Archive for February, 2021

TikTok Agrees To Settle 21 US Federal Lawsuits Related To Privacy

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 26, 2021 by itnerd

TikTok has agreed to settle 21 separate US federal lawsuits related to privacy. The lawsuits accused the company of “theft of private and personally identifiable data,” some of it from children as young as six years old. But before you say that this is a win for the little guy, it isn’t. NPR reports that the agreed amount of compensation for the privacy breaches is $92M, working out at a little over one dollar per user before legal costs. #Fail:

TikTok has agreed to pay $92 million to settle dozens of lawsuits alleging that the popular video-sharing app harvested personal data from users, including information using facial recognition technology, without consent and shared the data with third-parties, some of which were based in China.

The proposed settlement, which lawyers in the case have called among the largest privacy-related payouts in history, applies to 89 million TikTok users in the U.S. whose personal data was allegedly tracked and sold to advertisers in violation of state and federal law. 

“First, it provides compensation for TikTok users, but equally as important, it ensures TikTok will respect its users’ privacy going forward,” Katrina Carroll, one of the lawyers for TikTok users, said. “Social media seems so innocuous, but troubling data collection, storage, and disclosure can happen behind the scenes.”

The settlement is the result of 21 federal lawsuits filed mostly on behalf of minors — some as young as 6 years old — that claimed the company engaged in the “theft of private and personally identifiable TikTok user data.”

TikTok for its part released a statement that really doesn’t require me to say much of anything:

“Rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community,” the spokesperson said.

I’ll say something anyway. That statement reads like “let’s pay as little as we can to sweep this under the rug and pretend that this never happened”. But maybe that’s the cynic in me making an appearance. One good thing to this settlement, TikTok has to alter its behavior:

Under the proposed terms of the settlement, TikTok will no longer record a user’s biometric information, including facial characteristics, nor track a user’s location using GPS data. TikTok also committed to stop sending U.S. users data overseas and the app said it would no longer collect data on draft videos before the content is published.

This still has to be approved by a judge, but while I am not a lawyer, I expect that to happen without drama. The fact is that TikTok settled this for pennies. The reality is that they really needed to be punished for their actions for more severely because you shouldn’t be allowed to take users data and do whatever you want with it. In short, TikTok got away with this.

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Appeal From Canada’s Big Telcos In Relation To Being Ordered By The CRTC To Lower Wholesale Rates [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 25, 2021 by itnerd

In good news for small wholesale-based ISP’s, the Supreme Court has today said that it won’t hear an appeal by Canada’s biggest telecoms of the wholesale rates the CRTC lowered back in August 2019. Those are the rates that are charged to independent ISP’s that use the infrastructure of big telcos. This decision not to hear the case basically puts an end to this case.

I asked for a comment from independent ISP Distributel in relation to this development and got this back:

“This is a positive development,” says Matt Stein, CEO of Distributel. “We support our court system and we trust in the system, and we’re very glad to see an end to this case. Canadians deserve affordable internet access, especially now when so much of our lives has moved online by necessity. Connectivity is so important right now– our average customer has increased their internet usage by 24 per cent since the pandemic hit – yet for many Canadians it’s just not affordable, especially given the global crisis we’re in.”

One thing that Distributel pointed out to me is that when the CRTC released its original rate decision in August of 2019, Distributel immediately passed the benefits on to Canadians. The company also moved to increase internet speeds for the majority of its customers at no extra cost, and launched competitive new retail pricing for bundled and stand-alone products and services.

Now I fully expect the big telcos to come up with some new way to avoid having to do what they should have done in 2019. Which is to lower wholesale rates as per the CRTC decision. I see scenarios where they use stalling tactics or threats to get their way because the big three have proven that they are unwilling to do what is right by Canadians.

UPDATE: I just received a statement from independent ISP Teksavvy. Unsurprisingly they are happy with the decision. Here is their statement in full:

TekSavvy Solutions Inc. (TekSavvy) welcomed today’s decision from the Supreme Court of Canada declining to hear appeals by Canada’s largest telecom and cable companies (such as Bell Canada and Rogers), who seek to overturn a key 2019 CRTC decision lowering the wholesale Internet rates the large carriers charge smaller competitors.

