Posted by & filed under App Economy, IT and the law.

Eleanor Margolis had used PayPal for more than a decade when the online payment provider blocked her account in January. The reason: She was 16 years old when she signed up, and PayPal Holdings Inc. insists she should have known the minimum age is 18, because the rule is clearly stated in terms and conditions she agreed to. Clearly stated, that is, in a document longer than The Great Gatsby—almost 50,000 words spread across 21 separate web pages. “They didn’t have any checks in place to make sure I was over 18,” says Margolis, now 28. “Instead, they contact me 12 years later. It’s completely absurd.”

Source: Bloomberg Technology News

Date: April 20th, 2018

Link: 

Discussion

1) “In 2005 security-software provider PC Pitstop LLC promised a $1,000 prize to the first user to spot the offer deep in its terms and conditions; it took four months before the reward was claimed.”  What might be better ways to make sure users know what they are signing up for?

2) What might be an appropriate length of terms and conditions that it would be sensible for a company to say that they are “clearly stated”?  That is, how much should a reasonable user be expected to read and understand when signing up for an online app or service?

Posted by & filed under disruptive technology, robotics.

A newly developed vine-like robot can grow across long distances without moving its whole body. It could prove useful in search and rescue operations and medical applications.

Source: Stanford University News

Date: April 20th, 2018

Link: https://news.stanford.edu/2017/07/19/stanford-researchers-develop-new-type-soft-growing-robot/

Discussion

1) Another day, another type of robot!  What sorts of things could you use this robot for?

2) Imagine you were starting a company to market this robot.  How would you sell this technology?

Posted by & filed under robotics.

It seems there are few jobs robots can’t do these days, even the most delicate jobs, like picking asparagus or potting plant seedlings.  But they’re only needed because humans can’t – or won’t – do the work, farmers say.

Source: BBC Business

Date: April 20th, 2018

Link to video: http://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-43824607/meet-the-robots-that-can-pick-and-plant-better-than-we-can

Discussion

1) Robots that can pick and plant seeds and plants.  What else could you apply this technology to?

2) What sorts of tasks can be robotized?

Posted by & filed under Privacy.

Data

Next month a new law in Europe will make the consequences of failing to protect personal data for banks and others far more serious.  The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, will be the biggest shake-up to data privacy in 20 years.  A slew of recent high-profile breaches has brought the issue of data security to public attention.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: April 20th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43657546

Discussion

1) Why will a European data privacy law impact Canadian-based companies?

2) What steps might a Canadian-based company have to take to understand and implement this law?

Posted by & filed under Consumer Technology, Ethical Issues, FaceBook.

When asked by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley why Facebook doesn’t disclose all the ways user data might be collected and used by Facebook — and its responsibility to inform users of those possibilities — here’s how Zuckerberg replied:

“I believe it’s important to tell people exactly how the information that they share on Facebook is going to be used. That’s why, every single time you go to share something on Facebook — whether it’s a photo in Facebook, or a message in Messenger or WhatsApp — every single time, there’s a control right there about who you’re going to be sharing it with, whether it’s your friends or public or a specific group. And you can change that and control that in-line.”

For much of his marathon five-hour testimony on Tuesday, this is how Zuckerberg framed many of his responses to questions about privacy on Facebook — around the choices users have when they choose to share information about themselves.

But it seems like both a dodge and a clever misdirection. The broader issue isn’t whether users have enough control over who can see their Facebook posts, but whether users have a reasonable understanding of what else Facebook collects about them in the process.

Source: CBC News

Date: April 12th, 2018

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/facebook-testimony-mark-zuckerberg-senate-privacy-controls-1.4614518

Discussion

1) Do you understand the difference between user control and data collection?

2) How does Facebook (and others) use the data they collect on you to make money?

Posted by & filed under Cyber attack.

Britain carried out its first major cyber-attack in 2017, disrupting Islamic State’s communications and propaganda infrastructure for much of the year, one of Britain’s intelligence chiefs has revealed.

Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, which is better known for its communications interception work, said his agency had worked with the Ministry of Defence to make “a significant contribution to coalition efforts” against the al-Qaeda splinter group. He said that as well as making it “almost impossible” for the group to spread its message, the attack had protected forces on the battlefield.

Source: Bloomberg Technology News

Date: April 12th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-12/u-k-reveals-its-first-major-cyber-attack-was-against-is

Discussion

1) Revealing this news obviously suggests that the Islamic State is considered a legitimate target for a cyberattack.  At what point does someone or a group not become a legitimate target?

2) What sorts of things might GCHQ have done to attach the Islamic State’s communications?

Posted by & filed under FaceBook, IT and Politics, Regulation.

Congress has warned Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Inc. chief executive, that the era of self-regulation for social media is likely over, following Facebook’s data breach and Russia’s use of the social-media behemoth in its disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg agreed regulation is inevitable, even desirable. But how far it should go — and the implications for his company’s $55 billion in projected revenue this year — are far from settled.

Source: Bloomberg Technology

Date: April 12th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-12/here-s-how-washington-could-really-unfriend-facebook-quicktake

Discussion

1) Why might the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zickerberg, believe regulation of Facebook is “desirable”?

2) Should social media be regulated?

Posted by & filed under Artificial intelligence, Business Intelligence, Consumer Technology, disruptive technology, Emerging Technologies.

Poppy Crum

The fear levels of an audience have been measured to show how machines are beginning to reveal people’s deepest feelings.  The demonstration was part of a talk given by Dolby Labs chief scientist Poppy Crum at the TED conference in Vancouver.  The ability to hide emotions is becoming “a thing of the past”, she said.  The professor believes this could usher in an era of empathetic technology.

Source: BBC Future

Date: April 12th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43653649

Discussion

1) What sorts of applications could this technology be safely and usefully put towards?

2) How could a company exploit this technology to manipulate people to do something they otherwise would not?

Posted by & filed under FaceBook, Privacy.

Young woman looking at touch screen

While Facebook desperately tightens controls over how third parties access its users’ data – trying to mend its damaged reputation – attention is focusing on the wider issue of data harvesting and the threat it poses to our personal privacy.  Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you may never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it.

Source: BBC Technology and Business News

Date: April 12th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43697133

Discussion

1) “it involves poring over every privacy policy then contacting the app provider to ask them” what data they are collecting.  Where are the privacy policies for your smartphone apps?

2) What sort of things should go in a privacy policy?

Posted by & filed under Civil Liberties, data mining, Ethical Issues, ethics, FaceBook.

facebook icon on ios

Privacy  watchdogs in Canada and British Columbia are combining existing investigations into Facebook  and AggregateIQ. The latter being a Victoria-based ad targeting tech company that has been linked to Cambridge Analytica,  the political consultancy at the center of the Facebook data misuse storm.

Source: Tech Crunch

Date: April 6th, 2018

Link: https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/06/facebook-aggregateiq-now-being-jointly-probed-by-canada-b-c-data-watchdogs/

Discussion

1) Much of the media attention in this issue is about how Facebook has been sharing users data.  However, the facts of the situation are that a Cambridge University professor developed an app that he put on Facebook that users on Facebook used and during that use they agreed to share their own information and the information of their contacts.  Does Facebook have a responsibility to monitor the collection of data by everyone and anyone who puts something up on Facebook?

2) Why does the media struggle to accurately report the facts of situations like this?