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Category Archives: E-Commerce

Google, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft Weave a Fiber-Optic Web of Power

WSJ: “To say that Big Tech controls the internet might seem like an exaggeration. Increasingly, in at least one sense, it’s literally true. The internet can seem intangible, a post-physical environment where things like viral posts, virtual goods and metaverse concerts just sort of happen. But creating that illusion requires a truly gargantuan—and quickly-growing—web of physical connections. Fiber-optic cable, which carries 95% of the world’s international internet traffic, links up pretty much all of the world’s data centers, those vast server warehouses where the computing happens that transforms all those 1s and 0s into our experience of the internet. Where those fiber-optic connections link up countries across the oceans, they consist almost entirely of cables running underwater—some 1.3 million kilometers (or more than 800,000 miles) of bundled glass threads that make up the actual, physical international internet. And until recently, the overwhelming majority of the undersea fiber-optic cable being installed was controlled and used by telecommunications companies and governments. Today, that’s no longer the case. In less than a decade, four tech giants—Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet, Meta (formerly Facebook) and Amazon—have become by far the dominant users of undersea-cable capacity. Before 2012, the share of the world’s undersea fiber-optic capacity being used by those companies was less than 10%. Today, that figure is about 66%…”

The true cost of Amazon’s low prices

Vox/Recode: “On the heels of yet another year of record sales, Amazon is dealing with a couple of unwelcome updates in the new year. The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced it will soon be marking up the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, an antitrust bill targeting Amazon and other Big Tech companies. This follows… Continue Reading

Report – People spend a third of their waking day staring at their phones

Mashable: “Worried you’re spending too much time staring mindlessly at random apps? Well, apparently you’re not alone. In 2021, people in the world’s top 10 mobile markets for Android spent a solid 4.8 hours browsing apps, according to app analytics company App Annie’s State of Mobile 2022 report. That’s roughly a third of our waking… Continue Reading

Mozilla launches Facebook Pixel Hunt

“In a collaboration between journalists at The Markup and Mozilla researchers, this study seeks to map Facebook’s pixel tracking network and understand the kinds of information it collects on sites across the web. The Markup will use the data collected in this study to create investigative journalism around the kinds of information Facebook collects about… Continue Reading

New Rules for Disputes Involving Online Marketplaces and Individuals

ABA: “The American Arbitration Association has established a new procedure for disputes involving online marketplaces and platforms versus individual users and subscribers…Millions of consumer purchases take place each year. During the pandemic, an increasing number of these transactions have been occurring online. A number of widely used online marketplaces or platforms, such as Airbnb and… Continue Reading

Privacy myths busted: Protecting your mobile privacy is even harder than you think

CNET – “With increasingly invasive digital surveillance from advertisers and law enforcement over the past few years, securing your mobile phone from privacy threats in 2022 should be a key resolution. But don’t stop short. Changing a few settings in your phone and apps isn’t enough. To get the most privacy, the key ingredient to… Continue Reading

How to Opt Out of Verizon’s Custom Experience Tracking

Wired: “Verizon users are now automatically enrolled in a data collection program tracking information like websites visited  and mobile app usage. Recently reported on by Input, the telecommunications company runs a two-tiered tracking program and automatically enrolls every customer in the first tier. The Verizon Custom Experience and Custom Experience Plus programs are a rebranding… Continue Reading

How Your Returns Are Used Against You at Best Buy, Other Retailers

WSJ [paywall – alternative free source] – “At Best Buy, returning too many items within a short time can hurt a person’s score, as can returning high-theft items such as digital cameras. Every time shoppers returns purchases to Best Buy, they are tracked by a company which has the power to override the store’s touted… Continue Reading

The ‘most serious’ security breach ever is unfolding right now. Here’s what you need to know.

Washington Post: “Much of the Internet, from Amazon’s cloud to connected TVs, is riddled with the log4j vulnerability, and has been for years…The fact that log4j is such a ubiquitous piece of software is what makes this such a big deal. Imagine if a common type of lock used by millions of people to keep… Continue Reading