Friday, September 22, 2017
The police will probably not toss out those stingray devices just yet.
Appellate court rules tracking cellphones without a warrant unconstitutional
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Sep 21, 2017
Washington Examiner: “The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday [September 21, 2017] that it is unconstitutional for law enforcement to use certain technologies that allow the tracking of a suspect’s cellular phone without a warrant. The ruling reversed a decision of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that allowed police to use a particular tracking tool, the cell-site simulator, calling it a violation of Fourth Amendment privacy protections as they relate to policing tactics. Investigators have used cell-site simulators to act as fake cell towers to connect to devices they are searching instead of the device’s regular network.”
It might be useful to know how thinly the algorithm slices the data. I’d wager that there were hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of ad categories identified by analyzing all the data available to Facebook.
Facebook can't hide behind algorithms
If Facebook’s algorithms were executives, the public would be demanding their heads on a stick, such was the ugly incompetence on display this week.
First, the company admitted a “fail” when its advertising algorithm allowed for the targeting of anti-Semitic users.
Then on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg said he was handing over details of more than 3,000 advertisements bought by groups with links to the Kremlin, a move made possible by the advertising algorithms that have made Mr Zuckerberg a multi-billionaire.
Gross misconduct, you might say – but of course you can’t sack the algorithm. And besides, it was only doing what it was told.
“The algorithms are working exactly as they were designed to work,” says Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia.
… Facebook didn’t create a huge advertising service by getting contracts with big corporations.
No, its success lies in the little people. The florist who wants to spend a few pounds targeting local teens when the school prom is coming up, or a plumber who has just moved to a new area and needs to drum up work.
Facebook’s wild profits - $3.9bn (£2.9bn) between April and June this year - are due to that automated process. It finds out what users like, it finds advertisers that want to hit those interests, and it marries the two and takes the money. No humans necessary.
… That system will be slightly less human-free in future. In his nine-minute address, a visibly uncomfortable Mark Zuckerberg said his company would be bringing on human beings to help prevent political abuses. The day before, its chief operating officer said more humans would help solve the anti-Semitism issue as well.
“But Facebook can’t hire enough people to sell ads to other people at that scale,” Prof Vaidhyanathan argues.
(Related). One verb is as good as another to an algorithm. Apparently, nothing triggers alarms.
Instagram uses 'I will rape you' post as Facebook ad in latest algorithm mishap
Instagram used a user’s image which included the text “I will rape you before I kill you, you filthy whore!” to advertise its service on Facebook, the latest example of social media algorithms boosting offensive content.
Guardian reporter Olivia Solon recently discovered that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, made an advertisement out of a photo she had posted of a violent threat she received in an email, which said “Olivia, you fucking bitch!!!!!!!” and “I Will Rape You”.
Instagram selected the screenshot, which she posted nearly a year ago, to advertise the photo-sharing platform to Solon’s sister this week, with the message, “See Olivia Solon’s photo and posts from friends on Instagram”.
Change is hard. People (and companies) resist change way beyond all logic. They prefer to keep doing the same thing, even if the science proves them wrong.
European Commission Accused Of Burying Controversial Piracy Report
The European Commission has been called out for failing to publish data indicating that piracy has little effect on legitimate content sales.
Back in 2014, it paid Dutch consultancy Ecorys more than $400,000 to research how unauthorised access of music, video, books and video games displaced legitimate sales, both online and offline.
The report was completed in May 2015, but was never published - and Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda thinks this is fishy.
"Why did the Commission, after having spent a significant amount of money on it, choose not to publish this study for almost two years?" she asks.
The report concludes that, in most cases, piracy has little impact on legitimate sales.
… Indeed, it found that games piracy actually increased legitimate sales.
There is an exception to this, in the form of blockbuster movies.
"The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally," reads the report.
Even so, the researchers conclude that the reason for this is almost entirely down to cost, and that cutting fees for TV and movies would make a big difference.
For my Computer Security students.