As Huawei Loses Google, the U.S.-China Tech Cold War Gets Its Iron Curtain – By Li Yuan – The New York Times

By Li Yuan

“China has spent nearly two decades building a digital wall between itself and the rest of the world, a one-way barrier designed to keep out foreign companies like Facebook and Google while allowing Chinese rivals to leave home and expand across the world.

Now President Trump is sealing up that wall from the other side.

Google on Monday began to limit the software services it provides to Huawei, the telecommunications giant, following a White House order last week that restricted the Chinese company’s access to American technology. Google’s software powers Huawei’s smartphones, and its apps come preloaded on the devices Huawei sells around the world. Depending on how the White House’s order is implemented, that could come to a stop.

For Huawei, the big impact will be abroad, since Chinese customers already have limited access to Google’s services. Google’s move will have its biggest effect in places like Europe where it has emerged as a big smartphone seller. Other companies will inevitably follow. In effect, the move puts pressure on Huawei’s international expansion dreams.

If China and the United States have begun a technological Cold War, then the Huawei order can best be seen as the beginnings of a digital Iron Curtain. In this potential vision of the future of technology, China will continue to keep out much of the world. The United States and many other countries, goes this thinking, will in turn block Chinese technology.”

Source: As Huawei Loses Google, the U.S.-China Tech Cold War Gets Its Iron Curtain – The New York Times

Opinion | Think You’re Discreet Online? Think Again – The New York Times

Zeynep Tufekci

By Zeynep Tufekci

Dr. Tufekci is a professor of information science who specializes in the social effects of technology.

CreditAlexis Beauclair
“People concerned about privacy often try to be “careful” online. They stay off social media, or if they’re on it, they post cautiously. They don’t share information about their religious beliefs, personal life, health status or political views. By doing so, they think they are protecting their privacy.

But they are wrong. Because of technological advances and the sheer amount of data now available about billions of other people, discretion no longer suffices to protect your privacy. Computer algorithms and network analyses can now infer, with a sufficiently high degree of accuracy, a wide range of things about you that you may have never disclosed, including your moods, your political beliefs, your sexual orientation and your health.

There is no longer such a thing as individually “opting out” of our privacy-compromised world.

The basic idea of data inference is not new. Magazine subscriber lists have long been purchased by retailers, charities and politicians because they provide useful hints about people’s views. A subscriber to The Wall Street Journal is more likely to be a Republican voter than is a subscriber to The Nation, and so on.”

How to Protect Your Smart Home From Hackers – By Rachel Cericola – The New York Times

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By Rachel Cericola
Ms. Cericola is a Staff Writer at Wirecutter, the product review site owned by The New York Times Company.

March 27, 2019

By connecting smart devices like lights, cameras, door locks and thermostats to the Internet, you may be making them — and you — visible to digital thieves or hackers.

“Every device connected to the Internet is a target,” said Theresa Payton, a former White House chief information officer and the founder and chief executive of Fortalice Solutions. A few recent news stories also illustrate the power these devices have.

One family’s living room Wi-Fi camera was infiltrated, allowing someone to not only control the camera and spy on them, but to broadcast sound — including a false report of a nuclear missile attack. We’ve also seen domestic abusers tap into smart home technology to intimidate and stalk former partners.

Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic AbuseJune 23, 2018

According to statistics website Statista, there will be about 42 million smart homes by the end of 2019, but little more than anecdotal evidence of security compromises. So while stories about hacks and privacy breaches are indeed scary, so far they’re also rare. The vast majority of smart home users aren’t getting hacked.

Still, as with any internet-connected device, taking precautions is essential. At Wirecutter, the New York Times company that reviews products, we’ve consulted with a range of experts who offered some tips that will go a long way toward protecting you and your home — and don’t require a lot of time, money or technical know-how. We’ve also done extensive testing of smart home devices and we consider a product’s security measures as part of our evaluation process.

Protect your network
One of the things that makes smart home devices “smart” is their ability to connect to the internet over your home’s Wi-Fi network. That’s why it’s essential that you properly secure it. If you don’t protect your Wi-Fi network with a password, or you only use the default password that came with your modem or router, all of your devices are exposed — the digital equivalent of leaving your front door wide open with a neon welcome sign overhead.

“People need to realize there’s actually catalogs of all those default passwords on the internet,” Ms. Payton said. Lock your network down with a password, one that is unique and not shared with any other accounts you have. Ms. Payton also suggests completely hiding your home network from view, an option in your router’s settings menu. “So when somebody drives by, they think you don’t have internet. They can’t see it,” she said.

You can add another layer of protection by isolating your smart home devices from your computers and smartphones using a guest network, a common option in many popular routers.”

via How to Protect Your Smart Home From Hackers – The New York Times

Opinion | A Citizens’ Guide to Regulating Big Tech – The New York Times

By Kartik Hosanagar
Mr. Hosanagar is a professor at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.

March 28, 2019
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CreditCreditSaul Gravy/Ikon Images, via Getty Images

“This election season, Americans are going to hear a lot about regulating big tech. Senator Elizabeth Warren has already kicked off that debate, and it would be the tone-deaf candidate who wasn’t alert to the increasing anxiety among the public over the power Silicon Valley giants wield. According to a 2018 survey by Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans feel that big tech companies should be regulated more than they are now.

A candidate who fails to address these issues in a meaningful way is not taking these concerns seriously. But how should we, as citizens, evaluate these proposals?

Any effort to regulate big tech will have to address two main issues. The first is consumer protection. When the private sector controls so much of our data, Americans should be able to know who has access to this data and how they use it. The second issue relates to “platform companies,” services that connect two or more sides of a transaction: Google Search connects people with websites, Amazon connects buyers with sellers, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android connect consumers with apps, and so on. The concern is that platforms can build services that compete with third-party services running on their platforms, and can easily give themselves an unfair advantage.

