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Privacy News & Analysis

Facebook's Mind Experiments: Just Media As Usual

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Yes, "furor erupted" over Facebook's massive psychological experiment to control user emotions by changing the configuration of posts.

How naive are we, really? Of course Facebook wants to control your thoughts — that's the whole point of media.

Emotional manipulation in the media is nothing new. That's why we have Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps Facebook's experiment was more disturbing because of its scale, and the fact that it failed to alert or gain the consent of its users.

But anybody thinking that the trend of media companies using real time user data to control reactions of its audience is something new is mistaken. 

Digital Ad Alliance Boss: We Can Police Ourselves

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The biggest challenge in mobile marketing may not be what the technology can do, but how the benefits of data-driven ads affect the privacy of the consumers they target.

Much has been said about the "creepy" factor of compiling information about your kids, location, financing and health. At the same time, studies show 70 percent of consumers prefer to see ads that align with their personal interest. 

Lou Mastria, executive director of the Digital Advertising Alliance, has been at the eye of the privacy hurricane for years while working in public affairs, government and the ad industry. He also holds a masters degree in public policy. In his current role, he reflects his industry-backed group's push for self-regulation of advertising practices. He's had plenty of success.

Google API Gives Developers Easier Access to Gmail #io14

2014-26-June-Google-IO.jpgGoogle is playing with Gmail again. This time it’s not just taking a stick and poking the hornets’ nest called privacy. This time, it’s taking a bat and trying to hit that hornets’ nest out of the park. And it all comes in the name of a new Gmail API.

In principal the API looks like a good thing. In principal, Google wants to make it easier to let internet applications use information in your email, with the user’s permission. The question is how much access to your information will the new API need and how much access will the new API get?

Google Feathers its Nest with New Developer Program

If Google-owned Nest’s announcement yesterday that it was buying Dropcam for $555 million caused some surprise, today’s announcement that it is opening up its platform to third-party developers, while not as in-you-face as the Dropcam deal, could have significantly more long-term effects.

Dropcam extended Google’s reach into the home through Nest. But opening the Nest platform looks like Google is aiming to corner the smart home market even if there are already some seriously heavy hitters like Apple or Samsung operating there, too.

Nest Buys Dropcam as Google Continues March Into Smart Homes

Thumbnail image for 2014-6-23 Dropcam.jpgGoogle is making another move to make its mark in the developing Internet of Things. Late Friday, Nest -- the home automation company which Google acquired in January -- announced it was buying home-monitoring camera developer Dropcam for $555 million cash.

No sooner had news of the deal emerged than questions about information, privacy and Google started to appear. However, representatives from Dropcam said this is a straightforward deal and that Google will not be getting its hands on anyone’s data.

How Much Is Your Data Worth?

2014-19-June-Froggy-Love.jpgIn today’s age of information, data is currency. Information about our preferences, habits and everything in our life is a valuable commodity for companies trying to learn more about us in order to make us their customer. The value of our personal data seems to rise every day.

If our personal data is valuable, shouldn’t we guard our privacy more closely? If we are giving away information for free, how much are we getting in return? Data for services is the business model for both Google and Facebook. They provide you a free service and in return, they mine your data to drive advertising revenue. The question people don’t seem to be asking is this, “Is the average consumer aware of the value of their information to make an informed decision?”

Google Claims It's Making Gmail More Secure

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It’s just about a year now since former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden confirmed what many suspected already: that governments around the world systematically spy on email.

Ever since, technology companies have been working steadily to develop security apps to prevent or at least minimize the potential for snooping. In two significant announcements this week, Google moved closer to securing Gmail.

According to a blog post by Brandon Long, tech lead at the Gmail Delivery Team, Google is  close to releasing new end-to-end encryption standards on Gmail that will effectively stop unwanted and unauthorized access to users’ email.

5 Reasons Google Beat Apple to Become the Top Brand

2014-5-june-arm-wrestling-champ.jpgYou just can't block the buzz about Google. In the past few weeks, the company surpassed Apple as the world's most valuable brand, according to Millward Brown Optimor's 2014 BrandZ ranking.

It was a big blow for Apple, which had held the top spot for the previous three years. But Apple fell 20 percent in brand value in the past year to an estimated $147.9 billion. Even worse, there is a "growing perception that it is no longer redefining technology for consumers," according to Millward Brown, a New York City-based research firm.

