Amazon triples profit to $11.2bn, pays ZERO DOLLARS in corp tax – instead we pay it $129m

Found on The Register on Sunday, 17 February 2019
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According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), the tech titan was actually paid $129m by US taxpayers thanks to an income tax rebate.

With the average American paying an income tax rate of between 10 and 15 per cent, and the corporate tax rate reduced recently from 35 to 21 per cent, Amazon as one of the largest corporations in the world paid a tax rate of minus one per cent.

According to ITEP, the entire company has been specifically constructed to avoid paying tax.

That's so digusting that it speaks for itself and does not need any comment.

83% Of Consumers Believe Personalized Ads Are Morally Wrong, Survey Says

Found on Forbes on Sunday, 10 February 2019
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A massive majority of consumers believe that using their data to personalize ads is unethical. And a further 76% believe that personalization to create tailored newsfeeds -- precisely what Facebook, Twitter, and other social applications do every day -- is unethical.

"Companies must acknowledge and protect consumers’ right to privacy while considering the impact of emerging technology," the report reads.

Yet Facebool, Twitter and other resellers of personal data continue to grow because people keep signing up.

Drug companies are sitting on generics—43% of recently approved aren’t for sale

Found on Ars Technica on Friday, 08 February 2019
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The finding means that many pricy, brand-name drugs are not facing the competition that could help drive down soaring prices. Among the drugs missing in action are generic versions of the expensive blood thinner Brilinta and the HIV medication Truvada. Moreover, of the approved drugs that would offer a brand-name drug its first competition, 36 percent are being held off the market, the analysis found.

Whatever the reason, keeping approved generics from the market is “a real problem because we’re not getting all the expected competition,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview with KHN.

Clearly the free and unregulated market does not work as promised, so it is time for the government to step in.

Is It Time To Ditch Google Analytics?

Found on Slashdot on Sunday, 03 February 2019
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Aubry says that 99% of Matomo users use the analytics code, which is open for anyone to use, and host their analytics on their own servers -- which means that the company has no access to it whatsoever. For Aubry, that's his way of ensuring privacy by design. United Nations, Amnesty International, NASA, and the European Commission and about 1.5 million other websites use Matomo. But Matomo also offers significantly more robust tracking than Fathom or Simple Analytics -- Aubry says it can do about 95% of what Google Analytics does. Still, there are a few key differences. Like Simple Analytics, Matomo honors Do Not Track....

The rise of these analytics startups speaks to a growing desire for alternatives to the corporate ecosystems controlled by giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple, a swell that has helped privacy-focused search engine Duck Duck Go reach 36 million searches in a day.

Looks like not all hope is lost.

Millions of bank loan and mortgage documents have leaked online

Found on Techcrunch on Saturday, 26 January 2019
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A trove of more than 24 million financial and banking documents, representing tens of thousands of loans and mortgages from some of the biggest banks in the U.S., has been found online after a server security lapse.

The server, running an Elasticsearch database, had more than a decade’s worth of data, containing loan and mortgage agreements, repayment schedules and other highly sensitive financial and tax documents that reveal an intimate insight into a person’s financial life.

With help from TechCrunch, the leak was traced back to Ascension, a data and analytics company for the financial industry, based in Fort Worth, Texas. The company provides data analysis and portfolio valuations. Among its services, the Ascension converts paper documents and handwritten notes into computer-readable files — known as OCR.

Why was the database accessible from the Internet anyway? Oh right, because we're living in the age of 2.0 where nobody is responsible anymore and security or privacy does not matter. Just imagine there would be a compensation of, let's say, only $100 per affected customer which a company has to pay who messed up.

Zuckerberg Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger

Found on The New York Times on Friday, 25 January 2019
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The services will continue to operate as stand-alone apps, but their underlying technical infrastructure will be unified, said four people involved in the effort. That will bring together three of the world’s largest messaging networks, which between them have more than 2.6 billion users, allowing people to communicate across the platforms for the first time.

It also underscores how Mr. Zuckerberg is imposing his authority over units he once vowed to leave alone.

At the time of the acquisitions, Mr. Zuckerberg promised WhatsApp and Instagram plenty of autonomy from their new parent company.

It was obvious right from the beginning that Zucky would migrate everything together. After all, it is so easy to see when he is lying: his lips move.

Teachers tired of pointless emails

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 24 January 2019
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Speaking at the annual Bett Show for educational technology, he warned that feedback to parents had gone from a quick chat at parents' evenings to being expected to be available every hour of the waking day.

"Parents think they know everything," and they are not shy of sending in their suggestions and expecting replies, she says.

Just bounce the mails. Parents need to learn that teachers are there for a reason, and if they have a problem they need to solve it face to face. If a parent cannot afford it to show up personally, the "problem" is not important anyway.

Struggling with GDPR compliance? Don't waste money on legal advice: Buy a shredder

Found on The Register on Wednesday, 23 January 2019
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There is, it seems, no deterring the General Data Protection Regulation snake-oil sellers, who will happily stick "GDPR compliant" onto whatever they have to hand – including shredders, bins and visitor books.

The "bins" – which are, apparently, "ideal for GDPR Waste Paper Separation whilst sat at your desk" – look suspiciously like normal box files, only with "recycling" logos on one and "confidential" on the other.

Every day idiots get out of bed; you just need to find them.

Twins get some 'mystifying' results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test

Found on CBC on Saturday, 19 January 2019
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Last spring, Marketplace host Charlsie Agro and her twin sister, Carly, bought home kits from AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA, and mailed samples of their DNA to each company for analysis.

Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins did not receive matching results from any of the companies.

When asked why the twins didn't get the same results given the fact their DNA is so similar, 23andMe told Marketplace in an email that even those minor variations can lead its algorithm to assign slightly different ancestry estimates.

So in other words, the tests are a complete waste of time and money. Not to mention that customers hand over their DNA samples to a profit-focused company who fails to deliver anything substantial.

German politicians targeted in mass data attack

Found on BBC News on Saturday, 05 January 2019
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The leak appears to have originated on a Twitter account operated from Hamburg and the authorities in the north German city say they are now working with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner to stop the spread of German politicians' data.

Although nothing politically explosive is known to have been leaked, the sheer volume of personal data involved suggests the consequences could be considerable, says Michael Götschenberg, a reporter for German broadcaster RBB, who researched the attack.

UK-based expert Graham Cluley said the breadth of the latest attack suggested it was a co-ordinated effort involving a determined group over many months.

"This hack clearly isn't about extortion or financially motivated. This is about attempting to destabilise Germany society," he told the BBC.

It is suprising to see how many instantly consider this an attack on democracy "to destabilise Germany society". For now it looks like it is nothing more than what happens all the time online: weak passwords allow access to personal data. However, this one affects politicians and celebrities and not the average John and Jane Does; suddenly, data protection is their personal problem. Interestingly, this happened at the same time when digitalization officer Dorothee Bär wants to weaken data protection to make it easier for companies in the healthcare sector to handle private data of patients.