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Technology Backlash » American farmers are buying low tech tractors that they can fix themselves

There price of well-loved, gently-used older tractors is climbing fast, at least in the American mid-west.

Car and Driver »

Tractors, like cars—electric or otherwise—are becoming more and more reliant on technology and computers, which forces repairs to be done by dealers. And as those changes are phasing out the farmer in the repair process, older tractors are becoming more sought after in the Midwest, according to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.

Now, when a tractor built in the late 1970s or 1980s goes up for auction, a bidding war tends to ensue, the paper notes. Although a lot has changed in tractors in the past few decades, what really matters to farmers hasn’t. Old tractors have similar horsepower to the tractors built today, and they’re built well enough to last the 15,000 hours a farmer expects from a tractor.

US Army bans soldiers from using TikTok » The app is considered a “cyber threat”

 Justine Calma, The Verge »

United States Army soldiers can no longer use TikTok on government-owned phones following a decision to ban the app. The move comes amidst ongoing worries that the video app owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance could compromise national security or be used to influence or surveil Americans.

“It is considered a cyber threat,” Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Robin Ochoa told Military.com, which broke the news on December 30th. The army reportedly used TikTok to recruit members prior to the ban.

Both the Navy and Defense Department sounded alarms on TikTok earlier this month. The Navy previously told its members not to add the app, and to delete it from government-issued devices if it was already installed. The Defense Department also instructed employees to “be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information,” according to military.com.

More » CNN

Related » US Navy Bans TikTok From Military Devices » Security Boulevard (Dec 27, 2019)

More » BoingBoing, The Next Web, SecurityAngle

Related » TikTok eyes global headquarters outside of China as US scrutiny mounts – Tech in Asia (Dec 24, 2019)

More » WSJ

Canadian Privacy watchdogs finds that BC’s AggregateIQ broke federal and provincial data privacy laws after collecting personal info from US and British voters

Karin Larsen, writing in the CBC News »

Victoria-based AggregateIQ Data Services broke Canadian and B.C. privacy laws in work it carried out on behalf of the 2016 pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign, as well as political campaigns in the U.S. and Canada, according to findings by the B.C. and federal privacy commissioners.

According to the reort, AIQ failed to obtain adequate consent for use and disclosure of the personal information of voters, which was used to produce microtargeted political ads.

It also said that AIQ “failed to take reasonable security measures” to protect personal information it collected in a database containing the names and contact information of 35 million people.

At a news conference, B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy and Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien said even though AIQ works globally, it still must follow Canadian and B.C. privacy laws.

More » Canadian Press video, Globe & Mail, Times Colonist

Have Americans given up on the idea of Privacy? » Most believe they are being constantly tracked, and that there is nothing they can do about it

Angela Chen »

It’s not just that Americans (correctly) think companies are collecting their data. They don’t like it. About 69% of Americans are skeptical that companies will use their private information in a way they’re comfortable with, while 79% don’t believe that companies will come clean if they misuse the information.

When it comes to who they trust, there are differences by race. About 73% of black Americans, for instance, are at least a little worried about what law enforcement knows about them, compared with 56% of white Americans. But among all respondents, more than 80% were concerned about what social-media sites and advertisers might know.

Despite these concerns, more than 80% of Americans feel they have no control over how their information is collected.

Read the whole article in the MIT Technology Review »

More » Pew Research, Boing Boing, Fast Company, NY Times, AdWeek

The NYPD kept an illegal database of juvenile fingerprints

Alice Speri, writing for The Intercept »

For years, the New York Police Department illegally maintained a database containing the fingerprints of thousands of children charged as juvenile delinquents — in direct violation of state law mandating that police destroy these records after turning them over to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services. When lawyers representing some of those youths discovered the violation, the police department dragged its feet, at first denying but eventually admitting that it was retaining prints it was supposed to have destroyed.

Over 500 US schools have been hit by ransomware so far this year

Catalin Cimpanu at ZDNet writes »

In the first nine months of the year, ransomware infections have hit over 500 US schools, according to a report published last week by cyber-security firm Armor.

In total, the company said it found and tracked ransomware infections at 54 educational organizations like school districts and colleges, accounting for disruptions at over 500 schools.

To make matters worse, the attacks seem to have picked up in the last two weeks, with 15 school districts (accounting for over 100 K-12 schools) getting hit at the worst time possible — in the first weeks of the new school year.

Google Assistant will help you apply for a job

I’m interested to see how many other companies will use Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in this and similar ways.

Ben Schoon at 9to5Google writes »

“Apply Thru” helps people take the first step in applying to work at the massive fast-food chain. In the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the U.K., users can simply say “Hey Google, talk to McDonald’s Apply Thru.” Over time, the company says that “Hey Google, help me get a job at McDonald’s” will also work.

Once the app has been opened, it will ask the applicant for a few basic bits of information such as their name, job preferences, a phone number, and also their location to find the nearest restaurant. Once those steps have been completed, a text message will be sent to finish the application.

McDonald’s “Apply Thru” is available on Google Assistant via your smartphone, a Google Home speaker or smart display, and also the iOS app.

Read more »

More » ABC News, Engadget, The Telegraph, The Verge, FastCompany

DMVs are selling your private driver information to thousands of businesses and raking in millions, and you can’t do anything about it

When you give your name and address to the Departments of Motor Vehicles in exchange for a driver’s license, many of those DMVs in the USA are selling your personal information to thousands of businesses. Some have made tens of millions of dollars a year selling your data.

When asked how much the Wisconsin DMV made from selling driver records, a spokesperson wrote in an email “Per these 2018 DMV Facts and Figures, $17,140,914 was collected in FY18 for driver abstract fees.” Examining that document shows that Wisconsin’s revenue for selling driver records has shot up dramatically since 2015, when the sale drew in $1.1 million. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles made $77 million in 2017 by selling data, a local outlet found.

Documents explicitly note that the purpose of selling this data is to bring in revenue.

But there are both real world privacy and security concerns.

“The selling of personally identifying information to third parties is broadly a privacy issue for all and specifically a safety issue for survivors of abuse, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking,” Erica Olsen, director of Safety Net at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told Motherboard in an email. “For survivors, their safety may depend on their ability to keep this type of information private.”

And, not only is this somehow all legal, there is no obvious way for you to opt out or control who has access to your personal information!

» More from Joseph Cox at Motherboard / Vice…

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