevent developers from informing users about such purchasing possibilities, which are usually cheaper.
Paul Merrell

Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit - The New York Times - 2 views

  • Facebook said on Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology in Illinois, giving privacy groups a major victory that again raised questions about the social network’s data-mining practices.The case stemmed from Facebook’s photo-labeling service, Tag Suggestions, which uses face-matching software to suggest the names of people in users’ photos. The suit said the Silicon Valley company violated an Illinois biometric privacy law by harvesting facial data for Tag Suggestions from the photos of millions of users in the state without their permission and without telling them how long the data would be kept. Facebook has said the allegations have no merit.Under the agreement, Facebook will pay $550 million to eligible Illinois users and for the plaintiffs’ legal fees. The sum dwarfs the $380.5 million that the Equifax credit reporting agency agreed this month to pay to settle a class-action case over a 2017 consumer data breach.
Paul Merrell

Barr Ignores Lawyers' Calls to Go Slow on Google Antitrust Case - The New York Times - 0 views

  • The Justice Department plans to bring an antitrust case against Google as soon as this month, after Attorney General William P. Barr overruled career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case against one of the world’s wealthiest, most formidable technology companies, according to five people briefed on internal department conversations.Justice Department officials told lawyers involved in the antitrust inquiry into Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, to wrap up their work by the end of September, according to three of the people. Most of the 40-odd lawyers who had been working on the investigation opposed the deadline. Some said they would not sign the complaint, and several of them left the case this summer.Some argued this summer in a memo that ran hundreds of pages that they could bring a strong case but needed more time, according to people who described the document. Disagreement persisted among the team over how broad the complaint should be and what Google could do to resolve the problems the government uncovered. The lawyers viewed the deadline as arbitrary.While there were disagreements about tactics, career lawyers also expressed concerns that Mr. Barr wanted to announce the case in September to take credit for action against a powerful tech company under the Trump administration.
Paul Merrell

Federal Trade Commission calls for breakup of Facebook - 0 views

  • The Federal Trade Commission sued to break up Facebook on Wednesday, asking a federal court to force the sell-off of assets such as Instagram and WhatsApp as independent businesses.“Facebook has maintained its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals that Facebook does not or cannot acquire,” the commission said in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.The lawsuit asks the court to order the “divestiture of assets, divestiture or reconstruction of businesses (including, but not limited to, Instagram and/or WhatsApp),” as well as other possible relief the court might want to add.
  • Attorneys general from 48 states and territories said they were filing their own lawsuit against Facebook, reflecting the broad and bipartisan concern about how much power Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have accumulated on the internet.
Paul Merrell

Google and Facebook fined $240 million for making cookies hard to refuse | Malwarebytes Labs - 0 views

  • French privacy watchdog, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), has hit Google with a 150 million euro fine and Facebook with a 60 million euro fine, because their websites—google.fr, youtube.com, and facebook.com—don’t make refusing cookies as easy as accepting them. The CNIL carried out an online investigation after receiving complaints from users about the way cookies were handled on these sites. It found that while the sites offered buttons for allowing immediate acceptance of cookies, the sites didn’t implement an equivalent solution to let users refuse them. Several clicks were required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them. In addition to the fines, the companies have been given three months to provide Internet users in France with a way to refuse cookies that’s as simple as accepting them. If they don’t, the companies will have to pay a penalty of 100,000 euros for each day they delay.
  • EU data protection regulators’ powers have increased significantly since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in May 2018. This EU law allows watchdogs to levy penalties of as much as 4% of a company’s annual global sales. The restricted committee, the body in charge of sanctions, considered that the process regarding cookies affects the freedom of consent of Internet users and constitutes an infringement of the French Data Protection Act, which demands that it should be as easy to refuse cookies as to accept them. Since March 31, 2021, when the deadline set for websites and mobile applications to comply with the new rules on cookies expired, the CNIL has adopted nearly 100 corrective measures (orders and sanctions) related to non-compliance with the legislation on cookies.
Paul Merrell

