Hi, we live in hell, but at least everything is being tracked by rich tech companies also have this cool hat.
If you care at all about the ways you're being tracked online and offline, stick around for your daily charge.
Good morning and welcome to The Daily charge.
It's Thursday, January 30.
I'm Alfred Wang.
I'm Bridget Carey.
And here today's headlines.
Let's start off with the truth about being online everywhere you go will leave a footprint and your simple act of existing anywhere is something that advertisers and companies look to make money from.
Now that's starting to happen offline too.
We have a story today about Rekor system and automatic license plate reader company that sells its technology to landlords and police departments.
They started offering this surveillance tools to your next door neighbors.
ALPR is a really powerful tool is mostly used by police.
Now this is something that can be used for criminal investigations or in some cases For police to commit crimes.
In 1998, a Washington DC police officer pleaded guilty to extortion after looking up license plates near Gay bars and blackmailing the car owners.
Yeah, it's They've misuse technology, who would have thought?
Think of this like facial recognition for cars, these cameras can pick up 60 license plates a second and log them all down.
This used to cost thousands of dollars now your nosy neighbor can buy it and keep track of cars in the area for $5 a month.
Obviously technology as always been out there for people to spy on each other.
But this is just making it clear how easy it is to automate that spying.
What are you getting for $5 a month?
I mean, you're not getting a list of every name of the car owner who drives by your house.
So yeah, I mean, you would need to have access to a police database of like the DMV database.
This license plate belongs to this person.
But there's still a lot you can do with information on just how often a car drives in your neighborhood, right?
If a car drives by and I log its plate down and I put it in my system to tell me every time this car drives by, it then I don't have to just put that camera by my home right I can put that in the case with the Washington DC thing.
I can put that camera by,
like in your car.
Yeah, driving around somewhere, you know, anywhere.
I could put it by you know, like a planned parenthood for example.
And then Then you would know this person came here at this time.
And then I would be able to follow them home.
And then there's a lot of ways to identify people without a police Like database to do it.
Even if someone is doing this in their own like property.
You wonder, okay, what where is that data going?
Where's it being shared with it?
Did they click a checkbox saying yeah sure I'll share my data with anyone who wants it and it's being sold to other people.
So it says
So the company behind it says they don't sell data but think
But did they work with police?
Odd notes, apartments.
That's the thing.
They work with police departments and if you have a different version of their license plate reader technology, you can opt in to share that data with police.
But also like consider that most of the times like sharing any information with police like might not be under like your call, right?
Like if a cop shows up at your door and says, Hey, we need to know.
When this car drove by here, can you put it in your log and let us know.
You're gonna tell a cop to get off your property, good luck with that.
So that's the bigger concern here and that's something that they've talked about where Yes, that is something that police might be able to do where, let's say officers, like just make a call out to a neighborhood and say, we're looking for this car, can you put this number in your license plate, search and send us anything that you have.
They don't have to buy that technology now they can just kinda rely on like.
Everyday average citizens sue to use that and then like, basically crowdsource it.
Yeah it's just so easy now, you just know that there is no right, like I said in the beginning, no sense of privacy and you don't know what your neighbors have.
Also you wouldn't know if you were being tracked.
It's not like you can say, hey, please take me off your list.
You'd have no idea if you were on someone's list to begin with.
The lack of control is what is feeling unsettling now.
So to our next story, Avast.
Not just a phrase for weirdo pirates, also a free antivirus company you might have heard of them or might even use them.
Well, there's a good reason why it's free or terrible reason depending on your perspective as motherboard and PC mag unveiled this week Avast has been collecting people's browsing data and selling it for millions under its Data Broker subsidiary Jumpshot.
Today the company announced that would be shutting down jump shot.
After the massive backlash over its invasion of privacy.
The company was worth tens of millions of dollars, as sensitive data like your browsing history goes for big bucks.
I mean, I guess it's good that they chose privacy over profit but maybe the right thing to do was to never have done this in the first place or maybe not wait until you were caught to fix it.
Yeah, clearly the ladder cuz they made some statement going.
We abided by all the Laws GDPR well if you divide it by laws and suddenly you're taking it down I don't think even you know something ain't right about
I mean, I've also heavily disagreed with the with the idea that like, just because you're abiding by a law means that you know you're doing the right thing.
There are plenty of laws out there that are unfair that You should absolutely break.
[LAUGH] But also there are laws.
There are no laws and things that are completely unfair.
As I mentioned, there are almost no laws on facial recognition.
There are almost no laws on data privacy stuff.
And what can be collected and shared, right?
Yeah and GDPR is completely different.
Like, look if you're offering an antivirus, and you're in turn using the data that you're collecting to sell for millions.
It's backwards ethics here.
It's exactly what people were trying to avoid when they bought your product.
Like of all.
Basically, just because it's legal doesn't mean it's ethical.
And I think that's like, to say that we followed the rules is not, Right defense.
Speaking of laws.
Last night Facebook settled to the fine tune of $550 million over an Illinois class action lawsuit concerning facial recognition.
If you're wondering why was in Illinois, it's because it's the only state with any laws about biometrics.
Facebook had been collecting facial recognition data to tag people in photos.
That's kind of how.
When you look at a photo of yourself it says hey, this is you like they use facial recognition data for that.
Which plaintiffs argued was breaking Illinois State law.
Facebook finally made that collection and opt in in 2019, when the case had been going on Since 2015, so the settlement still needs to be approved by a judge.
I was telling you before the show, I was shocked that it took that long to be opt in because I've gone through my settings, so long.
Long ago and like just x that all out that I forgot that for our people they don't realize you know, it was just automatically still doing it all this time.
Yeah I yell about this a lot with the difference between opt in and opt out like privacy policies.
You have to go to your settings and change all this, it might seem like the company just doesn't care about your privacy to begin with, they can say you know, we offer these controls but like, how much does it really matter if you have to like basically jump through all these hoops to like, actually get that?
Yeah, do you have 20 minutes to sit here with the cartoon dinosaur and do a check up on your privacy?
Imagine imagine like going to a mall.
And like someone follows you around all the time and then you have to like, walk to the back of the mall to tell them, Hey, I don't want this guy following me.
That's kind of what like opt out has kind of been like for me where it's like look, you should have privacy to begin with and if you want somebody to follow you Go to the back of the mall and say hey, I would like somebody like tailing me.
That should be how it works not the other way around where you have to like do the extra legwork to ensure that you're not being tracked or your face data is and being used to Make Facebook millions of dollars.
It's been messed up for so long.
Speaking of which, if you are wondering how this all affects Facebook's profits, let me tell you, not at all.
Facebook reported its earnings for 2019 on Wednesday night and and everything is coming up Zuckerberg.
Its monthly active users grew to 2.5 billion people and it had a profit of $18 billion in 2019.
Privacy, what a concept.
[LAUGH] People just don't care.
It's the truth.
It's a utility, people need to still be on Facebook.
Even if they do care, maybe not everyone's leaving or using it in different ways, but-
It's just we built all of this on the foundation that There is no privacy, or at least these companies did and and it almost feels to change that you have to completely rebuild how the internet works, which is just not gonna happen at this point for the daily charge.
I'm Aught Brian.
I'm pretty sure Carrie.
Thanks for joining us.