Google is Tracking a History of Things You Buy



Google has a sketchy history when it comes to privacy. It turns out that Google has been tracking a history of things you have purchased – even if you bought those things in a store or from Amazon.

CNBC reported that there is a page called “Purchases” that shows a list of the things you have bought. The list can go back for years.

It appears that Google is getting information from people’s Gmail accounts. If you’ve ever had a digital receipt sent to your Gmail account – that information was tracked and saved by Google.

“To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings, and subscriptions in one place, we’ve created a private destination that can only be seen by you,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC. “You can delete this information at any time. We don’t use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page.”

While it is good that Google isn’t looking at your Gmail for the purpose to show you ads – that doesn’t make what Google is doing acceptable. It is not clear how long Google has been collecting data about the things people purchase.

It also isn’t easy to find out what information Google has collected about what you have purchased. You can view it here. CNBC reports that there is no way to delete the information in Purchases without also deleting them from Gmail.

Personally, I don’t believe Google is tracking people’s purchases because Google wants users to “easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place”. Google is collecting data about the things you buy because Google is greedy and doesn’t care that its actions are an invasion of privacy.


Last Live Show in Hawaii #1368



Last Live show here in Hawai, which as you would expect was full of issues of the stream going down. Never fails when you want to have fun things go sideways. Well anyway it will be fun calling the cable company and downgrading the speed tomorrow. Audio show continues next week. That said there are some pretty serious stories in today’s show that should invoke some reaction by all of you. See you Monday Audio only.

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Trump Administration Launches Tool to Report Censorship



The Trump Administration has launched a web survey for people to use if they feel they have been wrongly censored on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. The survey was created with the online form-building tool Typeform. The first page of the survey says:

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear “violations” of user policies. No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.

The Guardian reported that the survey asks users to provide their names, contact information, social media accounts, and screenshots of interactions with social media platforms. Only US citizens and permanent residents are asked to participate. The Guardian wonders what the Trump administration will do – and what it won’t do – with the names and contact information of the people who fill out the survey.

Typeform tweeted: “We didn’t get any further than this @WhiteHouse”. The tweet included a screenshot of the question “Are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?” Typeform checked “no”. The Guardian reported that Typeform is based in Barcelona.

As always, it is a good idea to read a survey’s user agreement before you post any of your information into it. Ars Technica reported that the user agreement gives the Trump Administration a broad license to use the information that users post into the survey, including publishing it.

More specifically, the user agreement “grants the U.S. Government a license to use, edit, display, publish, broadcast, transmit, post, or otherwise distribute all or part of the Content (including edited, composite, or derivative works made therefrom)”.

“You waive any right to inspect or approve of any Content edited, composite or derivative works made from Content (including those which may contain your information) before use. You are not entitled to any prior notice before the U.S. Government uses Content or Information. You are not entitled to any compensation for Content.”

“You understand that Content may not be altered or deleted by you after submission, You further understand that your submission may be subject to the Federal Records Act and/or the Presidential Records Act and may be subject to public release according to those statutes.”

The Verge reported that near the end of the survey, it invites users to opt into email newsletters from President Trump “so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.”

Another part of the survey points users toward the user agreement, and states: “you understand this form is for information gathering only.” I think there are going to be a lot of disappointed people who presume that filling out the survey will instantly make their suspended or banned accounts accessible once again. In addition, some people may not realize they opted-in to a newsletter.


Social Media Companies to Tackle Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content



Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have responded to the Christchurch Call to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online by committing to remove that content from their social media sites. As far as I can tell, this is the first time those three companies have decided to work together on removing that type of content.

In March of this year, a terrorist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was livestreamed. The Christchurch Call was created by New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and French President, Emmanuel Macron. Ars Technica reported that Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom have signed on.

The Christchurch Call is a commitment by Governments and tech companies to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. It rests on the conviction that a free, open and secure internet offers extraordinary benefits to society. Respect for freedom of expression is fundamental. However, no one has the right to create and share terrorist and violent extremist content online.

Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have all committed to the Christchurch Call. Each company posted nearly identical details about how they will enact policies to combat the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online.

Each company will be: “identifying appropriate checks on livestreaming, aimed at reducing the risks of disseminating terrorist and violent extremist content online. These may include enhanced vetting measures (such as streamer ratings or scores, account activity, or validation processes) and moderation of certain livestreaming events where appropriate. Checks on livestreaming necessarily will be tailored to the context of specific livestreaming services, including the type of audience, the nature or character of the livestreaming service, and the likelihood of exploitation.”

The companies will also improve technology to detect and remove terrorist and violent extremist content. They will combat hate and bigotry by providing greater support for relevant research – with an emphasis on the impact of online hate on offline discrimination and violence – and supporting capacity and capability of NGOs working to challenge hate and promote pluralism and respect online.

Personally, I think this is a step in the right direction. It is abundantly clear that hateful content online influences some people to take that hate offline and to act in ways that cause harm to other people. Something must be done to prevent that.


Wife’s Search Appears In My Adverts



Anyone who has spent any time on the internet will have seen this. You do a search for a product or service, look at a few options, and for the next few days, you’ll see whatever you found advertised back to you in web pages. It’s annoying because either I’ve already bought the product or else I’ve dismissed it as unsuitable.

Here’s an example. The picture on the left is a holiday house in Iceland. The picture on right is the house advertised back to me later via a Dilbert email.

