Are we being tracked by MoviePass?

Since the modern age of breakthroughs in science and technology, some people have been rather suspicious of the government’s intention for quite some time now. This is evidently elucidated in the phrase “Big Brother”, who is supposedly watching and spying on our every move. “Big Brother” also commonly refers to the seemingly authoritarian regime as some believe that the government is more involved in our lives than it seems with the help of surveillance ubiquitously. Nonetheless, recent news reveals the actual antagonist in this dynamic that, much to everyone’s surprise, is a movie app. This revelation was disclosed by Mitch Lowe, the CEO of MoviePass, a week earlier. He allegedly spilled the beans about the way the app could track the client’s whereabouts, before and after a movie.

During an Entertainment Finance Forum, Lowe played a part as a keynote speaker, who, interestingly enough, named the title of the speech as, “Data is the New Oil: How will MoviePass Monetize it?”. From the self-explanatory title, it is no wonder that he subsequently took pride in the substantial amount of data and information on clients’ locations even after they have left the theatre. From Lowe’s responses, it seems that the reason for such actions lies in the profit motive, attributable to capitalism, the great motivator.

In another interview that took place over six months ago, Lowe explained his main intentions in retaining this information. He mentioned the possibility of transforming a movie night into a long line of business transactions. In short, with the information on places that the clients’ frequently visit, MoviePass could attempt to promote package deals involving those places in the sale of movie tickets since they now have the statistical evidence of potential patrons.

“The second thing we’re going to do with data… is we think going to the movies is a centerpiece for a lot of other transactions. You know, going to dinner, getting drinks, taking Uber, and we’re going to be working with local merchants around the theaters, and around the malls to drive more people to those businesses. And take a share to drive transactions,” Lowe coherently articulated in the same interview.

In the more recent interview, Lowe apparently suggests a call on commission from other businesses that are profiting from his actions, such as the dining establishments that are recommended by MoviePass. Though attempts to acquire more specifics have been made, no additional comments have been made. All we know now is that MoviePass has the intention to infiltrate the clients’ privacy in order to expand their profit margins.

Should clients be more informed about such a breach in security? Through a thorough reading of the privacy policy of MoviePass, it seems that they only ask for permission to access location once in the selection of a movie theatre. The app proceeds to explain that the need for these data is to further enhance and upgrade the service provided.

Once again, the consumers have become yet another pawn in the capitalist system. As we approach late capitalism, the measures taken by large corporations in order to maximize their profits have gotten more extreme. An unintentional error initiated by the firm could ultimately lead to the disclosure of our confidential information, without a say on our part. This is no longer a simple strategy deployed by a profit-making company, or Lowe for that matter. This is a potentially life-threatening situation that consumers should be cautious of. In this late capitalism era that the United States have come so far to achieve, no longer are things as simple as they seem. Consumers need to learn to filter the information that is presented to them as well as being more astute in performing daily tasks.

Featured Image via MoviePass

Uber settles with FTC, agrees to 20-years of audits

Uber capitulated to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) early this week, agreeing to submit to two decades worth of audits.

The San Francisco-based company will need to implement a privacy program and submit to audits every 2 years for the next 20 years, reports ET Tech. The settlement follows an intense probe from US regulators concerned that Uber has “failed to protect the personal information of drivers and passengers and deceived the public about efforts to prevent snooping by its employees.”

The agreed terms are to ensure the company meets certain FTC requirements.

ET Tech reports the FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen had the following to say in regards to the settlement with Uber: “Our order requires a culture of privacy sensitivity for Uber. It’s going to make them take privacy into account every day.”

Uber’s privacy woes with the government began in 2014. The FTC first began its probe into Uber three years ago after media reports unveiled “God View.” Uber employees used “God View” to monitor their customers’ real-time locations after using the app to hail a ride.

Uber was quick to defend itself after the media firestorm that “God View” unleashed. In 2015, the company claimed it had a “strict policy prohibiting employees from accessing rider and driver data,” ET Tech continues. However, Ben Rossen, an FTC staff attorney, has revealed that in fact, Uber only enforced their claimed “strict policy” for around eight months.

The FTC conducted a separate probe during the same year that “God View” was discovered by the media, investigating a data breach in May of 2014. During the breach, more than 100,000 names and license numbers of Uber’s drivers were stolen.

In response to their investigation of the data breach, the FTC said that Uber “did not take reasonable, low-cost measures that could have helped the company prevent the breach.” One example the agency put forward was that Uber “allowed its engineers and programmers to use a single key that gave them full administrative access to all the data.”

