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July 2017
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Why Are Ad Agencies So Hard Hit By Recent Changes in the Media Industry?

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An Adotas Q&M with Paul Vincent, CEO and founder of Neuranet, explores the pressures on and changing roles of ad agencies in the increasingly complex digital world. Q: What changes have occurred within the media industry that are affecting ad agencies? And why are ad agencies being hit so hard by those changes? A: There [...]

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posted at: 12:00am on 26-Jul-2017
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Your Robot Vacuum Cleaner Will Soon Collect And Sell Data About You And Your Home

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So while the internet-connected age has delivered untold innovation, it has also been a total shitshow for privacy and security. The internet-of-broken-things can't seem to go a week without reports of another major privacy screw up, and even your kid's Barbie is now collecting snippets of data that can be sold to the highest bidder. And while throwing a WiFi chipset into something isn't such a bad idea, companies are so eager to boost revenues that actually securing these products -- or respecting customers' privacy -- has repeatedly been shown to be a distant afterthought.The latest hot topic of conversation on this front is iRobot, makers of robot-vacuum Roomba. iRobot CEO Colin Angle turned a few heads this week after he told Reuters that the company is considering selling all of the data the company's robot collects about the size and layout of your home, to companies like Apple and Google:

"There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared," said Angle. That vision has its fans, from investors to the likes of Amazon, Apple and Alphabet, who are all pushing artificially intelligent voice assistants as smart home interfaces... Angle told Reuters that iRobot, which made Roomba compatible with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant in March, could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years.
On it's surface, that's not necessarily the end of the world. Especially in the cell phone era when every step you take is collected, tracked, monetized and sold by cellular companies, app makers, and every advertising and metric company in between. But there's an awful lot of data these robots collect that you may not particularly want shared, and our proud tradition of overlong, convoluted terms of service traditionally won't make that clear. And as Gizmodo was quick to point out, Roomba's existing privacy policy is phrased in just such a way as to suggest your privacy preferences are irrelevant:
"[We may share your personal information with] other parties in connection with any company transaction, such as a merger, sale of all or a portion of company assets or shares, reorganization, financing, change of control or acquisition of all or a portion of our business by another company or third party or in the event of bankruptcy or related or similar proceeding."
In other words, this mouse print implies that there are oodles of situations in which your consent won't be necessary to sell private data about yourself and your home, even if by law Roomba may be required to inform you (generally and with a lot of marketing hype, of course) this is happening. That's assuming consumers even care, since most of us simply click "accept" on the TOS without giving much of a damn either way, quickly understanding that we're probably being screwed in some fashion, but having neither the time nor patience to understand how.But this bidirectional apathy becomes a problem cumulatively. Customers aren't reading rights-eroding TOS because they're too long, while every device in the home is now tracking, storing and monetizing your every heartbeat -- from children's toys that track your kids' babble, to smart home electric meters that tell companies and their marketing partners when you're at work or sleeping. Top that off with the paper mache grade security embedded in most of these products, and you begin to understand why the smart security analysts are warning people that a very big and rather nasty dumpster fire is just over the horizon.

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posted at: 12:00am on 26-Jul-2017
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Winnipeg Man Has Vanity Plate Referencing Star Trek Recalled Over Complaints Of How Racist It Is

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Here in North America, because 2016 just had to become the most infuriatingly stupid and polarizing year in the history of the multiverse, far too much oxygen was spent on debates over both how much racism was okay on one side and exactly what qualified as racist on the other. It's one of those frustrating contests with nobody to root for, as half of the population proclaimed that racism was dead and everyone was too stuck up about it while the other side managed to find racism everywhere, introducing into the popular lexicon terms like "privilege" that mostly make me want to put my head in a vice and get to rotating that lever.Still, this isn't a debate that should be totally ignored. After all, at its heart is the matter of free speech, not just as a legal framework but also as an ideal that the West tends to claim to hold in high regard. Strangely, one of the beacons of this debate shall now be on the subject of vanity license plates, with a heavy dash of nerd culture thrown in just to make it extra fun. For this story, we go to Winnipeg, where a Star Trek fan received the following vanity plate for his car.


The plate, owned by the unfortunately named Nick Troller, will be instantly recognizable to Star Trek fans, particularly those of us that go back to The Next Generation. The Borg was an alien race that assimilated other races into its hive-mind whatsit and traveled around in big grey cubes, because, you know, aliens. They often communicated such witticisms as "Resistance is futile" and "You will be assimilated." I imagine to those that are not fans of the series, the vanity plate would probably register as a curiosity. For some in Canada, apparently, it was a racist mantra.
If you've existed at all in the modern day political climate you'll understand how some people who are—rightfully—sensitive to the rise of normalized racism, saw Troller's plate as problematic. Seeing the plate as a problem some people complained and Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) told Troller he had to get rid of it. Troller has since relented to the pressure and gotten rid of the plate for one that says "COLECTV"—the plate still has the bracket sporting the "resistance is futile" saying.Now, in this hyper-partisan time where everyone is either a racist or an SJW and we all hate each other with the burning passion of eight pissed off suns, it's no wonder that Troller's license plate has become an issue and that people on both sides have seized upon it. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is known for taking people to court for denying anti-abortion activists a voice and other free speech issues, now—after advocating for Troller initially—may be taking the case to court.
Ok, let's just get this out of the way. The license plate isn't remotely racist and anyone apologizing for some people freaking out and complaining of its racism should stop. Stop and never do that again. For those of us that care about combating actual racism, these hypersensitive offense-magnets are getting in our way and impeding progress, acting as an example for some why real racism is dead. It's lame and it isn't to be apologized away.But it's also worth noting that something like a vanity plate is plainly a form of speech and having a government strip a citizen of that speech simply because other people are wrong about that speech is flatly insane. Particularly when you have to work really, really hard to convince yourself that the license plate above is racist, and when the acceptable alternative -- "COLECTV" -- I could easily argue is racist as well were I so inclined. Collecting? Collecting whom, you racist! See?We can all certainly have an argument over what the current levels of racism are and how they impact our culture or not, but it should be plain that this was a clear case of a government overstepping its bounds.

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posted at: 12:00am on 26-Jul-2017
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