The Supreme Court’s ruling ordered the large carriers to pay TekSavvy’s legal costs, following an earlier, unanimous decision from the Federal Court of Appeal rejecting the large carriers’ appeals with costs, noting the large carriers’ arguments were of “dubious merit”. The Supreme Court’s decision was issued amid growing frustration and demands by Canadian consumers for federal action on affordable internet. 

The CRTC’s August 2019 Final Rates Order is the result of an extensive four-year regulatory proceeding that confirmed the large carriers systematically deviated from the CRTC’s rate-setting rules to grossly inflate their costs of providing wholesale access to their networks. The CRTC condemned the large carriers’ rate-fixing as “very disturbing” because it would drive smaller competitors out of business. The large carriers appealed the 2019 Final Rates Order to the courts, the Federal Cabinet and the CRTC itself.

Even after the Federal Court of Appeal’s complete rejection of the incumbents appeals, the CRTC issued a new decision declining to implement its own order. The CRTC instead allowed the large carriers to continue charging grossly inflated rates until the CRTC decides on Bell and Rogers’ further requests to raise prices and keep the overcharged amounts. TekSavvy is challenging the CRTC’s stay decision, calling it “flawed and unreasonable”.

Denied rate relief and refunds for overcharged amounts, TekSavvy was forced to raise its prices. In addition to the prospect of further price hikes, TekSavvy warned that the CRTC’s failure to act is hostile to independent investment, warning “the single greatest threat to TekSavvy’s quarter billion dollar investment plan is the CRTC’s delay in implementing its 2019 final wholesale rate order”. The company said it is currently reviewing its business plans in light of the continuing climate of extreme regulatory uncertainty.

National Day Of Action Demands Affordable Internet For Canadians

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 25, 2021 by itnerd

A Canadian coalition of consumer advocates, civil society and social justice groups, policy experts, activists and independent ISPs are coming together virtually on March 16, 2021 in a national Day of Action to demand the immediate implementation of federal measures to deliver affordable internet and wireless services in Canada and to put an end to constantly increasing bills.

During the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, reliable and affordable internet connectivity has become absolutely essential for every aspect of life. Yet, the federal government and regulators are giving free rein to big phone and cable companies to drive up prices while posting huge profits, unnecessarily taking hundreds of millions of taxpayer-funded labour subsidies, boosting dividend payouts to shareholders and laying off hundreds of workers. Millions of Canadians are struggling to make ends meet and pay some of the highest telecom bills in the world while others are unable to access high-quality reliable connections entirely as a result.

By launching an online Day of Action for Affordable Internet, happening virtually on March 16 and open to the public for free, participants are saying that enough is enough – the federal government, the CRTC and Competition Bureau must take immediate action to promote competition and affordable pricing. Participants will be urging a range of actions to be taken.

Initial participants include: ACORN Canada; Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship; activist and author Cory Doctorow; Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law Michael Geist; The Internet Society Canada Chapter; OpenMedia; Public Interest Advocacy Centre; Ryerson Leadership Lab; Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic; and TekSavvy Solutions. 

Organizations and individuals interested in participating in this event can email Laura Tribe at laura@openmedia.org. Or you can visit Affordable-internet.ca.

The final list of participants and the full agenda will be unveiled on March 9.

Accenture Positioned As A Leader In IDC MarketScape For Canada For Salesforce Implementation Services

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 24, 2021 by itnerd

Accenture has been recognized as a leader in the latest IDC MarketScape: Canada Salesforce Implementation Services 2020 Vendor Assessment (IDC#CA46257720, December 2020).

The report highlights Accenture’s industry expertise, its ability to bring solutions to market, and investments in its Salesforce Business Group.

“In the assessment of Salesforce implementation services providers, Accenture’s investment and commitment to Salesforce in its Canadian practice was a strong differentiator. Accenture’s domain and industry expertise in Salesforce products makes it a Canadian market leader,” said Jim Westcott, Research Manager, Application Solutions, IDC. 

