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Highway1
22nd Apr 2018, 05:52
OK - I admit I'm stupid.

Can someone explain (in simple language) how knowing how many pictures of dancing dogs I posted on Facebook or what car I drive allowed the Remain campaign to 'fix' Brexit?

Apparently knowledge of who posted on facebook or who got a car insurance quote allowed Cambridge Analytica to influence the outcome of Brexit - can someone explain how this was done. The Government sent every household a pamphlet telling them to vote to Remain, so I can understand how that would influence the vote. What I cannot understand is how CA were supposed to have influenced the vote based on my facebook posts and car insurance.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/21/price-comparison-data-may-have-been-used-leave-eu-brexit-cambridge-analytica

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/21/how-firms-you-have-never-interacted-with-can-target-your-facebook (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/21/price-comparison-data-may-have-been-used-leave-eu-brexit-cambridge-analytica)

meadowrun
22nd Apr 2018, 05:59
Mega-mass statistics and highly powerful computer hardsoftware that could be put to better use elsewhere.


(Facebk monthly active users 4th qtr. 2017 - 2.2 billion.)

WingNut60
22nd Apr 2018, 06:25
I think that I see your point.

Your question is, now having your information, in what way is that at all useable to influence how anyone votes?

andytug
22nd Apr 2018, 06:28
In short, apparently most elections are decided by 5% or less of the voters who are "undecided". Mass data analysis allegedly allows you to identify those voters, then target them with suitable news, videos etc in order to sway them into voting a particular way.

WingNut60
22nd Apr 2018, 06:31
In short, apparently most elections are decided by 5% or less of the voters who are "undecided". Mass data analysis allegedly allows you to identify those voters, then target them with suitable news, videos etc in order to sway them into voting a particular way.

Skeptical? Moi?

Harley Quinn
22nd Apr 2018, 07:34
Skeptical? Moi?

If you're not I certainly am.
This is more likely to be a speculative attempt by CA to 'prove' their pseudoscience works and the Remain camp are desperate to have some sort of basis on which to challenge the referendum.

Anyone heard from Gina recently?

Pontius Navigator
22nd Apr 2018, 07:48
Apparently it is the Denver Principal, as Andy describes, where only central voters matter. Die-hard left and right, steady left and right, will Anyway vote the same way. The 20% in the middle decide the outcome.

In a national election some constituencies will always vote the same way until a population shift or boundary change.

In a referendum everyone counts but the 20% rule is paramount. CA possibly thought they could identify that 20% group, say the ones who watch Big Brother, or chose Starbucks over Costa etc, and enable that group to be targeted.

wiggy
22nd Apr 2018, 07:59
No idea whether it had any influence in the Brexit case but I certainly find it interesting/disturbing how well targeted some of the pop up adds that appear when you select your favourite or least favourite on-line news source and other websites can seem to be.

I regularly see ads aimed very solidly at my small subset within my demographic group. They are often pushing a financial product I have never investigated, either on-line or in person ...nevertheless somebody seems to think I might be be interested in their product. So there’s no doubt in my tiny mind that there are certainly people like CA who take a very keen interest in who we all are and where we are...now whether they have any influence on how we buy or how we vote is another matter, but I certainly don’t click on the darn things...

Krystal n chips
22nd Apr 2018, 08:26
OK - I admit I'm stupid.

Can someone explain (in simple language) how knowing how many pictures of dancing dogs I posted on Facebook or what car I drive allowed the Remain campaign to 'fix' Brexit?

Apparently knowledge of who posted on facebook or who got a car insurance quote allowed Cambridge Analytica to influence the outcome of Brexit - can someone explain how this was done. The Government sent every household a pamphlet telling them to vote to Remain, so I can understand how that would influence the vote. What I cannot understand is how CA were supposed to have influenced the vote based on my facebook posts and car insurance.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/21/price-comparison-data-may-have-been-used-leave-eu-brexit-cambridge-analytica

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/21/how-firms-you-have-never-interacted-with-can-target-your-facebook (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/21/price-comparison-data-may-have-been-used-leave-eu-brexit-cambridge-analytica)

Erm, slight time lag with your awareness of matters then ?

https://www.pprune.org/jet-blast/606771-fine-art-manipulation-can-worms-thereafter.html

ExXB
22nd Apr 2018, 08:46
I think it is even more subtle than that. The referendum results were;

Leave 17,410,742 or 37.44% of the electorate (46’500’001)
Remain 16,141,241 or 34.71%
Spoiled 25,359 or 0.06%
Abstainers 12,922,659 or 27.79%

The difference (1,269,501) is just 2.73% of the total electorate.

We know from Jetblast it is extremely difficult to change people’s opinions even when they are confronted with facts. But what if the objective wasn’t to change minds, but to affect voter turnout? This is something «A mentioned as being one of their tactics.

Having identified those voters likely to vote leave, a campaign aimed at them to get out and vote could be very effective. A parallel campaign reassuring remain voters of their impending victory suggesting that voting would be a waste of their time.

Could they influence 2.7% of the electorate with their campaigns? I think they could very well have, and without the need to change anyone’s opinions either.

Sallyann1234
22nd Apr 2018, 08:54
If all this data gathering and analysis and consequent application are ineffective, then I think those paying the bills would have stopped wasting their money by now.

