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Google Says It’ll Scrape Everything You Post Online for AI

Gizmodo reported:

Google updated its privacy policy over the weekend, explicitly saying the company reserves the right to scrape just about everything you post online to build its AI tools. If Google can read your words, assume they belong to the company now, and expect that they’re nesting somewhere in the bowels of a chatbot.

Fortunately for history fans, Google maintains a history of changes to its terms of service. The new language amends an existing policy, spelling out new ways your online musings might be used for the tech giant’s AI tools work.

Previously, Google said the data would be used “for language models,” rather than “AI models,” and where the older policy just mentioned Google Translate, Bard and Cloud AI now make an appearance.

This is an unusual clause for a privacy policy. Typically, these policies describe ways that a business uses the information that you post on the company’s own services. Here, it seems Google reserves the right to harvest and harness data posted on any part of the public web as if the whole internet is the company’s own AI playground. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vax Mandate Suits Get Lift From New Religious Accommodation Test

Bloomberg Law reported:

Workers with religious objections to vaccine mandates have stronger legal claims now that the U.S. Supreme Court has developed a new standard strengthening protections for workplace religious accommodations.

The court unanimously ruled on June 29 that an employer cannot deny a religious accommodation under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act unless it can show that the burden of granting that accommodation “would result in substantial increased costs” to the business.

This change will impact faith-related discrimination cases currently winding their way through the administrative and judicial system, including those concerning COVID-19 vaccine mandates, lawyers told Bloomberg Law.

The facts in each case may vary, but the new standard nonetheless provides plaintiffs with stronger arguments that seeking an exemption from vaccine policies on religious grounds is a reasonable accommodation, said Matt Durham of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

New York Will Shut Down Its COVID-Era Vaccination App

Associated Press reported:

A $64 million mobile app used by New Yorkers during the pandemic to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be shut down in the coming weeks, according to state officials.

The Excelsior Pass app, a digital relic of the pandemic, has rarely been used during the past two years, but it costs the state at least $200,000 a month to maintain, according to the Times Union of Albany. The app will be decommissioned on July 28, and state officials say the stored personal data will remain “private and secure.”

The app was launched in 2021 and was used by 11.5 million people. It stored a person’s vaccination status against the coronavirus and could quickly indicate whether someone was up to date with vaccine requirements for admittance to certain places like outdoor dining restaurants or major entertainment venues.

Broadway Has Dropped Vaccine Mandate, COVID Testing Requirements

The Hollywood Reporter reported:

In May, Broadway quietly dropped its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Broadway actors and workers and moved to a more lenient testing model, which allows individual productions not to test cast and crew members on a weekly basis or to test as often as they want.

The decision to let the vaccine mandate expire, which had been set by Broadway producers in July 2021, came as part of a periodic review of COVID-19 protocols by the Broadway League, the trade association for producers and general managers, according to a spokesperson. The language now reads:  “Employees are encouraged to stay up to date on COVID-19 immunizations.”

Online Roulette: The Popular Chat Sites That Are Drawing in Children and Horrifying Parents

The Guardian reported:

Omegle is a type of video and chat roulette, with the tagline: “Talk to strangers!” There’s no need to register or log in, and you don’t need an app. Just go to the website, tick a box saying you’re 18 or above and you’re away — even if you’re not 18. Parents tell Guardian Australia that “playing” on Omegle is something kids do at parties, at sleepovers. It just takes one of the group to have a screen with internet access and before long they are chatting to strangers all over the world.

When Guardian Australia tried it, it was a whirlwind of man after man in a darkened room, waiting. You clock the stranger then chat or click and move on. Click, another man, click, another man. Click, three young girls sitting on a bed in their pajamas.

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) has recorded a dramatic increase in reports of online child sexual exploitation, from 17,400 in 2018 to 33,114 in 2021. The eSafety commissioner has warned that reports about technology being “weaponized to abuse children” surged since the start of the pandemic.

There has been a recent focus on the internet giants and what they are doing to combat abuse, but Omegle flies a little more under the radar. As does Roblox, a digital platform where people can make and share games and interact with other users’ avatars.

Meta’s New Facebook Parental Controls Show Social Media Still Doesn’t Like Responsibility

TechRadar reported:

Social media platforms have been facing criticism for their influence on young minds for at least a decade, and now Meta, Instagram’s and Facebook’s parent company, is implementing new features to actively address such concerns, such as the impact on teens’ mental health, across its platforms. These features include new parental supervision tools and privacy features.

Now, personally, I can see a lot of kids and teens simply choosing to not opt-in (I know I wouldn’t have), but what happens if a child does opt-in? Well, then the parents gain some control over their account, allowing them to impose a time limit, see and track who their teen/child follows or is followed by, and monitor how much time their kid spends on Instagram. However, the parents will not be privy to message content, which will remain private and encrypted.

It seems to me, the psychological problems caused and exacerbated by social media affect many demographics and age groups, with children being one of the most affected.

Social media companies still have plenty of incentive to keep us on their platforms for as long as possible, and this desire to keep us engaged appears to conflict with their responsibilities to safeguard their users — especially vulnerable ones. It seems if users really want to make sure they — and their loved ones — remain safe online, then the responsibility once again falls on the user.

Musk’s Tweet-Limiting Move Is to Prevent the Completion of the ‘AI-Censorship-Death-Star’

ZeroHedge reported:

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this weekend, you will know that Twitter CEO Elon Musk said Saturday that the social media platform will limit how many tweets users can read due to “extreme” levels of system manipulation and data scraping. Musk said in a statement that Twitter has applied the following temporary limits on users, with new unverified accounts limited to reading just 600 posts per day.

Musk said at the time that hundreds of organizations or more were scraping Twitter data “extremely aggressively,” with a negative impact on user experience. However, there may be more to this than ‘user experience’ deterioration, or an effort by Musk to force more monetization.

Musk hinted at the ‘other’ reason in April, when he threatened to sue Microsoft, which has invested billions into OpenAI, after accusing the company of using Twitter data for training. This brings us to Mike Benz’s excellent discussion this morning of what may really be going on behind the scenes, that yet again — the world’s richest man could be the only one uncancellable enough to battle.

Benz begins his trek with the statement: “AI censorship is where all of the magic happens.” He points out, the Twitter Files showed how The FBI might come in and get 22 tweets censored, but AI is how IEP (and other 3rd-party censorship groups) were able to get 22 million tweets censored.”

Before 2016, Benz explains, you could not ‘control’ the internet; but since then, there has been an “AI Censorship Deathstar” under construction, which “relies on massive scraping of Twitter data to track trending narratives, to systemically surveil, to build intelligence dossiers, and to track and turn down — all at once — communities online.”

Stop Using Google Analytics, Warns Sweden’s Privacy Watchdog, as It Issues Over $1 Million in Fines

TechCrunch reported:

Sweden’s data protection watchdog has issued a couple of fines in relation to exports of European users’ data via Google Analytics which it found breached the bloc’s privacy rulebook owing to risks posed by U.S. government surveillance. It has also warned other companies against the use of Google’s tool.

The fines — just over $1.1 million for Swedish telco Tele2 and less than $30k for local online retailer CDON — are notable as they are the first such fines following a raft of strategic privacy complaints targeting Google Analytics (and Facebook Connect) back in August 2020.