The report highlights that Accenture was an early partner of Salesforce, and its strong collaboration in Canada is evident in Accenture’s track record in implementing Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Commerce Cloud projects. The report also points to Accenture’s global integration as well as its Canadian growth strategy focused on cloud technologies and services, with Salesforce as a key component of this strategy. 

The IDC MarketScape report also noted Accenture’s long-standing relationships with Vlocity (now Salesforce Industries) and nCino, making it a prominent provider of Financial Services and Health Cloud implementation in Canada. Accenture Canada has also rolled out its Salesforce Innovation Experience (SiX) to its global innovation hubs, centers, and studios, allowing it to work collaboratively with clients to ideate and prototype Salesforce solutions, the report says.

The IDC Marketscape evaluated Accenture and seven other Salesforce service providers with operations and customers in Canada. Participation in this study was determined based on annual revenue from Salesforce professional services in Canada, recognition as an official Salesforce partner in Canada, and having an active Canadian Salesforce professional services practice.

Worldwide, Accenture has been recognized by the IDC MarketScape as a leader for four consecutive years for Salesforce implementation services (doc #US45007219, September 2019). 

Globally, Accenture has the world’s largest Salesforce practice and is a trusted leader in designing, implementing and driving transformational experiences using Salesforce solutions.

More information about the IDC MarketScape: Canada Salesforce Implementation Services 2020 Vendor Assessment can be found here.

Waze Introduces New Advertising Solutions

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 24, 2021 by itnerd

Waze is announcing updates to Waze Ads Starter, its advertising solution tailored specifically to small businesses. The features take into account the unique challenges faced by small businesses now, making it easier for them to connect with existing customers and attract new ones while making the most of their marketing investment.

With these updates, Waze is making it simpler for small business advertisers to create and manage Waze ad campaigns with Ad Manager, a streamlined campaign management dashboard. Now, in minutes, small businesses can begin advertising, see how campaigns are performing at a glance, and easily make changes as well as gaining access to new ad formats and other capabilities. Available both on desktop and in a new mobile-friendly experience, Ad Manager makes it as easy as possible for small businesses to achieve their business goals.

Updates include: 

  • Ad formats: Arrows and Takeovers join existing Pin and Search formats with the option to preview all ads on mobile. 
  • Targeting criteria: Choose targets based on a specific zip/postal code, city, geographical region, or coordinates.
  • Goal-specific calls-to-action: Achieve your goals and increase customer engagement with Waze recommended calls-to-action including, Save for Later, Save Location, Drive There, and Call Now.
  • Push notifications: Re-engage customers after their drive with push notification reminders. 
  • Flexible campaigns: Run seasonal campaigns or limited-time promotions.

Waze is also introducing features to help small businesses manage advertising budget, showing estimated campaign reach and providing a recommended budget that dynamically incorporates locations and other campaign details, based on a total or monthly campaign budget setting. Small business owners can begin advertising on Waze for just a few dollars per day, with no monthly commitment.

For more information on advertising with Waze, please visit waze.com/ads/waze-ads-starter/ad-manager

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 Featuring 3D Motion Detection and Bird’s Eye View Announced

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 24, 2021 by itnerd

Ring today announced Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2, a new advanced video doorbell complete with innovative 3D Motion Detection with radar, enhanced audio capabilities with an array microphone, and customizable privacy features. Combined with a new Head to Toe video, 3D Motion Detection and Bird’s Eye View gives homeowners more context about what is happening at their front door. 

The Next Generation of Motion Detection with Radar Technology

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 uses radar to better detect objects and homeowners can customize which areas of their property they want to monitor by selecting distance thresholds. The radar sensor determines when an object crosses the distance threshold by measuring its specific distance from the camera. The camera only starts recording once that threshold is crossed, and sends homeowners a motion alert. Unique to Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2, 3D Motion Detection gives you more control to record video only when and where someone steps onto your property.

3D Motion Detection also powers a new Bird’s Eye View feature, which provides an aerial view of the homeowner’s property and a map of where a motion event starts to give you historical context to the nature of the event. Together, 3D Motion Detection and Bird’s Eye View are the newest way for homeowners to get more control and context about what’s happening in front of their door. 

