Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Category Archives: E-Commerce

Activate This ‘Bracelet of Silence,’ and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop

The New York Times – “…Mr. Zhao and Ms. Zheng are computer science professors at the University of Chicago, and …with the help of an assistant professor, Pedro Lopes, they designed a piece of digital armor: a “bracelet of silence” that will jam the Echo or any other microphones in the vicinity from listening in on the wearer’s conversations. The bracelet is like an anti-smartwatch, both in its cyberpunk aesthetic and in its purpose of defeating technology. A large, somewhat ungainly white cuff with spiky transducers, the bracelet has 24 speakers that emit ultrasonic signals when the wearer turns it on. The sound is imperceptible to most ears, with the possible exception of young people and dogs, but nearby microphones will detect the high-frequency sound instead of other noises.

“It’s so easy to record these days,” Mr. Lopes said. “This is a useful defense. When you have something private to say, you can activate it in real time. When they play back the recording, the sound is going to be gone.”

Local Bookstores Have A New Weapon In The Fight With Amazon

Fortune: “In the book industry, Amazon is Goliath, the giant who overshadows everyone else. But there’s a new David on the scene, Bookshop.org. It doesn’t expect to topple the giant, but it has launched a weapon that could make Amazon’s shadow a little smaller, and help local bookstores fight back. Bookshop.org, a website that went… Continue Reading

How Big Companies Spy on Your Emails

Motherboard: “Multiple confidential documents obtained by Motherboard show the sort of companies that want to buy data derived from scraping the contents of your email inbox…A dataset obtained by Motherboard shows what some of the information pulled from free email app users’ inboxes looks like. A spreadsheet containing data from Rakuten’s Slice, an app that… Continue Reading

FTC to Examine Past Acquisitions by Large Technology Companies

FTC News Release: “The Federal Trade Commission issued Special Orders to five large technology firms, requiring them to provide information about prior acquisitions not reported to the antitrust agencies under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act. The orders require Alphabet Inc. (including Google), Amazon.com, Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook, Inc., and Microsoft Corp. to provide information and documents… Continue Reading

Every single stat you need to know about the internet

TheNextWeb – “Our new Digital 2020 reports – published in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite – show that digital, mobile, and social media have become an indispensable part of everyday life for people all over the world. More than 4.5 billion people now use the internet, while social media users have passed the 3.8… Continue Reading

How to Change Your Off-Facebook Activity Settings

EFF: “Facebook’s long-awaited Off-Facebook Activity tool started rolling out today. While it’s not a perfect measure, and we still need stronger data privacy laws, this tool is a good step toward greater transparency and user control regarding third-party tracking. We hope other companies follow suit, and we encourage users to take advantage of it. This tutorial will guide… Continue Reading

You’ve got snail mail

Washington Post: “Targeted online ads are now literally following you home Marketers are using the same technology and data as online advertising companies to decide who gets what flier, postcard or envelope…As people become numb to targeted digital ads that follow them across social media and into their email inboxes, some high-tech marketers are turning… Continue Reading

Facebook privacy tool gives users more info on how they are tracked

USAToday: “It’s been way overdue. But Facebook has finally released a long-promised tool that could give you more control over how the social network traces your path across the web. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the global availability of this “Off-Facebook Activity” tool in a blog post Tuesday on Data Privacy Day. It’s part of an… Continue Reading