WingNut60
22nd Apr 2018, 09:13
If all this data gathering and analysis and consequent application are ineffective, then I think those paying the bills would have stopped wasting their money by now.

Not necessarily. They only have to THINK that it was effective.

If people only spent money on things that were proven to be effective then the cosmetics and fashion industries would have collapsed decades ago.

roving
22nd Apr 2018, 09:15
My daughter managed a big data team for a household name FTSE100 food retail company. Successful retailing is all about big data.

This recent article describes the role of Cambridge Analytica in Trump's election campaign.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/03/big-data-is-watching-you-and-it-wants-your-vote/

wiggy
22nd Apr 2018, 09:37
Roving

One of my close relatives is involved in the academic side of big data and I’m pretty sure she would agree with your daughter.

It’s now a significant tool in political, economic and heaven knows what other circles and pretty much everybody’s data is being gleaned .. and you don’t need to be a FB junky to be useful to the analysts....just the fact you or any device you have (including your car) is connected to pretty much anything, from the mobile phone network through to the internet and beyond is useful data for somebody.

VP959
22nd Apr 2018, 09:42
My understanding is that it's far more subtle than merely finding the target audience from the data and then hitting them with adverts. It's about finding the target audience and then influencing them by means other than direct adverts, using social media to change opinions, and make people believe things that quite often are either not true, or at best are half true.

All it takes is for a prominent poster on social media to gain an apparent reputation for being trustworthy, and then that poster will become what they now call a "social media influencer", which just means that a proportion of people will take more heed of what they say or write than what others say or write.

The same principle works in reverse to denigrate the view presented in main stream media, and can be equally effective. For some of those in that floating 20% or so in the centre, who don't have any firm political views, it doesn't take much to gently influence them that what they are reading or viewing in main stream media is untrue, and that some sources on social media are more reliable.

We've seen the effect here. Take a read of the threads on Syria or the Skripal attack. There are posters there that have very clearly been influenced by "social media influencers", so influenced that they are absolutely convinced that some, clearly biased, sources are more reliable than any other source of information.

Influencing opinions in order to change the way people vote has always been a tactic that's been used, all that has happened is that it's switched from door to door canvassing to using targeted influencing, using a lot of data analysis to select both the targets and drive many separate and subtle campaigns to change opinions, using the far better communication tools that are available today.

WingNut60
22nd Apr 2018, 09:47
As in politics, so in most other endeavours, knowledge is an invaluable tool.
Ergo, more knowledge (big data) may be a more useful tool.

The extent to which use of the tool is successful is not, however, determined by the volume of data alone but rather by how it is utilised.

In a two horse race (politics) you can presume that both sides have access to big data.
Can it influence the outcome? Undoubtedly.
But only if it's applied effectively.

Sallyann1234
22nd Apr 2018, 09:53
And now Facebook is to start recording and analysing faces on users' posts, so they can relate them to similar pictures in other media to learn more about you.
It's supposedly an opt-in feature, but if a 'friend' posts a picture with you in it they will get it anyway.
And yet if police retain even the fingerprints of an innocent person there is an outcry. :ugh:

ExXB
22nd Apr 2018, 10:01
Sallyann. I believe that 'feature' is available in the US and Canada only. EU regulations require 'opt-in' both for you and your friend.

Sallyann1234
22nd Apr 2018, 10:07
Not necessarily. They only have to THINK that it was effective.

If people only spent money on things that were proven to be effective then the cosmetics and fashion industries would have collapsed decades ago.
You are arguing against yourself.

The data analysis and application to advertising is proven to be effective because it persuades millions to buy stuff they don't need.

It would be illogical to think that the same marketing methods did not work for e.g. political advertising.

WingNut60
22nd Apr 2018, 10:15
You are arguing against yourself. The data analysis and application to advertising is proven to be totally effective because it persuades millions to buy stuff they don't need.

Women were using creams and potions long before advertising became an industry.
And I don't remember saying that marketing strategies can not be effective.
I said that marketing groups do not need be effective to continue using their strategy; they only need to think that they are being effective. Not necessarily the same.

For every winning two-horse marketing campaign there is a corresponding "loser".
They don't seem to go away.

Grayfly
22nd Apr 2018, 10:34
In all of my adult life, which is nearly 50 years over the age to vote, I have never been door stepped by a representative of a political party. I am clearly not worth any attempt to influence the way I vote.

I am a great believer in the application of lean principles so I would support the systems thinking view that the 'not sure' ground is where to concentrate the effort. That effort is made much easier using big data harvesting and the appropriate messages etc can be aimed at those targets.

It seems the logical technical development of handing out leaflets to passing trade or posting flyers through letterboxes.

Sallyann1234
22nd Apr 2018, 10:40
A commonly quoted saying is "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. I just don't know which half."

Big data is being used to answer that question.

vapilot2004
22nd Apr 2018, 11:03
[Caution - Aviation Content]
After Sully safely plunked that UAL A320 into the Hudson River, literally, "the world discovered the power of Twitter", as the news spread across social media faster than ever before. The revolution led to Twitter becoming a leading source of news world wide for hundreds of millions.
[End of Aviation Content]

The Lou Gehrig's disease "ice bucket challenge" started as a tiny social media campaign and led to worldwide recognition, with $15 million raised in 15 days, and $115 million donated (in mostly small amounts) overall since it began in 2014.