It all looks fairly normal, except that I didn’t do the search for the house. My wife did. The picture on the left is from my wife’s Samsung S2 tablet. The picture on the right is from my Huawei Mediapad.

I was very surprised to see this house. I only knew about it because my wife had shown me the pictures for Iceland as a holiday destination. Somehow the advertisers have managed to digitally link me and my wife. I have no idea how this was done as we have our own accounts on all our devices.

It’s really cunning. Advertise to partners for things that the other has already been searching on. Sow that seed in a husband’s mind – “Oooh, that looks like something Jenny would like! I’ll order that now.” Kerching…

Be aware of this. If you get advertised for something that you don’t recognise and would probably be of interest to your partner, you’re being fished.

And if it’s something that you don’t recognise, you’d quite like and your birthday’s coming up, just act surprised when you unwrap it.

Anyone else seen this? Very insidious.


OnePlus Shows Off OnePlus 7 Series



With the usual level of hoopla, OnePlus showed off the new OnePlus 7 Series of phones at three launch events in Bangalore, London and New York. Consisting of the 7, 7 Pro and 7 Pro 5G, it’s the first time the company has simultaneously launched multiple models – the closest OnePlus came to this in the past was with the 2 and the X models way back in 2015. Right at the end, Bullets Wireless 2 were announced too.

I watched the London event to see CEO, Pete Lau, take to the stage, review OnePlus’ journey and introduce the new models with a string of guests, including Akis Evangelidis (VP OnePlus France) and Kate Parkyn (Head of Growth OnePlus Europe).

The 7 Pro took centre stage and the phone sports a whopping 6.67-inch curved glass display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, making this the biggest phone that OnePlus has made, even with the absence of bezels. The screen is branded Fluid AMOLED, with 516 pixels per inch (QHD+) and supports HDR10 & HDR10+ for fantastic visual dynamic range. Beyond that, the screen is capable of an astonishing 90 Hz refresh rate. Fast and smooth for sure. OnePlus 7 Pro has earned DisplayMate’s highest A+ rating, making it one of the top smartphone displays on the market

Screen unlock is still there and will typically unlock the phone in 0.21 seconds: that’s 28% faster than 6T and OnePlus claims it’s the fastest of any smartphone on the market.

There are three cameras on the back of the phone, which form a triple camera system. There’s a state-of-the-art 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor with OIS, an 8 megapixel 78 mm telephoto lens at f/2.4 and 1μm pixel size and stabilised by OIS, and a 16 megapixel 117° ultra-wide angle lens at f/2.2. Together these produce great photos in daylight and lowlight, as demonstrated by the photos on show by Krystle Wright, an Adventure Photographer with National Geographic. For other proof, DxOMark scored the 7 Pro at 111 which is the second highest score ever recorded.

There’s no notch on 7 Pro’s screen and the seflie camera pops up. It’s covered in sapphire glass and the mechanism has been tested over 300,000 times, so it should be good for a few years (but try to avoid getting any sand in there.) If you drop the camera, the phone will detect the free-fall and automatically retract the camera. That’s neat.

Inside the 7 Pro, it’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and with up to 12 GB of RAM, it’s 45% faster and consumes 20% less power. It uses UFS 3.0 storage making it one of the first phones to use the memory type. The extra RAM can be used for RAM Boost, which is a caching technology to speed up loading times.

The new phone will come in three colours – Mirror Gray, Almond and Nebula Blue – and the last two look very good.

The presentation diverted into 5G and how wonderful it’s going to be, with gushing presentations from Qualcomm and EE. I always have a sense of déjà vu at these points as I seem to remember the same presentations for 3G and 4G. Ok, it’s going to be faster than before. Move on.

The 7 Pro will go on sale from 21st May, priced from GB£649 for 6 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM. Top of the range is £799 for 12 GB RAM, 256 GB ROM. Pricing and availability for the 5G version is TBA.

The poor OnePlus 7 (not Pro, not 5G) didn’t even get a mention until over an hour in. It’s the direct successor to the 6T and most obviously, it retains the notch for the front-facing camera. In fact, the form factor hasn’t really changed so it’s a smaller 6.41″ display, with a comparatively low 402 pixels-per-inch resolution(!) However, it has the same CPU (Snapdragon 855), UFS 3.0 and main camera sensor (IMX586) as the 7 Pro, so it’s nothing to be sniffed at all. Dolby Atmos stereo speakers are present too along with the larger in-screen fingerprint reader.

Pricewise, the 7 comes in at £499 for 6 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM and will be on sale in June. Do I upgrade from my 3T….?

OnePlus pop-ups start from 16th May and will run in 21 cities across Europe and more details can be found here. The UK pop-up is taking place in the stunning roof garden of John Lewis and Partners’ flagship store on Oxford Street in London, on the 17th May.

There’s loads of extra information over at the OnePlus website.


Amazon Pays you to Quit Your Job to Drive for Them! #1367



Amazon wants its employees to quit, give them a three months severance package and $10k in cash to start a business that would have the prior employee drive for them. Quite incredible if you think about it. But I look at the math on it and wonder if someone can actually make a full-time living working for Amazon as an independent delivery person. Considering the cost of benefits for a sole business owner I really doubt it.

This is the next to the last video show here in the studio in Hawaii. I go to audio only after the next episode. Your support of this show is critical, become a Geek News Central Insider Today!

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