You Can Now Stop Facebook From Tracking Your Activity on Other Websites. Here’s How
The ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ tool allows you to control what information about you is tracked and associated with your Facebook account.

As of Tuesday, you can now turn off the collection and sharing of data that sites and apps send to Facebook. You might have had some idea that Facebook was keeping tabs on what you do, but I’m willing to bet you’ll be surprised by the volume of information Facebook has about you. In fact, as I wrote earlier today, even your Ring doorbell app is sharing information with Facebook.

Websites and apps use Facebook’s Pixel and software development kit (SDK) to collect information about your device and your activity, and send that to Facebook. Facebook uses that information to then show you targeted ads.

It’s why people are convinced Facebook must be listening to their conversations since they see ads in their News Feed for the very products or items they were just talking about. Here’s a newsflash: Facebook doesn’t need to listen to your conversations. It already knows so much about you, it can practically read your thoughts.

If you don’t believe me, the “Off-Facebook Activity” tool that Facebook announced back in August is finally available. Go take a look at exactly what Facebook has collected about you. You might be surprised at all of the sites and apps you use on a regular basis who are sharing information about what you do.

Here’s how to find out what sites are sending information to Facebook about you. The “Off-Facebook-Activity” tool isn’t easy to find (though you can click that link to go directly to it). If you want to navigate there, click on the drop-down carrot in the top right of the desktop version of Facebook. Then select “Settings” and “Your Facebook Information.” There you’ll find an option for “Off-Facebook Activity.”

JASON ATEN

There you’ll find a list of all the sites that are sharing information with Facebook, and you can clear your history (removing this information from your account), turn off tracking for specific sites, or disable this tracking completely. To be clear, if you turn it off, Facebook will still receive information about your activity, it just won’t be associated with your account.

also, turning off this type of data sharing does mean that you won’t be able to use Facebook to log in to other apps or sites. Never mind that you shouldn’t be using it, for this very reason, but if you are, you’ll be logged out and have to create a new login for those accounts or apps.

I don’t often give Facebook credit for considering the privacy interests of its users, but this is a welcome step in the right direction. The company has often had a hard time balancing its need to know as much as it can about you so that it can monetize that information, with the ability for users to control what information is being collected and tracked. While there are still a lot of changes Facebook will have to make before it can really claim to be a “privacy-protective” platform, this is a good start.

14 January Patch Was the Last for Windows 7. Also Microsoft: Actually… Wallpaper-Stripping Bug Will be Fixed

Microsoft has quietly admitted that it will be fixing the final Windows 7 patch that left some stretched wallpapers borked.

It was to be the last hurrah for Windows 7: After the 14 January patch there would be no more freebies from Microsoft as extended support was turned off in favour of its paid-for Extended Security Update (ESU) program.

The up to three years of extra patches is being punted to enterprises or badly organised Germans, but out of reach for most ordinary users.

Those ordinary users, however, could be forgiven for feeling a little hard done by after an image of a favourite kitten or corporate logo was replaced, just by the act of applying the final patch — something more representative of the black heart of the Microsoft of yesteryear.

Microsoft updated its support page for the patch, suggesting those afflicted by the curse of KB4534310 should stop using the Stretch option wallpaper, or go for something that matched the desktop resolution.

Why Unlocking More Oil and Gas is Good for Every American – And the Environment

What if gasoline prices doubled?  In other words, if you had to pay $5.00 per gallon, how much would that hurt your life?

That’s what happened during the 1970s oil crisis. The Middle East-led Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) weaponized oil by embargoing the United States twice. At that time, America lacked the capacity to make up for the lost oil. In 1978, the average price per gallon was around 60 cents.  By 1981, it reached $1.35.  The economy went into severe recession and millions lost their jobs.

But more recently, major unrest in the Middle East has not affected Americans as strongly as it used to.

On September 14, 2019, Iranian-backed militias attacked the world’s largest oil refinery, in Saudi Arabia. The attack cut the refinery’s capacity in half.

