The business-logic of Silicon Valley means that it can only make creepy, surveillant, pointless "smart" sex toys

People who buy sex toys generally want "high-quality, ergonomically designed toys that are intuitive to use," but Silicon Valley keeps delivering "innovative" and commercially unsuccessful sex toys whose selling-points are their "flashy apps and connectivity." Read the rest

ICE uses Facebook's backend to hunt their prey, with help from Palantir

Public records requests have shown that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- who have continued and intensified Obama's program of mass deportations and separation of families under Trump -- uses Facebook's logs, merged with logs from cellular carriers and analyzed by software from Palantir (Peter Thiel's police-state arms-dealer) to track immigrants people they're investigating. Read the rest

Cyber-arms-dealer Grey Heron really, really doesn't want you to know about the connections between them and the disgraced Hacking Team

When Grey Heron surfaced this month selling anti-Signal and anti-Telegram surveillance tools at a UK trade show for cyber-arms-dealers, sharp-eyed journalists at Motherboard immediately noticed that the company's spokesman was last seen fronting for Hacking Team, a disgraced Italian cyber-arms-dealer that provided surveillance weapons to some of the world's cruelest dictators. Read the rest

Services that deliver the same functions as Facebook, for after you #DeleteFacebook

After you #DeleteFacebook (here's step-by-step instructions, because they make it damned hard), you'll be wanting to replace the services it provided like instant messaging, event planning, and social news sharing. Read the rest

UK Information Commissioner's Office raids Cambridge Analytica's London office

The London offices of soi-dissant Facebook mind-control sorcerers Cambridge Analytica were raided by the UK Information Commissioner's Office, after a judge issued a search warrant for material related to the illegal acquisition of 50,000,000 Facebook profiles by the company. Read the rest

You know who does creepier stuff with your data than Cambridge Analytica? Your ISP

Chances are, your ISP has been repeatedly caught sucking up all your clicks, and also chances are that it's a de facto arm of the US spy network, making bank selling your data to the NSA; AT&T has proposed charging you hundreds of dollars extra a year not to spy on you; Comcast wants to do the same. Read the rest

Trump and the weird attention economy of Facebook

When you try to buy online ads from Facebook's self-serve ad-auctioning platform, merely being the highest bidder isn't enough to guarantee that your ads will get through: Facebook multiplies your bid by a software-generated prediction about how responsive the audience will be to it, so the clickbaitier your ad is, the less it costs to place it. Read the rest

Your smart TV is trivial to hack and leaks your personal information like crazy unless you disable all its useful features

Consumer Reports dragged a bunch of its top-rated smart TVs back into its labs to re-evaluate them, this time checking them for hard-to-evaluate information security risks and defects, which are not normally factored into its ratings. Read the rest

Leaked presentation from AI snake-oil salesmen to AAA game company promises horrific, dystopian manipulation of players to drain their wallets

Techpowerup has published a redacted presentation from an unnamed AI company to an unnamed big-budget multiplayer video-game publisher, setting out a suite of surveillance capitalism tools combined with machine-learning to manipulate players to make them as addicted as possible and drain them of as much money as possible. Read the rest

Facebook hired a pollster to track Zuck's public image, but he quit because working for Facebook filled him with shame

Tavis McGinn came to a job interview at Facebook to do the kind of work he'd done at Google, using analytics to help advertisers refine their campaigns; instead he was offered a job as Zuck's personal pollster, tracking the CEO's approval rating in fine-grained detail as he toured America and the world. Read the rest

The coming EU privacy regulation will end up remaking the world's web

Europe's General Data Protection Regulation kicks in this May, and it enforces a user-first, privacy-centric set of rules for the internet that is totally incompatible with the adtech industry and the ad-supported web in general (though much rides on a potentially humungous loophole). Read the rest

America's school systems serve unencrypted web resources that are riddled with ad-tech trackers

Edtech Strategies, "a boutique consultancy focused on providing strategic research and counsel on issues at the intersection of education, public policy, technology, and innovation" has published a report detailing the dismal state of America's state education agencies web-practices, where encrypted connections are hard to find and adtech trackers are everywhere. Read the rest

Inside big tech's last-minute scramble to comply with Europe's new privacy rules

The General Data Protection Regulation will be enforced as of May, and once it does, internet companies will no longer be able to collect or share your data unless they give you a clear, simple explanation of how it will be used, and get your consent, along with contact details for named individuals who report directly to the business's senior management. Read the rest

Fitness app releases data-set that reveals the location of sensitive military bases, patrol routes, aircrew flightpaths, and individual soldiers' jogging routes

Strava is a popular fitness route-tracker focused on sharing the maps of your workouts with others; last November, the company released an "anonymized" data-set of over 3 trillion GPS points, and over the weekend, Institute for United Conflict Analysts co-founder Nathan Ruser started a Twitter thread pointing out the sensitive locations and details revealed by the release. Read the rest

Research report explains how adtech supercharges political deceit, allowing even bumblers to be master propagandists

A new report from the New America Foundation uses the current fear that Russian government elements manipulated the 2016 US election to explore the relationship between advertising technology, surveillance capitalism, and "precision propaganda," showing how the toolsuite developed for the advertising industry is readily repurposable by even modestly competent actors to spread disinformation campaigns. Read the rest

Thanks to "consent" buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

Millions of new cars sold in the US and Europe are "connected," having some mechanism for exchanging data with their manufacturers after the cars are sold; these cars stream or batch-upload location data and other telemetry to their manufacturers, who argue that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want with this data, thanks to the "explicit consent" of the car owners -- who signed a lengthy contract at purchase time that contained a vague and misleading clause deep in its fine-print. Read the rest

A comprehensive guide to corporate online surveillance in everyday life

Cracked Labs' massive report on online surveillance by corporations dissects all the different ways in which our digital lives are tracked, from the ad-beacons that follow us around the web to the apps that track our physical locations as we move around the world. Read the rest

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