Data spies: The dark and shady practices of Silicon Valley

This is how data harvesting really works. You're not going to like it.

  • In this absorbing talk spanning the last 20 years of tech, Roger McNamee starts at the origins of the PayPal Mafia (which included entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman) and traces them to Silicon Valley's global domination.
  • Data is used by online vendors in all industries to make behavioral predictions for profit – often in unethical or cloaked ways.
  • Did we sign up for this? Roger McNamee calls for a halt to blind participation and asks for a national debate on whether commerce based on personal data (but not for personal benefit) should be legal.
Keep reading Show less
Videos

Who is getting rich off you? The insidious big data economy.

Where is your data now? Follow the money.

  • Your day to day actions on the Internet give businesses personal data that turns you into an ad target – or the opposite.
  • Facebook, for example, allowed landlords to block demographic groups such as African Americans, LGBTQ, or disabled people from seeing housing ads – a violation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
  • Data brokers have crossed a line, but the laws that should regulate them are outdated; just look at the billion-dollar data deal between 23andMe and Big Pharma. Is it ethical?
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less
Videos

Facebook gave Spotify and Netflix access to users’ private messages

An exhaustive report from The New York Times shows the alarming extents to which Facebook has been sharing user data.

(Photo: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
  • The report is based on internal documents and interviews with former employees of Facebook and its corporate partners.
  • It shows how Facebook gave more than 100 tech companies access to user data that goes beyond the scope that the social media giant had previously disclosed.
  • Below are some tips for how you can prevent Facebook from sharing your personal data.
Keep reading Show less
Politics & Current Affairs

Heart-wrenching letter confronts tech companies' accidental cruelty

"Didn't you see me Googling 'baby not moving?'" Gillian Brockell wrote a heartbreaking open letter to big tech companies imploring them to change the ways they target ads to users.

Gillian Brockell's letter posted on Twitter (Twitter)
  • Advertisers are increasingly using hyper-specific information on users, collected by big tech companies, to sell products.
  • An open letter published Tuesday outlines how this kind of ad targeting can be not only creepy, but also inadvertently cruel and distressing.
  • Also on Tuesday, the House questioned Google's CEO, partly on issues related to data privacy.
Keep reading Show less
Politics & Current Affairs