Bookmarked Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms by Natasha Singer (
Facebook is working to spread its face-matching tools even as it faces heightened scrutiny from regulators and legislators in Europe and North America.
Natasha Singer discusses Facebook’s continual push for facial recognition. She discusses some of the history associated with Facebook’s push into this area, including various roadblocks such as GDPR. She also looks at some of the patent applications, such as:

A system that could detect consumers within stores and match those shoppers’ faces with their social networking profiles. Then it could analyze the characteristics of their friends, and other details, using the information to determine a “trust level” for each shopper.


Cameras near checkout counters could capture shoppers’ faces, match them with their social networking profiles and then send purchase confirmation messages to their phones.

This made me wonder how many patents actually come to fruition and how many are a form of indirect marketing?

Replied to Too Long; Didn’t Read #157 (W. Ian O'Byrne)

Some computer science academics at Northeastern University ran an experiment testing over 17,000 of the most popular apps on Android to see if they’re collecting information and sending it back somewhere else. They found no evidence of an app unexpectedly activating the microphone or sending audio out when not prompted to do so. Like good scientists, they refuse to say that their study definitively proves that your phone isn’t secretly listening to you, but they didn’t find a single instance of it happening. Instead, they discovered a different disturbing practice: apps recording a phone’s screen and sending that information out to third parties.

I thought that it was just me with the strange feeling like I am being listened too. Really disconcerting that instead they are capturing images. This is a worry on multiple levels. That any semblance of privacy has seemingly left the building, but also the waste associated with collecting such data.

I am reminded of the discussion of a big data tax mentioned in Sabeel Rahman’s post The New Octopus. James Bridle also talks about the ‘Age of the Image’ in the New Dark Age:

As digital culture becomes faster, higher bandwidth, and more image-based, it also becomes more costly and destructive – both literally and figuratively. It requires more input and energy, and affirms the supremacy of the image – the visual representation of data – as the representation of the world.

Bookmarked Hacking the ISTE18 Smart Badge, Part II by Doug Levin (
There are three points about the risks of what ISTE deployed at their conference to know: (1) the ‘smart badge’ is a really effective locator beacon, transmitting signals that are trivial to intercept and read, (2) you can’t turn it off, and (3) most people I spoke to had no idea how it worked. (I freaked out more than a few people by telling them what their badge number was by reading it from my phone. Most of those incidents ended up with ‘smart badges’ being removed and destroyed.)
Doug Levin reflects on the introduction of ‘smart badges’ at ISTE. Really just a Bluetooth tracking device that then allowed vendors (and anyone for that matter) to collect data on attendees. Levin hacked a badge to unpacking their use. He explains that with little effort they could be used by anybody to track somebody:

Downloading a free mobile app, as I did, an attacker could easily track a specific badge and be notified when it goes out of or comes into range. With little technical skill, an attacker could use it to approach someone outside of the convention center (at a bar or restaurant or tourist attraction) and by employing social engineering techniques attempt to gain their trust. I myself was able to identify that there were over a dozen ISTE conference participants on my train platform on Wednesday morning bound for Chicago O’Hare. When one ISTE participant entered my train car at a later stop, that was trivial to identify. While there were no other ISTE participants on my flight back to the DC area, I located two badges in the baggage claim area (likely packed in someone’s luggage or carry-on).

Audrey Watters suggests that, “ISTE has helped here to normalize surveillance as part of the ed-tech experience. She suggests that it is only time that this results in abuse. Mike Crowley wonders why in a post-GDPR world attendees are not asked for consent? If this is the future, then maybe Levin’s ‘must-have’ guide will be an important read for everyone.

Liked Facebook warns investors to expect bigger and worse scandals than Cambridge Analytica by Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing)
In reality, Facebook is designed to allow its partners to violate its users' privacy, so the fact that Cambridge Analytica got caught with its hand in 80 million of our cookie-jars is an indication of how incompetent they were (they were the easiest to detect, in part because of their public boasting about their wrongdoing), and that means there are much worse scammers who are using Facebook to steal our data in ways that makes CA look like the petty grifters they are.
Liked The Digital Heroes That Fought Against Government Surveillance Are Quiet About Facebook. They’re Missing Their Moment. by April Glaser (Slate Magazine)
Moments like the one we’re in don’t come often. While advocacy groups who deeply understand the intricacies of online data-collection wait and see what happens with privacy regulation, the news environment is going to move on. They’ll miss their chance. Maybe that’s what they want.
Bookmarked Facial recognition's ominous rise: are we going too far too fast? (The Sydney Morning Herald)
This style of technology isn't new, but the method of its use - and the kinds of people wielding it - is.
This is a strange article documenting the rise of NEC. In it, Ben Grubb provides a range of examples, including Crown Casino tracking VIPs and Westfield estimating age, gender and mood. On the one hand it can be read as both being positive – which you would assume as the author’s expenses to iEXPO2017 were paid for by NEC – in that we can now do all these things with technology, but at the same time it asks the question as to whether we should? It reminds me in part of post discussing –Hitachi’s use of cameras to improve student life at Curtin University. My question is probably, “why would you?”.


Jim Groom reflects on the challenges of data surveillance for open education. The solution that he, and the team that he was collaborating with, came up with was that we need a form of counter-surveillance to take power and ownership back.

The only way to challenge surveillance is through counter-surveillance Source

It is interesting to juxtapose this with a comment that Mark Burden recently made that it is the Internet of Data Collection Instruments.

In terms of the device collectors, in some ways they are delighted about this passivity because it reveals behaviours that we wouldn’t necessarily reveal if we knew data about us was being recorded. So in that sense when you think about what is now called the internet of things, the very label ‘the internet of things’ is a misleading label, in fact it’s a label that I think should be put in a wastepaper basket. What we are really talking about is the internet of data collection instruments. And these instruments rely on our passive behaviours in order to collect the data from the environment and about us in relation to what we do in those environments. And what we are now starting to see is that the smart home, or what is becoming increasingly the smart home, is being packed with these devices.Source