A weekly summary of what I’ve found interesting at the intersection of economics, finance and technology.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Sues Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI — The ACLU calls it a “nightmare scenario” for privacy. The state of Illinois is apparently a good place for this lawsuit since its privacy laws have good provisions on obtaining consent before storing biometric data. Let’s hope this ends in a win for the ACLU. Read (The Verge)
Criminal Group Auctions off Data Obtained Through a Ransomware Attack — A criminal group that holds companies to ransom by encrypting their IT systems and only providing the key against payments, has launched an auction to sell off data it obtained in one such attack, because the company is not paying said ransom. Read (Krebs on Security)
Specific wallpaper Image Bricks Some Android Phones — It’s not intentional, but the image is encoded in a colour space that causes Android phones to crash. Another illustration of the powerful combination of the huge increase in technological complexity we live in and the law of unintended consequences. Read (Techxplore)
The nature of digital economies, with increasing instead of decreasing returns to scale, exacerbate the interdependencies that have now been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Policy choices should start to reflect this. - Read (Project Syndicate)
This exposé of how food delivery unicorn Doordash hijacks local restaurants onto its platform is unbelievable, from selling products at a loss for market entry experiments and creating Google listings for the restaurant in question, all without their consent. This is outright sociopathic behaviour, enabled by years of tolerating such behaviour in the tech industry and aided by billions in venture capital money. This pattern, a business without a viable economic model causing collateral damage to other businesses that do, will leave everyone worse off. Read (The Margins)
I felt like I needed a shower after reading this investigation into scam face mask ads on Facebook. Read (BuzzFeed)
This sentiment has been voiced many times before, especially lately, but this description of an actual self-monitoring app for people in self-isolation really reads like a dystopian sci-fi novel. Read (Dialogues in Human Geography)
This study shows the EU’s GDPR has a harmful effect on competition, in particular that it entrenches incumbents. To me that doesn’t mean the regulation should be scrapped, on the contrary, but further solutions may be required to address this effect. Read (Journal of Competition Law & Economics)
That’s it for this week’s edition. As always, thanks for reading and please forward this to anyone who you think might be interested, it would be much appreciated.