In the last year or so, a series of large-scale FTC-imposed applications have left many critics of the biggest privacy abusers – Google, Facebook, Equifax– Somewhere between frustrated and apoplectic. Time and time again, money extracted from the giants of technology represents a paltry sum. The structural solutions that accompany these objectives – the part in which companies agree to modify the offending elements of their behavior – may undoubtedly have a greater effect. But blaming the FTC for misbehaving Silicon Valley is like blaming a fork for not holding soup. Could he do more? Should it? Do not expect a real change in privacy without strict privacy laws.
The YouTube case presents a unique locus for these frustrations. The FTC and the New York Attorney General's Office alleged that the Alphabet subsidiary had collected personal information about minors, using persistent identifiers to track them on the Internet, without first obtaining the consent of their parents. This is a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Act, which includes specific penalties as the FTC's broader privacy protection actions. It was more simply an opportunity to come back down.
The three commissioners of the FTC who voted in favor of the settlement say that's what he did. As FTC President Joseph Simons noted at a press conference on Wednesday, the fine is 30 times higher than the previous criminal record COPPA, which social music application Musical.ly – acquired since by TikTok – was paid in February. In fact, the penalty imposed on YouTube is 10 times higher than all of the 31 previous COPPA enforcement measures combined. "A penalty of this magnitude sends a strong signal about the importance of children's privacy," said Simons.
Or does it? Consider that COPPA provides for a maximum fine of $ 42,530 per offense, which can be applied per child or per day. "The problem of confidentiality issues is often that the authority of the FTC is limited, but here, the authority of the FTC under COPPA is ample," said Sally Hubbard, director of the in strategic application at the Open Market Institute, a non-profit organization.
In a dissenting statement, FCC commissioner Rohit Chopra said Google's real responsibility – based on ill-gotten gains – was on the agenda. billions of dollars. "The terms of the settlement were not even significant enough for Google to issue a warning to its investors," writes Chopra. In a way, the net income of the Alphabet last year compared to the record fine.
Andrew Smith, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said at Wednesday's press conference that details of how the agency had fined the company were confidential, but that this figure was based on a multiple of business figure allowing it to prove that YouTube could knowingly prove won from tracking down kids. "I hope that companies do not doubt our determination. It's a historic penalty, "Smith said. "He's incredibly big in the world of privacy and the world of COPPA."
The company has faced many criticisms from many people for dealing with misinformation on their platform. Facebook's plan to solve it? Work with outlets to allow titles and article previews.
Letting people opt out of the data collection is better than not letting them choose at all. But for decades, that's the breadth of the conversation. This gives too many giant tech companies a plausible denial for the frantic transfer of your personal information and allows them to blame the victim implicitly when they go too far: Do not be angry with us, you could have withdrawn all this time. Here is a simple suggestion: Let people register instead.
This is a simple problem to explain. A paradigm of "unsubscribe" means that data collection is done automatically and you must actively look for ways to stop it. Under "Opt in", you must affirmatively grant the right to access such data to a company before you can do so. You are in control from the beginning.
"Not only do participation mechanisms serve consumers better, they also serve democracy better."
Joseph Tomain, University of Indiana
At the moment, we do not know what form Apple's unsubscribe to Siri will take; The company has temporarily suspended its collection of voice data and only indicates that once it is resumed, "users will have the opportunity to opt in." Apple has not responded to a request for more specific information.
But to illustrate the limitations of unsubscribe options, look no further than Alexa from Amazon, who already has a mechanism to say "no thank you" to strangers who listen to your orders. Ready for that? Open the Alexa application. Tap the three dots in the upper left corner. Then go to Settings. Then go to Alexa account. Then go to Alexa privacy. Then go to Manage how your data improves Alexa. Then go Help develop new features to off. Then set the rocker under Use messages to improve transcripts to off. Theseus had an easier time fleeing the Minotaur.
This criticism applies much more widely than simple voice assistants, of course. Facebook is the undisputed master of art. This is not a new concern either; search the WIRED archives and you'll find titles like "Investigation: the opt-out is a loophole"Almost two decades ago. Consider this as an indicator not of the mold's argument, but of the length of time since this problem was infected and the little progress made.
