If you don’t believe the adage “If it’s free, you’re the product” then you need to go and look at the BBC’s foot-stomping and whining at Google.
The BBC has pulled its podcasts from the Google ecosystem and in a blog post, Kieran Clifton, the BBC’s Director of Distribution and Business Development, explains why. He says, “Google has since begun to direct people who search for a BBC podcast into its own podcast service, rather than BBC Sounds or other third party services, which reduces people’s choice.”
This seems very laudable at this point, though by several accounts, the BBC Sounds app isn’t that great. However, it all becomes much clearer in the next few lines, “….this means us getting hold of meaningful audience data…Unfortunately, given the way the Google podcast service operates, we can’t do any of the above...”
This isn’t an altruistic crusade by the BBC to stop Google, it’s simply that the Beeb wants to get its grubby hands on podcast usage info. They already force you to login into iPlayer so that they can check that you’ve paid your TV tax, sorry, TV licence at GB£154 per year. If you don’t believe me, go here – “Will you share my data with TV Licensing? We share some of your personal data with TV Licensing to check if you are using BBC iPlayer and to keep their database up to date.”
I’d hoped that the BBC would be above this kind of behaviour but it’s becoming clear that it’s just another commercial media organisation, albeit a state-supported one. Sad to see the day.
As reported by Recode, and with a small dose of “Told you so“, Facebook has clarified that it will spy on you using its new Portal devices after all.
In an email sent to Recode, Facebook said, “Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices. We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across our platforms. Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads.”
I don’t have to put up with this kind of privacy abuse when I use my landline or my smartphone to make a voice call. Why should it be acceptable at all just because it’s a video call?
Imagine I phoned a retailer using their toll-free number and then I was phoned a few days later by a competitor, perhaps offering a discount. The phone company had sold my phone number to the competitor on the basis of the original call. Now, I’m fairly sure that would be flat out illegal in most countries – I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure in Europe the GDPR regulations would stop that – but here we are with Facebook potentially showing us ads on the basis of who we talk to. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong.
I am increasingly of the opinion that these social media giants need regulation to ensure our rights are maintained. Keeping private both conversations, and the data about conversations, would be a very good place to start.