"surveillance capitalism"

Eminent psychologists condemn "emotion detection" systems as being grounded in junk science

One of the more extravagant claims made by tech companies is that they can detect emotions by analyzing photos of our faces with machine learning systems. The premise is sometimes dressed up in claims about "micro-expressions" that are below the threshold of human detection, though some vendors have made billions getting security agencies to let them train officers in "behavior detection" grounded in this premise. Read the rest

Internet users are wising up to persuasive "nudge" techniques

Every now and again, a company will come up with a product "innovation" that seems to deprive people of their free will, driving great masses of internet users to look for Pokemon, or tend virtual farms, or buy now with one-click, or flock to Upworthy-style "You won't believe what happened next" stories, or be stampeded into buying something because there are "only two left" and "14 people have bought this item in the past 24 hours." Read the rest

Empirical analysis of behavioral advertising finds that surveillance makes ads only 4% more profitable for media companies

In Online Tracking and Publishers’ Revenues: An Empirical Analysis, a trio of researchers from U Minnesota, UC Irvine and CMU report out their findings from a wide-ranging (millions of data-points) study of the additional revenues generated by behaviorally targeted ads (of the sort sold by Facebook and Google) versus traditional, content-based advertising (that is, advertising a piano to you because I spied on you when you searched for pianos yesterday, versus showing you an ad about pianos next to an article about pianos). Read the rest

AT&T's dystopian advertising vision perfectly illustrates the relationship between surveillance and monopoly

AT&T has come a long way from the supernormative, feel-good messages of its You Will ads; now CEO Randall Stephenson predicts a future where his company will dynamically alter your TV ads based on what it thinks you will buy; and chase you with that ad from your TV to your computer to your phone, and then spy on your location to see whether you go to a retailer to buy the thing you've had advertised to you; and use that intelligence to command high advertising rates from advertisers. Read the rest

DRM and terms-of-service have ended true ownership, turning us into "tenants of our own devices"

Writing in Wired, Zeynep Tufekci (previously) echoes something I've been saying for years: that the use of Digital Rights Management technologies, along with other systems of control like Terms of Service, are effectively ending the right of individuals to own private property (in the sense of exercising "sole and despotic dominion" over something), and instead relegating us to mere tenancy, constrained to use the things we buy in ways that are beneficial to the manufacturer's shareholders, even when that is at the cost of our own best interests. Read the rest

Exclusive: "More Data": Negativland's video short about data privacy and surveillance

[I've been in love with Negativland since their legendary copyright battle with U2 and they've been a part of Boing Boing since 2001; it's a pleasure beyond words to be able to debut More Data, their characteristically trenchant video about data privacy and surveillance; see below for notes from Negativland. -Cory] Read the rest

Stop & Shop strike convinces 75% of loyal customers to take business elsewhere

Northeastern grocery chain Stop & Shop has been goosing its profits at its workers' expense, increasing their healthcare costs, reducing company pension contributions, and reducing holiday and Sunday overtime pay; the United Food & Commercial Workers, who organize the Stop & Shop employees called for a strike nearly two weeks ago, and since then, 31,000 workers from 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have been off the job. Read the rest

The Antitrust Case Against Facebook: a turning point in the debate over Big Tech and monopoly

In 2017, a 28-year-old law student named Lina Kahn turned the antitrust world on its ear with her Yale Law Review paper, Amazon's Antitrust Paradox, which showed how Ronald Reagan's antitrust policies, inspired by ideological extremists at the University of Chicago's economics department, had created a space for abusive monopolists who could crush innovation, workers' rights, and competition without ever falling afoul of orthodox antitrust law. Read the rest

Canadian Civil Liberties Association sues Toronto, Ontario, and Canada over the plan for a Google Sidewalk Labs "smart city" in Toronto

Sidewalk Labs is the division of Alphabet/Google that builds "smart city" technology; their most ambitious project to date is a massive privatised city-within-a-city planned for Toronto's lakeshore -- a project that received secretly approval to be much larger than was announced, a fact that Sidewalk lied about. Read the rest

Illinois almost passed a bill that banned devices that record you without your consent -- and then Big Tech stepped in

This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner. Read the rest

Amazon stores recordings of Alexa interactions and turns them over to internal staff and outside contractors for review

Bloomberg reporters learned that -- despite public pronouncements to the contrary -- Amazon has an "annotation team" of thousands of people all over the world, charged with reviewing recordings made by Alexa devices in the field, with both staffers and contractors listening to conversations that Alexa owners have had with and near their devices. Read the rest

Mobile apps built with Facebook's SDK secretly shovel mountains of personal information into the Zuckermouth

If you need to build an app quickly and easily, you might decide to use Facebook's SDK, which has lots of bells and whistles, including easy integration of Facebook ads in your app's UI. Read the rest

Amazon just bought mesh wifi company Eero. Oh, great.

We have an Eero system in our house; it does really good and reliable wifi distribution, including to my office in the garage. And it was nice to have a piece of home electronics that was neither from one of the great data-sucking companies like Google, nor from the control-freak companies like Apple -- and also not from a no-name white-label re-badger or a giant shitty telco switch company whose consumer products arm is an afterthought. Read the rest

New York City's new rideshare regs put Big Brother in backseat, give GPS tracking a whole new meaning

Whether you love them or hate them, rideshares like Uber and Lyft have become a daily part of life for millions of New Yorkers. These app-based services make it easy to pay for your ride, but while the privacy cost isn’t always as clear, it’s about to get a lot larger. These apps have tracked our movements since they launched, but as of this month, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) started tracking us too. Read the rest

Vast majority of Americans and Europeans believe ad-targeting and feed customization are immoral

An RSA survey of 6,000 US and EU adults found that only a minority (48%) believes there is any ethical way to use personal data (that figure rises to 60% when considering US respondents alone); 57% believe that data-breaches are the fault of companies for gathering and retaining data, not the hackers who release it; only 17% believe that ad customization is moral; and only 24% believe that newsfeed customization is moral. Read the rest

Amazon is using purchase data to sell targeted ads, which is creepy, but not because they've invented a mind-control ray

Amazon is building out its ad-targeting program to allow for ad-buys like "people near a physiotherapist's office who've bought a knee-brace," and reports that the ads are incredibly successful. Read the rest

After #MeToo, whole industries have been blacklisted by insurers for sexual harassment liability coverage

A new report from Betterley Risk Consultants, shared with The Intercept, reveals that many of the world's largest insureres will no longer conside whole industries for "employment practices liability insurance" (EPLI), which covers liability from "sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and other employee claims." Read the rest

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