Uber and Lyft Must Immediately Ban “Peeping Tom” Drivers

Views: 564

In response to a news story revealing that an Uber driver has been (usually surreptitiously) live streaming video and most audio of his passengers without their knowledge or explicit consent — exposing them to ridicule and potentially much worse by his streaming audience, both Uber and Lyft have reportedly simply argued that the practice is legal in that particular (one-party recording permission) state. 

That kind of response is of course absolutely unacceptable and below reproach, demonstrating the utter lack of ethics of these ride sharing firms. They argue that this doesn’t even violate any of their driver terms.

That needs to change — IMMEDIATELY!

Drive sharing firms must ban their drivers from such behavior, and violators should be immediately excised from the platform.

That a vile behavior is legal does not mean that these firms — entrusted with the lives of millions of passengers — must permit drivers to engage in such activities. In fact, these firms already lay out specific “don’t do this!” rules that can prohibit a variety of legal activities by drivers — for the protection of their riders.

If these firms do not act immediately to end such practices by their drivers, they risk not only massive loss of rider trust, but are just begging for this kind of activity to eventually result in a horrific incident involving their passengers — perhaps physical abuse because identity information often leaks on these streams — at the hands of unscrupulous members of the live stream viewing public.

If these firms refuse to ban these practices, their rights to operate in any states where such behavior continues to occur must be withdrawn, and if necessary, legislation passed to force these firms to do the right thing and protect their riders from such abuses.

–Lauren–

EU’s Latest Massive Fine Against Google Will Hurt Europeans Most of All

Views: 954

Have you ever heard anyone seriously say: “Man, there just aren’t enough shopping choices on the Net!” or, “I’d really like my smartphone to be more complicated and less secure!” or … well, you get the idea — nobody actually means stuff like that.

But sadly, this means nothing to the politicians and bureaucrats of the European Union, who are constantly trying to enrich themselves with massive fines against firms like Google, while simultaneously making Internet life ever more “mommy state” government micromanaged for Europeans.

The latest giant fine (which Google quite righteously will appeal) announced by the EU extortion machine is five billion dollars, for claimed offenses by Google related to the Android operating system, all actually aspects of Android that are designed to help users and to provide a secure and thriving foundation for a wide range of applications and user choice.

In fact, in the final analysis, the changes in Android that the EU is demanding would result in much more complicated phones, less secure phones, and ultimately LESS choice for users resulting from alterations that will make life much more difficult (and expensive!) for application developers and users alike.

Why do the EU politicos keep behaving as if they want to destroy the Internet?

It’s because in significant ways that exactly what they have in mind. They don’t like an Internet that the government doesn’t tightly control, where they don’t dictate all aspects of how consumers interact with the Net and what these users are permitted to see and do. Even now, they’re still pushing horrific legislation to create a Chinese-style firewall to vastly limit what kind of content Europeans can upload to the Net, and to destroy businesses that depend on free inbound linking. And these hypocritical EU officials are desperately trying to prop up failing businesses whose business models are stuck in the 20th (or even 19th) centuries, while passing all the costs on to ordinary Europeans — who by and large seem to be quite happy with how the Internet is already working.

And of course, there’s the money. Need more money? Hell, the EU always needs more money. Gin up another set of fake violations against Google, then show up in Mountain View with sticky fingers extended for another multi-billion dollar check!

The EU has become a bigger threat to the Internet than even China or Russia, neither of which has attempted (so far) to extend globally their highly restrictive views of Internet freedoms. 

And the saddest part is that these kinds of abuses by the EU are hurting EU consumers most of all. Over time, fewer and fewer Internet firms will even want to deal with this kind of EU, and Europeans will find their actual choices more and more limited and government controlled as a result.

That’s a terrible shame for Europe — and for the entire world.

–Lauren–

Network Solutions and Cloudflare Supporting Horrific Racist Site

Views: 690

Today a concerned reader brought to my attention a horrifically racist site — apparently operating for a decade and currently registered via Network Solutions (NSI) — with DNS and other services through Cloudflare — called “n*ggermania.com” (and “n*ggermania.net”) — I have purposely not linked to them here, and you know why I have the asterisks there.

To call the site — complete with a discussion forum — a massive pile of horrific, dangerous, racist garbage of the worst kind would be treating it far too gently.

We already know that Cloudflare reportedly has an ethical sense that makes diseased maggots and cockroaches seem warm and friendly by comparison — Cloudflare apparently touts a content acceptance policy that Dr. Josef Mengele would have likely considered too extreme in its acceptance of monstrously evil content.

