Fascinating article in The Grauniad last night
, about the emerging inbuilt ability of consumer electronics to snoop on you.
Firstly, do y'all remember how last year it was revealed that Samsung had announced a television that would listen to everything said in the room
it’s in, and in the fine print literally warned people not to talk about sensitive information in front of it?
(Disclosure - didn't blog it as was on holiday. My bad...but reminded me of an old joke I first read in the 1970's: "Russian TV is different to US TV - IT watches You". Not so funny now...)
Anyway, turns out that despite the hullabaloo at the time, a whole host of new devices that spy on you are coming on stream, as the Gruaniad notes:
a wide array of devices now act as all-seeing or all-listening devices, including other television models, Xbox Kinect, Amazon Echo and GM’s OnStar program that tracks car owners’ driving patterns. Even a new Barbie has the ability to spy on you – it listens to Barbie owners to respond but also sends what it hears back to the mothership at Mattel.
Even Barbie! (And some Teddy bears too, I understand)
Now - never mind the insecurity of these devices to common or garden hackers, it also appears that governments are getting in on the act - from testimony yesterday by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper. As the Guardian reported
Clapper made clear that the internet of things – the many devices like thermostats, cameras and other appliances that are increasingly connected to the internet – are providing ample opportunity for intelligence agencies to spy on targets, and possibly the masses. And it’s a danger that many consumers who buy these products may be wholly unaware of.
“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper told a Senate panel as part of his annual “assessment of threats” against the US.
There you have it. Or, to quote Evgeny Morozov:
In case you are wondering what "smart" - as in "smart city" or "smart home" - means:
Or, to quote ourselves in our 10 Tech predictions for 2016
8. The Internet of Things Fridge use case will still be the most oft repeated one in public. In private, surveillance and monitoring will be.
Didn't occur to us it was the Fridge that would be doing the spying though.....do you remember all those years ago when You! (aka Us!) were Time Persons of the Year
and going to be the citizen-content providers of the future? Little did we know this was how it was going to be done....
Over the weekend, the Daily Telegraph installed sensors under their staff's desks to sense when they were at them. When discovered on Monday, the shit hit the fan - Buzzfeed
One journalist at the paper said Telegraph union representatives had raised concerns about the issue and “HR are frantically rowing back on it”.
Referring to the prospect that management could now potentially tell when staff nip out for toilet breaks, they said: “Never before has taking a shit on company time felt so rebellious.”
As is the norm these days, once discovered, the devices were retracted today after the standard "best of green intentions, learn our lessons" bollocks:
However, OccupEye’s [device manufacturer's] own website makes few references to environmental issues and instead focuses on how companies can make cost savings by downsizing their offices and fitting more staff into smaller spaces.
As is also the norm these days, it's a given that the devices will soon be back - just a lot smaller and unnoticeable, probably embedded in a cornucopia of sensors in new "smart desks", sold as a set of personalised benefits to the desk occupier. The future is here, and will be evenly distributed unless you can catch 'em at it.
As for the shit hitting the fan nex time, the fan is going to be "smart" too.....
The prettiest Star
There are no words....
Ashes to ashes
Above - Get Back!
Good Morning, Good Morning
At midnight last night the Beatles tracks became available on Spotify
(and most other media) and I'm sure many others like me lost a few hours sleep listening and adding songs. Because we can.
To be honest I'm not a great Beatles fan, they have about a 10% hit rate with me - but they have so much stuff, that still means a lot of songs I want to add to the playlist (By the way, an analysis og Great Bands I read a few years back showed that sheer amount of compositions was a good predictor of greatness)
Anyway, it gave me pause for thought about music consumption, and the long and winding road travelled to where we are now.
In my life (time) it was tape decks and Other People''s Records, you built up a music collection with a little help from your friends. Then came Napster and we plunged helter skelter into sucking as much music down before the inevitable closedown, then LastFM where social scrobbling turned out to be a magical mystery tour of music your friends liked, then Pandora, which was hello, goodbye as they shut up shop to the UK. It all seems like yesterday, but that Revolution started 10 - 15 years back.
Anyway, put most of the songs I like on Spotify last night, so I'll let it be for now. Bit tired of course, but overall I feel fine .
Wonder how we will consume music when I'm 64....
Now, we of the Peanut Gallery
are told over and over that There Is No Bubble in the Unicorn market, (which we disagree with
by the way) but when these apparently not-overvalued companies sell or IPO and find that there is a not-reduction over previous values, it's illustrative to know who gets shafted - an illustration here from the NYT when Good Technology Ltd was sold to Blackberry - first the drop in valuation::
Ms. Wyatt [CEO] introduced BlackBerry’s chief, John S. Chen, who winkingly apologized for how his deal makers had driven Good’s final sale price down to $425 million, less than half of the company’s $1.1 billion private valuation.
The impact became clearer when the deal was described:
In an investor document about the sale that was distributed to shareholders, employees discovered their Good stock was valued at 44 cents a share, down from $4.32 a year earlier. In contrast, preferred stock owned by Good’s venture capitalists was worth almost seven times as much, more than $3 a share.
The paperwork also showed that Good’s board had turned down an $825 million cash offer just six months earlier, in March.
So the management and board no doubt felt they should take their lumps with the troops, given it was their error, you'd think? Did they heck:
When Good Technology was sold to BlackBerry, not all of its shareholders benefited. The start-up's employees, who own common stock, found their shares were valued far less than that of Good's investors, who owned preferred shares.
For some employees, it meant that their shares were practically worthless. Even worse, they had paid taxes on the stock based on the higher value.
In Good’s case, the six investors on the board had preferred shares worth a combined $125 million. After the sale to BlackBerry, Ms. Wyatt, who has since left the company, took home $4 million, as well as a $1.9 million severance payment, according to investor documents.
We've written before
about the Preference Share and Ratchet racket going on with private funding rounds at present, and why it is driving the Unicorns' over-valuations. In essence none of the principals take any risk if (increasingly when) there is a devaluation of the company, its only the ordinary shareholders - mainly the employees - who get scraped. Lawsuits tend to come after the fact, which is too late, the money has flown the coop by then (read the article to get a good view of the futility of trying to claw money back). Thus there is little motivation to stop the practice.
So for all of you toiling away in overvalued Tech Co's
(Unicorns or No), look long and hard at this example - there, but for the lack of a sale or IPO of your company yet, are you.
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