The wins of the current American president and the Brexit referendum were powered by social media. Trump has even given public credit to the medium for his win.

That power comes as a two-edged sword however, as generators of "fake news" and "alternative facts" (alternate realities, really, but we can put a pin in that for another day) via social media have for far too many, gained equal footing with trusted mainstream news organizations as purveyors of 'truth'.

What was once the domain of extreme anarchist/fringe group nut jobs hawking their ideas of 9/11, moon landing, and chemtrail conspiracies has been embraced by the likes of the alt-right, white nationalists, and Putin's cyber army - to great effect. Witness the 2016 American presidential election and Brexit.

White nationalists and racists are now able to see a mass of other like minded people, legitimizing their beliefs, further emboldening them to speak out and organize well beyond what community based efforts allowed in our recent past. Even the anti-western Islamic jihadists have successfully used western sourced social media as a recruiting tool to bring fighters from around the globe to Syria and Iraq, supporting ISIL and ISIS.

There are social researchers that claim Brexit and Trump, and global jihadist movements are just the beginning and that things are liable to get much further astray quickly and dramatically in the coming years.

ExXB
22nd Apr 2018, 11:57
And, as my post above illustrates, you don’t have to affect large numbers. Less than 3% of voters made the difference.

topradio
22nd Apr 2018, 14:06
[QUOTE=ExXB;10126528]I think it is even more subtle than that. The referendum results were;

Leave 27,410,742 or 37.44% of the electorate (46í500í001)
Remain 16,141,241 or 34.71%
Spoiled 25,359 or 0.06%
Abstainers 12,922,659 or 27.79%

The difference (1,269,501) is just 2.73% of the total electorate.



I think that you will find that, if that many people voted leave then we wouldn't be having a lot of the arguments that we are.


What I don't get is how, knowing my voting intentions, they can target & influence me individually.
Of course they can instigate online campaigns etc to hopefully sway the undecided but they can do that anyway without having to know the identity of the individuals.
I agree that social media causes like minded individuals to coalesce in one place and I am almost shocked how my views are often held by the majority of posters on forums that I frequent giving me the impression that most people think like I do when they don't.

meadowrun
22nd Apr 2018, 14:21
This kind of thing doesn't deal with "individuals".
There is this medium/small sized block of grey somewhere on a complex graph visualizing the very big overview of projected voter placements and leanings.


They just want to nudge or possibly shove that grey block in the selected direction. There are no human beings involved. It's all numbers and shades of grey.

VP959
22nd Apr 2018, 14:26
This kind of thing doesn't deal with "individuals".
There is this medium/small sized block of grey somewhere on a complex graph visualizing the very big overview of projected voter placements and leanings.


They just want to nudge or possibly shove that grey block in the selected direction. There are no human beings involved. It's all numbers and shades of grey.

That's exactly how I understand it to work. Someone told me once that they believed that a lot of elections were swung in the last few hours of any campaign, just by nudging the views of that small, but influential, block of "don't knows", in key constituencies where there was no large majority in favour of a single party.

Highway1
22nd Apr 2018, 15:04
And, as my post above illustrates, you donít have to affect large numbers. Less than 3% of voters made the difference.

I understand that but it doesnt answer my question - how does knowing that I got a quote for car insurance tell CA that I may be one of the undecided. Do the undecided all drive Volvos?

I just dont understand the mechanism of how you get from a quote for car insurance to being persuaded which way to vote.

Grayfly
22nd Apr 2018, 15:12
I believe it is more about the analyses of what kind of car you are insuring, what company you are using, how you pay for it, how many of your friends or relatives are doing the same thing. Then scaling up from other such activities to identify a larger group or groups who identify in similar ways that social trends start to be identified.

As my better half would say, it is not all about you.

Sallyann1234
22nd Apr 2018, 15:13
I understand that but it doesnt answer my question - how does knowing that I got a quote for car insurance tell CA that I may be one of the undecided. Do the undecided all drive Volvos?

I just dont understand the mechanism of how you get from a quote for car insurance to being persuaded which way to vote.
That one item doesn't of course. It's just one fragment of the information that it gets from Facebook, Google etc. Taken all together with everything else it knows about you and your 'friends', it will have a pretty good idea of what your likes and dislikes are, and whether you are worth attention from its customers. That's why it is called 'big data'.

VP959
22nd Apr 2018, 15:36
That one item doesn't of course. It's just one fragment of the information that it gets from Facebook, Google etc. Taken all together with everything else it knows about you and your 'friends', it will have a pretty good idea of what your likes and dislikes are, and whether you are worth attention from its customers. That's why it is called 'big data'.

I think I quoted this example of the power of data correlation before, but it won't hurt to repeat it, as it illustrates broadly how lots of little bits of seemingly unconnected information can be correlated to provide a valuable data resource.

When the NHS announced plans to make all patient records available in "anonymised" form, for researchers, courtesy of the project that I believe was being run by Google, I was a little concerned, contacted my local NHS trust and asked how they were going to "anonymise" patient records. I did not get a very reassuring response, so I submitted an FOI request for a copy of my own "anonymised" medical records. They had no problem with this, as you can ask to have a copy of your records anyway, apparently.

