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Cambridge Analytica-linked researcher wants to stop the next data scandal

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Aleksandr Kogan helped get Facebook in its Cambridge Analytica mess. Now he has suggestions on how to stop the next one from happening.

The University of Cambridge professor, who testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Tuesday, said Facebook’s issues with Cambridge Analytica were “inevitable” because of how much data digital marketing harvests from people online.

“They give us technological products and services, not in exchange for money, but in exchange for intimate details about ourselves that we are willing to share,” Kogan said. “We became the product.”

The psychologist then criticized Terms of Services for providing blanket consent. Kogan called for opt-in consent, giving people the right to choose how much data they hand over to companies.

He said getting “informed consent” was the key to “avoiding a future Cambridge Analytica situation.”

Aleksandr Kogan

Kogan is in a unique position to make these comments, since he created the quiz app that harvested a majority of the data used by Cambridge Analytica to create targeted political ads, setting off a massive scandal that has overwhelmed Facebook. The hearing comes as lawmakers and people are becoming much more aware of their data privacy, and how much information companies like Facebook are collecting on them.

 

That realization has lead to changes, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg welcoming regulation. In May, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation introduced sweeping changes to privacy and tech companies.

“Facebook has embarked on an apology tour, but it is in fact, reaching a turning point,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in his opening remarks. “My hope is that Facebook will be more forthcoming, that we will expose through these hearings the full range of its activities that may infringe on privacy.”

 

Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Facebook has been dealing with the fallout from privacy issues after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica obtained data on 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

 

While the “thisisyourdigitallife” app was supposed to tell people about their personality, it ended up siphoning data from anybody who took it, along with data on their friends, without their explicit consent. Cambridge Analytica had worked with multiple political campaigns during the US presidential election, including the Trump campaign.

Kogan noted that while Facebook approached him to audit his app, he told the committee that Facebook never followed up. “They just went away,” he said.

 

But in Kogan’s opening statement (PDF), he denied the impact of Cambridge Analytica’s data on US politics.

“People may feel angry and violated to the extent that their data may have been used as part of a mind-control effort,” Kogan said. “I believe there is almost no chance this data could have been helpful to a political campaign — and I still have not seen any evidence to indicate that the Trump campaign used this dataset to micro-target voters.”

Kogan said he regretted not understanding privacy concerns when he created the quiz, calling the backlash an “understandable emotional reaction.” Kogan said at the time, the data-harvesting program did not strike him as invasive — given the way

 

that Facebook and many other data brokers worked at the time.

He called the decision a mistake, and opened his testimony with an apology.

“We thought collecting people’s data was normal, and accepted,” he said.

But he also pointed his finger at the way Facebook runs its network.

“The Facebook platform is run in a way that runs counter to getting true, informed consent,” Kogan said.

While only 300,000 Facebook users actually took Kogan’s quiz, because of the social network’s rules at the time, it was able to collect data from millions of other people who never even saw the personality test.

He’s not optimistic that companies will adopt this suggestion, as it would greatly reduce how much data they could gather.

“The current way tech companies get people’s consent is fundamentally broken,” Kogan said.

 

BY
ALFRED NG

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AirPods 2 Leak Hints Launch Will Be Later But 2 Cool New Features Still Imminent

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Apple’s AirPods have been amazingly successful. They have regularly been praised and consistently big sellers. Some surveys have claimed that AirPods owners have been ecstatic in their appreciation of the in-ear buds, with 98% or respondents either satisfied or very satisfied with them, as reported by Fortune.

There have been plenty of rumors recently suggesting that the second version of AirPods were almost with us. New features such as hands-free “Hey, Siri” were hinted at.

Improved electronics with biometrics and health monitoring were suggested to be on the cards.

And just a couple of days ago, it was rumored that the next AirPods would fix the current models’ problem: that they might slip out of your ears.
The new leak

But now, reliable leaker @OnLeaks has tweeted that we shouldn’t be getting excited about the new, upgraded earbuds just yet.

Now, @OnLeaks correctly predicted the design of the iPad Pro last year, when I was decidedly skeptical, so he has a record of accurate leaks. What he says today sounds promising, apart from one bit, which we’ll come to.

Here’s what he says.

Some #AirPods2 details I got from a new and yet unconfirmed but seemingly reliable source. Thus, I can’t vouch these at 100%… – New wireless charging #AirPods Case to be launched soon BUT shipped with current AirPods – Brand new AirPods + new color(s) likely unveiled this fall

He’s careful to stress this is not certain, but it’s certainly intriguing. I’m sure he’s right that the wireless charging case for AirPods is coming. Well, we know it is on its way because Apple told us about this case over a year ago when it announced the wireless charging pad, AirPower.

It makes perfect sense that the new case would be released when AirPower was – I believe both will be formally unveiled at an Apple special event in March.

As @OnLeaks points out, it would be weird if Apple announced a case for AirPods and then followed up with AirPods 2 shortly afterward.

It’s disappointing that we might have to wait until the Fall for the new version, but at least a new color or colors is something to look forward to.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. AirPods have been incredibly successful, with stock shortages common because of high demand. So, really, why would Apple update them when they’re doing so well?
The bit I don’t quite get – and the 2 cool features

The first cool feature is the wireless-chargeable case to go with AirPower.