But despite some expert predictions, oil prices barely flinched. Americans saw no price spike at the pump.

Iran escalated the violence. Its proxies assaulted the American embassy in Baghdad just before New Year’s Day. This attack could have sent fuel prices through the roof, hurting our economy. But even after the United States responded by killing the Iranian terrorist general who orchestrated the attacks, fuel prices rose a little and then dropped back to where they were before the hostilities. If you blinked, you missed it.

The likelihood that Iran or any other bad actor can use violence or weaponize oil to hurt the global economy has dramatically receded. Why?

American energy leadership is why. As the chief regulator of oil and gas production in Texas, I am on the front lines of American energy production. And I am seeing a revolution that helps all Americans.

Our modern economy needs energy. From the smart phone in your hand to the lights in your home to the electric cars more Americans drive, we depend on affordable and reliable energy. We have vast proven oil reserves, we have the technology to extract it, and under the Trump administration we have the freedom to produce it and get it to market. Americans produce oil and gas more affordably and reliably than anyone else.

This affects everything for the better, including the environment. When I was building my business, I visited about half the world’s refineries. No one produces energy more cleanly than Americans do. Some point to flaring natural gas as an issue. Natural gas is a by-product of oil production. No one likes flaring, but producers are flaring just one to three percent of the total natural gas produced in Texas.

The solution to flaring is not to slow down oil production, or ban fossil fuels as some suggest, but to speed development of pipelines and other capacity to get natural gas to market. America has actually reduced emissions faster than any other industrialized country, thanks to the market-driven switch to natural gas. We just need to get more of it to market here and around the world.

The United States was once desperately dependent on foreign oil. In 1973 we imported about 35% of our oil from the Middle East. In 2019, the United States became a net oil exporter. Now, we produce 12 million barrels per day (5 million in Texas alone) and import less than 10% of our oil from the Middle East.

We have diversified our other foreign sources. When we were dependent on Middle Eastern oil, American forces had to stand cop on the beat to keep the oil flowing through chokepoints such as the Straits of Hormuz. This made us more likely to get into wars. Now our energy sources are more stable and reliable than ever.

Energy is one cost that no one in our modern economy can avoid. Unlocking America’s energy makes us safer and richer. For the teacher or nurse making $60,000 per year, at current gas prices you’re paying about $2,600 per year for gas if you commute 25 minutes to and from work every day. A 1973-size gas price spike would raise your costs significantly, to around $4,000 per year – just to drive to work. The price of the electricity to power your home would also rise significantly. You’d feel that pinch right in the wallet. I’m working every day to make sure that doesn’t happen.

What do Americans really want from oil and gas producers? Affordable and reliable energy produced as cleanly and safely as possible. How do we get that?

Drill baby drill. Right here in America.

Ryan Sitton is the Texas Railroad Commissioner. 

Microsoft is replacing Edge with its new Chromium browser
Users will be automatically transitioned

Heads Up!

Microsoft is replacing its Edge browser with the updated, Chromium-based version

We already knew this was coming because Microsoft announced the new Edge’s launch date last month, but it wasn’t clear that users would be pushed to the new version. Thankfully it will look mostly the same as the existing Edge browser, with all the same proprietary Microsoft features, except for a slightly more Chrome-esque look.

THE BENEFITS OF SWITCHING TO CHROMIUM — Since the new Chromium Edge will be based off the same browser as Google Chrome, Edge will now support all the same extensions. Last month developers were invited to port their Chrome extensions over to the Microsoft Store, with the company saying that most extensions could be transferred over without any additional work. Edge is the default browser for all 900 million Windows 10 users, so there’s obviously an incentive there to port extensions.

Being based off Chromium also means that any site optimized for Chrome will look the same in Edge, because they share the same rendering engine, and web developers won’t have to design their sites with Edge in mind. That’s important because Chrome is by far the most popular internet browser with a 70 percent market share.