When I received the "anonymised" record, I found that they had deleted my NHS number, name, date of birth and address etc, but every other aspect of every medical examination, consultation, treatment etc was included, together with dates.

I spent about an hour or so pretending I didn't know who I was, and just using the resources available on the internet to try and find out my name, address, age etc. It turned out to be very easy. The medical records contained details of my emergency admission following a motorcycle accident, together with the treatment I'd received, the hospital where I'd been admitted and the dates.

I searched local newspaper archives online, using the admission date as a starting point and quickly found the only motorcycle accident on the day I was admitted, and that article named me, had a photograph of the scene that showed my motorcycle registration and gave my age, the road I lived in and the hospital I'd been admitted to. So now I had a name and age to add to this supposed anonymous medical record.

The next bit of information was that my medical records included several GP sign-offs for flying medical self-declarations, to maintain my licence (this was for a licence that did not require a CAA medical). That then linked my name to flying, so a search of G-INFO, using my name, found my aircraft registration, and my current home address.

Using that home address I could then check using the electoral roll to get pretty much every bit of data that had been removed from my supposedly anonymous medical record.

The bottom line was that the NHS was saying that medical records would remain confidential through anonymity, yet I proved within an hour that even someone without access to "big data" resources could easily defeat their supposed protective measures.

One lady at work I spoke with about this was horrified, as she knew someone who had things on their medical record from the distant past that she definitely didn't want anyone else to know about. I don't know for sure but have a feeling that the other lady concerned had been raped, had a termination as a consequence, but hadn't told a soul, including her husband, about this, as she was very young when it happened and was trying to put it behind her.

It doesn't take a genius to work out some of the possibilities for misuse of big data; everything from simple blackmail to the possible loss of employment for not declaring something that was in the distant past, or even an inability to get life insurance and perhaps a mortgage, all from some careful correlation of lots of bits of seemingly innocent data.

ExXB
22nd Apr 2018, 16:32
Highway 1,
Do a search on this forum for posts made by the user Highway 1. Is there enough to narrow down your location? If you add to that information from Facebook, the car insurance place, Amazon, Google and other sites they likely can pinpoint your actual name and address, your inside leg measure and the likelihood (or not) that you are a Brexit supporter.

It probably is rocket science, but with the processing power out there, it’s likely a doddle.

Highway1
23rd Apr 2018, 00:57
Highway 1,
Do a search on this forum for posts made by the user Highway 1. Is there enough to narrow down your location? If you add to that information from Facebook, the car insurance place, Amazon, Google and other sites they likely can pinpoint your actual name and address, your inside leg measure and the likelihood (or not) that you are a Brexit supporter.

It probably is rocket science, but with the processing power out there, itís likely a doddle.

Thanks - I understand better now how the system works. Is it actually 'wrong' for companies/political campaigns to do this though? - after all people have been targeting specific groups for decades. For example the British Union of Fascists in the 1930's targeted areas where the white population was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of immigrants, they didnt march down Chipping Norton High Street. OK the new technology means you can focus in on a much tighter grouping but the basic premise of targeting a specific audience for your message remains the same.

VP959
23rd Apr 2018, 07:46
Thanks - I understand better now how the system works. Is it actually 'wrong' for companies/political campaigns to do this though? - after all people have been targeting specific groups for decades. For example the British Union of Fascists in the 1930's targeted areas where the white population was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of immigrants, they didnt march down Chipping Norton High Street. OK the new technology means you can focus in on a much tighter grouping but the basic premise of targeting a specific audience for your message remains the same.

You're right, nothing has changed in terms of the human psyche; people who have a desire to influence others will use whatever means is available to them.

The issue is really that data gathering and collation technology now virtually nullifies any personal desire for privacy, meaning that an individual cannot, realistically, opt out of data about them being included at all. The opt-out clauses that some companies and organisations are required to include are effectively worthless, as your personal data can be gathered by so many different means.

With companies including facial recognition technology by default, in theory if your photograph appears anywhere at all then it's possible that your data will be added to the "big data" data set and then collated with enough other data so as to identify who you are, where you live, what car you drive, your phone number, bank account details, marital status, where you go on holiday, whether you have a bit on the side, what sort of food and drink you buy, and, if you're in the UK and the NHS go ahead with their medical data plan, then all your medical records will also be in that data set.

It makes government intrusion into personal privacy look trivial by comparison, all the more so as much of the data about you will be provided by government provided or sponsored services.

Once this really takes off, you won't need to fill in complex forms for insurance, as the insurance company will be able to tell from your name all they need to know to assess the risk you present and therefore set the premium they wll offer. The same goes for simple things like buying a car, or perhaps a house. The seller will know your financial and previous purchase background and will set a price based on knowing how much money you have available and how much you desire what it is they are selling. The balance will have shifted from you being able to negotiate a price on equal terms with the seller, to a situation where the seller knows that they don't have to drop the price because they have enough data about you to know that you are very likely to buy, or not buy, what they are offering.

It really is a game changer having the massive amount of data about individuals all carefully correlated and arranged in a way to best suit each customer that wishes to pay to use it.

Sallyann1234
23rd Apr 2018, 12:56
This kind of thing is very much against FB terms of service and they have banned CA whilst also closing that loophole (it was already closed before the story broke).