Meanwhile, Google's brand value rose 40 percent from a year ago to $159 billion. Apparently it's pretty profitable to avoid evil, even as regulators here and abroad are taking a closer look to make sure that slogan is true.

What's behind Google's climb, beyond Apple's loss of founder Steve Jobs?

Google Wants to Tap Your Brain

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While the quest for the ultimate in marketing automation technology continues, I'm still struggling to get my email spam filter to work properly. But Ray Kurzweil, Google's director of engineering, says that more intelligent systems are coming faster than we think.

By 2030, computers will be able to handle natural human language and experience emotions, Kurzweil said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this weekend. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. By 2045, we will attain "full singularity," he continued, which means that humans will be completely integrated with technology — with direct links to the cerebral neocortex.

Could LifeLock Security Fail Happen to You?

If you think your business has secure apps and robust data security policies, rethink your confidence. Because breaches happen. And not everything is 100 percent secure all the time.

At least it wasn't for LifeLock. The Tempe, Ariz. identity theft protection service provider that disclosed late Friday that one of its popular apps did not meet industry security standards — and all information with the app will be deleted.

6 Things to Know About the Internet of Things

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No matter which way you look at it, the Internet of Things (IoT) still has a very long way to go. In fact, if you take a step back and look at it without all of the vendor hype, it's not even entirely clear what exactly it's going to look like. 

The Pew Research Center has tried to remedy that with recent research, interviewing more than 1,600 experts about their visions for the IoT. The result is a fascinating look into not just the shape and form it will take, but also some considerable insight into what technology we will be using in the future. Google Glass, it seems, is only the beginning.

Malcolm Gladwell: Want My Data? Give Me Value

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What does the man who coined the term "tipping point" think about the impact of technology on our society? Have we passed the point of no return in privacy? Are schools to blame for the lack of qualified engineers? Do companies have the right approach to serving customers?

So many questions, so little time. CMSWire talked to Malcolm Gladwell, author of five bestsellers, just before he gave the keynote address at Gainsight's recent Pulse 2014 customer success summit in San Francisco.

Want to hear even more from Gladwell? Buy a burrito. Just yesterday, Chipotle announced it is using its packaging as a medium for essays by a slew of popular writers and comedians, including Gladwell.

European High Court Spanks Google

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Europe’s highest court just gave ordinary people the right to challenge Google over “irrelevant” or outdated search results. The court ruled today that individuals could ask Google to remove such search results associated with someone's name.

The case stems from a request by a Spanish citizen to remove information about the repossession of his home 16 years ago. The man successfully argued before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the outdated search results infringed on his right to privacy.

The ECJ ruled that individuals have the right to approach search companies like Google directly to request removal of information and, when the request is denied, "bring the matter before the competent authorities" to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of questionable links from the list of search results.

If that wasn’t bad enough for search engine operators, the court also ruled that operators are responsible for any personal data it processes, even if that data appears on web pages published by third parties. In short, this means search engine operators are responsible for any information generated about individuals through search.

The Holes in the Enterprise Cloud's Silver Lining

2014-25-April-Pop-Quiz.jpgPop quiz time.

Take out your #2 pencil and select the best answer that completes the following sentence.

Cloud services will revolutionize ______________.

  • A. the way software gets delivered.
  • B. the way software is licensed, by becoming a "pay as you go" option.
  • C. the way workers access services.
  • D. IT implementation, support and infrastructure costs.
  • E. the way business gets done, by letting mobile workers access information anytime, anywhere.
  • F. All of the above.

Unless you have been hiding out in a fallout shelter for the last five years, you probably picked “F. All of the above.” And if you did, you would be correct.

Google's New Terms of Service Raise Privacy Concerns

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Google has more rights to the personal content users share than most people may have realized.

In its recently updated terms of service, the company acknowledges that it not only scans email, but retains the right to use personal content for marketing and internal development purposes.

If that's not enough to make you jittery, consider this: There could be even less privacy down the line. Google has significant mobile ambitions, including its modular smartphone dubbed Project Ara. Google previewed the phone, now in the earliest stages of development, at a developer event in Santa Clara, Calif. this week.

Cell phones pose multiple privacy problems, including lack of anonymity, location tracking and easy interception.

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