MICROSOFT HAS TAKEN STEPS TO MAKE IN UN-GOOGLE — Some might be displeased about the change due to opposition over Google’s business model. By developing on the open-source Chromium project, Microsoft is helping to improve Google’s browser, which it uses to collect data for advertising purposes. There was a brief uproar last month when world spread that Apple might rebuild Safari on Chromium, a rumor that was quickly killed to the relief of anti-Google, Apple loyalists. Microsoft has actually taken pains to introduce privacy features into its flavor of Chromium that will make it less permissive of the fingerprinting and other tracking methods that Chrome supports.

Microsoft says that enterprise customers won’t see their browser actually upgraded, but will rather have the choice to stick with the “traditional” Edge or the Chromium flavor.

The Real Reason the UN Wants Control Over the Internet

Obama allowed the US contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to expire in 2016. ICANN assigns IP addresses and maintains the stability and security of the internet. As planned, the UN picked up that contract and now has the power to throttle the Internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the big prize that will fund total control over human activity and is expected to generate $3-trillion in revenue by 2025 — and continue to grow by 30% per year. If the UN taxes the Internet of Things, as it plans to do, it finally will be self funded without relying on member states. ICANN has the ability to assign a unique and directly addressable number to every electronic device on Earth, including air conditioners, computers, automobiles, cameras, phones, refrigerators, articles of clothing, and much more…

The reason that ICANN formerly served the interests of the United States was simply that it answered to our government’s judicial, legislative and executive branches. In other words, the U.S. held the umbrella over ICANN and that was enough to keep it working for our national interests and not for someone else’s interests.

Obama changed that when he cut ICANN loose on September 30, 2016 by letting the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract expire without being renewed. After expiration, we forever lost the right to renew the contract again.

So, ICANN is now a “free-agent” looking for shelter in the same way that a boll weevil looks for a cotton plant: it needs a host organization in order to practice its craft, and, I dare say, it doesn’t care one whit who that host is.

Hundreds of millions of Android phone cameras can be hijacked by spyware.

Rogue Android apps can hijack the default camera apps on Google and Samsung smartphones, and probably the camera apps on many other brands of Android phones, to take photos and record video and audio without the device users’ permission.

The apps can also view phone locations and other apps’ files, turning the phones into perfect spying devices. Even the best Android antivirus apps might not be able to protect you.

This flaw has been patched in Google and Samsung devices, according to Checkmarx, the Israeli security firm that found the vulnerability. But it’s not clear how many other phone makers have taken similar steps.

Internet Must be Decentralized, Says Wikipedia Founder

In this exclusive interview with The New American’s Alex Newman, Wikipedia Founder Larry Sanger explained why he is now a critic of the online encyclopedia he helped to create. Sanger, who serves as executive director of the Knowledge Standards Foundation, blasted the liberal bias of Wikipedia, as well as the lack of public participation. He says the Big Tech companies have centralized the Internet, and that must be reversed. And finally, he talks about the pedophilia scandals involving elites from Silicon Valley, Hollywood, government, and beyond, saying humanity must understand how the world really works.

NOTICE: Facebook And Google Indexing Your Firearm Serial Numbers

Google and Facebook have now made it possible to find photos of firearms by simply typing a serial number into the search box.  Earlier today, the automotive website Jalopnik published a story showing how license plate numbers are evidently scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) on Google images, allowing them to be searchable using text queries. Using the OCR hypothesis, TFB wondered if this image data mining technique might be able to be used to search for firearm serial numbers. Using images posted previously on TFB with serial numbers displayed on firearms, we tested the serial number search technique.  As you can see from the results below, firearm serial numbers are in fact part of this apparent large-scale data mining operation by companies like Google and Facebook.

Facebook and Google are Reading and Cataloging Your Firearm Serial Numbers

It appears Google, with the help of Facebook, is archiving this information and making it easier to aggregate.  In order to further test this theory, I tried a different serial number, this time from a silencer review. Placing the search term in quotes, Google is forced to search for only that specific character string. Here are the results.