That's all very well, but should we all trust FB to collect all that data, trusting that they can keep it secure and keep to their word that they will not release it? It's not as if there is a service agreement under which they can be sued by users.
I'm constantly relieved that I did not put my trust and personal data into Facebook by joining it.

Highway1
23rd Apr 2018, 14:07
It really is a game changer having the massive amount of data about individuals all carefully correlated and arranged in a way to best suit each customer that wishes to pay to use it.


Well as you say, everybody is doing it including the Government - can you stop it or is this just the price you pay for living in a modern high technology country?

meadowrun
23rd Apr 2018, 14:22
I have always been circumspect about what information I will donate to a computer. I cannot prevent information gathered by others in the course of my normal activities but I personally contribute very little (no banking - no financials - -no pics - limited on-line purchasing only from trusted (who really knows tho') vendors, etc.)
Result is I care very little about what might be out there.

ehwatezedoing
24th Apr 2018, 14:45
I still don't understand what you are so afraid of? What do you think joining FB and posting your holiday photos could have opened you up to?
Exactly,
FB basically use cookies (small pieces of data stored in web browsers for the uneducated) Like the kind of Google, Youtube, pretty much any website you can browse when you think about it. Just that FB seems very effective at collecting them. Every freaking imaginable interaction you have with the social media site provide data for them to use.

This data is then sold to advertisers who will target you because it is suggesting you are interested in their products.




Fine with me....
(It's not that I will store there all my passwords or bank accounts info)

ExXB
24th Apr 2018, 17:47
FB basically use cookies

Yes they do that, but they do an awful lot more than that. They track your likes, and your comments. They know who your friends are, and who your friends have for friends. They read the cookies of other websites from your computer telling them what your twitter handle is, and who you follow there.

Every time you click a notification, visit a page, upload a photo, or check out a friend’s link, you’re generating data for the company to track

Benign? NOT. It’s bloody well cancerous. That’s what it is.

Sallyann1234
24th Apr 2018, 18:14
Yes they do that, but they do an awful lot more than that. They track your likes, and your comments. They know who your friends are, and who your friends have for friends. They read the cookies of other websites from your computer telling them what your twitter handle is, and who you follow there.

Every time you click a notification, visit a page, upload a photo, or check out a friendís link, youíre generating data for the company to track

Benign? NOT. Itís bloody well cancerous. Thatís what it is.

It reads every Facebook post and every message, extracting all information that is of potential value. It also notes where you have posted from.

G-CPTN
24th Apr 2018, 18:26
They track your likes, and your comments. They read the cookies of other websites from your computer telling them what your twitter handle is, and who you follow there.

Every time you click a notification, visit a page, upload a photo, or check out a friend’s link, you’re generating data for the company to track.

I frequently receive emails 'offering' me items that I have viewed on other websites (even though I do not participate in FB).

Sallyann1234
24th Apr 2018, 18:29
I frequently receive emails 'offering' me items that I have viewed on other websites (even though I do not participate in FB).
Did you find those other websites via Google?

G-CPTN
24th Apr 2018, 18:49
Did you find those other websites via Google?

Not directly - I am referring to eBay and Amazon - though the initial enquiry might have been via Googoo.

KelvinD
24th Apr 2018, 18:56
Somewhat related: I was taken by surprise today when updating my BT Sport app on a tablet. As part of the terms & conditions, I had to agree to BT needing access to media files, photos and God knows what else on the tablet. Why?

ExXB
24th Apr 2018, 19:47
If you are wary of google, use https://duckduckgo.com it doesn’t track you. It can do anonymous searches using google if you add g! To your search string.

VP959
24th Apr 2018, 19:59
Somewhat related: I was taken by surprise today when updating my BT Sport app on a tablet. As part of the terms & conditions, I had to agree to BT needing access to media files, photos and God knows what else on the tablet. Why?

Have you read the terms and conditions for using Windows 10?

By installing it, you grant Microsoft the right to access any file on your PC, including emails, personal data, basically everything on your hard drive. Here is one section extracted from the 45 odd pages of terms and conditions you have accepted by installing Windows 10:

Personal Data We Collect

Name and contact data.

We collect your first and last name, email address, postal address, phone number, and other similar contact data.

Credentials.

We collect passwords, password hints, and similar security information used for authentication and account access.

Demographic data.

We collect data about you such as your age, gender, country and preferred language.

Interests and favorites.

We collect data about your interests and favorites, such as the teams you follow in a sports app, the stocks you track in a finance app, or the favorite cities you add to a weather app. In addition to those you explicitly provide, your interests and favorites may also be inferred or derived from other data we collect.

Payment data.

We collect data necessary to process your payment if you make purchases, such as your payment instrument number (such as a credit card number), and the security code associated with your payment instrument.

Usage data.

We collect data about how you interact with our services. This includes data, such as the features you use, the items you purchase, the web pages you visit, and the search terms you enter. This also includes data about your device, including IP address, device identifiers, regional and language settings, and data about the network, operating system, browser or other software you use to connect to the services. And it also includes data about the performance of the services and any problems you experience with them.
Contacts and relationships. We collect data about your contacts and relationships if you use a Microsoft service to manage contacts, or to communicate or interact with other people or organizations.

Location data.

