Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and our personal data

Facebook shares are taking it on the chin today as the Cambridge Analytica story unfolds and we learn just how insecure our Facebook data has been. The mainstream press has — as usual — understood only parts of what’s happening here. It’s actually worse than the press is saying. So I am going to take a hack at it here. Understand this isn’t an area where I am an expert, either, but having spent 40+ years writing about Silicon Valley, I’ve picked up some tidbits along the way that will probably give better perspective than what you’ve been reading elsewhere.

Much of this is old news. There are hundreds — possibly thousands […]

Trump’s 2016 Big Data political arms race

Events happen so quickly in the wacky whirlwind world of Donald Trump that it’s hard to react in anything close to real time, but there was an interesting story in the Guardian last weekend that I think deserves some technical context. The Great British Brexit Robbery: How our Democracy was Hijacked is a breathless but well sourced story about how a U.S. billionaire harnessed Big Data to split up the European Union and steal a U.S. Presidential election. It’s an interesting read, but the point I want to make here is that the tale was entirely predictable and if one side hadn’t done it, the other would have. Next […]

News we aren’t supposed to know

notacrookI’m writing this post on Wednesday evening here in California. Normally I wouldn’t point that out but in this case I want to put a kind of timestamp on my writing because at this moment we’re at the end of the second day of a concerted attack by the UAE Electronic Army on various DNS providers in North America. If you follow this stuff and bother to check, say, Google News right now for “UAE Electronic Army,” your search will probably generate some Facebook entries but no news at all because — two days into it — this attack has gone unnoticed by the world at large. My last column was about fake news. This […]

Remembering Brentrance (not Brexit) and Steve Jobs returns to Netflix

HeathBritons are today voting whether to remain a part of the European Union, their so-called Brexit referendum. Watching the coverage on television makes me recall a night back in 1973 when I stood in a crowd outside the Houses of Parliament while inside the chamber was being held the vote that made the UK part of what was called back then the Common Market. If today’s vote is for Brexit, that night 43 years ago was the Brentrance.

It wasn’t clear that night which way the vote would go. The Tory government of Prime Minister Edward Heath was all for the Common Market and so that’s how the vote went sometime before midnight. The […]

Is IBM guilty of age discrimination? — Part two

agediscriminationThis is the promised second part of my attempt to decide if IBM’s recent large U.S. layoff involves age discrimination in violation of federal laws. More than a week into this process I still can’t say for sure whether Big Blue is guilty or not, primarily due to the company’s secrecy. But that very secrecy should give us all pause because IBM certainly appears to be flouting or in outright violation of several federal reporting requirements.

I will now explain this in numbing detail.

Regular readers will remember that last week I suggested laid-off IBMers go to their managers or HR and ask for statistical information they are allowed to gather under two federal laws […]