Facebook and Google are Reading and Cataloging Your Firearm Serial Numbers. If you’re an avid TFB reader, you might have read our article about how we’re not concerned about posting firearms serial numbers.  However, this does not mean that we should be complacent in the information that we share being controlled or censored.

It’s clear that the firearms community is not being singled out by this data mining operation.  And no, you as an individual cannot readily lookup someone’s personal information with only firearm serial numbers.  Regardless of this, Instagram is owned by Facebook, and YouTube is owned by Google.  As both of these companies are privately owned, but heavily relied upon, the knowledge of this publicly available data mine is unsettling.

Samsung proves the folly of so called ‘smart guns’

Why cant we have thumbprint guns, they said. It would work just like my cell phone, they said. Noted gun expert and Silicone Valley consultant Joe Biden has pushed this on many occasions.

“My cell phone – like yours -I just put my thumbprint on, and that is my access to everything. (…) Why can’t you do that for a gun?”

Well, Samsung just blew that entire argument out of the water, now didn’t they?

Headline: Samsung: Anyone’s thumbprint can unlock Galaxy S10 phone

DOH! Thats a big F-UP. Inconvenient if its a phone, tragic if its a ‘smart gun’.

The scanner sends ultrasounds to detect 3D ridges of fingerprints in order to recognise users.

Samsung said it was “aware of the case of S10’s malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch”.

South Korea’s online-only KaKao Bank told customers to switch off the fingerprint-recognition option to log in to its services until the issue was fixed.

Previous reports suggested some screen protectors were incompatible with Samsung’s reader because they left a small air gap that interfered with the scanning.

On This Day in Space Oct. 14, 1947: Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier


I’d like to think this was like it was.

On Oct. 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the first time! Yeager was a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force who made history by flying an aircraft faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager made his historic flight in a Bell X-1 rocket plane that he named “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife. Yeager had broken two ribs the night before when he fell off a horse, but that didn’t stop him!

His aircraft was dropped from a Boeing B-29 bomber before accelerating to a speed of Mach 1.07, which is about 821 miles per hour. The speed of sound, Mach 1, is about 760 miles per hour.

California Turns Off a Lot More Than Just the Lights.

Going solar isn’t necessarily any protection from California’s new “planned” power outages, and local residents and businesses are enduring a lot more than just a few inconveniences.

Bloomberg’s Chris Martin has a story on California’s troubles with one of my favorite headlines ever: “Californians Learning That Solar Panels Don’t Work in Blackouts.” Apparently, many of California’s would-be Earth-savers had no idea that just putting solar panels on their roofs doesn’t mean they’ll have power when PG&E switches it off. As Martin explains:

Most panels are designed to supply power to the grid — not directly to houses. During the heat of the day, solar systems can crank out more juice than a home can handle. Conversely, they don’t produce power at all at night. So systems are tied into the grid, and the vast majority aren’t working this week as PG&E Corp. cuts power to much of Northern California to prevent wildfires.

The only way for most solar panels to work during a blackout is pairing them with batteries. That market is just starting to take off. Sunrun Inc., the largest U.S. rooftop solar company, said some of its customers are making it through the blackouts with batteries, but it’s a tiny group — countable in the hundreds.

Martin quotes Sunrun Chairman Ed Fenster explaining that solar power with local battery storage is “the perfect combination for getting through these shutdowns,” although he fails to mention just what an expensive proposition that is, especially in the rural areas most affected by California’s return to the primitive. Fester, whose company sells those very batteries, expects battery sales “to boom” now that the promised blackouts have begun.

If you’re wondering what that smell is, it’s the scent of crony capitalism — and it stinks.

At UC Berkeley, where you’d expect all this planet-saving to be applauded, at least one student is probably less than thrilled. ABC7 reports that biochem grad student Sarah Morris says that the recent outage — again, a planned and on-purpose outage — “may have destroyed two years of her ground-breaking cancer research, valued at $500,000.” If you’re wondering what its value could have been to cancer victims who now might never receive the benefits of Morris’s research, I suspect you’re not alone.