"Not only do participation mechanisms serve consumers better, they also serve democracy better. They do this by helping to reduce the power imbalance between companies and individuals, "said Joseph Tomain, a researcher at Indiana University's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. "The information collected about us harbors our human strength, our autonomy and our human dignity in a way that we should not lose sight of."
"Companies that opt for an incentive to offer data practices that people would really agree to," said Tomain. That does not seem so much to ask.
Changing the current churn frame to accept does not solve all the problems. In fact, he would create some.
"Even if you had a big list of progressive things to sign up for, then you have a lot of fun on what the right options look like," says Michelle Richardson, director of privacy and data at the Center for Democracy. nonprofit organization. Technology "Do you show them [users] all different types of data and make them make changes to each type of data? Have you made any granular decisions? Do you notify them at any time of the changes? It's a lot to handle for a basic user. "
According to Richardson, the emphasis on whether to opt-out is ultimately the responsibility of the individual, not the companies that misuse the data. Plus, your data travels through hundreds of businesses with which you have no interaction, an underground economy of ghost data brokers. You can not get rid of it any more than you can hit a ghost.
Ideally, a strong privacy law will someday raise the question of questionable consent. "You need a privacy bill that companies can not continue to do these very risky things that continue to hurt people," Richardson said.
The establishment of strong membership policies does not preclude a possible general law on the protection of privacy. And, in some ways, the huge amount of data you have to collect is exactly why businesses should need it. You would finally have some idea of the gravity of the situation.
In reality, the opt-in practice seems like a long shot. Among the various privacy-related bills that go through Congress, only one handle include itand focusing on certain categories of sensitive information. But every time a company bursts its data under a sip layers of parameters, every time Big Tech takes more than that givesIt seems less radical to suggest that the least they can do is to get your explicit permission first.
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Dogs are play a big role in human cancer research
Cancer in older dogs is very common, but it turns out that treatments for your furry friend also have implications for people. Many types of cancer dogs resemble those found in humans. Through collaboration between Animal Medicine and Human Medicine as part of Obama's Cancer Moonshot initiative, researchers are investigating treatments that could save the lives of dogs and people.
A Phishing scam of Amazon Strike just in time for the First Day
With the first day of Amazon around the corner, the security company Mcafee detailed phishing this allows hackers to send an email that resembles that of Amazon, with a PDF attachment that leads anyone who clicks on a website mimicking an Amazon login page. From there, the malicious site not only asks for the victim's name, but also their birthday, home address, credit card information, and social security number. Remember: always check who your emails come from and do not open attachments unless you are sure it comes from someone you trust.
The FTC hit Facebook with a record $ 5 billion settlement
After months of negotiations, FTC reportedly fined Facebook a record $ 5 billion for his privacy violations If approved by the civilian division of the Department of Justice, it will be the first substantive sanction imposed on Facebook in the United States. But until then, important issues remain unresolved, for example if the FTC will personally hold Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and what kind of external control Facebook may have to follow.
The controversy surrounding voice assistants for smartphones has stoked its flames this week when a Belgian public broadcaster has had access to more than 1,000 Google Assistant records from a Google entrepreneur responsible for reviewing them. What are the providers listening to Google Assistant queries? Everything from requests for pornography to family arguments, medical discussions and conversations with children.
Scooters are in fashion these days, but what can you do if you do not want to share your scooter with someone else? Well, you can buy one just for you and the Boosted scooter is as attractive as possible.
How taming Slack for a more productive day of work.
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Nicholas Thompson: What I'm going to do here are the arguments Mark Zuckerberg gave on antitrust yesterday, in the most equitable way possible, and then, Tim, I want you to respond. So it will be a bit like Tim was on stage yesterday.
Mark has two arguments, and the company often has a third. First, if you divide large platforms into small businesses, they will not be competitive for the products you want. They will not compete to make their platform safer, they will not compete for privacy. They will only compete with what you do not want, pure growth. And if you have smaller platforms, they will be able to do things like 30,000 people to find all the bad things on Facebook. This is the number one argument.
