But don’t expect to have it remain your little secret if you did so on the internet.
“When a Company Is Put Up for Sale, in Many Cases, Your Personal Data Is, Too” says the headline at the linked article (and never mind their singular/plural mixup…)
Data agreements are usually entered into implicitly and in the best of times, but really, contracts should govern expectations for what are the worst of times. A company’s dissolution, and thus the liquidation of its assets, means your data might go on the auction block too. And those who get your data might not be so caring about it as the earlier owner.
We often hear about the importance of computers in education, but this message often falls flat to many of us who have tried to divine the recipe for whatever is the secret sauce which makes computer-involved instruction work. It often doesn’t. Thanks now to this author for giving voice to the matter who calls out in detail how technology in challenged schools can only amplify the problems. The loudest calls for increasing tech in education unsurprisingly come from the very companies which stand to benefit most from the policies; the linked article calls out why this is not necessarily the best way forward.
Pro-Kremlin trolling on the internet seems to be a growth industry. We pay the price here.
The base model of this Volvo can park itself. Having it miss pedestrians along the way is an optional add-on.
(If you really want a revenue stream then stand up the app to offer acceleration for free but couple it with an electronic payment system for pay-per-brake.)
… many of them state of Maryland employees who had to divulge personal data as a condition of getting affordable health insurance.
The banner news is that CareFirst, a large health insurer, suffered a data spill in June affecting over a million participants. The company claims that no SSNs were lost, nor insurance claims, but some who monitor these things are careful to note how the statement was parsed; the company did not speak to the administrative records of their participants, which now contain an immense amount of highly personal information.
In question is the integrity of data which are associated with wellness programs which are now increasingly mandated by employers – not least of which is the state Maryland. This year employees (many of them at University of Maryland on our campus) have been required to participate in these wellness programs, which entail disclosing personal medical information to people who are not your doctor, who later will determine what remedial ‘wellness’ activities you must engage in order to only pay normal health insurance rates. Those who do not disclose will pay penalty rates, which soon will skyrocket to thousands of dollars. It is a coercive and punitive system, which also indirectly transfers more costs to the participants in the long run. (Only the state will save – not the employees.)
Which brings us back to CareFirst. This insurer is one of the banner programs offered to us as employees, and it is known to be the most invasive in its questioning. “Are you happy at work?” “Do you like your boss?” “Do you feel you satisfy your partner?” “Do you keep guns in the home?” “Do you take recreational drugs?” “How much alcohol do you drink in a week?”
These questions sure seem pretty invasive. And their answers, from potentially thousands of Maryland employees who disclosed them under threat of state cost penalties, are now out on the internet and ready to be disclosed to the world.
John Deere is trying to convince the Copyright Office that farmers don’t really own the tractors they buy from them. They argue that the computer code that runs the systems is not for sale, and that purchasers of the hardware are simply receiving “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”
This is a variation on the already long-running debate over whether automobile manufacturers have a lock on the firmware which drives their engines. Hobbyists know they can get far higher performance out of their rods by tweaking parameters and tailoring the control system to more specific needs. Of course, manufacturers are tuning their firmware for ’emissions control’ needs and other regulations. The upshot is that big corporations are rapidly making it illegal for people to manipulate goods that they own – err, or if you buy the corporate-speak, “license”.
The role of Google in liberal politics – especially President Obama’s campaign – is highlighted in this article. Besides providing cash, they provided big infrastructure and small nuances (times millions of searches) to influence consumers of political news and activate voters – at least ones who would produce the right outcomes.
For years, RadioShack made a habit of collecting customers’ contact information at checkout. Now, the bankrupt retailer is putting that data on the auction block.
A list of RadioShack assets for sale includes more than 65 million customer names and physical addresses, and 13 million email addresses. Bloomberg reports that the asset sale may include phone numbers and information on shopping habits as well.
The auction is already over, with Standard General—a hedge fund and RadioShack’s largest shareholder—reportedly emerging as the victor. But a bankruptcy court still has to approve the deal, and RadioShack faces a couple legal challenges in turning over customer data.
Remember, data are forever.
But of course, there is no real news in that revelation.
Two Wall Street Journal articles address this in some detail. One details an FTC probe into Google practices (including the FTC leadership’s decision to override staff recommendations and not pursue the company) and another discusses the effects of Google’s manipulation.
The focus of this reporting was on results which favored the company commercially. Less prominent, but no less important in this study, is that Google manipulates results in order to favor social issues preferred by the company.