Latest Mac Pro to be made in Texas after securing tariff exemptions.

Apple is boosting its commitment to the American workforce, part of a push to invest hundreds of billions into the U.S. economy.

In a major announcement on Monday, Apple said it will build its redesigned Mac Pro in Austin, Texas.

The move comes three days after U.S. trade officials approved exemptions that allow Apple to import key Mac Pro parts from China without them being subject to tariffs.

“The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer ever and we’re proud to be building it in Austin,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “We thank the administration for their support enabling this opportunity.”

ATF Admits No Legal Authority For Bump Stock Ruling

Show of hands, who has been paying attention to the various lawsuits dealing with the ATF’s reinterpretation of Bump Stocks? Because to be completely honest, I haven’t been paying as much attention as I clearly should have been. In their most recent court filing, the ATF has admitted some truly explosive news. Namely, they concede that they do not have the authority to reinterpret the definition of machine guns in the  bump stock ruling under the National Firearms Act (NFA).

ATF Admits No Legal Authority for Bump Stock Ruling

Let’s back up and provide some context. So, on December 26th, 2018, the ATF issued a final ruling on “bump stocks”. A bump-stock is a device that allows an operator of a firearm to simulate automatic fire by muscle power. While previously the ATF had decided that bump-fire or slide-fire stocks were legal devices, they then reclassified them as illegal machineguns. All current owners were ordered to destroy them. If you did not do so, you faced up to 10 years in federal prison.

Naturally, a lot of people became somewhat ticked off that the ATF would seemingly arbitrarily change their ruling to make thousands of Americans potential felons overnight. As a result, many people filed lawsuits. One such lawsuit was filed by the New Civil Liberties Alliance on behalf of plaintiff W. Clark Aposhian.

This Case in Particular

This lawsuit rests on a fairly straightforward presumption. The complaint states that since all legislative powers lie with Congress, the ATF, as a part of the executive branch, cannot reinterpret statutes to mean something else. Since the law regarding machineguns has not changed, bump stocks can’t be reclassified as machineguns.

There are another 30 odd pages of the original complaint, but that’s about the gist of things. Mr. Aposhian is a law-abiding citizen, the ATF told him that bump stocks were legal so he bought one. The filing states that the ATF lacks the authority to reclassify bump stocks, and thus the ATF has violated Mr. Aposhian’s constitutional rights, as well as exceeding its constitutional remit as part of the executive branch.

ATF Bump Stock Ruling Admission – Why Should We Care?

The million-dollar question. Why do we care? Because as of September 18th, the ATF has written a court brief that admits it exceeded its constitutional remit as part of the executive branch. The court filing states specifically that;

The statutory scheme does not, however, appear to provide the Attorney General the authority to engage in “gap-filling” interpretations of what qualifies as a “machinegun”. Congress has provided a detailed definition of the term “machinegun”…

The New Civil Liberties Alliance, on behalf of Mr. Aposhian, quickly filed a for a preliminary injunction. Essentially, as Mr. Aposhian has suffered “irreparable harm” from the deprivation of his lawfully-acquired bump stock, and the ATF (in the opinion of the Plaintiffs) clearly lacks the authority to cause such deprivation, the Final Rule on Bump Stocks should be struck down.

NCLA Brief

ATF’s Brief on the bump stock ruling is behind a login-wall in the PACER system. It can be found in the 10th Circuit Court’s filings, case number 19-4036, Aposhian v. Barr, et al.


ATF Admits It Lacked Authority to Issue Legislative Rule, NCLA Condemns the Agency’s Attempt to Ban Bump Stocks Anyway

This case is not about whether gun control is a good idea. Rather, Mr. Aposhian’s appeal raises key issues about how an agency may create such a ban—that is, whether agency regulations may contradict a statute passed by Congress. The appeal also challenges the notion that a mere interpretive rule can bind third parties, such as owners of bump stocks.