The more visible concern is consumer protection, particularly protections for privacy. Any regulation addressing consumer protection should, first, specify whether consumers have the right to access data that companies store about them and whether firms are allowed to share confidential data with a third party.”

Opinion | If Stalin Had a Smartphone – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

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A woman in Moscow taking a selfie with an image of Stalin, on the anniversary of his death.CreditCreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I feel bad for Joseph Stalin. He dreamed of creating a totalitarian society where every individual’s behavior could be predicted and controlled. But he was born a century too early. He lived before the technology that would have made being a dictator so much easier!

In the first place, he’d have much better surveillance equipment. These days most interactions are through a computer, so there is always an electronic record of what went on.

The internet of things means that our refrigerators, watches, glasses, phones and security cameras will soon be recording every move we make. In 2017, Levi Strauss made an interactive denim jacket, with sensors to detect and transmit each gesture, even as minimal as the lifting of a finger. Soon prosecutors will be able to subpoena our driverless cars and retrieve a record of every place they took us.

And this is not even to mention the facial recognition technology the Chinese are using to keep track of their own citizens. In Beijing, facial recognition is used in apartment buildings to prevent renters from subletting their apartments.”

Mark Zuckerberg Wants Facebook to Emulate WeChat. Can It? – By Li Yuan – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — As Mark Zuckerberg begins shifting Facebook to private messaging and away from public sharing and open conversations, the vision he has sketched out for the future of social networking already exists — just not in the United States.

Instead, it is a reality in China through a messaging app called WeChat.

Developed by the Chinese internet giant Tencent in 2011, WeChat lets people message each other via one-on-one texts, audio or video calls. Users can also form groups of as many as 500 people on WeChat to discuss and debate the issues of the day.

While Facebook users constantly see ads in their News Feeds, WeChat users only see one or two ads a day in their Moment feeds. That’s because WeChat isn’t dependent on advertising for making money. It has a mobile payments system that has been widely adopted in China, which allows people to shop, play games, pay utility bills and order meal deliveries all from within the app. WeChat gets a commission from many of these services.

“WeChat has shown definitively that private messaging, especially the small groups, is the future,” said Jeffrey Towson, a professor of investment at Peking University. “It is the uber utility of business and life. It has shown the path.” “

Source: Mark Zuckerberg Wants Facebook to Emulate WeChat. Can It? – The New York Times

Opinion | Warning! Everything Is Going Deep: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

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By Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 29, 2019


A demonstration using artificial intelligence and facial recognition in a crowd at CES 2019 in Las Vegas this month.CreditCreditDavid Mcnew/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Around the end of each year major dictionaries declare their “word of the year.” Last year, for instance, the most looked-up word at Merriam-Webster.com was “justice.” Well, even though it’s early, I’m ready to declare the word of the year for 2019.

The word is “deep.”

Why? Because recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before — and that governments have never had to regulate before. I’m talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep surveillance, deep facial recognition, deep voice recognition, deep automation and deep artificial minds.

Some of these technologies offer unprecedented promise and some unprecedented peril — but they’re all now part of our lives. Everything is going deep.

Which is why it may not be an accident that one of the biggest hit songs today is “Shallow,” from the movie “A Star Is Born.” The main refrain, sung by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, is: “I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in. … We’re far from the shallow now.”

via Opinion | Warning! Everything Is Going Deep: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ – The New York Times

How to Declutter and Organize Your Personal Tech in a Few Simple Steps – By Brian X. Chen – The New York Times

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By Brian X. Chen
Jan. 23, 2019,  5 c
With a new year and a new Netflix show that features the Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo on the art of “Tidying Up,” many of us are experimenting with how to simplify our lives by purging our homes of unwanted possessions.

But what about the stuff we don’t see?

Think about the digital junk we hoard, like the tens of thousands of photos bloating our smartphones or the backlog of files cluttering our computer drives, such as old work presentations, expense receipts and screenshots we have not opened in years.

In addition to the digital mess, tech hardware adds to the pile of junk that sparks no joy in our lives. Everyone has a drawer full of ancient cellphones, tangled-up wires and earphones that are never touched. And the things we do use every day, like charging cables strewn around the house, are an eyesore.

Why are people so terrible about tech hoarding? Cary Fortin, a professional organizer for the company New Minimalism, summed it up: “We don’t really think about the cost of holding on to things, but we think about the cost of needing it one day and not having it.”

via How to Declutter and Organize Your Personal Tech in a Few Simple Steps – The New York Times

How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location – By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Natasha Singer – The New York Times

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DL: I just learned that Android is not as good as Apple in this important privacy function. Apple allows you to share location “Only when the app is in use,”  as opposed to all the time! See the difference explained.

Hundreds of apps can follow your movements and share the details with advertisers, retailers and even hedge funds. Here’s how to limit the snooping.

By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Natasha Singer
Dec. 10, 2018

At least 75 companies receive people’s precise location data from hundreds of apps whose users enable location services for benefits such as weather alerts, The New York Times found. The companies use, store or sell the information to help advertisers, investment firms and others.

You can head off much of the tracking on your own device by spending a few minutes changing settings. The information below applies primarily to people in the United States.

How can I tell if apps are sharing my location?
It’s difficult to know for sure whether location data companies are tracking your phone. Any app that collects location data may share your information with other companies, as long as it mentions that somewhere in its privacy policy.

But the language in those policies can be dense, confusing or outright misleading. Apps that funnel location details to help hedge funds, for instance, have told users their data would be used for market analysis — or simply for “business purposes.”

via How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location – The New York Times