Argument Number Two: If you separate the big American tech companies, you'll give a advantage for Chinabecause there are some technologies for which you need big companies. For example, many types of artificial intelligence require massive data sets and calculations, which you only have in large technology companies. And it's not like China is picking on Alibaba. As we move towards a technological cold war, the US government is attacking technology platforms in the shin while the Chinese government is helping its big companies. So, it's number two. Mark did not do it yesterday, but others on Facebook did it.
Third, Tim, you specifically said that Facebook's anti-trust remedy is to split Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to end these mergers. You can discuss whether they should have been approved or not. But they have been approved. You said to relax them. And what Mark said yesterday is, hey, sometimes mergers are bad, no doubt. But these mergers were not. Instagram had 13 employees when Facebook bought it. It did not have Android application. Without Facebook, Instagram does not become what it is. It has become much more innovative thanks to Facebook, and the same can be said of WhatsApp.
So, if you could accept these three arguments, we'll go through them.
Tim Wu: Happy to. Let me make a preface here and talk about my biggest mission. I think we need to reinvigorate a great American tradition, and that's the antitrust tradition. I think we lost some of our pioneering spirit. The American tradition has been to believe in competition, to believe in competitive markets, and Americans have always rebelled against concentrated power. Much of the Constitution divides power to make sure no one has too much. And that's a big part of what we did in 1890, in 1914, and again in 1950: to enact antitrust laws that aimed to control some private powers, to maintain the competitiveness of markets and to prevent them from becoming two or three big players. So it's my big mission. It's the curse of greatness. And that's what I'm trying to do. I am happy to take these arguments in the reverse order.
The first is the easiest. Mark Zuckerberg wrote an email while acquiring Instagram that was revealed in the New York Post, and this suggests that I was buying Instagram because he saw it as a competitive threat. Under US law, buying businesses that you think are competitive is a crime. And it was actually illegal conduct when I bought Instagram. The idea that Instagram would be nothing without the injection of Facebook's capital is false. Instagram already had huge amounts of venture capital funds; They were a little bit rolling in money. In addition, and more importantly, what Mark Zuckerberg did not mention, is that Twitter was trying to buy Instagram, to turn Instagram into a killer on Facebook. Instagram was the most dangerous company for Facebook. Facebook had already destroyed a company like this, MySpace, before. Instagram was a more serious threat for two reasons: first, it was much more powerful on mobile; Second, the photo sharing was better. As one commentator said at the time, Instagram had Facebook's Achilles heel. In the US, we believe in competition and companies must fight, not buy if the competition is serious. We established this principle with the Standard Oil Company. So, the purchase of Instagram was, in terms of intention and effect, an illegal transaction. Saying that there are only 14 people does not respond when Twitter wants to make it a killer on Facebook. I therefore argue that this argument is false.
"I believe we must reinvigorate a great American tradition, namely the antitrust tradition."
The second argument concerns China. Basically, Facebook is asking to become the regulated monopoly of the United States to fight against our foreign enemies. But this country has always trusted competition and innovation rather than national champions. I do not believe that America is a country of national champions. It's actually contrary to what we believe in. We had already faced this problem eleven years ago in the 70s and 80s, while Japan was the big threat. You know, Japan was going to innovate more. They were smarter. The government was not attacking Sony, he knew how to support them. They had the mysteries of the East on their side. Thus, AT & T and IBM, the great American monopolists, declared: "Yes, you must support us in our fight against Japan."
What did we do? We broke AT & T. We chased IBM for its anti-competitive behavior. And at the end of this battle, it turned out that these companies held back a lot. The personal computer, the software industry, the boom of the '80s and' 90s came out of the IBM carcass. IBM is not dead on the AT & T carcass, AT & T is not dead, but their numbers have decreased, their grip on the industry has been broken. As a result, we have entered the new telecommunications industry, into the new internet industry, into the Internet service provider industry and into all the industries that concern us today. So there is a lesson to be learned: when we break up stifling monopolies, it often results in more growth.
Europe and Japan are two countries that have been on the program of national champions in the 70s and 80s: I have not heard about them for a long time in the technology markets.
So that's the danger I'm warning about. Do not follow Japan and Europe. Let's follow the lessons of the United States. Challenge our largest technology companies, force them to compete and the United States will continue to be a champion of technology in the world.