The bump stock rule made it a new federal crime to own a bump stock, even one purchased with ATF’s prior permission. ATF knows it didn’t have the authority to enact such a law. Instead of defending the rule, ATF now pretends the ban is just a recommendation for the public. NCLA is confident the court will see through ATF’s games and strike down this invalid rule.” Caleb Kruckenberg, Litigation Counsel

ATF is caught between a rock and a hard place. The agency lacks legal authority to issue a so-called legislative rule, but a mere interpretive rule is not legally allowed to bind any third parties outside the government. By ordering half a million bump stock owners to surrender their devices—or face prosecution—ATF has acted in a completely unconstitutional fashion. It is high time for the federal courts to put a stop to this regulatory nonsense.”
Mark Chenoweth, Executive Director and General Counsel

Congress could have passed bipartisan legislation making bump stocks illegal. Instead, ATF has tried to ban them via administrative action in the Bump Stock Final Rule. This Court has a constitutional obligation to strike down ATF’s attempted legislative rewrite. Otherwise, the Executive Branch will usurp Congress’ legislative function in other areas, and the Constitution’s careful limits on how laws are made will be undone.

SMART FAUCETS AND TOILETS USE ALEXA TO LISTEN TO YOUR CONVERSATIONS

That is if you have these ‘smart’ devices in your home.

(Mass Private I) It is hard to imagine a more intrusive home surveillance device than a faucet or toilet that listens to everyone’s conversations, but that is just what Delta Faucet and Kohler have done.

Delta Faucet’s “Voice IQ” takes advantage of where lots of people like to congregate and turns it into an Alexa eavesdropping center.

“Designed with the understanding that 20 percent of all WiFi-enabled homes are equipped with a connected home device, VoiceIQ Technology pairs with existing devices to dispense the exact amount of water needed, all with a simple voice command.”

SMART FAUCETS AND TOILETS USE ALEXA TO LISTEN TO YOUR CONVERSATIONS
Posted on September 17, 2019
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(Mass Private I) It is hard to imagine a more intrusive home surveillance device than a faucet or toilet that listens to everyone’s conversations, but that is just what Delta Faucet and Kohler have done.

Delta Faucet’s “Voice IQ” takes advantage of where lots of people like to congregate and turns it into an Alexa eavesdropping center.

“Designed with the understanding that 20 percent of all WiFi-enabled homes are equipped with a connected home device, VoiceIQ Technology pairs with existing devices to dispense the exact amount of water needed, all with a simple voice command.”

Delta lets Alexa decide how much water everyone gets.

“VoiceIQ Technology allows users to easily warm water and turn it on and off with voice activation, lending a hand in an active kitchen space. Consumers can command the faucet to dispense a metered amount of water in various quantities for precise measurement. Additionally, consumers can customize commands to make everyday tasks easier, like filling a coffee pot, a child’s sippy cup, or a dog bowl.”(To learn more about Voice IQ click here.)

What they are really saying is Amazon will now monitor your home and individual water usage.

How is that for Orwellian?

Install Alexa in your kitchen at you own peril:

I cannot tell you how often TV shows like “Buying Hawaii” or “Caribbean Life“ show prospective homeowners discussing how they want to entertain friends and family in their new kitchen.

So despite what Delta’s promotional video says, “the kitchen is not a great place for some hands-free help.”

I mean who in their right mind thinks that Alexa’s “hands free help” does not include moderators listening to your conversations while entertaining?

The Real Robot Threat.

In the fall of 1989, the peoples of Eastern Europe rose up against their Communist oppressors. The tyrants ruling these nations had no moral compunction about shooting their subjects down, but fortunately, they couldn’t count on their armed forces to do it. So the Iron Curtain fell, and two years later, even the mighty Soviet Union was brought down when the Red Army, sent into Moscow, refused the orders of those attempting to brutally reinstate Stalinist rule.

