Prices And Algorithms: It’s A Game Of Cat And Mouse, And You’re Always The Mouse

Pricing changes & algorithms - a game of cat and mouse

You probably have the idea that you can use the power of the Internet to compare prices and find deals. Savvy travelers look for advice about the best time to buy airline tickets for a trip – on a Tuesday, about 90 days before the trip, right? You compare several hotel chains when you’re looking for a room. […] continued

Read more

Google, Microsoft, And Unethical Behavior

Google & Microsoft choose the dark side to promote their businesses instead of protecting consumers

Two weeks ago, Google changed its web search results to fool you into clicking on paid ads by mistake.

Last week Microsoft announced that an upcoming update for Office will force web searches in Chrome to go through Bing instead of Google – without consent and with no notice.

These are both terrible ideas, the kind of thing that erodes public trust and makes us understandably angry. […] continued

Read more

The 2019 Bruceb News Year In Review

The 2019 Bruceb News year in review

(This will be the last Bruceb News article until I recover from an upcoming business conference trip to Hawaii. Happy holidays!)

I think I accomplished two goals in 2019: writing articles about privacy and security that were so terrifying that they kept you awake at night; and making those articles so dull that they helped you sleep. […] continued

Read more

Data Brokers: The Companies Hiding In The Shadows That Know Everything About You

Tight focus on the data broker industry

Your personal information is being bought and sold by companies that lurk in the shadows. You’ve never heard of them. That’s the way they like it.

This is the most important issue that affects your privacy today.

Let’s start with a tight focus.

Assume there’s a company that methodically scrapes information from public records – drivers licenses, voter registration, property rolls, census and change of address records, birth certificates, marriage licenses, bankruptcy records. […] continued

Read more

Pixel 4 And Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Google Pixel 4 phones are not as terrifying as the reviews would make you think

Google has two new phones, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. They’re quite nice. If you had one, you’d like it. They might not tempt iPhone users to leave the Apple world, but anyone with an Android phone should consider a Pixel 4, now available through all the carriers. […] continued

Read more

Chilling Tales Of Lost Passwords

Bizarro cartoon - Alibaba forgets his password

Here’s a scary story about the government’s preparations for the 2020 census and how it was exposed to “potentially catastrophic risk” when it lost some passwords.

Costs for the census have soared in the last few decades. After the 2010 census, the Census Bureau decided to embrace technology in 2020 to make the count more accurate and keep costs down. […] continued

Read more

If You’re Worried About FaceApp Sending Your Photo To Russia, You’re Missing The Big Picture

FaceApp - Beatles

FaceApp is a popular phone app that uses AI on selfies to make you look older. It’s cute. It had a resurgence recently when some celebrities posted photos of themselves with wrinkles and grey hair, and then a lot of people freaked out because they realized the app does its work by uploading your picture to Russia. […] continued

Read more

Security Tip: Google’s Lessons About Media Literacy Aren’t Just For Kids

Google's lessons about media literacy aren't just for kids

Media literacy – being able to recognize phishing messages, disinformation, and scams – has become one of the most important skills needed to survive in the 21st century. Your children may take classes in media literacy before long; lawmakers and educators are working to elevate the issue in legislatures and schools. […] continued

Read more

Huawei And The Dog That’s Not Barking

Huawei and the dog that's not barking

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

  — “Silver Blaze,” The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The United States is spearheading a multinational effort to destroy Huawei Technologies. […] continued

Read more

The Mueller Report, Obsolete Technology, And Inferior PDFs

CD & DVD optical drives - obsolete technology

The Justice Department hand-delivered Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report to Congress on Thursday morning – on CD-ROMs. Isn’t that the cutest thing? House Judiciary Committee staff looked in the closets and found a computer with a working CD-ROM drive.

The report was then posted to the Department of Justice website as a 139Mb PDF file. […] continued

Read more

We Believe In Free Speech Until People Exercise It

Freedom of speech and content moderation

We believe in freedom of speech in the US, except when people actually exercise it. Then we discover there are lots of people who should be seen but not heard – and a fair number that we wish we couldn’t see, either.

Governments, regulators and large tech companies are launching into a debate about content moderation that will be long, messy, and unsatisfying. […] continued

Read more

Breaking News: February 18, 2019

Hot off the press! Breaking news!

I’m trying to get my thoughts in order for a couple of long articles about how to think about privacy in our world of surveillance by giant tech companies. That’s not quite ready yet. Now, now, don’t be disappointed, get a grip on yourself – it won’t be long before you have a chance to read four or five thousand words about things that I’m poorly qualified to talk about, and won’t that be fun? […] continued

Read more

Bloomberg And Chinese Spies: The Strangest Technology Story Of The Year

Bloomberg Businessweek - The Big Hack

The Chinese government has put secret spy chips on US government servers. They’re stealing secrets from Apple and Amazon. And the US government is engaged in a massive effort to prevent us from learning anything about it, for unknown reasons.

Maybe.

How about this: the US government is mounting a full-court disinformation campaign, spreading lies through multiple sources to discredit China and gain an advantage in trade wars – and taking down a huge media entity as collateral damage. […] continued

Read more

Algorithms And Paperclips: How Facebook Drives Us Apart

facebook_engagement_division

 

A famous thought experiment shows how an AI could be designed with good intentions and without malice, and still wind up destroying humanity.

Imagine that an artificial intelligence is told to maximize production of paperclips. Through an oversight it is not given any instructions about also considering human values – life, learning, joy, and so on. […] continued

Read more

Vote 2018

Vote! 2018

To all my US readers:

This is what history looks like when it’s happening.

If you don’t get to the polls, or if you turn away because the line is long, you will regret it for the rest of your life.

Vote.

[…] continued Read more