It seems the New Year optimism has passed, in record time too. This week's grab bag has a bunch of Evil stuff for you to consider. We've got everything dystopian, from the facial recognition app powering law enforcement (and scraping tonnes of collateral data) through a list of the most evil companies to research that proves your cat would eat you if given the opportunity.
On the other hand, there is a website that generates haikus based on map data. So, not all bad.
📰 From the Newsroom
Edging us closer to The Internet™ made and maintained by Google. 🎻
What's the deal? Microsoft spent a year Frankensteining Edge into a Chromium web browser. Using the open-source project behind Google Chrome should give Microsoft an opportunity to re-enter the browser market without using annoying pop-ups.
Why did they do it? To improve compatibility and get a seat at the cool table with Samsung, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, and so on. The new engine will also make it more suitable for Mac users with Touch Bar features already available.
Why would anyone switch? Microsoft is betting that enhanced privacy features will woo some users back to the fold. Google recently announced that they will end support for third-party tracking cookies, but not for two years. Edge will ship with anti-tracking prevention immediately to bridge the gap with Firefox and Safari. It also comes with some new productivity features, improved login workflows, 4k video, and PDF annotation.
Muddying the privacy waters with Clearview AI. 🙈
Who or what is Clearview AI? The company is emerging as a leader in facial recognition...recognition(?). With a database of more than three billion images the app allows users to match images to people.
Where did they get the database images? The images were scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and many, many more. Better yet (?), when an image is matched you also get a link to the site where it was found.
Surely that's illegal? Dodgy? Yes. Illegal? No. While both Twitter and Facebook prohibit image scraping in their Terms and Conditions, LinkedIn lost a court battle over data scraping just a few months ago. Unfortunately, methods for image scraping are easily available but the EU is currently considering a temporary ban on facial recognition technology while the risks are being considered.
Who's using it? Over six hundred law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year. The app has also been licensed to private companies for "security purposes".
Buy now with 1-Slap: Amazon will soon allow you to connect your hand to your credit card. 🤲
What's happening? Microchipping has come a long way since they started using it to identify dogs. Now you can do more than open your office door. Amazon has started working with Visa to test terminals which approve purchases based on a palm scan.
Who built it for them? It looks like Amazon built this one from the ground up. They patented an identification system that includes a hand scanner in December last year.
What does it mean? My classic trick of forgetting my wallet will need to be upgraded.
🕸️ The Cool Side of the Web
The Ten Must See Links Of The Week
- A website that writes haikus based on map locations (North America only it seems).
- The definitive list of evil companies.
- A database of words that can't be translated.
- Avoid meetings with Look Busy. This app will fill your calendar with fake, but realistic looking, events so you can work in peace.
- No-BS games has a list of ad-free, no in-app purchase games for Android and iOS.
- Does your business really need a new website in 2020?
- Your cat would definitely eat your corpse.
- Most make money on Fiverr articles are poor. However, this in-depth article is legit. It covers everything you need to know about making scratch on the competitive platform.
- As an Australian, I am permitted a certain number of green articles a week. If you're running a website, consider a green web host.
- Disco Task helps you break large tasks down into manageable chunks.
That's it for the week.
As always, reply to this email with any links you think are wonderful. You can also try and hit me up on Twitter.
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Have a great week,