But imagine what might have occurred had those soldiers been not human beings but robots, lacking in any sympathy or humanity, ready, willing, and able to reliably massacre anyone the authorities chose to be their targets.

This is the threat posed by the emerging technology known as “autonomous weapons.”…………….

This danger is illustrated by a recent paper written by a committee of artificial-intelligence experts, which included both strong advocates for autonomous weaponry and some with more cautious attitudes. Reaching a compromise, the group proposed that:

States should consider adopting a 5-year, renewable moratorium on the development, deployment, transfer, and use of anti-personnel lethal autonomous weapon systems . . .

The moratorium would not apply to:

  • Anti-vehicle or anti-materiel weapons

  • Non-lethal anti-personnel weapons

  • Research on ways of improving autonomous weapon technology to reduce non-combatant harm in future anti-personnel lethal autonomous weapon systems

  • Weapons that find, track, and engage specific individuals whom a human has decided should be engaged within a limited predetermined period of time and geographic region.

One cannot help but note that most of the applications called out to be excluded from the moratorium are those directed against civilians, rather than opposing armed forces.

A Modest Reaction to HARPA

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Cooke, add the ‘/sarc’ tag

The Washington Post reports:

The White House is considering a controversial proposal to study whether mass shootings could be prevented by monitoring mentally ill people for small changes that might foretell violence.

Former NBC Chairman Bob Wright, a longtime friend and associate of President Trump’s, has briefed top officials, including the president, the vice president and Ivanka Trump, on a proposal to create a new research agency called HARPA to come up with out-of-the-box ways to tackle health problems, much like DARPA does for the military, say several people who have briefed.

. . .

Advisers to Wright quickly pulled together a three-page proposal — called SAFEHOME for Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes – which calls for exploring whether technology like phones and smart watches can be used to detect when mentally ill people are about to turn violent.

At first, I was horrified by this idea. But then I remembered that it’s “time for leadership” and that we have to “do something,” and all my objections disappeared upon the instant. Sure, there are obvious Fourth Amendment problems here. But, when you think about it, there’s no way that the Founding Fathers could have imagined cell phones or smart watches (where exactly does the Constitution mention them!?) — and, anyway, if you read the Fourth Amendment’s text you’ll notice that it uses the same “right of the people” language as does the Second Amendment, and that it should therefore be read to apply not to individuals but collectively.

The question we have to ask here is whether the freedom to use a high-bandwidth telephone is really more important than the lives of our kids. As the Trump administration has made clear, HARPA wouldn’t ban cell phones outright; it would just impose some common sense safety regulations on their use. What’s the problem? As one of the project’s architects has asked:

“To those who say this is a half-baked idea, I would say, ‘what’s your idea? What are you doing about this?’ ” said Geoffrey Ling, the lead scientific adviser on the HARPA proposal.

Exactly!

Google is always listening. Now it’s watching, too, with the Nest Hub Max

With the new Nest Hub Max, Google is adding an eye to its talking artificial intelligence. When I flash my palm at the device, a camera spots me and immediately pauses my music. Talk to the hand, robot!

When I walk by a Hub Max, the Google Assistant greets me on its screen, “Good afternoon, Geoffrey.”

This wizardry is made possible by facial recognition. The $230 Nest Hub Max offers a glimpse of how this controversial tech might be used in our homes – if people aren’t too turned off by the privacy implications.

Living with Google’s latest creation for a few days embodied the cognitive dissonance of being a gadget guy in 2019. You can appreciate the fun and wonder of new technology that you also know brings new concerns. I kept wondering: Do any of these camera functions make it worth bringing face surveillance inside my home? Despite some applaudable privacy protections from Google, my family never got to a yes………..

Ultimately, the Hub Max suffers from the same affliction as many new Google products: It’s frighteningly advanced technology that hasn’t identified the problem in our lives that needs solving. None of the camera functions the Hub Max offers today make it worth bringing surveillance inside my house.