Premium Features and Convenience

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is Ring’s most advanced wired doorbell that lets homeowners check in on their front door no matter where they are. In addition to 3D Motion Detection and Bird’s Eye View, advanced features include Head to Toe video, 1536p HD video, and an array microphone that limits sound distortion for clearer audio and video of what’s happening at the door. 

Designed with Privacy and Security in Mind

Like all Ring products, Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is built from the ground up with privacy and security in mind. The Ring app makes it easy to tailor specific privacy and security settings. Homeowners can set 3D Motion Detection thresholds and Customizable Motion Zones that trigger recordings and Privacy Zones can exclude areas in the camera field of view from video recording for added privacy.

Pricing and Availability

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 is $324.99 and is available for pre-order at Ring.com and Amazon.ca. Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 will begin shipping to customers on March 31, 2021.

TikTok Releases 4th Annual Transparency Report

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 24, 2021 by itnerd

Today, TikTok is releasing its 4th annual global Transparency Report. This report covers the second half of 2020 (July 1 – December 31) and provides visibility into the volume and nature of content removed for violating TikTok’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, with additional insight into TikTok’s work to counter misinformation related to COVID-19 and elections. It also includes how TikTok responds to law enforcement requests for information, government requests for content removals, and intellectual property removal requests.

This report includes a number of new data points, that haven’t previously been shared publicly including:

  • Accounts removed
  • Spam accounts and videos removed 
  • Videos restored after they were appealed by the video’s creator
  • Specific policy insights
  • Ads rejected for violating our advertising policies

The report also includes key insights on TikTok’s continual work on countering COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation. Public service announcements (PSAs) on hashtags directing users to the World Health Organization (WHO) and local public health resources were viewed 38,010,670,666 times! 51,505videos were removed for promoting COVID-19 misinformation and of these videos, 86% were removed before they were reported to TikTok, 87% were removed within 24 hours of being uploaded to TikTok, and 71% had zero views.

You can see the full report HERE and a blog post that includes key insights HERE.

Apple M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 24, 2021 by itnerd

Apple’s new M1 based Macs are the new hotness that are insanely fast. But things aren’t all good. Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives:

Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are said to be consuming as much as 10 to 13 percent of the maximum warrantable total bytes written (TBW) value of its SSD. Flash memory on solid-state drives, such as those used in Macs, can only be written to a certain number of times before they become unstable. Software ensures that load is spread evenly across the drive’s memory cells, but there is a point when the drive has been written to so many times that it can no longer reliably hold data. So while SSD wear is normal, expected behavior, drives should not be exhausting their ability to hold data as quickly as some M1 Macs seem to be. One user showed that their M1 Mac had already consumed one percent of its SSD after just two months, while another M1 Mac with a 2TB SSD had already consumed three percent. The total data units written for these machines is running into many terabytes, when they would normally be expected to be considerably lower.

This is a huge problem for Apple as these drives are not user replaceable. Which means that a M1 based Mac will have an insanely short lifespan. Which is bad as Macs have a reputation for lasting years. Apple needs to speak to why this is happening and how they are going to do to address this issue. But chances are Apple isn’t going to do that as they aren’t the most transparent company who owns up to their mistakes. And that’s a disincentive for me to buy one. But we will see if Apple changes that behavior with this issue.

Cisco AppDynamics Launches New Research That Reveals Unprecedented Demand For Full-Stack Observability With Business Context

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 23, 2021 by itnerd

AppDynamics, a part of Cisco, today released Agents of Transformation 2021:The Rise of Full-Stack Observability, the latest edition of its global research study, exploring the impact of the rapid acceleration of digital transformation created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the repercussions for global technologists. The findings reveal a dramatic increase in IT complexity caused by the need for urgent innovation – and the resulting technology sprawl. The research also validates a pressing need for full-stack observability with added business context to help technologists manage the IT estate, cut through the data ‘noise’ and observe what matters most to their business.

