Google Blocks Privacy Push

❝ Google blocked a privacy push at the main organization that decides how the world wide web works, according to a recent vote that isolated the internet giant from others involved in the process.

The Alphabet Inc. unit was the only member of the World Wide Web Consortium to vote against the measure to expand the power of the organization’s internet privacy group, according to a tally of the results viewed by Bloomberg News. Twenty four organizations voted for the idea in a recent poll.

❝ The W3C, as the group is known, makes decisions by consensus, so Google’s objection was an effective veto.

Golly gee. The folks who tell us they “do no harm” don’t seem to be in any hurry to do some good.

Facebook wants to manage your wifi network for you

❝ Back in 2017, Facebook rolled out the “Find Wi-Fi” feature globally, a feature that lists the nearby Wi-Fi networks that Page owners shared with Facebook. Two years later, Facebook is working to expand this feature from being a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks to a service that manages the Wi-Fi connections on the device.

❝ Facebook needs more geolocation data to hyper-target advertising and information — but mostly advertising — and know even more personal information about you. Of course, it can also learn what services you use and when you use them with this connection manager. They have learned well from their big brother, Google. Sigh!

Which is why I have such a negative attitude towards Facebook and Google. They are exclusively profit-driven creatures. Loyal only to the ethos, motivations of 19th Century capitalism. Given the profit structure of high tech, it’s unneeded. Apple [and others] have proven that.

Google and Amazon follow Apple’s lead on voice assistant review

❝ Apple on Thursday suspended its Siri grading program, which seeks to make the virtual assistant more accurate by having workers review snippets of recorded audio, after a contractor raised privacy concerns about the quality control process.

Now, Apple’s competitors in the space, namely Google and Amazon, are making similar moves to address criticism about their own audio review policies

❝ Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Google in a statement to Ars Technica on Friday said it, too, halted a global initiative to review Google Assistant audio. Like Siri grading, Google’s process runs audio clips by human operators to enhance system accuracy.

Unlike Apple’s Siri situation, however, a contractor at one of Google’s international review centers leaked 1,000 recordings to VRT NWS, a news organization in Belgium. In a subsequent report in July, the publication claimed it was able to identify people from the audio clips…

❝ Amazon is also taking steps to temper negative press about its privacy practices and on Friday rolled out a new Alexa option that allows users to opt out of human reviews of audio recordings, Bloomberg reports. Enabling the feature in the Alexa app excludes recorded audio snippets from analysis.

Many of the articles posted on this topic never mentioned anonymizing and using random quotes. I have no doubt the folks who produced those articles were aware of the practice. I imagine they decided that might diminish their sensational revelation.

Using anonymous clips used to be “good enough” – in my experience. Nowadays, with rising privacy standards acknowledged by most, Apple, Amazon and Google are changing practices with changing times.

Something else that will become “opt in” or “opt out”.

Without context Google’s billion device “Assistant” claim is B.S.


ReBlogged from om.coNick Bilton photo

Google says its “Assistant” (the voice-based query service) is soon going to be on a billion devices –primarily phones, and a majority of them being on the Android phones. There are some obvious questions that the report should have covered. For instance:

  • Are these pre-installed on the OS as part of deals with handset makers or phone companies?
  • What some money involved to get these pre-installed if they were pre-installed?
  • What percentage of these were downloaded by end customers?
  • How many Google Assistant speaker-type devices has the company sold and not just given away as part of some promotion?
  • What is the number of daily active users of the Google Assistant?
  • How is the daily usage trending? Any data? Claiming global active users have grown four times over past one year is utterly meaningless!
  • What countries is the Assitant popular in?
  • And is it GDPR compliant?
  • How does it correlate with Google’s current business model of placing advertising against search results?

In other words, without the relevant context, Google’s claim is no better than old fashion bullshit. For whatever its worth, I find Google Assistant is very good at understanding my accent than Alexa and Siri. They are also much more accurate than those two. Unfortunately, I don’t trust Google to let them into my apartment on a device.

Ditto! I agree.

Turned off “tracking” on your smartphone? Won’t stop Google from tracking you!

Going off the grid with Google is harder than you might expect.

Google services on Android devices and iPhones track and store your location data even if you turn location history off in your privacy settings, according to an Associated Press investigation.

❝ You can turn off location history any time, but some Google apps still store your time-stamped location data, the AP reported. Google also reportedly uses this location data to target ads based on users’ specific locations.

Turning off location history just appears to remove your location from the Google Maps Timeline feature, which shows you where you’ve been in Google’s data.

Whole lotta Big Brother at work on this one. Your data is obviously worth more to someone else than privacy may be to yourself.

GOOGLE lets outside developers read your email

❝ Just over a year after promising to no longer scan user emails in Gmail for personalized ads, Google is allowing outside developers to do just that

❝ According to a Wall Street Journal report published Monday, Google continues to allow outside software developers to “scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools.”

Vetted app developers that are part of Google’s Gmail program are allowed to read these emails to create new services or app features. Normally, the bulk of emails are scanned electronically by computer software, but in some cases human employees are doing the reading.

Same as it ever was.