We collect data about your location, which can be either precise or imprecise. Precise location data can be Global Position System (GPS) data, as well as data identifying nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, we collect when you enable location-based services or features. Imprecise location data includes, for example, a location derived from your IP address or data that indicates where you are located with less precision, such as at a city or postal code level.

Content.

We collect content of your files and communications when necessary to provide you with the services you use. This includes: the content of your documents, photos, music or video you upload to a Microsoft service such as OneDrive. It also includes the content of your communications sent or received using Microsoft services, such as the:

subject line and body of an email,
text or other content of an instant message,
audio and video recording of a video message, and
audio recording and transcript of a voice message you receive or a text message you dictate.


Additionally, when you contact us, such as for customer support, phone conversations or chat sessions with our representatives may be monitored and recorded. If you enter our retail stores, your image may be captured by our security cameras.

The world is changing from a business model where profits were earned by selling a product, the operating system or software, to one where the OS or software is almost free of charge, but the profit comes from the value of your data.

Sallyann1234
25th Apr 2018, 09:41
Not directly - I am referring to eBay and Amazon - though the initial enquiry might have been via Googoo.
Google remembers every search you have made, and the links you chose.
And if you should use Gmail, it reads everything you post to learn more about you, and the contacts you send the emails to.
Yahoo does the same.

A fisherman doesn't drop food in the water to provide a free meal for the fish, and internet companies doesn't provide a free service to web users. In both cases it is bait to catch something far more valuable.

ExXB
25th Apr 2018, 11:55
Sallyann, you are right, but it isn’t like we have a choice. It is take it on their terms, or don’t take it at all. I’d pay a cent a search which would give G a very nice ROI. But I don’t have this option.

Sallyann1234
25th Apr 2018, 12:03
Sallyann, you are right, but it isnít like we have a choice. It is take it on their terms, or donít take it at all. Iíd pay a cent a search which would give G a very nice ROI. But I donít have this option.
You are right of course. But it is as well to know what is going on. So many people are ignorant of the use of their personal information.
​​​​​​

VP959
25th Apr 2018, 12:35
Sallyann, you are right, but it isn’t like we have a choice. It is take it on their terms, or don’t take it at all. I’d pay a cent a search which would give G a very nice ROI. But I don’t have this option.



There is a bit of choice, but it's not exactly easy to still be able to do everything you want to do online without having data captured, or having an operating system and applications that use your data as their revenue generation method.

Most of the time, when just web-browsing it frankly doesn't bother me too much, but I have drawn the line at using either Windows 10 or the normal Google version of Android on my tablet, because I don't agree with giving these companies the implicit right to access and use any data on my devices. Much of the time I use Linux, which is open source and, as long as you're careful, remains reasonably free from data privacy issues. I also use a VPN a lot of the time (right now PPRuNe thinks I'm in Germany, rather than the UK, for example). I don't run Android on my tablet, but run LineageOS, without any of the Google options installed (so no Playstore, Google apps, etc). Frankly, LineageOS is faster than the stock version of Android that used to be on the tablet and doesn't constantly "leak" personal data to Google (in fact it never talks to any Google-connected server).

The main issue with switching to fully open source operating systems and applications is that they are not as easy to install and set up. For me, I can live with this, as once set up things just work as well as they do on any other operating system, just a bit faster and with a heck of a lot more inherent data privacy. As an added bonus, the battery life is improved a lot on the tablet, partly because as it isn't constantly sending data back to a load of Google servers about what I'm doing and where I am.

So really the choices are:

- Pay more money and use Apple devices, as generally they work OK, probably offer better privacy and less data gathering that can be used by third parties than any other closed source system supplier, but they do tend to restrict you to using Apple stuff, as my experience is that getting Apple devices to do even simple things like file sharing on a local network is far from easy.

- Have a virtually free operating system from Microsoft or Google and accept that they will earn revenue by accessing your personal data as they see fit.

- Use fully open source operating system and applications, like Linux or one of the fully open source mobile operating systems, like LineageOS (there are half a dozen others), and accept that you will need to spend a bit of time installing the software and making sure things are secure.

If you do as most do and opt for a Microsoft or Google supplied operating system (basically Windows, Android or ChromeOS) then you can take additional privacy measures, at the expense of slowing things down a bit. Using the TOR browser plus connecting via a decent VPN offers you pretty good privacy, and does stop practically all personal data gathering whilst web browsing. Not even your own ISP will know what your doing or what web sites you are visiting; all they will know that you've connected to the web via TOR.

I don't think many people either know, or care, about personal data privacy, as the percentage of people who do use devices that are inherently a lot more secure, with regard to personal data sharing, is pretty small. I'm not sure why this is. If it was common knowledge that every single letter that was sent through the post was opened and all the information in it read and stored away for the purpose of generating revenue for the mail delivery service, then I suspect some might feel this was an invasion of privacy, yet those same people seem to be unbothered by allowing the same thing to happen electronically as part of the terms and conditions of using some operating systems and applications.

meadowrun
25th Apr 2018, 12:58
There are some apparently good and free photo-editor software downloads out there.
I tried to download a couple but the catch was you had to have google or the like replace desktop and toolbars and probably more if you did. So, I didn't.

VP959
25th Apr 2018, 13:04
There are some apparently good and free photo-editor software downloads out there.
I tried to download a couple but the catch was you had to have google or the like replace desktop and toolbars and probably more if you did. So, I didn't.