What was number three again?
NT: Number three was Zuckerberg's argument that if you divide them, newly independent companies will compete for products you do not like, not the ones you love. They will compete on growth, not on privacy, security, election security, and so on.
TW: I think that still betrays a lack of confidence in the competition. Because I have written a lot about history, I have spent a lot of time with AT & T 's monopoly, and that' s the argument that it 's all about. they have always advanced. They said that if you interrupt AT & T, the phone calls would not pass. You know, long distance calls must cost $ 1 per minute to be of high quality. All this idea of long distance at 10 cents a minute, it's going to be terrible. It's always this fear that if you challenge the power of larger companies, they will not be able to do what you want.
Also, note in this argument that there is a subtle idea where advanced technology is beginning to promise that it will do the government's job for that: We are will ensure security, we are go fight Russia, and so on. First of all, I do not think that Facebook effectively protects this country against foreign attacks. So, they promise more of the same, I do not want to hear it. And I also think that anyone who studies systems knows that centralized systems are dangerous because they offer a huge and giant target. Most people who have studied Russia's interference in the last election suggest that one of the problems is that you had two or three big targets. What would Putin do 20 years ago at the time of the Internet more chaotic? Go put ads on Craigslist or something to try to manipulate the votes? When there are only a few throttling points, a few checkpoints, you are vulnerable to foreign interference. It is at this moment that your security problems arise.
"We trusted Facebook, and they were not trustworthy."
And I think that the fact that the technology sector – which was traditionally the most decentralized and innovative sector of the economy – has become terribly disastrous – has become a place where people just want to create businesses to make themselves buy through Facebook. This is not the kind of ambition we should have for young engineers in this country. I think this shows a lack of confidence in the competition, a lack of confidence in the ecosystem, and refers to the idea of "Trust us, we're going to everything make". We trusted Facebook and they have not proved worthy of trust. I also have a personal interest in this area because I have worked for the government. We put Facebook in order for violation of privacy, and they violated that order so many times that we can not even count it. So why should we trust a repeat business – a company that ignores government orders – to protect privacy, protect the security of this country? It does not make sense to me. That's why I think we need a technological upheaval.
NT: Let me ask you for a follow-up. You have very interestingly pointed out that some of the most important antitrust actions would come from neither the DOJ nor the FTC, nor Europe, but States. Tell me about that How will that disappear and how could this apply to the giants of technology?
TW: Yes, there has been a growing trend, a real change, a return to a different kind of spirit of American federalism. I think the states have begun to fulfill their role by filling the federal government when it is doing nothing. Privacy is a good example. Many people are concerned about privacy. Congress has not done anything for a very long time. So California did something. As they did with the broadcasts. I have worked in the Obama administration and in the antitrust. So I will hire staff here, but we have not provided the supervision of the merger we should have. We allowed too much consolidation of the economy. And I think that has contributed a lot to the anger over the distribution of wealth in this country. States are beginning to intervene.
NT: Is it all from Obama's fault? He approved all these mergers, right? Instagram has arrived under his watch. You know, all the decisions you made us where we were went, and he had about 40 Google employees working for his government. Do you think that the Obama administration has been captured by big technology?
TW: "Captured" may be too loud. I would say that maybe we sometimes had a view too pink. In the early 2000s, you know, there was this honeymoon period where everyone liked technology and really created big companies. It's an American thing that has a lot of confidence in the technologies of the future. Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, many of our heroes are great inventors. And I think that spirit has been maintained. I think no one in the Obama administration took money, but we had that kind of optimistic outlook. And when Mark Zuckerberg came to the Federal Trade Commission, saying, "Oh, I'm sorry for these privacy breaches, but I'm a young man, I did not know what I was doing, we will not do it again never ", everyone believed in it and abandoned the individual lawsuits against him. But in fact, we have been fooled.
I think it's time to really look at how power is allocated. And I repeat that the American tradition, both technologically and economically, is that we believe in decentralized ecosystems and that innovators strive to do their own work. It's the American border. And it's an older tradition. That's, you know, Theodore Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis. This is what we need to recover, and I think that is a big part of the answer to some of the dissatisfaction in this country. So, antitrust: I am a believer and it is gone.