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Big Revolution - Trust and the crown jewels

September 24 · Issue #211 · View online
Big Revolution
Big things you need to know today
  • Walmart is to use virtual reality for staff training at its stores across the USA. ZDNet reports the retailer has ordered 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to train staff in “new technology, compliance, and soft skills like empathy and customer service.”
  • China has shut down thousands of websites in a ‘clean-up campaign,’ Reuters reports. The sites were accused by the Chinese government of illegal activity ranging from gambling to “spreading rumours.”
  • Spotify can create a playlist based on your DNA if you link your account, Quartz reports. “For example, someone with Chinese heritage might get classical musician Wu Fei on their playlist, while a person with a Spanish background might get the rock band Los Sírex.”
The big thought
Credit: Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
There has been much anger in some quarters over a recent change to Google Chrome. The latest update to the browser signs you into the browser
There has been much anger in some quarters over a recent change to Google Chrome. The latest update signs you into the browser
Trust and the crown jewels
There has been much anger in some quarters over a recent change to Google Chrome. The latest update signs you into the browser with your Google account whenever you log into a Google site. This is being seen as a huge breach of trust, and even though things aren’t quite as they seem, it’s hard to disagree.
While some initially assumed this was Google forcibly taking browsing data from users who didn’t want to hand it over, staff working on Chrome have said that’s not true. You need to switch on ‘Chrome sync’ for Google to start storing your browsing history remotely.
The Chrome team says they made this change to Chrome so if you were logged in and shared your computer, other people’s cookies weren’t stored with your data. That makes sense, except that if you never logged in, you wouldn’t have the problem in the first place.
It’s all a bit too detailed to explain in the space I have here (read this piece by Matthew Green for a full rundown), but the root issue here is communication and trust. At some point, the Chrome team made what seemed to them a simple and obvious improvement. Read tweets from the team, and it’s clear they believe they’re doing it for the good of users.
Adrienne Porter Felt
Hi all, I want to share more info about recent changes to Chrome sign-in. Chrome desktop now tells you that you're "signed in" whenever you're signed in to a Google website. This does NOT mean that Chrome is automatically sending your browsing history to your Google account! 1/
7:20 AM - 24 Sep 2018
But the public reaction shows that the Chrome team failed to see the change through the eyes of users – particularly users who either give their most precious and important information to Google, or would never dream of doing that because they don’t trust the company.
This whole controversy could have been avoided if they had thought more thoroughly about ‘how would I feel if…?’ This kind of empathy is particularly important when you work for a company that is the custodian of many millions of people’s personal data. Treating that data as 'the crown jewels’ is key – not just so you can monetise it but so users trust you enough to keep letting you monetise it.
Hopefully Google will reverse this change and rethink how it’s presented to users. To ignore the outcry now would do even more to erode that priceless trust.
One big read
For Hackers, Anonymity Was Once Critical. That’s Changing. For Hackers, Anonymity Was Once Critical. That’s Changing.
Why the changing internet security landscape means some hackers aren’t so bothered about maintaining their anonymity anymore.
One big tweet
Yore Computer is a fun Twitter account that shares scans of old UK computer magazines from the 1980s. In this case, it shared a page from an article about what computing would be like in 1984.
It’s a reminder of how hard it is to see where the future is really going. In 1984, the Apple Macintosh launched. Later, the world of Microsoft Windows and IBM PCs would transform everything. Click the link in the tweet to read the whole multi-page article.
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow. In the meantime, don’t forget:
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