Uber’s current settlement with the FTC is just the company’s latest attempt to move forward after continuing setbacks. For much of 2017, the company has been consumed with sexual harassment allegations, a lawsuit over its autonomous-car designs, and a wave of top executives leaving the company, including the CEO Travis Kalanick. Oh, and an investor lawsuit filed against that same departed CEO as in-fighting between a divided board of directors and angered shareholders increases.

Ohlhausen, who presided over the settlement with Uber, said, “Uber failed consumers in two key ways: first by misrepresenting the extent to which it monitored its employees’ access to personal information about users and drivers, and second by misrepresenting that it took reasonable steps to secure that data,” BBC News reports.

Watchdog Group Calls on FTC to Investigate New Google Advertising Technology

An unidentified watchdog organization is urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s new advertising program Store Sales Management (SSM), which collects purchase data and shares it with advertisers, The LA Times reports

When Google announced the program in May, saying the “revolutionary” technology would track the credit and debit card purchases of 70% of United States consumers, allowing analysts to draw unprecedented correlations between online ad clicks and brick-and-mortar sales for the first time.

Google did not disclose the means by which it obtained the transaction data, nor did the company explicitly confirm that customers had consented to have the data shared. The company did say, though, that its “partners” had “the rights necessary” to use the information.

A confidential algorithm anonymizes and encrypts the data so that the identities of individuals remains private. The company maintains that it does not have access to the names and personal information of specific users and that it does not release the information of any individual Google user to the advertisers. Google presents the data in aggregate: it may say, for instance, that of the 20,000 people who clicked on an ad, 11% bought the product.

The complaint asks the FTC to investigate the encryption algorithm to ensure that it is ethical and secure. Allegedly, SSM’s encryption mechanism employs a technology called CryptDB, which has been breached before. In 2015, researchers hacked a healthcare database that was encrypted via CryptDB.

Presumably, one aspect of the investigation will look into whether Google itself indeed lacks the ability to trace purchase behavior to individual consumers. If individual purchase information is available, and consumers do not know how Google obtains it, then those who wish to maintain their privacy have no avenue by which to protect their information. The LA Times points out that purchase history can reveal a number of intimate details about a person, such as religious beliefs, medical conditions, etc.

Google says users can opt out of SSM at any time. Those who wish to do so can go to their My Activity page, click “Activity controls,” and then disable “Web & App Activity.” However, the complaint alleges that even with “Web & App Activity” turned off, Google collects server and click data.

Despite earlier claims that Store Sales Management was revolutionary, in response to the complaint, Google has said that the technology is “common.” Indeed, services such as track customer purchases, and curate “recommended for you” sections, as well as other content tailored to a specific consumer. Yesterday, news broke of Starbucks’ plan to launch an app that will track customers’ purchases and make recommendations based on a staggering array of factors.

Google is taking a step forward by connecting online purchase data with brick-and-mortar. From an advertising perspective, those connections are valuable, for they are important data points that have hitherto been absent from advertising research.

Much of the trepidation on the parts of groups like the Rotenberg’s is born out of suspicion of the specific practices Google is using to collect the data. The internet behemoth has been secretive about those practices—understandably so, given that confidentiality protects security. Secretiveness, though, can also conceal unethical behavior. If Google is accessing individual purchase records without consumers’ knowledge or consent, it could easily use “security” as an excuse to block regulators’ efforts to investigate the system.

Google’s website claims services like SSM use users’ data to benefit users. In some ways, they do, and many users are grateful to have an experience tailored to their tastes. But, if consumers don’t know how or whether Google is obtaining and using their data, they have no volition to protect their own privacy as they see fit.

Some checks and balances are healthy in an environment where manipulation and deception can pad the bottom line. As prominent as Google is, those checks and balances could be should be employed to ensure the giant is acting responsibly.

“Google is seeking to extend its dominance from the online world to the real, offline world, and the FTC really needs to look at that,” said Marc Rotenberg, the organization’s exGecutive director.

Starbucks’ Digital Flywheel Will Track Consumer Preferences Come Fall

Starbucks is set to expand its mobile, “cloud-based” Digital Flywheel technology this fall, Michelle Lodge of The Street reports. The new and improved app, which will be available only to members of Starbucks’ rewards program, will track customers’ ordering patterns, and use “real-time triggers and push notifications” to suggest orders tailored based on a customer’s taste, as well as on factors as specific as the weather, the day of the week, and the occasion

Customers will see different suggestions when it is raining than they will when it is sunny. On a customer’s birthday, the app will recommend something special. The Monday after, it may suggest an extra shot or two of caffeine.

