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Eating the Crappy Stuff

19 February Subscribe
Tech news, HAT-slanted 
Issue 137

Pay that man his money

There is a class action lawsuit playing out in Cali against Facebook. The company just lost their appeal to have it thrown out.

The claim is a doozie. An Illinois plaintiff submits that the social media giant "illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of users without their consent." In a regulatory environment where $5 billion Facebook settlements with the FTC are an acceptable cost of doing business, this is looking like it might turn into some kind of thing.

A quote from the above AP article. “'This biometric data is so sensitive that if it is compromised, there is simply no recourse,'  said Shawn Williams, a lawyer for plaintiffs in the class action, said in an interview. 'It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.'”

The real issue is Facial Recognition (a statement true in this editorial, and in life), and the case is brought under a law that says you can't take people's biometric information without their content. Facebook claims that all of its use of software-to-recognize-your-eyebrows is fully understood and consented to by the public. Could this perhaps be the case where we finally take banal consent practices to task?

Interestingly, Google faced a similar case recently, and their efforts at appeal were successful. Something different between the two, for sure. I'm not certain that it's a more robustly ethical data treatment though.

Let's see how close we can veer to dystopian hellscape before writing the course. Come on California. Side with the 7 million platform users.

Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The Present

The Future

Remember the Data Transfer Project? It’s alive. Apparently “they are continually making improvements that might cause things to break occasionally. So as you are trying things please use it with caution and expect some hiccups.” 

The Doghouse

Death by human oversight strikes at Facebook, as they admit their contractors have been listening to your audio conversations on Messenger. FFS. 

Apple aint exactly exempt either. “Contractors working on Siri regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, recordings of couples having sex, and other private information,” says the Guardian. 

The “Trendiest” of challenger banks (excellent creative journalism there) Monzo leaked 480,000 PIN numbers internally to some of their staff by storing them in an encrypted text file. NBD, just your bank details.

All the UK’s startup founders went to Oxbridge and worked at McKinsey. In the doghouse for the same reason BoJo is such an irritating PM. Can’t we have a few politicians with a new story than Eton to Oxford please?

PwC got dinged under GDPR as well. It was deemed not to have complied with requisite accountability in personal data use. GDPR: Not just for tech companies anymore.

HAT News

We are hiring! Please share with all your smart friends (and personable friends, and hardworking friends) 🤓

HAT App for iOS and Android release went out - huzzah to our friendly developers. You can now login to the HAT app with email (not URL), there's a new onbording flow for new HATs, and plugs feel a bit more intuitive. More to come!

Sprint! Ze whole team is in Cambridge, ostensibly to work but mostly to drink Irene's wine.

Jonathan Holtby, HAT Community Manager

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