Crypto is fair and balanced ⚖️

4 min read

Georgia Iacovou

24 Jun 2019

🙋🏻‍♀️ Happy Monday, internet users 👉 £$¢Libra is coming 👉 a better virtual assistant 👉 and the ICO are… not GDPR compliant?

👩‍💻 Seen on the web-nets: Surprise, it’s Alexa!

An interesting take on consent: when you buy a new piece of hardware and do not quite notice that it means you have Alexa now. As we all know, handling consent is tough but I’m not sure this is a good approach…?

screenshot of a Tweet talking about Firestick turning TV into Alexa

For a better virtual assistant, have an Almond

I like virtual assistants as much as the next person (I don’t like them at all actually, but that’s besides the point), but by now we are probably all somewhat aware that they aren’t that good yet. Two reasons:

  1. You still can’t just say, “Alexa, play some Whitney Houston,” and be sure it will work.
  2. The tech-savvy consumer is becoming more and more aware that handing over this much voice data to Amazon, Google, Apple, and etc, is certainly problematic.

A research team in at Stanford has just received $3m to continue work on their solution for this, called Almond. With Almond, the folks at Stanford want to make it so that we can choose where the data that we produce is stored, and make everything more d e c e n t r a l i s e d which, to some, is a bit of a dirty word within the online landscape. I feel that funnelling data away from the big five is probably a good idea — the last thing they need is more data.

Further to this, Almond are saying that their assistant will just be better. They are working to make machines understand more nuanced and contextual commands — they want machines to actually understand how humans talk, basically. Not just the words. Amazon argue that having access to vast amounts of data is how you achieve this. Almond say that this is not necessary. Let’s hope they’re right.

Broke: Libra as a horoscope. Woke: Libra as a cryptocurrency

It’s finally happened: Facebook have done their own currency and yes, it’s on the blockchain. It’s called Libra, and the point of it is to make it so that those who are unbanked will now be liberated through the power of cryptocurrency. If you did not have access to money before, you will now. Unlike other cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) Libra will be stable and inexpensive. The broad strokes go like this:

⚖️ It’s a way to move money around internationally, without bank charges and slow transfer rates. It will also be stable because it’s backed by a reserve of assets, run by Calibra, which is the independent body set up to handle transfers.

⚖️ Right now the line is that in 2020, anyone with a smartphone will have access to Libra. You can use it with Messenger, WhatsApp, or the standalone Libra app. You can use it to send money to each other, or even to services (these are just rumours, of course. Lyft and Uber are partners so it seems viable)

⚖️ Facebook will not be solely in charge of this currency; The Libra Association contains many companies such as Vodaphone, Spotify, and eBay. While Facebook set up the association they say that by 2020 they will cease to be official leaders and all members will have equal voting rights.

⚖️ There are questions about privacy coming from all directions, but apparently that’s exactly what Calibra is for; to keep social media and finance as separate as possible (while using social media to directly pay for things). The person in charge of Libra has said, ‘we listened to what the people want’ and…

“They don’t want their social data co-mingled with financial data, and they certainly don’t want their financial data being used for ad targeting” David Marcus, head of Calibra

Okay all the ideas make sense: why not have a global currency? But it’s hard to imagine the execution seeing as no one trusts Facebook anymore. As you may have seen, the logo for Libra is a bunch of waves 🌊 let’s just hope we don’t wipe out.

Gif of a surfer falling into the waves

Even the regulator can’t handle GDPR 🤷🏻‍♀️

So what do we do when the body responsible for enforcing the rules — the ICO themselves — can’t understand the language used in the GDPR? Nothing. We just keep trying. The part they failed on was consent — probably the hardest part. Below is an email from the DPO in response to Adam Rose’s complaint.

Email from ICO admitting that their cookie consent is not GDPR compliant

At the very least, the ICO admitted their mistake and say that it should be all fixed as of today. Haven’t seen any changes yet but let’s hope they come soon and they are good. Don’t lose hope over this; all this does is demonstrate how hard it is to be GDPR compliant.

the author

Georgia Iacovou

Content Writer