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Some of the articles and news that crossed my desk on )ctober 18, 2017. Enjoy!
Facebook and Google Worked with Racist Campaigns, at Home and Abroad
Both Facebook and Google worked closely with an ad agency running blatantly racist ads during the 2016 campaign. Both companies worked on targeting more precisely, and provided a range of technical support.
Facebook advertising salespeople, creative advisers and technical experts competed with sales staff from Alphabet Inc.’s Google for millions in ad dollars from Secure America Now, the conservative, nonprofit advocacy group whose campaign included a mix of anti-Hillary Clinton and anti-Islam messages, the people said.
Facebook also worked with at least one campaign putting racist ads in Germany to target German voters. This is what the "neutrality" of tech looks like: racism with money behind it is always welcome. The data collection and subsequent profiling of people is a central element of how racism is spread, and how data brokers and advertising companies work together to profit.
Russia Recruited Activists to Stage Protests
The people who were recruited didn't know they were working with Russians. But this is an odd corner of Russian attempts to create noise and conflict around issues related to race.
Russia’s most infamous troll farm recruited US activists to help stage protests and organize self-defense classes in black communities as part of an effort to sow divisions in US society ahead of the 2016 election and well into 2017.
As always, research your funders and contacts.
US Government Wants the Right to Access Any Data Stored Anywhere
The US Supreme Court will hear a case that looks at whether a legal court order can compel a company to hand over information, even if that information is stored outside the US.
In its appeal to the high court, meanwhile, the US government said that the US tech sector should turn over any information requested with a valid court warrant. It doesn't matter where the data is hosted, the government argues. What matters, the authorities maintain, is whether the data can be accessed from within the United States.
This has the potential to open the floodgates for personal data to be accessed regardless of where it is stored. This would also gut privacy laws outside the US (or create a legal mess that will take years to untangle, and make lawyers very rich). It will also kills the tech economy and isolate the US, because who outside the US would want to connect to a mess like that?
For $1000 US, You Can Use AdTech to Track and Identify an Individual
A research team spent $1000 with an ad network, and used that to track an individual's location via targeted ads.
An advertising-savvy spy, they've shown, can spend just a grand to track a target's location with disturbing precision, learn details about them like their demographics and what apps they have installed on their phone, or correlate that information to make even more sensitive discoveries—say, that a certain twentysomething man has a gay dating app installed on his phone and lives at a certain address, that someone sitting next to the spy at a Starbucks took a certain route after leaving the coffee shop, or that a spy's spouse has visited a particular friend's home or business.
The researches didn't exploit any bugs in mobile ad networks. They used them as designed. So, aspiring stalkers, abusers, blackmailers, home invaders, or nosy creeps: rest easy. If you have $1000 US, AdTech has your back.
Watches Designed for Helicopter Parents Have Multiple Security and Privacy Issues. Cue Surprise
In what should surprise absolutely no one, it looks like spyware designed for the hypervigilant and short-sighted parent have multiple security flaws that expose kids to focused risk.
Together with the security firm Mnemonic, the Norwegian Consumer Council tested several smartwatches for children. Our findings are alarming. We discovered significant security flaws, unreliable safety features and a lack of consumer protection.
Surveillance isn't caring. I completely understand that raising a kid can be petrifying, but when we substitute technology for communication, we create both unintended consequences and multiple other points of potential failure.