There are some reasonably good open source Linux photo editing applications available. No good unless you're running Linux though! The only snag I've ever run into with Linux photo editing apps is that they often seem to need a bit more effort to export a photo as a jpg file, not a show stopper, but just a bit of an irritation when all you want to do is edit, resize, crop or whatever a photo quickly, so it can be posted somewhere like this forum, and then only because a fair few web sites seem to prefer accepting photos as jpgs.

VP959
26th Apr 2018, 11:51
But why?

Why do people go to all that hassle to run operating systems and ad blockers etc. just so people cannot show you items you may be interested in.

I am genuinely intrigued about the rationale for taking so much effort to stop people knowing what brand of biscuits you enjoy or what car you drive.

Because that is not about the advert data that is being collected at all.

If you look at the terms and conditions excerpt from Windows 10 I posted above, you'll see that every single bit of data on your machine is being made freely available to Microsoft, and other operating systems and applications are much the same now.

This is far from just being about advertising preferences, it's about every single bit of data, photo, letter, email or whatever you may have on any device being freely accessible for data gathering and collation. That data has immense value, not so much to advertisers for targeted ads, but for many other, potentially far more intrusive, applications.

I gave an example above of the way I was able to extract my entire "anonymised" medical records, going back decades, and put my name, address, date of birth etc, back into them. That data alone is worth having for any insurer, especially a life insurer, for example. The same goes for bank and financial details. Lots of people use online banking, and some (perhaps most) online banking services offer a "paperless" system, where you can download your statements. Once you've done that then if, for example, you're running Windows 10, then you've just given Microsoft access to your bank statements. There's value in that data to lots of organisations, without considering whether or not the data is securely held by Microsoft and any of it's partners.

I'll give an example from a friend, who has recently been trying to sort out probate and inheritance tax from his last remaining parent who passed away a while ago. Almost all of his correspondence has been typed up on his PC, and as he's running Windows 10, all the letters he's written to solicitors, HMRC etc regarding his late mother's estate can be accessed and read by Microsoft if they wish, and added to the overall "big data" correlated data set that these companies hold and use to gather revenue.

The question is really about personal privacy. If you hand write a letter and put it in the post, you have a reasonable expectation that it will remain private and unopened until it is received by the person it is addressed to. Type that same letter up on a device who's terms and conditions allow the software supplier to read anything you do, and even if you print the letter and put it in the post it can still have been read by the software supplier and transmitted back to their servers, without you knowing.

I should add that I'm not singling out Microsoft here, as there are broadly similar terms and conditions from companies like Google, who supply Android and ChromeOS.

VP959
26th Apr 2018, 12:47
This is why we have and need strict Data Protection laws.

The money for these large organisations is in gathering preferences for the advertising and selling access to that mass set of audience preferences. They are not interested in harvesting lots of banking related info or personal confidential details and to do so, and be found out, would jeopardise the future earnings from the advertising, which are huge. So huge that they spend a lot of time making sure nobody can actually take away the details and need to keep paying for access only.

If you use free software or websites then you should expect this info to be gathered as payment instead. I would say you are far safer using a large, well known organisation in this case than some obscure small company that says it offers both 'secure' & 'free' and may indeed be selling your actual info as they have no means to sell the access.

Ad-blockers on the other hand are not much different to downloaded pirated music or movies.

But UK and EU data protection laws do not apply when you're running software supplied and supported by a US company, or any other country for that matter. They don't apply to this forum, either, I believe, because I think it's now hosted outside the EU.

There are plenty of places around the world that have no data protection laws or regulations at all. For example, with the imminent coming into force of the GPDR, some big companies have chosen to shift their notional HQ outside of the EU, so they can avoid having to comply with it. There are plenty of countries that will gladly (notionally) host a company in return for a bit of income, and ask no questions about what they are doing. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it's not.

For example, if I wish to be reasonably anonymous, just out of personal privacy concerns, I will use TOR and a VPN. The VPN I use is one of the better ones, Nord VPN, but is based in Panama. They are based there because Panama doesn't require them to maintain records of connections, whereas if they were an ISP in the UK, for example, they might well be required to keep all their customer connection records. The fact that Nord VPN doesn't keep records of who is connecting to any site through their service is a benefit, to me, at least, and I'll gladly pay them a modest fee for this. Using TOR on top of the VPN connection makes anything I do online when using these two together virtually completely anonymous, unless I do something daft, like log in to a service like this forum whilst web browsing that way.

VP959
26th Apr 2018, 13:10
But this is my point.

Using a smaller company based who knows where that says it does not collect information is far more dangerous than a larger one that sells access to it and stands to loose billions if it is found doing something it shouldn't or allowing that data to leak.

Who is paying for a free piece of software based in Panama to be protected from relentless and ever evolving hacking attempts? They may not be stealing your info but that doesn't mean nobody else is via their system.

First off, a VPN company can only know as much about what I do as my UK ISP would if I didn't use one - so the only records it can keep are of IP addresses and URLs, it cannot decrypt the data going through it, so has no way of knowing what any content may be. Secondly, those with an interest in personal data protection and privacy are very like those who commit time and energy to producing open source projects and software, in that they constantly look for weaknesses in the privacy protection that any VPN provider may provide. Nord VPN gets pretty good reviews, because people have checked, and continue to check, whether or not they are doing as they say.