When Starbucks first announced Digital Flywheel in December, CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger said the app would include a streamlined payment process and a “compelling” rewards program, Dan Richman of Geekwire wrote in December.

The enhancement of the app comes as mobile transactions constitute an increasing percentage of Starbucks’ revenue. The ubiquitous coffee chain still conducts 2.5 times as many in-store transactions as mobile transactions, according to Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan, but mobile sales are trending upward, while traditional sales are falling.

Although the growth of “mobile transactions per sale” has slowed over the past two years, it has risen by a margin of more than ten percent year over year for the last two quarters, Astrachan says. Meanwhile, “non-mobile transactions per store… has declined low double-digits for the past four quarters, with the two-year CAGR [compound annual growth rate] decelerating for the past seven quarters.”

8-9 million of Starbucks’ 13 million rewards members—just under 70%—are mobile customers.

Starbucks’ stock has been on the decline since early June. From June 2 to July 24, shares fell over 9%. Since Friday, the stock has fallen more another nine percent, despite a brief spike in early Monday. which was quickly followed by a proportionate drop.

“The fact that the stock has tumbled is a reflection of what happens in the face of disruption,” said Brian Solis, an analyst and futurist at Altimeter. “Shareholders tend to want shorter-term results, versus longer-term investments.”

Solis remains a proponent of Starbucks, and of Digital Flywheel, and has urged investors to capitalize on the dip in the coffee chain’s market value by snapping up shares while they are low. He says Starbucks is on the cutting edge of the industry with its new technology.

“Mobile is one of many promises in which Starbucks is going to grow,” he said. “That is because we are on the forefront of a new movement in consumer engagement, which marries mobile, loyalty and sales with AI to deliver extreme personalization, which Starbucks, is priming itself for and consumers are going to start demanding more.”

Solis believes the app will “engage customers more deeply, building on the momentum that is generating the higher spend per members.”

“Starbucks is one of the best companies in the world that connects brand, user and consumer experience between digital, mobile and the real world,” Solis adds. “They are still pushing forward, rolling out their Digital Flywheel strategy to be more dynamic and to further integrate digital and real world.”

The Digital Flywheel project was spearheaded by Tal Saraf, whom Starbucks hired on in October as its “senior vice president of engineering and architecture,” according to Richman’s aforementioned report.  Saraf has worked for the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Cisco, focusing largely on cloud-based services like Amazon’s CloudFront “content-delivery network” and Cisco’s Intercloud.

The AI behind the app may be among the most advanced ever employed in the eCommerce space, and it seems it will make human beings’ lives far easier. Everybody has at one time or another been stuck behind the guy who takes fifteen minutes to order his “grande mocha frappachino with room and half a shot of expresso and a double shot of…”

With digital flywheel, he can order the same thing without saying a word.

Facebook Profile Picture Protection in India

Facebook is looking to introduce new forms of protection in India for user’s profile pictures. The goal is to stop copying, sharing, and other image misuse. More specifically these protections prevent others from being able to send, share, download or tag themselves in the image. These protections are not compulsory, but they do allow users to choose whether or not they want their profile picture’s protected.

Protected pictures display a blue shield border around their image, with additional capacities currently only available on Android to prevent users from taking screenshots of profile pictures where possible. The design overlay aims to reduce picture theft, protecting the identities and privacy of its users.

These features were inspired after Facebook heard from Indian social and safety organizations that predominantly women decided to not upload images with their faces due to privacy reasons. Facebook has partnered with a number of these organizations in order to introduce a tool that is both security focused that does not interfere with Facebook’s primary social agenda. This freedom for choice still enables those who are inclined to utilize their profile picture as more than a means of identification to do so, while providing an alternative option. Facebook has responded to this issue well, without overreacting and restricting the platforms intended use.

However, while the protection will alleviate image theft tensions, it will not completely prevent possible image misuse. The reality of the matter is that these preventative measures only make image theft more difficult, but not impossible. Those with enough intent and means will find a way to continue image theft if the need is great enough, but these protections will certainly reduce the frequency at which profile pictures are copied, shared or misused. Facebook predicts that simply adding a design overlay to a picture reduces the likelihood of others copying it by 75 percent, based on the underlying message that the user sends.