But Network Solutions claims to have higher standards (though it wouldn’t take much effort to beat Cloudflare in this regard) and I’m attempting to contact NSI officials now to determine if such racist sites are within their official policy standards. 

Oh, and by the way, guess what happens whenever you call the official Network Solutions listed phone number that they designate for “reporting abuse” — you get a recording (that doesn’t take a message) that says “they’re having difficulties — try again at a later time.”

Why are we not at all surprised?

–Lauren–

Chrome Is Hiding URL Details — and It’s Confusing People Already!

Views: 978

Here we go again. I’m already getting upset queries from confused Chrome users about this one. 

In Google’s continuing efforts to “dumb down” the Internet, their Chrome browser (beta version, currently) is now hiding what it considers to be “irrelevant” parts of site address URLs.

This means for example that if you enter “vortex.com” and get redirected to “www.vortex.com” as is my policy (and a typical type of policy at a vast number of sites), Chrome will only display “vortex.com” as the current URL, confusing anyone and everyone who might have a need to quickly note the actual full address URL. Also removed are http: and https: prefixes, leaving even fewer indications when sites are secure — exactly the WRONG approach these days when users need more help in these respects, not less!

And of course, if you’re manually writing down a URL based on the shortened version, there’s no guarantee that it will actually work if entered directly back into Chrome without passing through possible site redirect sequences.

But wait! You said that you want additional confusion? By golly you’ve got it! If you click up in the address bar and copy the Chrome shortened URL, it will appear that you’re copying the short version, but you’re actually copying the invisible original version with the full site URL — including the full address and the http: or https: prefixes. If you double click up there, Chrome visibly replaces its mangled version with the full version.

I can just imagine how this “feature” pushed through Google — “Hell, our users don’t really need to see all that URL detail stuff, so we’ll just hide it all from them! They’ll never know the difference!”

But the truth is that from the standpoint of everyday users who glance quickly at addresses and greatly benefit from multiple signals to help them establish that they’ve reached the exact and correct sites in a secure manner, the new Chrome URL mangling feature is an abomination, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that crooked site operators will find some ways to leverage this change for their own benefits as well.

As I said, this is currently in Chrome Beta, which means it’s likely to “graduate” to Chrome Stable — the one that most people run — sometime fairly soon.

Google is a great company, but their ability to churn out unforced errors like this — that especially disadvantage busy, non-techie users — remains a particularly bizarre aspect of their culture.

–Lauren–

Third Parties Reading Your Gmail? Yeah, If You’ve Asked Them To!

Views: 5074

Looks like the “Wall Street Journal” — pretty reliably anti-Google most of the time — is at it again. My inbox is flooded with messages from Google users concerned about the WSJ’s new article (being widely quoted across the Net) “exposing” the fact that third parties may have access to your Gmail.

Ooooh, scary! The horror! Well, actually not!

This one’s basically a nothingburger.

The breathless reporting on this topic is the “revelation” that if you’ve signed up with third-party apps and given them permission to access your Gmail, they — well, you know — have access to your Gmail! 

C’mon boys and girls, this isn’t rocket science. If you hire a secretary to go through your mail and list the important stuff for ya’, they’re going to be reading your mail. The same goes for these third-party apps that provide various value-added Gmail services to notify you about this, that, or the other. They have to read your Gmail to do what you want them to do! If you don’t want them reading your email, don’t sign up for them and don’t give them permission to access your Google account and Gmail! 

Part of the feigned outrage in this saga is the concern that in some cases actual human beings at these third-party firms may have been reading your email rather than only machines. Well golly, if they didn’t explicitly say that humans wouldn’t read them — remember that secretary? — why would one make such an assumption?

In fact, while it’s typical for the vast majority of such third-party systems to be fully automated, it wouldn’t be considered unusual for humans to read some emails for training purposes and/or to deal with exception conditions that the algorithms couldn’t handle. 

Seriously, if you’re going to sign up for third-party services like these — even though Google does carefully vet them — you should familiarize yourself with their Terms of Service if you’re going to be concerned about these kinds of issues.

Personally, I don’t give any third parties access to my Gmail. This simplifies my Gmail life considerably. Google has excellent internal controls on user data, and I fully trust Google to handle my data with care. Q.E.D.

And by the way, if you’ve lost track of third-party systems to which you may have granted access to your Gmail or other aspects of your Google account, there’s a simple way to check (and revoke access as desired) at the Google link:

https://myaccount.google.com/permissions

But really, if you don’t want third parties reading your Gmail, just don’t sign up with those third parties in the first place!

Be seeing you.

–Lauren–