Google defeats most claims in browser tracking lawsuit

A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in ZurichA U.S. appeals court upheld the dismissal of federal claims and revived two California state law claims accusing Google of invading computer users’ privacy by enabling the placement of “cookies” in their browsers to track their Internet use. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Tuesday rejected claims in a proposed class action lawsuit that Google violated federal wiretap and computer fraud laws by exploiting loopholes in Apple Inc’s Safari browser and Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer browser. Four computer users accused the Mountain View, California-based unit of Alphabet Inc of bypassing their cookie blockers, helping advertisers target potential customers.


China’s Xi says wants South China Sea issue resolved peacefully

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during a state banquet held at the Istana or presidential palace as part of his official visit to SingaporeBy Rujun Shen SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China has always insisted the dispute in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully through talks, but the government has a responsibility to protect the country’s sovereignty and maritime rights, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday. China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Speaking at the National University of Singapore, Xi said freedom of passage in the South China Sea has never been a problem and will never be a problem, but the islands there have always been Chinese.


The Daily 202: GOP race could winnow to Rubio and Cruz, plus four other takeaways from Colorado debate

The Daily 202: GOP race could winnow to Rubio and Cruz, plus four other takeaways from Colorado debate

THE BIG IDEA: Here are five of my takeaways from last night’s face-off among GOP presidential candidates in Boulder, Colorado: 1. The consensus that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz won hardened overnight. Though each is 44-years-old, in his first term and represents the Sunbelt, they occupy very different lanes. Rubio is playing to be the […]





U.S. Navy discovers wreckage believed to be cargo ship El Faro

Debris is seen in the water from the El Faro search area in this handout photo provided by the US Coast GuardWreckage believed to be of the cargo ship El Faro, which was lost off the Bahamas along with its 33 crew during Hurricane Joaquin, was discovered on Saturday, U.S. officials said. El Faro disappeared on Oct. 1 en route from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico in the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel since 1983, after the captain reported a “hull breach” and said a hatch had blown open. A search team aboard the U.S. Naval Ship Apache using sonar equipment discovered the wreckage on Saturday in the area of El Faro’s last known position at a depth of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a statement.


Senate set to clear budget deal

The Senate is poised to clear a bipartisan two-year budget deal that would increase spending limits and avert a damaging default, essentially ending the budgetary battles that have defined President Obama’s relationship with Congress in recent years. The final vote on the bill is likely to take place very early Friday morning, depending on whether conservative senators […]





Is Your DNA Nothing More than a Credit Score?



Have you ever applied for a credit card?


A loan? A big one like a mortgage?


If so, you know that an ever more efficient (so they say) rating system, based on a myriad of data, is crunched through ever more complex algorithms in order to get you a quicker answer and faster access to your spending limits and at the same time to better protect the lender from default, fraud and the losses that poor human judgment can bring about.


Once, you applied at the bank or credit union, in person, filled out the background data, provided a few references, waited a week or so and, voila, you were in the money or not.


Today, you apply online, provide key data and the bots deploy to search and sweep in a digital quest following your trail (and there is a trail) and feed the maw of the ever-hungry, data-crunching algorithm and soon you are in the money or not.


So far so good.


Yet, we had a credit crisis that took down monolithic financial institutions; we continue to read about the fear of big bank losses due to poor vetting and overextension of credit and, of course, poor judgment still seems to be in the headlines on a fairly regular basis.


All in a day’s work for Big Data.


In fact, I have heard from a few banks that for certain loans and such they have re-instituted the look-them-in-the-eye test — a gut check of face-to-face evaluation — in and of itself, as fallible as anything else, but linked to digital data, a good backstop and smart fail-safe system check.


But that’s not my point.


I have written much about the digibabble surrounding Big Data and the ensuing surprise factor that more and more seems to be an outcome on blind reliance to its promise of predictive perfection.


Frankly, I am way more concerned about the addition of other personal data to the credit equation.


To that end:


I call your attention to a recent article in The Atlantic by Frank Pasquale… “Scores of Scores: How Companies Are Reducing Consumers to Single Numbers.”


Pasquale’s fear is not of credit scoring — a good thing — or other vertical scoring — also potentially good and useful — nor is it paranoia of “Big Data”… again important and a boon to our world.


His fear is that: “America’s obsession with scoring has gone far beyond credit.”


China is already mixing credit scores with political views. Imagine the impact that kind of social scoring could have on a society where only those who agree with the powerful elite can buy a house or start a business.


What if you were penalized for what your friends thought and posted? Think about that — you have a good friend, from childhood, who has a divergent view from yours about the state of the world, but innocent friendship trumps politics (sometimes) and yet you are denied your new car or home.


This is not the stuff of George Orwell, folks… this is becoming very real and has some terrifying possibilities… as Pasquale points out:


Policymakers should discourage the expansion of credit scoring into life scoring — or, at the very least, require disclosure of all the data and algorithms behind the scores to the people being scored.


There needs to be a recognition that scoring can be ‘highly reductionist, atomizing complex, contingent relationships into simplified, one-dimensional measures that cannot provide a full and multidimensional picture’ of individuals. It’s not necessarily an innovation to celebrate. Rather, it can be a prelude to the discrimination that’s rightly condemned.


And, I call to your attention Peeple — an almost app — that still might find the light of day.


But as you read about it, follow the backlash that has at least slowed it down.


There is so much good that scoring in some categories can do — from disease prevention to employee reliability to better loan granting — but mix and match them to create a bigger view and I’d posit we create more of a Frankenstein than a utopian model.


And, even Google likes to look data in the eye…


So here is a quote — of sorts — from Charles Dickens (but the text was shortened from a story, although the context is true and reflects his view of the world then and I’d be ready to bet today as well…) Listen:


Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another to be brave and true. Charles Dickens


I’d say he has hit it square on — at some point we have to look life, each other, our credit ratings, in the eye, face-to-face, if not, we run the risk of a world controlled by hidden algorithms that reduce us all to one dimension.


And for all of us marketers, there is no greater threat to success and no quicker path to failure than turning our clients and customers and prospects into mere scores in a computer program.


As much as we can fool ourselves into believing we have somehow dimensionalized life by assigning us all scores based on torrents of Big Data, I’d bet on the companies and brands that valued real people with real needs and real unpredictability.


What do you think?

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