The shift to digital-first business models to weather the storm and minimize the commercial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has placed technologists at the forefront of their organizations’ response. According to this research, this forced a 3X acceleration of digital transformation projects. Unsurprisingly, technologists found themselves under considerable strain, with 89 percent reportedly feeling under immense pressure at work and 84 percent admitting to having difficulty switching off. Furthermore, many technologists expressed feeling frustrated about work (81 percent) and experiencing increased levels of conflict with colleagues (63 percent).

The new research goes on to highlight that rapid digital transformation has added staggering technical complexity throughout IT departments, with technologists listing the following factors as key contributors:

  • A new set of priorities and challenges (80 percent).
  • Technology sprawl and a patchwork of legacy and cloud technologies (78 percent).
  • Acceleration to cloud computing (77 percent).
  • Multiple, disconnected monitoring solutions (74 percent). 

This rise in IT complexity has significantly increased the amount of data created across the technology stack, from the application, through the infrastructure to the network and security. With this added complexity, 85 percent of technologists state that quickly cutting through noise caused by the ever-increasing volumes of data to identify root causes of performance issues will represent a significant challenge in the year ahead. With 75 percent of those polled stating they are already struggling to manage overwhelming ‘data noise’, technologists are desperate for a unified solution to enable real-time visibility across the entire IT estate:

  • 95 percent of technologists say having visibility across the whole IT estate is important.
  • 96 percent point to negative consequences of not having visibility and insights across the whole tech stack.

While most technologists acknowledge that the ability to monitor the IT stack is important, the overwhelming majority (92%) say the ability to link technology performance to business outcomes such as customer experience, sales transactions and revenue, will be what’s really important to delivering innovation goals over the next year. In addition, almost three quarters (73%) fear that the inability to link IT performance with business performance will be detrimental to their business in 2021, and 96 percent acknowledge that the ability to connect full-stack observability with real-time business outcomes will be essential to delivering first-class digital experiences and accelerating digital transformation.

Rather than searching through the vast amounts of telemetry data that comes with a standard full-stack observability approach, technologists recognize they need to observe what matters by applying a business lens to full-stack observability so they can surface the most impactful information quickly. This business context will enable them to make sense of what’s relevant and take action on the most transformative opportunities.

The report also highlights that while technologists are acutely aware that they need to contextualize IT performance with real-time business data, more than half (66%) do not have the resources and support they need, and 96 percent point to at least one barrier their organization must navigate in order to adopt this new approach.

The stakes have never been higher for technologists and their organizations to get the necessary resources and support in place, with three quarters (75%) of technologists saying their organization needs to connect full-stack observability to business outcomes within 12 months in order to remain competitive. 

To learn more about full-stack observability and the AppDynamics Business Observability platform, register to attend AppDynamics Transform 2021 virtual event starting today, or visit AppDynamics.comfor more information.

Other Resources:

  • Download the latest installment of the AppDynamics Agents of Transformation research series here.
  • Access free AppDynamics software and support through the COVID-19 Project Assist program.

Research Methodology

To better understand the complexity that technologists are facing in 2021 and to gauge understanding and appetite for full-stack observability with business context, Cisco AppDynamics has undertaken comprehensive global research, from board-level directors and CIOs, through to senior and mid-level IT management.

This research comprised of:

  • Interviews with 1,050 IT professionals in organizations with a turnover of at least $500m.
  • Interviews were conducted in 11 markets – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.
  • Respondents worked across a range of industries, including IT, financial services, retail, public sector, manufacturing and automotive, and media and communications.
  • All research was conducted by Insight Avenue in December 2020 and January 2021.

Red Hat Teams Up With OneMethod

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 23, 2021 by itnerd

Toronto-based digital and design agency OneMethod today announced that it has brought on Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, as a new client and will be working with the company on creative projects across North America.

OneMethod began working with Red Hat in June 2020, following a competitive pitch process. To date, the creative work has included digital assets, content development, video animation, and web and campaign development.

2021 will see OneMethod continue to ramp up on work across Red Hat’s product portfolio and services offerings, as well as campaign and corporate assignments.