These protections are readily available in India, and users can easily add them quickly through Facebook’s user interface system. However, the screenshotting protection is only available via Android, and so other can screen shot a user’s profile picture through other means including desktops. Furthermore, the blue shield only acts as statement declaring the user’s intent that their profile picture should not be copied, and not a hard barrier that comprehensibly prevents copying.

Ideal for deterring opportunists through simple additions makes this tool a potentially useful option for Indian users. Facebook has not yet indicated whether similar measures will come to other countries. The criteria for this is twofold: whether there is a need for such a tool, and whether the additions can be easily transferred and implanted. Regarding the first, regardless of whether or not there is a sizeable desire for similar protections, Facebook should pursue a rollout of these protective measures for other countries. Considering that these features are optional, there is no downside for the users in other countries by adding this tool. For the second criteria, this is dependent on how easy it is to implement the protective measures. It is uncertain whether the transfer is possible based on the coding involved. However, Facebook has already developed the tool, and so a full rollout would not require much-added cost, and in fact can be beneficial towards Facebook’s reputation of being able to balance both its social and security responsibilities on behalf of its users.

The final issue to address is whether the major concern for why women in India rejected uploading a profile picture was indeed due to possible image theft. If the issue was instead based on the personal preference of maintaining privacy, then Facebook’s tool will not stimulate more user profile pictures. This does not mean that the tool is a waste, as its flexibility is an added benefit for current users wishing to further protect their images online.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Vizio Reaches $2.2 Million Settlement With FTC

TV manufacturer Vizio settled a $2.2 million lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission. In the suit, the FTC alleged that Vizio secretly collected viewing data and sold it to third parties for years.

The Attorney General of New Jersey and the director of the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs joined the FTC in the suit against Vizio and subsidiary Inscape Services. Though the penalty may appear lax, the suit itself may cause Vizio’s brand irreparable harm.

The data collected was not anonymized, according to the FTC blog post. Vizio sold data detailing a record of shows watched, second by second, along with IP data and metadata like MAC addresses, Wi-Fi connections nearby, etc. Although names were not directly attached to the data, the third-party buyer could match it to individuals of households through the provided details of “sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, and home ownership,” according to the FTC.

The information was obtained through the “Smart Interactivity” feature on Vizio TVs, which purported to provide “program offers or suggestions.” The lawsuit notes than the feature does not disclose its tracking of viewing habit, nor does it actually provide the offers aforementioned. According to the complaint filed, “Defendants have not provided any ‘program offers or suggestions’ or ‘program-related information’ for most televisions for more than two years,” essentially making the feature a dummy program designed to obtain data. Even more incriminating was the discovery that older TVs without the feature were updated and opted into the program.

In addition to the $2.2 million, the settlement stipulates that Vizio must delete all data collected up until March of 2016 and update its privacy features. $1.5 million of the settlement will go to the FTC. The New Jersey DCA was initially to be awarded $1 million, but $300,000 was suspended from the amount to obtain Vizio’s compliance with the additional terms in the settlement.

Vizio does not admit to any wrongdoing.

Truth App Sends Anonymous Texts Messages

Privacy has become one of the primary hot button issues that the tech industry has been forced to face. Apps such as Whisper and Secret allow users to post messages anonymously, giving people the chance to divulge personal information without identifying the person. Well it seems there’s a new app that is looking to take that concept one step further. The app is called Truth, and the newest identity protecting software allows users to send anonymous text messages.

The app is set up to closely mimic already existing messaging menus (such as Apple’s) and it allows users to access their current contact list to choose recipients. Users are of course greeted with a pop up requesting access to your phone’s information almost immediately after opening the app. They are also required to sign up by providing an email address and password. This does seems a bit counter intuitive though, given the fact the apps suppose to anonymous.

Ali Saheli, a co-creator of the app, told Techcrunch that emails are being collected for an unannounced “part of their platform.” And while users don’t really seem to have a problem submitting their information in exchange for app access, it is a little odd that the company can’t explain exactly why they need user email addresses.

Once inside though the app does exactly as advertised. Users select anyone in their contact list and send messages just as they normally would. The messages are reportedly sent and received in the same amount of time a standard message would. On the receiving end, the incoming message begins with “The truth is,” and then the rest of the message. Of course, the senders information is kept private. The message will show up in the Truth app if already downloaded, otherwise it shows up as a San Francisco bay area phone number.

