What IS Your Privacy Worth? And Who Is Big Brother?

When I was a child…or should I say…back in the day (or is that totally passe’ now the boomers use it too?)…Big Brother was a gray cloud on the horizon and understood to be a warning about future government intrusion.

But that day is here NOW and boy were we naive. Big Brother is Amazon and Google and Apple and Facebook and retailers…and although government has plenty of data on us…its information systems can barely get out of their own way compared to the private sector.

So what is your privacy worth to you? An extra 10% discount? Five fewer minutes in the store? Another $1.50 off your purchase? Is that worth having this new 21st Century version of Big Brother know who you are, know where you are and know what you are doing 24×7? Alexa, what should I think? (and I am not even talking about the spies we are bringing into our homes)

Two items today!

The first is the ‘new convenience’ that technology is bringing to shopping. Amazon already has stores where there are no check out lanes…not even the DIY versions currently growing in big box stores. No, you simply enter the store, select your items, and leave. They will bill your charge accounts.

But now it is even more identifying than that:

If they work, cashier-less stores will not only save time but maybe money too. From cameras and sensors, the stores will know when shoppers pick up a product and put it down, and can send them a discount to tempt them to buy it. Merchants will receive more insights into how people shop. They can create more space for merchandise, better track when shelves need replenishing and draw more business from the hordes of customers who detest long lines.

But the monitoring system underlying cashier-less technology is bound to raise new privacy issues and worries about customer data falling into the wrong hands, especially if stores deploy facial recognition software in the omnipresent cameras watching shoppers.

“It could be scary, and it could be creepy,” says Peter Trepp, CEO of FaceFirst, a Los Angeles company that so far has only sold its facial recognition tools to retailers trying to identify shoplifters and other criminals. “But if it’s used to give people a 30 percent coupon on something they want that is going to be a nice benefit. That kind of experience will help people embrace the technology.”

emphasis mine: you believe that?

The Second: and it isn’t just Amazon…Target got caught playing pricing games with their app recently and had to make some changes.

Target has modified its smartphone app after a Minneapolis TV station reported that prices displayed on the app changed whenever users approached the retailer’s stores, sometimes rising by hundreds of dollars.
KARE-TV reports the Minneapolis-based retailer recently released an updated version of its app that labels whether the price next to a product is “online” or “in-store.”

The app’s location-tracking function lets users find nearby stores or where specific items are located. But it also appeared to trigger price changes as users entered Target parking lots.

Now isn’t that special?

So technology is already so pervasive that ‘they’ know where we go and what we do. And there are the anecdotes about going somewhere and getting ads for that location. Or getting ads for things we’ve googled on our other social media accounts.

But what is the breaking point for you? Europe has implemented some privacy laws that business finds restrictive and that they are lobbying against in Washington. But how much is it worth to you to give up your ‘freedom’? The president touted the freedoms we have and swore that we would never give them up! So why isn’t there conversation in Washington about constant tracking and privacy violations and intrusive surveillance? Right now I am feeling that my cell phone and Apple and Amazon and Google are far more dangerous to my ability to maintain my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness than the Patriot Act is. Sigh!

And I almost forgot ~ one of the articles mentioned information falling into the wrong hands. Doesn’t mention whose hands…but given the repetitive reports on store databases or systems being hacked…it is inevitable that this data being collected will end of somewhere else and used for something other than its intended usage.

And just to bring this up again: But where is the data that Cambridge Analytica collected?

The Facebook Cambridge Analytica Is The Dead Puppy of CyberSecurity

Over the past week, I have posted two disparate items that seem to come together in the controversy surrounding Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data. The first was GOP Congress: 14 Children Gunned Down, Crickets, Dog Dies In Airplane, Immediate Bill, where nothing has been done about children being murdered and nothing changes, but when one puppy dies and there is immediate legislative action. And Who Is Protecting the 2018 Election?, where the government has taken almost no action to protect the upcoming mid-term elections.

But oh my god, some social media site and third party instigator are reportedly misusing data, and there are immediate calls for a Congressional investigation and for Mark Zuckerberg to testify in Washington.

Keep your eye on the ball Washington…we need to secure our elections first! We all know Facebook is selling our data…it isn’t any surprise. So Congress should keep its faux outrage to itself. I would rather know that the Wisconsin voting rolls are accurate and my vote is recorded without interference from Moscow.

So What Happens to Blogging Blue If We Lose Net Neutrality?

