Monday, December 31, 2018

In Which Izabella Kaminska Claims She Will Be Returning to FT Alphaville

She says mat. leave is up but I'm thinking it's because the Costa del Sol is getting a bit chilly, down to the low 50's (F) for New Year's eve.
Here's the  communiqué:
We've been holding onto a couple pieces she sent in from Marbella or wherever it is she's been lounging about. First up, for the paper:

December 05, 2018
Google mistakenly floods internet with dummy ads
A Google worker with a fat finger has committed a classic mistake in fast-moving electronic markets: hitting the wrong key during a training exercise, in the process injecting a dummy advert into a huge number of web pages and apps.

The error, which happened late on Tuesday California time, saw the fake advert — a blank yellow rectangle — appear on many websites and in apps viewed in the US and Australia for a period of about 45 minutes.

The failure to prevent such a basic human error is a black eye for Google, which has led the automation of online ad placement and is widely recognised as the leader in applying artificial intelligence to how such markets work.

Google confirmed the mistake on Wednesday and said it would “honour payments to publishers for any ads purchased”. It would not comment on the scale of the problem, but one ad industry source put the potential cost at $10m.

The mistake happened when a group of Google advertising trainees were being shown how to use the electronic system, said one person familiar with the error. One of the trainees went further than intended and actually submitted a “buy” order. The mistake was not noticed by anyone at Google for three-quarters of an hour, a lifetime in online auction markets, despite the wide reach that the advert was given....MORE
And at FT Alphaville, Dec. 3:
The EU's General Data Protection Act (GDPR) was supposed to free us from data servitude. Everyone, we were told, would be entitled to their data privacy because the act was designed to “Protect and empower all EU citizens' data privacy”.

We've been living with the supposed benefits of GDPR since May 2018. But are we any better off?
Turns out, probably no.

After a rush of spammy emails from anyone and everyone you ever gave your email to asking you to opt in to their mailing lists, things have gone quiet. But they have not necessarily got any better. In reality, retailers and service providers still hold all the power in the data relationship.

Problematically, the legislation did little to force institutions into providing alternative versions of their services that aren't based on data harvesting. As it stands, we're politely warned that x business model depends on your data, so please accept the T & Cs to carry on. With full awareness of this disclosure most of us have little choice but to “Accept” if we're to go on with consuming that provider's services. Most of the time there are no other options, since so many online service providers are monopolies — and there's almost nobody out there who doesn't take advantage of data in some way to enhance their business models.

And so, here we are. Something covert has been made overt. And that's about it.
We're still being data-mined — we're now just voluntarily signing up for the Faustian data pact instead.
But it gets worse.

In some cases GDPR is now forcing consumers to give up even more of their personal data than they would have before just to get the same services.

Take the online shopping market as an example.
Most retailers have always offered two types of checkout service for online purchases. Registered or guest, with the data-discrete inclined to use the latter.

Historically, there has never been any discrimination between these two options. Whether you sign out as a guest or signed-in as a registered client, the assumption is you are entitled to all the same consumer protection rights and service qualities offered by the retailer in general.
But with GDPR something has changed. And consumers are only now beginning to cotton on.
Take this personal story about an experience with John Lewis as an example.

In a bid to hasten a back-to-work transition from maternity leave, a relatively urgent purchase of a playpen was needed. (Because how else can you write a story about GDPR while supervising a 10-month-old?)...

She then declares jihad on John Lewis and, let's just say, this headline from 2015:
Uh Oh, I Think Izabella Kaminska Is Channeling Queen Boudica, And She is Not Amused
was child's play—so to speak—in comparison.