Tech Friday


  • Google tracks your purchases via Gmail:
    • CNBC recently reported that Google is tracking at least 5 years worth of purchase transactions for Gmail users
    • Google has been moving into online shopping, you can now use their Shopping hub to shop directly through Google. Learn more here:https://www.cnet.com/news/google-revamps-shopping-hub-and-lets-you-buy-stuff-through-youtube-videos/
    • When purchase confirmations are sent to your Gmail account, Google parses that information and stores it
    • You can log into your Google account and check your history here:https://myaccount.google.com/purchases
    • I logged into my account and found Amazon related purchases going back to 2015
    • If you click the "Find out more" link, it takes you to a page that says "See all your purchases, subscriptions & reservations" From that page, I noticed that also had recent travel reservations that were mailed to my Gmail account
    • While you can delete the Purchase history, it's rather cumbersome and painful. Start by clicking an item in the list
    • Google will show all the information for that order and and you'll see a "Remove Purchase" link
    • If the purchase was recorded from Gmail, you will have to click the "View Email" link, which will take you to that specific email in your Gmail account
    • You must delete the email toremove the purchase from the history
    • Google has said that it also tracks purchases made via Google services including the Google Play Store and the Google Assistant
    • This functionality is purportedly to help you track your purchases and other information
    • Google said "We don't use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page"
    • I have started deleting my history
  • IBM CEO predicts technology will change every job:
    • "I expect AI to change 100 percent of jobs within the next five to 10 years" - IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
    • Businesses are experiencing many of shifts: cloud, AI, blockchain, quantum computing, and changes in business models
    • "To get ready for this paradigm shift companies have to focus on three things: retraining, hiring workers that don’t necessarily have a four-year college degree and rethinking how their pool of recruits may fit new job roles". - Rometty
    • Rometty indicated that AI will create and destroy jobs
    • Under Rometty’s leadership, IBM headcount has dropped roughly 25% to less than 350,000 people, in part, thanks to artificial intelligence
    • She has said that there are essentially three types of artificial intelligence (AI). "Narrow" AI, which is good at learning one task in one domain. "General" AI is human-like in its processing capabilities. Broad AI falls somewhere in between -- it excels at many tasks across domains
    • Dario Gil, IBM's head of AI and quantum research, said general AI is "decades away," but broad AI will serve as a stepping stone there
    • It takes data to train these systems and Rometty said that data will be the difference between the winners and the losers in industry
    • See suggested that future career success will depend on "soft skills" such as empathy which are difficult to model in an algorithm
  • Instagram leaked PII for months:
    • "Instagram (also known as IG or Insta) is a photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, Inc. It was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010 exclusively on iOS. A version for Android devices was released a year and half later, in April 2012, followed by a feature-limited website interface in November 2012, and apps for Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 in April 2016 and October 2016 respectively. The app allows users to upload photos and videos to the service, which can be edited with various filters, and organized with tags and location information. An account's posts can be shared publicly or with pre-approved followers. Users can browse other users' content by tags and locations, and view trending content. Users can "like" photos, and follow other users to add their content to a feed." - Wikipedia
    • David Stier, a data scientist and business consultant, recently notified Instagram that user's PII was leaking through the profile pages of some accounts. 
    • The leak occurred over a period of at least 4 months, and included contact information for thousands of accounts including some minors
    • Hackers could "scrape" this information to build a database
    • Instagram spokeswoman Stephanie Otway said "The contact information discovered in this case is not private contact information, but contact information a member of the Instagram community chose to share when converting their profile to a Business Profile" and "During the setup process for Business Profiles we display this information, remind people that it will be accessible to others, and allow them to update or remove the information."
    • It was recently revealed that a marketing company in India, Chtrbox, obtained contact information for millions of Instagram accounts and stored it in an unsecured database
    • Instagram said the information in the Chtrbox database was not private. But also said that Chtrbox did violate Instagram policies and revoked their access
    • Chtrbox has stated that they did not access the information through unethical means.
    • Stier reported the issue to Instagram in February and the problem was fixed in March
    • Criminals use data such as this to build a detailed profile of victims that can be used to defeat fraud detection measures for identity theft and fraud
    • This is yet another privacy black eye for Instagram parent company Facebook, who acquired Instagram in 2012