script src="//load.sumome.com/" data-sumo-site-id="aa6c3d60b32e5862815eb98663e1413c4f7864fbc2afb58dd5f1de51d4a7cfe4/script Talkpropeller's Articles: 2015-02-22

Art for art sake

Art for art sake

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Who’s Making The Money When Your Smart TV Watches You Back?




We’ve heard plenty of times in the past few years that if you have a smart TV — one that’s internet-enabled, for all that app goodness — that it might be watching you just as much as you watch it. Samsung in particular generates a lot of questions about how secure your data is with your TV, as do LG and Vizio. But there’s a missing piece to the equation. If your TV is watching you, why? Who stands to gain (in the sense of cold hard cash) from your data?

That’s what our colleagues over at Consumer Reports (Consumerist’s parent company) decided to find out.


Your TV is collecting and sending data about everything you watch — TV, streaming content, or discs — to a third party, CR explains. And those three companies have been doing it since as far back as 2012. The process is known as automatic content recognition (ACR), and there’s an entire industry now built on collecting and making money from viewer behavior data.


And the data is indeed valuable, to the right buyers. After all, if the TV is recording everything you watch, isn’t that more accurate and granular than relying on a Nielsen estimate? Content providers would pay well to get to-the-second viewership data.


And of course, there’s endless advertising potential. Companies could buy ad space directly on your TV, bypassing the network level altogether. If you’re watching a TV show with a certain actor in it, why wouldn’t the TV want to try to sell you that actor’s book? Or a movie they were in? Or airplane tickets to the glamorous place they’re visiting?


There are several different companies whose software is embedded into smart TVs. CR names Cognitive Networks, Enswers, and Gracenote as just a few. Those companies monitor the video and/or audio that the user is consuming. The software then captures a “fingerprint” of the content, phones home with it, and a remote server reads the fingerprint and reports back, “That’s Game of Thrones, season 2, episode 4″ or whatnot.


And since all this data does fly back and forth among so many points, it’s leaving a lovely trail of breadcrumbs that adds up to a pretty significant picture of your household’s viewing history, all in the hands of some middleman company (or companies) you’d otherwise never hear of.


Even worse, CR points out, consumers have no real way of knowing what they’re agreeing to when they buy and set up their new TVs. One LG set that Consumer Reports tried had more than 6000 words of legal disclosures to read through in order to be fully informed. The Samsung user agreement spanned 47 separate pages… all of which you can of course agree to with a single click.


The end result? Consumers who are having the most boring and innocuous evening possible, kicking back with an hour of reality TV and a frothy beverage, are being watched and targeted in their own living rooms in ways they may not even realize.


The good news, CR says, is that consumers can opt out. They just have to dig through their TV settings for a few hours to find the right setting first.


Samsung, LG, and Vizio smart TVs are recording—and sharing data about—everything you watch [Consumer Reports]




by Kate Cox via Consumerist

UNESCO says IS museum attack "appalling"

The United Nations body that protects world heritage sites says a recent Islamic State attack on an Iraqi antiquities museum was "appalling" and designed to threaten regional stability. Mana Rabiee reports.



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Images of February

Images taken by Reuters photographers from around the world for the month of February 2015, from the war in Ukraine and fighting Islamic State, to New York Fashion Week and Oscars, as well as other moments of everyday life. Produced by David Lucas.



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Nasdaq gains nearly 0.2% for week, jumps 7.1% for month

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Dow dips less than 0.1% for week, rises 5.6% for month

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Nasdaq finishes down 0.5%, stays below 5,000

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Dow ends down 81 points, or 0.5%, according to early data

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Friend's little brother was told not to blink during school picture day.

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Baby gorilla melts hearts at Chicago zoo

A baby gorilla's loving gaze melts hearts, as she makes her debut at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).















by via Reuters Video: Latest Videos UK

Chadian troops hunt down Boko Haram in Nigeria

Morale is high amongst Chadian troops fighting Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. Nathan Frandino reports.















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Senators Chastise Govt. For Making Money Off Struggling Student Loan Borrowers, Not Offering Enough Relief


For several years now the government has offered federal student loan forgiveness programs aimed at helping borrowers to avoid defaulting on their debts. While recent reports have shown that the popularity of the programs has exceeded expectations, a group of six senators say the Department of Education could do more given the billions of dollars in payments it receives from federal loans each year.

Six senators — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH), Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI), and Sen. Edward Markey (MA) — sent a letter [PDF] to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan scolding the Department for turning federal student loans into a source of revenue while students struggle to make ends meet.


The Department is “squeezing students who are struggling to get an education” in order to maximize profits, the senators say, pointing to the Congressional Budget Office’s most recent estimates indicating that the federal government is expected to produce $110 billion in profits from its student loans over the next decade.


“Congress did not create federal student loans to generate revenue for the federal government – to the contrary, it gave the Department of Education a host of tools to ensure that federal student loan borrowers are treated fairly and with dignity,” reads the letter.


Instead of using those tools and following Congress’ directives, the senators say the Department has continued to let student loan borrowers be buried in debt.


As an example, the letter cites the Department’s failure to give borrowers a clear idea of how to exercise an option under the Higher Education Act that allows for the cancellation of student loan borrowers’ debts the college acts in a way that hurt the quality of their education or their finances.


“Similarly, the Department of Education has broad authority to compromise, modify, discharge, and cancel student debts,” the letter states. “Instead, the Department continues to gouge borrowers who struggle to meet their payments, subjecting them to debt collection, wage and benefit withholding, and other harsh penalties even when it is clear that the debtors can not pay.”


The senators also pointedly accuse the Department of failing to protect students from collapsing for-profit college chain Corinthian Colleges Inc. last year.


“The Higher Education Act also requires the Department of Education to offer student loan discharges to students whose colleges close their doors,” the letter states. “Instead, last year the Department of Education undertook an elaborate plan to use federal funds to bail out …Corinthian Colleges, Inc. and deprive students of the ability to discharge their federal student loans.”


The senators say they aren’t asking the Department to stop making money off federal loans, they are asking that more steps be taken to ensure “vulnerable young people struggling with the burden of federal student debt have meaningful opportunity to build a sting future for themselves and their families.”


Senators to Education Department: Stop Profiting Off Student Loans and Fulfill Congressional Directives to Help Struggling Borrowers [Sen. Elizabeth Warren]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Answer on an English Exam paper

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It's up to you now, Sheldon. RIP Mr. Nimoy

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April Brent crude up $2.53, or 4.2%, to end at $62.58/bbl on ICE

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April WTI oil up $1.59, or 3.3%, to settle at $49.76/bbl on Nymex

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Stocks weaken further, dipping to session lows

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