Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Glass Room, literally see- through data gathering


If you’re one of the many people who, when confronted with your internet usage and the privacy of your data say “I’ve nothing to hide”, and my articles have done nothing to dissuade you or convince you then you MUST get down to Charing Cross Road, London to “The Glass room" exhibit.
 “You’re invited to experiment and reconsider the idea that even if we think we might have nothing to hide, we should at least understand what we’re not hiding.
Many of the exhibits are innocuous 3 minute looking videos on an tablet with an attached set of headphones, but some are large digital display screens, on these you’ll be able to see in real time, how your very own mobile phone is ‘pinging’ all the time, how you appear in a display tracked, and then, even, see where you go after you’ve visited- many people were displayed as having gone to McDonalds... should I really know where to find those complete strangers again.

In there you’ll learn many things including new technological advancements, like the data TFL are collecting about you are going to the same company who works for the US armed services.
TFL are looking to grow this data to include facial recognition, palm vein scanning and object tracking- just like your mobile phone
If the fact that a US military contractor will hold the data of identifying your face, and scanning your palm leaves you in awe rather than concerned, then take for example the marketing companies are using your data to track and profile you from beyond Facebook.

Ad tech company ‘Tapad’ target you as you walk past billboards- currently taking place in Piccadilly Circus, and on Google branded buses. They’re calling it your ‘digital DNA’ collected from all your devices, even your TV, and it can tell the difference between different people in the same house.

There’s a prototype device that can care for your elderly relative when you’re not there, a device that can tell if they’ve opened their fridge today, taken their medication, slept well, and send you the updates by text message. When you piece together that they are gathering a whole lot of data, on their illness, on their sleep patterns, on their eating habits, on your loved one, which is sought after and handsomely paid for, you’ll wish you had just got up and gone to see them yourself, not to mention the fact that none of these devices can replace the human contact so many elderly people are deprived of.

You’ll learn, Google are stakeholders in UBER, in Motorola and pharmaceutical companies. 
So, when you’re using your FitBit they’re collecting all that data on you and using it to decide how much to charge you for health insurance, or deciding how likely you are to develop an illness, and influence the price of the drugs you might need.

The repercussions of all this are numerous.

Take for example 23&Me have sold 800,000 peoples DNA profiles to Pfizer. They can look at these results and tell you what diagnoses you may develop in your lifetime. You may never develop these of course, and you may never have discovered this is a potential in your DNA, but the knowledge of it could alter the course of your life, and you may make different decisions.
Heath insurers are offering cheaper fees if the buyer allows them to collect data from a FitBit.
Money lenders are already asking to look at your Facebook profile and will judge on you getting a loan or mortgage based on who your friends with- imagine they’re influencing who you’ll choose to add as a friend in the future based on money.

Its not all terrifying and gloomy, they do have a Data Detox Kit available and workshops with incredibly knowledgeable staff on hand to help you switch off all those data signals, how to fool the FitBit with it spinning on a drill, or ticking with a metronome and learn tech privacy savvy.

But it’s like they say; “You’re invited to experiment and reconsider the idea that even if we think we might have nothing to hide, we should at least understand what we’re not hiding.”

Glass Room is presented by Mozilla and Tactical Tech and runs 25th October -12th November 2017 at 69-71 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0NE



Wednesday, 28 June 2017

London which rises like a Phoenix, with a cocktail

You will no doubt have heard about the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack, and the London Bridge terrorist attack, and the Finsbury Park terrorist attack, no matter where you are in the world.
London seems to be a scary place to be, facing such violence and such, for want of a better word.. terror.
Westminster North Bank.
This blog can't ignore the fact that sometimes a wonderful city, full of vibrancy and spirit is the target of those who seek to gain notoriety and influence.
But it is the view of this blog that they are simply cowards, cowards picking easy targets.
Geoff Ho, a fellow journalist there at the time agrees when he saw a bouncer being attacked he simply said 'not on my watch' and went in to help. He was stabbed and currently recovers in hospital.
Down but not trodden, there were many wonderful heroes in these scenarios, professionals and lay people, and that fills my heart, and the hearts of all the good people in London, this was true in the times of the IRA which I lived through, and it's true now.

Grenfell Tower
So it also applies to the totally avoidable tragedy that is the fire of Grenfell Tower, I am about a mile away from Grenfell, and my heart was so attached to the scene as it unfolded.
I cried and I stand in solidarity with the people of that Tower, they could easily be me.
They were failed. Seriously failed, and while the whole situation unfolds and personal stories come out, there is still that fierce London spirit that followed, the volunteers that came out, the people that donated and the hub bub of the common person that cared and wanted to help.
They came out long before any formal response from the council and the government. This is the real spirit of Londoners, we are a city with heart and love.

So the fact that on the 9th July,  some of the best bars in London will be coming together to shake up some incredible cocktails at a one-off fundraiser event - with 100% of revenues going to charities connected with the disaster, comes as no surprise.

The London Fire Brigade Welfare
fund- many fire fighters saw things they need help with,
the K & C foundation – an organisation connected to every charity involved, who will be able to distribute the funds effectively and appropriately. The Big Give have pledged to double all donations to this charity while match funds last and the
The Harrow Club + Rugby Portobello
These community charities were chosen because not only do they exist to help young people in the community they have proved their value during the Grenfell Crisis; this donation can help to make their jobs easier now it’s harder than ever.
 
Bartenders from communities across London will be making the journey west to Westbank in Notting Hill, with the drinks menu changing throughout the day and night depending on who’s behind the stick. Cocktail bars such as Callooh Callay, City Social, Trailer Happiness and Barrio Bars are included, but the list grows as I write they say – "get ready to taste the best drinks you’ll ever drink in the name of a good cause."
A whole day out 3pm-1am there'll be live music, DJs, food, a charity auction, and both indoor and outdoor space. 
3 Cocktails for £20 and all that money goes to charities for Grenfell Tragedy
Ticket price, which will be donated in full to the chosen charities, will be £20 and will include 3 delicious full-size cocktails. 
More drinks will be available to buy on the day – and thanks to the incredible generosity of many of the UK’s best-loved drinks brands and all the money you pay goes to the charities.
We Stand Together T-shirts by the W11 Campaign will also be on sale on the day.
Details below:



Time: 3pm-1am

Tickets: £20 including 3 drinks tokens.



Social: @ldnspiritfund