If someone finds that Nord VPN is really keeping IP and URL logs, like every UK ISP is required to anyway, then the word will circulate pretty damned quickly, as there are many people around the world who's lives (quite literally in some countries) depend on their VPN not keeping logs. The main users of services like VPNs and TOR are people who live in countries with authoritarian regimes, where many web sites and services that the regime feels may be a bad influence on the population, are blocked. China does this routinely, for example, using the "Great Fire Wall of China", but many Chinese people get around their countries attempts to block content by using a VPN and TOR. The same applies to a few other countries; even Russia has been trying to block the use of some apps, like Telegram, but seem to be failing because people are finding ways around the IP blocks the state are putting in place, and VPNs are one way of getting around things like IP blocks.

WilliumMate
2nd May 2018, 19:32
Cambridge Analytica.

Company to close down.

Gertrude the Wombat
2nd May 2018, 21:36
Cambridge Analytica.

Company to close down.
The same people have already started up the same business with a new company name, I read elsewhere. What a surprise.

DaveReidUK
2nd May 2018, 21:56
The same people have already started up the same business with a new company name

And presumably with a somewhat modified business proposition. :O

aerobelly
2nd May 2018, 21:57
The same people have already started up the same business with a new company name, I read elsewhere. What a surprise.

Emerdata Limited according to Vulture Central <https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/02/cambridge_anal_plugged/>

I'm shocked, shocked by this duplicity!

Sallyann1234
3rd May 2018, 13:12
I'll bet they have retained all the data from the original company.

Gertrude the Wombat
3rd May 2018, 13:20
I'll bet they have retained all the data from the original company.
Criminal if they have? That data belongs to the liquidator, to get best value from for the creditors, by selling to the highest bidder?

VP959
3rd May 2018, 14:45
Criminal if they have? That data belongs to the liquidator, to get best value from for the creditors, by selling to the highest bidder?

What if they haven't formally gone into liquidation, though?

I would imagine that, if they were canny, they would have transferred the assets from Cambridge Analytica into Emerdata Ltd already, in fact they may well have done this some time ago. The CEO of Emerdata Ltd has been in post since August 2017, when the company was first registered.

Dont Hang Up
3rd May 2018, 14:48
Criminal if they have? That data belongs to the liquidator, to get best value from for the creditors, by selling to the highest bidder?
Closed down. Nobody is saying they went bust. If they closed down with all creditors paid then they can do exactly what they wish with the assets.

ExXB
3rd May 2018, 17:04
Closed down and declared Bankruptcy in both the U.K. and US. Of course Bankruptcy means different things in those two countries.

G-CPTN
3rd May 2018, 17:18
Closed down and declared Bankrupt in both the U.K. and US. Of course Bankruptcy means different things in those two countries.
That doesn't stop the owners from disposing of assets before the final closure - as they would no doubt have had adequate warning of their intended demise.

I believe that it is illegal for a business to continue trading when 'insolvent' * - though the liabilities and assets of an organisation like CA might be difficult to assess.
* this might only apply to registered companies.

meadowrun
3rd May 2018, 17:59
We're talking about a big bunch of ones and zeros right?
Copied, edited, re-arranged, re-named, exported...etc.
It is out there. Too late.

RAT 5
4th May 2018, 13:47
In the financial world if a director is found to have been fraudulent, negligent, caused foreseeable loss to clients, and generally screwed up big time, they would be barred from holding a similar position in the future. If the directors of CA can be shown (may be yet to be proved) to have knowingly used private data in an inappropriate, personally violating manner or possibly criminal manner, could/should they not also be barred from holding similar posts? If CA closes down, and a phoenix clone arises from the ashes with the same top dogs, then what has been achieved to exact punishment on the original perpetrators?
I admit I am not familiar with the current state of any investigation/prosecution regarding CA's misuse of data.

ExXB
4th May 2018, 17:32
In the financial world if a director is found to have been fraudulent, negligent, caused foreseeable loss to clients, and generally screwed up big time, they would be barred from holding a similar position in the future. If the directors of CA can be shown (may be yet to be proved) to have knowingly used private data in an inappropriate, personally violating manner or possibly criminal manner, could/should they not also be barred from holding similar posts? If CA closes down, and a phoenix clone arises from the ashes with the same top dogs, then what has been achieved to exact punishment on the original perpetrators?
I admit I am not familiar with the current state of any investigation/prosecution regarding CA's misuse of data.

What! In the US? I donít think so.

vapilot2004
4th May 2018, 21:49
Closed down. Nobody is saying they went bust. If they closed down with all creditors paid then they can do exactly what they wish with the assets.



'Earlier today, SCL Elections Ltd., as well as certain of its and Cambridge Analytica LLC’s U.K. affiliates (collectively, the “Company” or “Cambridge Analytica”) filed applications to commence insolvency proceedings in the U.K. The Company is immediately ceasing all operations and the boards have applied to appoint insolvency practitioners Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP to act as the independent administrator for Cambridge Analytica.

Additionally, parallel bankruptcy proceedings will soon be commenced on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and certain of the Company’s U.S. affiliates in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. "

The words, "insolvency" and "bankruptcy" suggests otherwise.