The other feature is related to the bit of the rumors I haven’t quite squared.

There’s just one thing, which keeps me hoping the new rumor may be wrong. The latest iOS beta includes a set-up screen so you can use Siri on AirPods hands-free, that is, without touching the earbud to awaken the virtual personal assistant as you do now.

Now, why would that be there if Apple doesn’t believe it’s not going to be used soon?

Maybe the chip in the current AirPods is capable of hands-free, though in that case why hasn’t it surfaced before, if all it needed was a software upgrade?

Or maybe, just maybe, the wireless charging case will come with a gently updated chip inside – what shall we call these, AirPods 1.5?

Which would leave the way clear for a full update in the Fall as this rumor suggests.
To look at it another way, since wireless charging will be a step forward, anything else on top of that will be a proper treat.

I’m keeping my ear glued to every single new credible hint about AirPods 2, so please check back to find out the latest.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidphelan/2019/02/12/airpods-2-leak-hints-launch-will-be-later-but-2-cool-new-features-still-imminent/#3675741a461b

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Entertainment-Focused Blockchain Company SingularDTV Is Rebranding to Become More Consumer-Centric

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A blockchain company for the entertainment industry is getting ready to rebrand itself to be about more than blockchain.

SingularDTV, based in Switzerland and New York, has spent the past two years building a platform that lets the creators of movie and music titles a way to get paid directly by fans without using other distribution platforms. Now, ahead of its beta release, it’s renaming itself Breaker as it gets ready to debut a new app for mobile devices and smart TVs, which aims to be an on-demand hub for both funding and watching content. Kerry Fitzmaurice, svp of brand marketing at Breaker, said the company spent the past six months trying to decide how it could move away from the initial brand focused on the promises of blockchain to something that might resonate more with fans who are more about content than technology.

“If we lead with blockchain [or] data sovereignty,”she said. “People will be like ‘I’m going back to Netflix.’”

Early content includes movies produced by Steven Soderbergh and David Lynch, along with songs from DJ Spooky and the singer-songwriter Casey Pearl. It also worked with filmmaker Alex Winter to produce a documentary called “Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain,” which debuted last fall in New York.

“I’m always looking for new ways to increase the transparency of the business while also trying to simplify it,” Soderbergh said in a statement. “If this what the future’s going to look like, I want to be in on it early.”

Fitzmaurice said the original logo had the resemblance of an eye to represent the singularity—a concept of when artificial and human intelligence between indistinguishable—along with the Ethereum logo to represent the blockchain platform used by the company. (Joseph Lubin, the co-founder of Ethereum and the company Consensys, is one of SingularDTV’s founders.)

The new logo—a circular comprised of small lines swirling inward—is meant to represent the “the hive mind” that’s often associated with decentralized marketplaces that blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies so often promise to create.

“If you look at decentralization, it’s about many nodes rather than an entertainment studio or a bank,” she said. “It’s about empowering many.”

Source: https://www.adweek.com/digital/entertainment-focused-blockchain-company-singulardtv-is-rebranding-to-become-more-consumer-centric/

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New tech-based entertainment concept targets malls, other locations

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A concept that combines cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality technologies with the physical world is looking to enter the U.S. market.

Retail leasing specialist R.J. Brunelli & Co. announced that it has been selected by D. Legends Holdings Pte Ltd., the Singapore-based creator of indoor virtual reality theme parks, as exclusive nationwide real estate broker for Legend Heroes Park’s entry into the U.S. market. The concept features a wide range of rides, games, sports, entertainment, and other attractions employing virtual and augmented reality, holograms, motion tracking, projection mapping and 4D+ technologies.

Heroes Park can be adapted to a wide range of building sizes, with the space divided into a series of zones targeting different interests. These range from a junior zone that allows young children to learn and explore through virtual and physical spaces to a sports zone where people of all ages can learn, practice and hone their skills in football, baseball, archery, clay pigeon shooting and other sports. There is also an arcade zone with immersive and interactive arcade games.

For its U.S. entry, the company is seeking big-box locations in major metropolitan markets across the country, including New York, Atlanta, Orlando, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Denver, San Diego, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Vacant anchor and sub-anchor spaces at regional malls, as well as freestanding or strip center big-boxes are primary targets.

Building requirements call for 30,000- to 40,000-sq.-ft. spaces with a minimum ceiling height of 16-ft. overall, with 40% of the space at least 32-ft. high for rides, noted Julie T. Fox, manager of new tenant representation, R.J. Brunelli. Preferred locations should have five million people within 30 miles, with a one-hour maximum driving distance.

Regional malls are the preferred venue, where the company can absorb vacant sub-anchors or single floors of subdivided department store buildings. Legends Holdings will also consider vacant big-box retail spaces on the periphery of regional malls or in high-profile power centers, strip centers or freestanding highway locations. Other potential venues include warehouse/flex buildings in close proximity to major malls or entertainment complexes.

“At a time when many mall operators are struggling to fill vacant department store spaces, Legend Heroes Park offers a unique entertainment destination use aimed at people of all ages,” said Fox. “In particular, the flexible concept presents a compelling alternative for properties desiring to present new options that can potentially bring back Millennials who have shied away from malls in recent years.”

Source: https://www.chainstoreage.com/real-estate/new-tech-based-entertainment-concept-targets-malls-other-locations/

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