The real problem with the app, which has plagued anonymous based apps such as Whisper and Secret, is that the software seems prone to bullying. Though the apps design seems to indicate that it will be utilized by shy teens sending flirty texts, flirts can quickly turn hostile. Anonymity offers the power to say things that users might never say otherwise, for good or for bad.

via truth
via truth


Lookout Raises $150 Million in Latest Round of Fundraising

For a company that has not even been around for a solid decade, Lookout is doing really well. The company’s mission is to provide state-of-the-art mobile security, and it already has 50 million users worldwide. So far that number is made up of almost entirely individual subscribers. But what Lookout is really after are the big corporations, ones with thousands of employees and subsequently thousands of mobile devices that need protection. It is with this goal in mind that Lookout has recently raised an additional $150 million in funding.

The leading investors in this newest round of fundraising included  T. Rowe Price, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Investment Management, Wellington Management Company and Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions. With this added investment backing, Lookout is expecting to be taken more seriously by big corporations. Newly appointed CEO Jim Dolce elaborated, as reported by Forbes,

“You and I may use the products as individuals, but those are units of one. Then with our small and medium business announcement in the fall, we moved upwards to the tens of units. This is up yet again to the Forbes Global 2000, to the companies with 5,000 users and more. But it’s all on the same platform.”

Not to be left out, many of Lookout’s already existing backers re-upped during the latest round of fundraising. They include Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, Accel Partners, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. And according to co-founder John Hering the money raised from this round and the first round has barely been used. This means Lookout’s value could at this point be more than double the $1 billion originally given by investors. Hering explained,

“I believe that this is the largest private security financing of this year, and it may be one of the largest in history and there’s a reason for that. We are playing for the long term. The market is there, the opportunity is there, the time window is here in front of us and we needed to capitalize.”

The budding and continuing relationship between the mobile security firm and Jeff Bezos could even hint at Lookouts future aspirations. With the launch of an in house smartphone, Amazon has entered the hardware game. And it’d be surprising if the company stopped there. If Lookout plays its cards right, it looks like its going to be a very lucrative future.

Android’s Pro-Privacy ‘Blackphone’ Now Available

Blackphone is a new Android device that aims to empower its users through high-security measures. It is the product of a partnership between Madrid-based mobile phone maker Geeksphone and Silent Circle, a security company.

Blackphone puts security at the top of the priority list; it offers security updates that are not slowed down by service carriers and Silent Phone and Silent Text for encrypted telephony and messaging, according to Tech Crunch. SpiderOak secure cloud storage is another plus. Kismet Smarter Wi-Fi Manager protects the Blackphone from being connected to suspicious, untrusted networks.

A security wizard guides new users through a slew of adjustable features. One that stands out is the monitoring of apps—the Blackphone will inform you if one of your apps is doing something it is not supposed to do.

The phone comes with a bright 4.7-inch HD touchscreen display, a quad-core 2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. At just over four ounces, it has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera and offers 16GB of internal storage, according to an Ars Technica article.

PrivateOS, the Blackphone’s operating system, features the Security Center, an interface that puts the control of apps into the user’s hands. A user could cut off an app’s access to camera features or turn off the browser app’s access to networks. The Blackphone also comes with two years of Disconnect service. Disconnect is an Internet anonymizing service. It can be set to automatically provide private browsing, or it can be used manually to drive all Internet traffic through Disconnect’s proxy.

The Blackphone is sold at the higher end of smart phones at $629, but a closer look exposes why its pre-order inventory sold out quickly. Buying the Blackphone means getting a two-year subscription to Silent Circle’s voice calling, video calling and text messaging, as well as two years of Disconnect service with an allowance of 1GB per month and two years of SpiderOak cloud file storage and sharing with a limit of five 5GB per month.

via blackphone
via blackphone



Increase in Commercial Drone Use Creates Market for Anti-Drone Technology

Amazon Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos announced on “60 Minutes,” in December, 2013, that the global electronic commerce company is working toward using unmanned drones to deliver packages directly to customers’ homes. For most Americans, this was the introduction to the idea of drones flying around their neighborhoods for commercial use.

Drones are helping firefighters fight wildfires, because they can go into unsafe territory and report the movement and intensity of the blaze to firefighters on the ground. In Tijuana, police are using multiple drones, bought from 3D Robotics, for “preventing crime.”

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently does not have regulations finalized for commercial drones, and it is working to have a comprehensive set of guidelines by 2017. For now, FAA has limited the altitude of commercial drones at 400 feet to avoid interfering with the flight of airplanes.

Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal
Photo: Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

Without laws governing the use of these drones, citizens and companies are susceptible to unethical use of the drones. Corporations could use drones for spying on rivals. The government could spy on its own citizens without their knowledge.

Many Americans are uncomfortable with such unchecked power and would prefer to maintain their privacy, which creates the need for anti-drone technology. State legislature have passed laws for a handful of states, but Congress has not put forth national legislature for drones.

Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC) is an upstart company that is developing hardware that can detect drones and alert the user when drones are flying within his or her “Drone Detection Grid.” Users can customize the size and shape of their grids by adjusting the wireless sensors. The product offers a 50-foot radius of detection, but that can be increased with more sensors.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) projects that the market for domestic drones to reach $13 billion by 2017. DDC does not want to stop the production of commercial drones, but rather they view themselves as a piece of the market.

DDC needs funding and have opened a Kickstarter campaign that concludes in mid-July. They hope to raise over $9,000, but have only collected $736 in pledges as of June 20. Their campaign has been met with negative reactions.

“I’m surprised by the response considering that our product only bolsters the recreational drone sales,” DDC founder Amy Ciesielka said.

DDC seeks to build a product that can protect individuals’ privacy, which would be beneficial to swaying public opinion in favor of commercial drones. People can install a product to protect themselves from any unwanted espionage.

“We could work hand-in-hand (with drone manufacturing) and I think investors would want to be involved in both sides.”

The FAA estimates that 30,000 drones will be flying in American airspace by the year 2020. Whether privacy protection is provided by DDC or not, Americans will likely desire anti-drone technology.





Photo:  Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal


Facebook Ignores Privacy To Advance Targeted Advertising

Facebook is getting more personal – again. Just when it seems like Facebook has already overstepped its boundary of privacy, it takes one more giant step in that direction. It has now decided to emphasize its targeted advertising system through seeking information about users outside of what they already provide within the social network.

In the past, Facebook based its advertising off of “liked” posts and comments within the network’s system. Now, however, it’s creating internal user reports grounded on browsing data outside of Facebook, such as other websites and mobile apps, according to The Raw Story.

“Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the Web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider,” stated a Facebook blog post on Thursday.

The goal is to achieve more accurate advertising, but there are concerns as to the invasion of privacy. The new protocol forces Facebook to ignore the do-not-track setting, which emits a feeling of unease. Media Post News reported that Facebook would honor the setting for mobile devices, but does that provide enough relief? As somewhat of a consolation, Facebook has decided to provide users with a clarification of the ads they see if they click on the “Why am I seeing this ad?,” according to Media Post News. This explanation is supposed to create a sense of understanding, but many remain unconvinced.

The White House released a report last month that examined security concerns for Americans within the industry and steps to protection of personal privacy, but it looks like Facebook has surpassed such boundaries.


E.U. Believes in “The Right To Be Forgotten”

Recently a top court for the European Union is considering a ruling that would force tech companies to destroy collected personal data upon request. Up until this point companies have collected personal data on millions of people and the general population has had little say in it. Allowing people to decide when and what kind of information to share and have stored should be within their personal rights, though getting back to that place in time is easier said than done.

It’s being labeled as “the right to be forgotten.” People are fed up with information being shared against their will (even though they most likely shared said information willingly at some point). Americans are just as concerned about privacy as Europeans, but the U.S. court system has not been as responsive as their counterparts in the E.U. People may now ask for personal information to be removed and companies like Google must comply or else face legal repercussions. By continuing to operate inside the E.U. they have agreed to these new terms.

So you’re thinking great! Now you can get that embarrassing video of yourself removed for ever. But not quite. If you ask a company (like Google) to destroy information they can say no, and you are then forced to sue. The company you are suing will most likely have a team of lawyers on retainer, because data is business and less you have the less you’re going to make. They will show up just in the defense of their right to collect data, it won’t really make a difference what that data is. You will have to prove that the data you are requesting they remove has had a serious and long lasting negative impact on your life as well as how it is not a matter the public needs to be aware of.

A company like Google though will never delete their data despite what they might say. What gets put on the internet stays on the internet and not even a court order can really make it go away. We’re sure that some people will benefit from this ruling. Even if the data is not gone forever, but at least off of search engines, it could still help some people move past a troubling time in their life. Only time will tell to see if the E.U. court’s decision will make a real difference.



Photo: Photospin