Why I'm Suing YouTube and Google - 1 views

  • September 29, 2021, Google deleted my YouTube account for “violating community guidelines” they’d implemented that same morning September 28, 2022, I filed a lawsuit against Google, YouTube and Alphabet Inc. for breach of contract. YouTube unilaterally amended the contract without notice, which is a violation of its own terms, and then used this last-minute amendment to remove my content YouTube’s terms of service also include a “three strikes” policy, where users are supposed to be given three warnings and opportunities to remove content that violates the guidelines BEFORE being banned. I had no “strikes” against my channel on the day I was deplatformed and deleted We’re also suing YouTube for unjust enrichment, as for the last 16 years, my video content, having generated in excess of 50 million views, has been of great financial benefit to YouTube, allowing them to increase advertising revenue on the site November 8, 2021, I sued U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both in her official and personal capacities, for violating my First Amendment rights, as she tried to force Amazon.com to ban my book, “The Truth About COVID-19” September 29, 2021, Google deleted my YouTube account for “violating community guidelines” — guidelines they’d implemented that very same morning. September 28, 2022, I filed a lawsuit1 against Google, YouTube and Alphabet Inc. for breach of contract.2 As detailed in my complaint, YouTube unilaterally amended the contract without notice, which is a violation of its own terms, and then used this last-minute amendment to remove my content, which went back to 2005, the same year YouTube was founded. At the time YouTube deleted my content, I had more than 300,000 subscribers, and my videos had collectively garnered more than 50 million views. While I disagreed with YouTube’s censorship, when its “COVID-19 misinformation” policy was implemented back in April 2021, I carefully avoided posting any content on YouTube that might violate that guideline. In fact, over 16 years on the platform, I never once received notice of any “strike” against my channel for violation of community guidelines.
Paul Merrell

Why Google search is your phone's default, and not easy to change - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • There’s a setting on your phone and web browser that Google is desperate to keep you from discovering. How desperate? In 2021 alone, Google paid Apple, Samsung and others $26.3 billion to keep it buried.
  • That’s more money each year than McDonald’s makes selling burgers.This setting affects who gets to track your location and watch what you look up online. It affects the usefulness of the information you see and how much of your screen is taken up by ads.
  • I’m talking about your search engine — what pops up the answers when you type into the search bar. Google pays the makers of phones, laptops and browsers to be your default and to stop them from even presenting you other options during setup. It’s billions for a favor.
Paul Merrell

Big Tech companies appeal to Supreme Court to strike down Texas law banning political censorship - LifeSite - 0 views

  • Facebook and Google are among multiple Big Tech companies seeking to have Texas’ new law banning political censorship on social media axed by the Supreme Court. According to The Washington Post, advocacy groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday on behalf of Facebook, Google and other Big Tech companies, with the intention of striking down the new Texas law that prohibits censorship based on political ideology on social media. In a statement about the emergency filing, NetChoice counsel Chris Marchese argues that the Texas law, which went into effect last Wednesday, “strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content.”
  • “Left standing, [the Texas law] will turn the First Amendment on its head — to violate free speech, the government need only claim to be ‘protecting’ it,” Marchese added. Under the law, Texas residents and the state’s attorney general would be permitted to sue social media companies based in the United States if they believe their social media accounts were censored based on their political views. While the law was initially blocked by a federal district judge after it was signed last September by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, the injunction was ultimately lifted by an appeals court last Wednesday. Big Tech companies have been consistently charged with weaponizing their “Terms of Service” agreements with users in an effort to ban or censor those expressing traditionally conservative or right-wing views on their extremely large and influential platforms.
analyticsjobs90

Frequently Asked Questions about Data Science in 2022: ext_6179893 - LiveJournal - 1 views

  •  
    Data science is an interdisciplinary field that uses scientific methods, procedures, algorithms, and systems to extract information and insights from both structured and unstructured data, and then applies knowledge and useful insights from data across a wide range of application fields. Data mining, machine learning, and big data are all connected to data science.
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