Obviously Blogging Blue doesn’t have the wherewithal to buy access to premium internet services if we lose net neutrality. So will you still be able to get your daily fix of skewed political commentary and sarcastic responses to commenters? Will the page load at a reasonable speed? Will it be found at all?

The loss of net neutrality is being sold as letting the market determine the winners and losers. But once again it seems like the haves will get to have some more…and the have nots may disappear into the ether. One of the pluses to net neutrality is Zach could start this site and I can keep it running without a lot of effort or financial risk. Essentially, though not literally, Blogging Blue’s voice is available as fully as the NY Times or Breitbart. Yes certainly we live or die on our content and marketing skills…and the amount of time and money we have to invest…but it feels that all things are being equal until now.

The FCC has a comments page going and it sounds like it’s being hacked and trolled in favor in eliminating net neutrality. So some are suggesting they put off their decision until they can sort out the chaff. Probably isn’t going to happen under the Trump regime. But once we lose it, there is very little chance we’ll ever get it back. Do we devolve our internet to being like China?

And the internet has allowed small entrepreneurs build new sites and new businesses that are worth billions and supply communication, products, and information around the world. Would Amazon, Google, Facebook exist if they were starting out in an internet without neutrality. Will the next round of inventors have the same opportunity?

And yes, big conglomerates have invested millions and billions of dollars to build the Internet’s infrastructure. But your tax dollars and government resources invented it and developed it. It really should still be ours!!!

From today’s Washington Post:

The Federal Communications Commission is expected later this month to repeal landmark regulations that aim to ensure that all websites, large and small, are treated equally by Internet service providers.

UWM’s Participation In the 2016 Presidential Campaign

With Wisconsin still in play before the April 5th primary election, both parties were very active around the state. And the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee played a pivotal role in the campaigns.

The Democratic Debate visited campus on February 11th and utilized the Zelazo Center which is an arts performance center on Kenwood Blvd directly across the street from the Fine Arts Building and the student union. Media overflow was housed in the ballroom of the student union. The debate was sponsored by PBS NewsHour and Facebook and the two sponsors reimbursed the university for the use of their facilities and catering for the media and presenters. Other than obstructing traffic and parking around the campus I don’t remember any complaints about the event.

On April 3rd, GOP candidate Donald Trump spoke on the main stage of the Fine Arts building. This was rather surprising in a number of ways…the first it doesn’t seem like a solid venue for his message and second it doesn’t seem like it would be big enough for the types of crowds that he pulls in. But that’s neither here nor there…it was his decision.

But there was some controversy around the Trump event. Faculty and students didn’t want him to appear on campus in the first place…but rightly the university allowed him to appear. And rightly his appearance drew a reported 70 to 100 protesters (although that seems low to me). And Fox News is paying for the extra security that was required.

But UWM did do something wrong with the Trump event…and as I said they rightly allowed him to appear there…but remember what I stated above about the Democratic event? That overflow media was housed in the UWM Union. Here’s what was wrong:

Trump’s April 3 town hall at the UWM Arts Center, which had a ticketed audience but did not include media beyond Fox News Network…

UWM should never have allowed an event to be held on their campus that excluded the general media. Never…this isn’t a private facility per se…it is a very public university…one that prides itself in being an urban school involved with its home community. Any event there should be open to whatever media group is interested in covering it…I can’t imagine that a few of the local TV stations outside of Fox6 wouldn’t have liked to have been there…I can’t imagine that the insecure and lost its way Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wouldn’t have liked to be there.

Universities have a responsibility to present all viewpoints to their student body and let them choose who/what they want to support…but they should never let one media outlet control coverage of events on their campus. They need to support free speech AND freedom of the press in the same breath.

I’ve been banned once again!

Apparently I’ve been banned from commenting on the Facebook page of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. I’m assuming I was banned after I left a comment on the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page noting that during his time as Milwaukee County Sheriff, David Clarke once attempted to assist a drunk driver get back on the road after said drunk driver had slid off the road in winter weather.

My ban from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page is now the third such ban handed down on me by conservative candidates for office. Dan Sebring banned me from his Facebook page several years ago after I dared question him about his views, and former Democratic State Senator Jeff Plale not only banned me from his page – he blocked me from being able to see it.

I’m not sure why David Clarke and Dan Sebring in particular are so thin-skinned, but I can’t help but wonder if they’re really suited for elected office if they can’t bear a little questioning from those who pay their salaries (in Clarke’s case) or those who they aspire to represent (in Sebring’s case).