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Big Revolution - Secret spies

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Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution. Let's dive straight in... – Martin from Big Revolution
 
February 20 · Issue #352 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution. Let’s dive straight in…
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Google is reportedly planning to unveil its ‘Netflix for games’ service at the Game Developers Conference on 19 March. The company recently ran a public test of the service in the US, using the latest Assassin’s Creed game, but details are scant about exactly how the offering will work.
  • The Russian military has banned smartphones. This follows open-source investigations that used publicly available data posted by soldiers to identify secret participation in conflicts, such as in Syria. Older phones are still fine, so the Russian military may be in the market for a job lot of second-hand Nokia 3210s.
The big thought
The microphone is in the Nest Guard part of its Secure system.
Secret spies
Google has caused a stir after it announced Google Assistant would be coming to the Nest Secure home security system. The problem? The Nest Secure’s specs never mentioned it had a microphone.
Now, Google has said the omission was an error. “The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part,” a spokesperson told Business Insider. Additionally, Google says the microphone isn’t operational unless Assistant is activated.
The thought that there may be secret microphones on devices in your house is a paranoiac’s nightmare. Although given the general public’s seeming acceptance of the idea that Facebook listens to their conversations through their phones (this has been denied many times and there are technical reasons why it wouldn’t be feasible), a nefarious tech company might well think they could get away with sneaking microphones into customers’ homes.
It’s impossible to say whether Google really did slip up with not telling customers about the microphone, but it highlights the need for better regulation around internet-connected gadgets. What data do they collect? What data can they feasibly collect in the future given the hardware specs concerned? What do they do with the data when it’s collected?
In the EU, a lot of this is covered by GDPR, but it should be part of the information easily available to customers before they buy a product. In the meantime, we should consider very carefully what we tech we let into our homes.
One big read
How loot boxes hooked gamers and left regulators spinning How loot boxes hooked gamers and left regulators spinning
Loot boxes in free-to-play games are a form of gambling, and the costs can be huge. The mobile game I play daily, Final Fantasy Record Keeper, uses them and I’ve managed to stay pretty disciplined in sticking mainly to free ‘pulls,’ but I can see how it wouldn’t take much to tip over into spending hundreds of pounds in a short amount of time.
One big tweet
2019: when your shoes won’t work because of a buggy app.
Jonathan Warner🥑🚇🤖
The future is now, specifically that Nike didn't QA the *android* version of their Adapt app as thoroughly as their iOS app, and all customers with Android devices now have bricked shoes due to broken firmware update routine. @internetofshit https://t.co/vBgoHUC9Y4
10:59 PM - 18 Feb 2019
That’s all for today...
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