Facebook And Google’s Surveillance Capitalism Model Is In Trouble

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A new era of internet regulation is about to begin.

Years after Facebook and Google went public, regulators in the United States and abroad are finally taking a closer look at the internet behemoths. And they’re not only looking at the way these companies have come to dominate markets, but also examining the heart of the two firms’ business models. What they decide will have powerful implications for the way we do business on the internet.

Most people associate Facebook with cute family photos and think of Google like a semi-reliable encyclopedia. But these services have only a tangential relationship to the way either company actually makes money. The twin Silicon Valley titans rely on two closely intertwined technologies, customer surveillance and advertising, to maximize shareholder profits. The pair control 63 percent of the U.S. digital advertising market, and in 2016, they secured 99 percent of all digital advertising growth. That profit-making combo is exactly what regulators are focused on in 2018.

Many of the companies’ difficulties stem from the European Union’s tough new stance on privacy. The biggest threat to their business model comes from the General Data Protection Regulation, new data privacy rules set to go in effect in the EU in May. For the most part, Facebook and Google prevent you from using their products if you decline to agree to their entire terms of service. You cannot pick and choose what to agree to and still use their free services.


Joshua Roberts / Reuters
Congress grilled representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google over their advertising and privacy practices in November 2017. (Pictured from left to right: Colin Stretch, Facebook general counsel, Sean Edgett, Twitter acting general counsel, and Richard Salgado, Google director of law enforcement and information security.)



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These activists are using technology to defend human rights around the world



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Passionate activists are using technology to make the world a safer, more equitable place — and a new video series shines a light on their powerful stories. 

“Internet Without Borders” is a four-part series from Jigsaw, the tech incubator at Google’s parent company Alphabet, featuring interviews with activists and technologists who use digital tools to defend human rights in their countries.

Jigsaw, whose mission is to look at how technology can make people safer around the world, filmed the videos at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum last May. There, the company sought out people who are “courageously fighting for freedom in diverse communities around the world.”

The first two videos of the series launched on Jan. 19, featuring Afghan tech CEO Roya Mahboob and Egyptian activist and actor Omar Sharif Jr.

“I have a vision to bring equal access to education through technology for the women and girls in Afghanistan,” Mahboob says.


forjamesinternetwithoutborders1Image: Jigsaw / Internet Without Borders




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Windows 10 Continuum Will Forever Change Smartphones … or Whatever We’ll Eventually Call Them

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At first glance, Microsoft’s choice to introduce both regular and XL-sized Windows 10 phones on Tuesday might look like a desperate attempt to keep up with Apple and Google. But a closer inspection of what these new phones actually can do, however, will tell you that Microsoft is in position to take the lead in next-generation handsets.

The reason: Windows 10 Continuum.

Continuum turns your Windows 10 smartphone into a full-on computer you carry around in your pocket. Plug your handset into the $99 Display Box — a hockey puck-sized hub with USB ports and an HDMI screen output  — and all the apps and documents on your phone will scale up to PC-size, ready to be manipulated using a full-sized keyboard and mouse.

The caveats: Continuum will only be coming to Microsoft’s new Lumia phones (set to be released this November), not any current Windows phones. And this trick will only work with Windows 10 “universal apps” (more on those in a bit). 





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Wearable Devices for Women: Still Pretty and Still Dumb

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Tech companies are looking for ways to design devices that not only appeal to women but are explicitly for women.

That’s unfortunate.

This summer, Google announced a version of Google Glass embedded in Diane von Furstenberg frames, and is working with Luxottica on more. Rebecca Minkoff and Case-Mate said they might but have not yet released a line of wearables and tech accessories.


!!!!!WearableDevices1Ringly’s Bluetooth-enabled rings send notifications through vibrations or flashing lights about incoming messages or imminent meetings.



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The History of Wearable Tech, From the Casino to the Consumer

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Wearable technology is perhaps the most prolific trend in the tech industry today.

From activity-tracking fitness bands to Google Glass and Oculus Rift, big names are getting involved in the once-niche technology — and they’re getting involved in big ways.

You probably wouldn’t have guessed that the tech behind wearable computing devices finds much of its history in attempting to cheat casinos. Inventors built some of the first wearables in the 1960s and ’70s to count cards and improve a gambler’s odds at the roulette table.

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Google Now Encrypting Searches in China

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Google’s years-long spat with Beijing just began a new chapter.

The company has begun encrypting searches made by people in China, where Google has long run afoul of regulations designed to keep a tight lid on searches deemed inappropriate.

Google’s encryption of searches in China reportedly will prevent the “Great Firewall of China” from detecting when users search for scandalous terms like “Tiananmen Square” or “Dalai Lama.” China could just out and block Google altogether, but short of doing that, the country likely will have trouble controlling Google searches as it has in the past.

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Comcast Cites Tiny Google Network To Justify Huge Takeover

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When Comcast announced its planned $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Thursday, the company cited the emergence of a new competitor as one reason that regulators should approve the deal: Google.

But some are questioning whether Google’s new ultra-fast Internet service, Google Fiber, presents enough of a challenge to justify dramatically increasing Comcast’s market power.

In a blog post, Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen cited Google’s new role as an Internet provider as one reason why Comcast could not become too dominant. “Comcast believes that there can be no justification for denying the company the additional scale that will help it compete more effectively,” Cohen wrote.

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Richard Robert McKeever, a fiber install technician for US Internet Corp., adjusts fiber optic internet cable so it does not become tangled during installation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2013. The US Internet Corp. gigabit residential service is symmetrical with Google Inc. Fiber offering upload speeds of 1 Gbps and 1,024 Mbps for downloads. Photographer: Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Bloomberg via Getty Images
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