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The Actuator – July 1st

Level 17

I don’t want to alarm you, but it’s now July. I know it doesn’t feel like it should be July, but time continues to march forward. This year is a marathon, not a sprint. I hope wherever you’re reading this post, you’re healthy and well. We’ll get through these challenging times.

As always, here's a bunch of links I hope you find useful. Enjoy!


Google’s Promise to Delete Your Data Has a Major Loophole
It’s the same loophole every company faces—they cannot control the data retention for third parties. Google could, however, maybe not sell our privacy to everyone on Earth.

'The Computer Got It Wrong': How Facial Recognition Led To False Arrest Of Black Man
And so it begins: we have started letting computers decide who to arrest.

There Is No (Real World) Use Case for Face Super Resolution
Tell that to the police, please.

UK’s facial recognition technology ‘breaches privacy rights’
As I was just saying, someone needs to tell the police to avoid using this technology.

New data zooms in on air pollution mapped by Google Street View cars
This sounds like an interesting project. I’d like to see Google collect this data for a long period of time globally.

Hacker Group Stole $200 Million From Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Might be time to consider putting your money somewhere safe. Like a bank.

Doomscrolling Is Slowly Eroding Your Mental Health
I freely admit this has been me at times, especially these past four months. But going forward I’m going to make an effort to read a book and go to sleep early.


I know a honeypot when I see one:



That NSA Charging Station is a sweet I.Q. test!

Your assessment of Google's security problems associated with third-parties is spot-on!

And the analysis is excellent.  "Now you know THE REST of the story."

I agree--facial recognition technology is not accurate enough to rely on for use as evidence in court.

Worse, even if it WERE that reliable, we know that SFX folks & anyone with make-up/cosmetic skill can make themselves up to look like someone else.

Worst:  The data is stored electronically.  Electronic information is easy to manipulate.  Electronic images are easy to swap or modify.  How will the folks presenting the evidence prove that the image and its associated data has not been modified?  It might have even been totally manufactured long before law enforcement saw the very first image.

No, facial recognition is not something anyone should rely on for proof of guilt or innocence.

I've seen the referenced manipulated image of a black man given white skin digitally.  "Something" looks unnatural about it, but folks are used to being able to point at a picture and trust it reflects reality.

But that hasn't been guaranteed ever since the first black & white darkroom work was done to "improve" an image.  But at least back then a person needed a dark room and chemicals and equipment to make the changes.

Today it can be done for free using cloud-based resources, or freeware / trial-ware software, on any computer or smart phone.

Even more distressing is the software that takes videos of anyone and changes the words they say--even changes their expressions.

Where do we turn to when we can't trust our eyes?

Increasingly, I feel resigned to a future that may resemble George Orwell's 1984.  But particularly so after reading the story of "UK's facial recognition technology 'Breaches Privacy Rights'".

Gathering the facial images of anyone attending a protest feels like a tool of oppression, enabling a bad group or government to search out and punish or threaten or imprison or "disappear" anyone who expresses dissent for current policy.

Exactly the type of thing a bad government would do.

Capturing this data seems like it should be illegal, despite the good things that can come from it.  I recently listened to a Public Radio story about an American interpreter who's lived in China for the last 30 years.  She was wryly reviewing the benefits of that country's extreme monitoring of its citizens, showing how the practice actually is being used beneficially to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If only one could trust that information about who was where at what time could only be used beneficially.  But such is not human nature.

I really liked the article about GoogleMaps Street View cars capturing air quality samples, which can be used to reveal and combat climate change and pollution sources.

It's wonderful that not every article one reads is doom and gloom!

When one group can "earn" $200M in two years by stealing & hacking data, expect more and more people and countries to begin (or continue) doing the same.

No risk.  No consequences.  Virtually no chance at being caught.  Especially when operating from countries whose governments may be corrupted by that same money, or who have insufficient resources (or training) to address the problem within their borders.

The solution may be simply doing less online.  Certainly trusting less online.

Doomsday scrolling.  I hadn't heard it called that, but I've practiced it.

When generations of people grow up with media outlets following the practice of "If it bleeds, it leads!", we're accustomed to seeing mostly bad news.  It skews our impression of reality.

Life really isn't as bad as the web sites, radio stations, TV shows, news, make it out to be.

Watch this video if you're tired of bad news.


Level 20

I've heard the NSA charging station... I think they've had it at their kiosk for a while now.

Level 16

Thanks for the links!

'The Computer Got It Wrong': How Facial Recognition Led To False Arrest Of Black Man

My phone only unlocks about half the time using facial recognition and that's after I 'trained' it. 

Level 16

Your comment "I know a honeypot when I see one" was priceless 🙂

Level 14



an NSA charging station.... ' nothing to see here!!!"

About the Author
After CIS/MIS contracted for DISA in mid 90’s Worked with Toyota for 3 years Worked for GE for 4 years (Here was where I first found SW products) Did a bunch of various network engineering projects Contracted for GE for 4 more years Currently working with General Dynamics Mission Systems   William Eckler IT Business Operations Services .ılılı..ılılı. GENERAL DYNAMICS Mission Systems