Look, this is getting old. Just assume that everyone one is listening to you fart, copulate and sing in the shower, all the damn time. My former co-worker and professional tall person, David Murphy, took the time today to rap about Microsoft humping up on top of the digital surveillance dog-pile. He points out that, according to Vice, an unnamed Microsoft contractor has spilled the beans on the fact that Microsoft has been holding on to five to ten-second snippets of folks using Skype's translation functionality to yammer on with on another. Did I mention that he provided samples of the audio clips? There's totally samples of the audio clips. Apparently, Microsoft's having their contractors listen in on the clips to improve on Skype's translation chops.
When confronted about their snooping, Microsoft assured Vice's investigator that the snippets were fired over to the company's contractors via a secure web portal, with all identifying data removed from the recordings.
As David points out, there's no way to keep Microsoft from doing this. Worse than this, the company, oh-so greasily, completely neglects to mention that underpaid humans are listening on what you say during your Skype calls.
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...Microsoft doesn’t indicate in its FAQ that your speech is being analyzed by real people. In fact, this description almost implies that it’s a fully mechanical process, which it is not—nor could it be, since a machine wouldn’t be able to pick the correct translation. The entire point is that a human being has to train the system to get better.
I got a fun reminder last night that there a lot of greasy people out there doing a whole lot of greasy shit unto others. Last night, I was taken on a walk down memory lane: I received an email with an old password I used to use in the subject line. Here's what was inside. I've removed the password from the mix, for obvious reasons:
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_________ is yoũr passphrasęs. Lets get right to the point. No person has paid me to check about you. You do nŏt know me and you're mŏst likely wondęrİng why you're getting this e-mail?
İ installed a softwāre on thę adũlt vidęo clips (porno) web-site and gũess what, yoũ visited this site to have fun (yŏu know what i mean). While yŏu were vİęwing vidęŏ clİps, yŏur internet browsęr startęd working as a RDP that has a kęy logger which prŏvided me with āccessİbİlity to your screen ās well as cām. Jũst aftęr thāt, my software gāthered all yoũr cŏntacts from your Messenger, socİal networks, as well ās e-maİlaccount. after thāt i created ā video. 1st part shows the video yoũ were vİewing (you've got a nice tastę lmao), ānd nęxt part displays the ręcordİng ŏf your web cām, yea its yoũ.
Yŏũ actually hāvę two diffęręnt possİbilities. Shall we explŏre these types ŏf choices in āspęcts:
First optİon is tŏ neglect this messāgę. in thİs case, i ām going to sęnd your vęry own video to each one of yoũr contacts and also yoũ can easİly İmāgine ręgarding the humiliātİŏn you will definitely get.
When something goes wrong with a product you own or a service you pay for, it's reasonable to expect quick, effective customer service from the company responsible for whatever it is that's giving you trouble. Read the rest
If you were living in Massachusetts a few years back, you might remember that Comcast was offering what seemed to be a screaming deal: a $99 lock-in rate plan. I say "seemed to be," because Comcast's advertised $99 price didn't include the cost of renting equipment and the fact that, as we're talking about Comcast here, there were a number of additional fees that could (and often did) appear on a subscriber's bill at the end of the month, for reasons only Comcast understood.
Did I mention that escaping the rate plan set folks back $240 for killing their contract with the company early? No? Well, it totally did. The state's Attorney General, Maura Healey, felt that this was bullshit of the first order. Her office did something about it.
Comcast will cancel the debts of more than 20,000 customers and pay back $700,000 in Massachusetts as part of a settlement with the state’s Attorney General over deceptive advertising. Back in 2015 and early 2016, the cable giant advertised a $99 lock-in rate for plans that didn’t include equipment costs and had additional fees that could be jacked up at any time.
As part of Comcast's settlement with the state, they'll be forced to fork over refunds to anyone who paid the $240 early termination fee. They'll also be forced to forgive all outstanding unpaid early termination fees and related late fees that Massachusetts consumers incurred between January 2015 and March 2016. Comcast fully cooperated with the AG’s investigation. Read the rest
Everything has a cost, especially in the realm of online services. It used to be a pretty common practice for providers of 'free' email services to scan their user's messages for data that'd be valuable to advertisers. The data got sold to keep the email provider's lights on, with in-browser advertising filling in the financial gaps. Most email providers abandoned the practice, years ago: they were amazed to find that it pissed off their users. Yahoo's parent company, Oath, however, is getting back on this particular brand of bullshit.
From The Verge:
Yahoo’s owner, Oath, is in talks with advertisers to provide a service that would analyze over 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes for consumer data, sources told WSJ. Oath did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Oath confirmed to the WSJ that it performs email scannings and said that it only scans promotional emails, usually from retailers. Users have the ability to opt out, it said. Oath’s argument is that email is an expensive system, and people can’t expect a free service without some value exchanged.
Greasier still is the fact that even if you pony up the dough, on a monthly basis, for Yahoo's premium email services, your data will get scanned unless you opt to opt out. Finding the page that lets you do this, surprise, surprise is not easy to do. We've got your back, though. Follow this link to take control of your Oath-related privacy settings.
Oath swears that the data scraping method they use ignores personal information and personal identifiers. Read the rest