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Daily Archives: September 26, 2018

Google to give Chrome users an opt-out to ‘forced login’ after privacy backlash

Techcrunch: “Google has responded to blowback about a privacy hostile change it made this week, which removes user agency by automating Chrome browser sign-ins, by rowing back slightly — saying it will give users the ability to disable this linking of web-based sign-in with browser-based sign-in in a forthcoming update (Chrome 70), due mid next month. The update to Chrome 69 means users are automatically logged into the browser when they are signed into another Google service, giving them no option to keep these digital identities separate. Now Google is saying there will be an option to prevent it pinning your Chrome browsing to your Google account — but you’ll have to wait about a month to get it. And of course for the millions of web users who never touch default settings being automatically signed into Google’s browser when they are using another Google service like Gmail or YouTube will be the new normal. Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins, flagged the change in a critical blog post at the weekend — entitled Why I’m done with Chrome — arguing that the new “forced login” feature blurs the previously strong barrier between “never logged in” and “signed in”, and thus erodes user trust. Prior to the Chrome 69 update, users had to actively opt in to linking their web-based and browser-based IDs. But Google’s change flips that switch — making the default setting hostile to privacy by folding a Chrome user’s browsing activity into their Google identity. In its blog post Google claims that being signed in to Chrome does not mean Chrome sync gets turned on. So it’s basically saying that despite it auto-linking your Chrome browsing and (Google) web-based activity it’s not automatically copying your browsing data to its own servers, where it would then be able to derive all sorts of fresh linked intel about you for its ad-targeting purposes. “Users who want data like their browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks available on other devices must take additional action, such as turning on sync,” writes Chrome product manager Zach Koch.

But in his blog post, Green is also highly critical of Google’s UI around Chrome sync — dubbing it a dark pattern, and pointing out that it’s now all too easy for a user to accidentally send Google a massive personal data dump — because, in a fell swoop, the company “has transformed the question of consenting to data upload from something affirmative that I actually had to put effort into — entering my Google credentials and signing into Chrome — into something I can now do with a single accidental click”.“The fact of the matter is that I’d never even heard of Chrome’s “sync” option — for the simple reason that up until September 2018, I had never logged into Chrome. Now I’m forced to learn these new terms, and hope that the Chrome team keeps promises to keep all of my data local as the barriers between “signed in” and “not signed in” are gradually eroded away,” Green also wrote. Hence his decision to dump Chrome. (Other browsers are certainly available, though Chrome accounts for by far the biggest chunk of global browser usage.)


Google Curriculum, College Credit

Inside HigherEd – Tech giant gets hands-on with its new online IT certificate, as a growing number of community colleges and Northeastern University create credit pathways with the curriculum. “Google made its first substantial foray into postsecondary education in January, with the creation of a new online certificate program aimed at people who are interested… Continue Reading

Christine Blasey Ford’s prepared testimony – US Senate Judiciary Committee

Following is the link to her written testimony that includes the following statement: “My responsibility is to tell the truth.” Via CNBC: “Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to come forward alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that “I am no one’s pawn.”… Continue Reading

The Donkey Refuge Where Burros Become Coyote-Kicking Livestock Guardians

Atlas Obscura – With the right training, feral donkeys go from zero to hero. “Peaceful Valley, the largest rescue organization of its kind, has recently been tasked with removing thousands of donkeys from national parks across the country. Mark Meyers, executive director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR) spends his days venturing into these donkey… Continue Reading

WSJ video – Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring

See how new data-science tools are determining who gets hired, in this episode of Moving Upstream: “Hiring is undergoing a profound revolution. Nearly all Fortune 500 companies now use some form of automation — from robot avatars interviewing job candidates to computers weeding out potential employees by scanning keywords in resumes. And more and more… Continue Reading

8 ideas for empowering jurors in complex trials

DLA Piper – “Much time and attention has been spent examining ways to improve how lawyers can more effectively educate jurors in complex product liability trials. Many, if not most, of these efforts focus on “the hammer” – ie, the persuasiveness, credibility and clarity of the lawyers and of the witness presentations. But there is… Continue Reading