The Digital Transformation & The Power of Privacy

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that in the digital age, data is considered currency and many consumers are increasingly growing concerned about their privacy.
In our most recent blog post, The Power of Privacy, (A follow-up to The Lure of Geolocation) we discuss the importance of safeguarding the data of users and consumers, while keeping in step with innovation and looking towards the future.
Do you think the privacy revolt is coming? Or does the of convenience of connected, smart devices mean that people will continue to give up personal data despite the risks associated with smart technology? Let us know what you think.

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@urszula, the privacy revolt has invaded my thoughts ever since Apple + Google + Amazon Web Services + other companies unilaterally knocked Parler off of the Internet. I cannot speak to how strong the privacy revolt is as a mass movement, but I can say that I am more concerned about my personal privacy today than I was a year or even a few months ago.

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@kirkmahoneyphd That move was pretty crappy, in my opinion. Tech giants wield too much power, and must be reined in. However, I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with the government doing the “reining in.” I would prefer the free market to make that choice. Basically people deciding in droves that they do not want to be associated with that type of behavior. As consumers, every time we make a purchase and hand over our money, we are making a statement. You can either choose to maintain the status quo or direct the world toward a better future.

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You can’t both claim that Apple + Google + AWS + other companies acted against Parler, then in the same breath claim that it was unilateral.

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The power that tech giants wield is the power that their consumers have begged them to wield for the better part of a decade. That one is addicted to an abusive privately held platform changes none of that.

Vote with your feet. You might be surprised at the lack of a gun to your head, pepper spray in your face, or any opposition whatever to your doing so.

There is no revolt possible. Perhaps in the EU. Certainly not in the UK or the US. Those are captive populations and markets.

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Does anyone on this forum use TikTok? Just came across an interesting article in TECH CRUCH: https://tcrn.ch/2Rn4Egk
Apparently, TikTok just gave itself permission to collect biometric data on US users, including ‘faceprints and voiceprints’ YIKES!

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No, I don’t. I only have Facebook and Twitter for business purposes, and I intend to delete them as soon I find a better alternative.

I try not to get used to social media. TikTok is a good example of create a big addiction and then make new policies, like WhatsApp.

I’m a bit worried how just a few stand up on it…

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No, I don’t. Having read Deceiving the Sky, there is no way that I would knowingly use a social-media service associated with the Chinese Communist Party.

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@kirkmahoneyphd I’m shocked how many people are actually OK with it! Doesn’t that surprise you?

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@kirkmahoneyphd. This made me think of you, since you on occasionally use Amazon: Amazon devices will soon automatically share your Internet with neighbors https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/05/amazon-devices-will-soon-automatically-share-your-internet-with-neighbors/

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Thank you. It seems that Amazon Sidewalk cannot put my original Echo and old Echo Dot into Amazon’s mesh network, per this sentence in that article:

The full list of devices that can act as Sidewalk bridges is Ring Floodlight Cam (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019), Echo (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot for Kids (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen and newer), Echo Plus (all generations), Echo Show (all models and generations), Echo Spot, Echo Studio, Echo Input, and Echo Flex.

It’s scandalous to me that Amazon is forcing customers to opt out of Sidewalk instead of forcing them to opt in.

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@kirkmahoneyphd The way I see it, is that the more consumers become aware of just how privacy-infringing BIG TECH actually is, and as a result they start revolting against it, the more underhanded BIG TECH will become. They need our data to survive & make money. The more we try to push back, the more devious they will become. Facebook is now worth $650 billion, with annual revenue of $70 billion. Google is worth almost $1 trillion, with annual revenue of $160 billion. The business of these companies is primarily based on advertising directed at us, built on the backs of our data. Do you think they will want to give up this money without a fight? I don’t think so.

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@kirkmahoneyphd PS: I’ve never had those ECHO DOTS or GOOGLE NEST things in my house. It just weirds me out.

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@urszula: I understand! I often have their microphones muted … and then unmute them only to ask a question. I regret not getting the “push-to-ask” remote control for the original Echo, but perhaps someone has it on eBay. The only Echo that I fully trusted was the push-to-ask Amazon Dash Wand, but Amazon turned off support for it earlier this year, even though it worked well! Meanwhile, as long as I have any Echo devices at home, I try to remember to keep their microphones muted except when I have a question. Still, Amazon records every question asked, so…

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@kirkmahoneyphd This is something that freaks me out: https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/2/21/21032140/alexa-amazon-google-home-siri-apple-microsoft-cortana-recording

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I’m sorry the off topic, but it remembers me this “joke” I read: My wife asked me why I was whispering at home. I said I was worried that Mark Zuckerberg was listening. She laughed. I laughed. Alexa laughed. Siri laughed. We all laughed…

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Nowadays it feels like every potentially network connected apparatus should have a hardware kill switches to physically disconnect network cards, microphones and cameras. (Purism does this). I might have my tinfoil hat a little tight, but microphones being “muted” just from the software is putting your trust on that (maybe proprietary and opaque) software actually doing that and not just telling you so. Maybe they might and meant, but every so often there is a bug or a “bug” like this or like in that Vox article @urszula mentioned , that leaves the door open for snooping. It doesn’t really matter if the bugs are left there intentionally or not – any way they are being used and are profitable, at least until some independent security researcher happens to poke around and make an inconvenient fuss out of it.

In regards to Pure: I’m wondering if that offline-switch is physically disconnecting the network circuitry? Secondly, judging by the pictures, the battery seems easily accessible and removable. Is that so? Especially in lack of kill switches, that can be thought also as a security measure.

(ps. I’m really not too worried about my personal privacy, but I’d like see a world where privacy and security are the default instead of a special commodity.)

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I often wonder about the microphone-mute button on Amazon Echo devices. Yes, a red ring appears to indicate muting, but the button toggles muting electronically, not physically.

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