Archive for September, 2018

Until data is misused, Facebook’s breach will be forgotten

We cared about Cambridge Analytica because it could have helped elect Trump. We ignored LocationSmart because even the though the company was selling and exposing the real-time GPS coordinates of our phones, it was never clear exactly if or how that data was misused. This idea, that privacy issues are abstract concepts for most people until they become security or ideological problems, is important to understanding Facebook’s massive breach revealed this week.  The social network’s engineering was sloppy, allowing three bugs to be combined to steal the access tokens of 50 million people. In pursuit of rapid growth at affordable efficiency, Facebook failed to protect its users. This assessment doesn’t discount that. Facebook screwed up big time. But despite the potential that those access tokens could have let the attackers take over user accounts, act as them, and scrape their personal info, it’s unclear how much users really care. That’s because for now, Facebook and it’s watchdogs aren’t sure exactly what data was stolen or how it was wrongly used. The Hack That Broke The Camel’s Back? This could all change tomorrow. If Facebook discovers the hack was perpetrated by a foreign government to interfere with elections, by criminals to bypass identity theft security checkpoints and steal people’s bank accounts or social media profiles, or to target individuals for physical harm, out will come the pitchforks and torches.  Given a sufficiently scary application for the data, the breach could finish the job of destroying Facebook’s brand. If users start clearing their profile data, reducing their feed browsing, and ceasing to share, the breach could have significant financial and network effect consequences for Facebook. After years of scandals, this could be the hack that’s broke the camel’s back. Yet in the absence of that evil utilization of the hacked data, the breach could fade into the background for users. Similar to the tension-filled departures of the founders of Facebook’s acquisitions Instagram and WhatsApp, the brunt of the backlash may not come from the public. Facebook hack could hasten regulation as Sen. Warner says Congress must “step up” The hack could hasten regulation of social media. Senator Warner called on Congress to “step up” following the hack. He’s previously advocated for privacy laws similar to Europe’s GDPR. That includes data portability and interoperability rules that could make it easier to switch social networks. That threat of people moving to competing apps could succeed in compelling Facebook to treat user privacy and security better. The FTC or European Union could hand down significant fines to Facebook for the breach. But given it earns billions in profit per quarter, those fees would have to be historically massive be a serious penalty for Facebook. One of the biggest questions about the attack is whether the tokens were used to access other services like Airbnb or Spotify that rely on Facebook Login. The breach could steer potential partners away from building atop Facebook’s identity platform. But at least you don’t have to worry about changing all your […]

Carpooling service Klaxit partners with Uber for last-minute changes

French startup Klaxit connects drivers with riders so that you don’t have to take your car to work every day. And the company recently announced a new feature with the help of Uber. If your driver cancels your ride home, Klaxit will book an Uber for you. Klaxit is a ride-sharing startup that focuses on one thing — commuting to work. And this problem is more complicated than you might think. You can’t just go to work with the same person every day because you don’t always go to work at the same time. Similarly, sometimes your driver has to leave work early, leaving you at the office with no alternative. As a driver, you want to take the quickest route to work. So you want to be matched with riders who are exactly on the way to work. Klaxit currently handles 300,000 rides per day. In particular, the company has partnered with 150 companies, including big French companies such as BNP Paribas, Veolia, Vinci and Sodexo. Klaxit can be particularly useful for companies with large office buildings outside of big cities. Promoting Klaxit instantly fosters supply and demand from and to this office. But you don’t have to work for one of those companies to use Klaxit. Local governments can also financially support Klaxit to improve traffic conditions and mobility for users who don’t have a car or a driver’s license. “Subsidizing rides on Klaxit is 8 to 10 times cheaper than building a bus line,” co-founder and CEO Julien Honnart told me. One of the biggest concerns as a rider is that you’re going to be stuck at work in the evening. Klaxit is now asking its users to request a ride with two other drivers. If they both decline your request, Klaxit will book you an Uber ride to go back home. You don’t have to pay the Uber ride and then get reimbursed, Klaxit pays Uber directly. You don’t need an Uber account either as Klaxit is using Uber for Business. MAIF is the insurance company behind this insurance feature, and also one of Klaxit’s investors. This is a neat feature to convince new users that they can trust Klaxit. Klaxit competes with other French startups on this market, such as Karos and BlaBlaCar’s BlaBlaLines.