The Defender’s Big Brother NewsWatch brings you the latest headlines related to governments’ abuse of power, including attacks on democracy, civil liberties and use of mass surveillance.
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Should Alexa Read Our Moods?
If Amazon’s Alexa thinks you sound sad, should it suggest that you buy a gallon of ice cream?
Joseph Turow says absolutely no way.
Dr. Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, researched technologies like Alexa for his new book, “The Voice Catchers.” He came away convinced that companies should be barred from analyzing what we say and how we sound to recommend products or personalize advertising messages.
Gov. Newsom Sending Vax Checkers Door to Door
Thousands of people hired by the State of California are out knocking on doors asking residents if they’ve been vaccinated. The goal is to target the “vaccine hesitant” and to get as many Californians vaccinated as possible, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The state is paying $10 million to fund the effort, “which is being led by Healthy Future California and UCLA, in partnership with 70 community-based organizations.”
University of Pennsylvania Health System Requires Employees to Get COVID Vaccine or They’re Fired
The memo, which comes amid a debate about how far companies should go in compelling vaccines, was sent to employees on Wednesday.
Big Tech Uses ‘Socially Awkward’ and ‘the Spectrum’ to Cover Their Sins
So much for the Good Tech Overlord.
One detail about Bill Gates has always stuck with me, and I was forever astounded that, over his 20-year makeover, it was never again mentioned: Upon his engagement to Melinda French, he insisted that if they were to marry, he would need one long weekend alone each year with his ex-girlfriend Ann Winblad.
Not only that — Gates asked Winblad for permission to marry, then told Time magazine all about it.
“I called Ann and asked for her approval,” Gates told Walter Isaacson in 1997. Gates characterized these annual rendezvous as sexless nerd stuff, and who wouldn’t believe him? Just look at that eyewear and the penchant for synthetic knits.
1 In 10 Police Departments Can Now Access Videos From Millions of Consumers’ Ring Security Cameras
Ring’s Active Agency Map shows the home security camera company now has partnerships with more than 1,800 police departments in the U.S. out of nearly 18,000 total departments across the country.
The company’s “Neighbors” app notifies Ring users when neighbors or local law enforcement agencies send out public safety alerts.
Facebook’s EU – U.S. Data Flows are Under Threat — That May Spell Trouble for Other Tech Giants
Facebook faces a potential ban on the transfer of Europeans’ data to the United States. That would be a “massive blow” to the social networking giant, according to experts, and has serious implications for other large American tech firms.
Last week, Ireland’s High Court dismissed a challenge from Facebook over a regulatory inquiry that could lead to a ban on the flow of its user information from the European Union to the U.S.
It comes after a landmark ruling from the EU’s top court invalidated the use of Privacy Shield, a framework for the transatlantic sharing of data.
Searches for Fake COVID Vaccine Cards Spiked When the CDC Announced New Mask Guidance Based on an Honor System
Shortly after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its masking guidelines for vaccinated Americans, internet searches for counterfeit vaccination cards — one of the only ways people can prove they have been fully vaccinated — soared, raising further questions about how sensible an honor-based policy really is during a pandemic characterized by intense partisan division over lockdowns, masking and vaccination.