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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Morin’

Apps Uploading Address Books Is A Privacy Side-Show Compared To DPI

February 15th, 2012 02:33 admin View Comments

While the hand-wringing over the future of journalism, blogging, the nature of conflicts of interest, yada yada, has been deeply interesting (alongside the personal attacks – we all like a good public fight don’t we?), it’s worth recalling that the furore was kicked off by a fairly pertinent point. To whit: Path was uploading user’s address books without their explicit permission.

Yes it was a rare omission by Nick Bilton to not call out the 50 or so other apps that often do this by default. But his essential point remains correct, and it’s kicked off a wave of excellent reporting into which apps behave like this, and why Apple has allowed this to go on for so long.

But while we continue to point the finger at startups with smartphone apps designed to be social, I’d like to remind Silicon Valley about another business which, despite claims to the contrary, is deeply interested in our private affairs, and is unlikely ever to be as contrite as Dave Morin was just recently.

I speak of the sector known as Deep Packet Inspection.

Now, while it’s not nearly as sexy as your latest mobile social iPhone app, DPI is likely to be just a little more invasive than the average Facebook-wannabe.

DPI allows network operators to delve into individual IP packets to develop an understanding of the type of content flowing through their networks.

Companies like NebuAd (which closed) and Phorm (dumped by BT, but continuing to cause controversy in its practices) have typically tried to shoe-horm themselves into ISPs as ad-targetting technologies.

But they’ve also become of huge interested to oppressive regimes over recent years.

The Iranian government, for instance, is probably not as interested in Path or Foursquare (I know, I know!), as it is interested in using DPI to censor and monitor Internet activity throughout the country. Indeed, we actually reported this back in 2009, long before the Arab Spring and the Green Revolution of the last couple of years.

In Iran, DPI is used to block certain types of content from being accessed within the country. Similar tactics have also been employed in China.

And, guess what, some of these companies have raised vast amounts of money.

Qosmos, a Paris, France-based network intelligence technology company, raised close to €20 million (approximately $28.5 million) in a deal that was co-led by DFJ Esprit and FSI, a French government fund just last year. Guys, Bivio Networks has $40.8 million in VC backing. Perhaps of interest?

There are lots and lots of DPI companies we could all be investigating, and asking which governments they are selling their technology to, right?

Here’s a list on Crunchbase we can start with. Companies like CloudShield, Procera Networks, Sandvine, Spotflux and WildPackets. OK, not sexy consumer startups, but – I’ll hazard – pretty interesting, especially when we want to talk about privacy.

Alas, I have to admit, while TechCrunch has chronicled the rise of Web 2.0 and social, our DPI tag is sorely neglected.

However, despite this neglect in the news stakes, DPI companies have not gone away, as sites like NoDPI.org attest.

Currently Phorm is working with Oi and Telefonica in Brazil, using the name ‘Navegador‘. In Romania, they are in cahoots with Romtelecom under the name ‘MyClickNet‘.

And they are working to become harder to detect on the grid.

Unfortunately, reporting on DPI is not exactly mainstream and quite patchy, judging by this simple Google news search.

But it has relevance to this debate about smartphone apps and address books. Because even if the likes of Path and others made sure any address book uploads were first opt-in, and then encrypted, DPI companies are continuing to think of ways to get around this. As this article notes ominously “DPI systems will still be able to function in an encrypted world.”

They, literally, have the technology to do anything they like. Dutch telecom company KPN has been caught scanning customers’ mobile-data traffic with DPI in violation Dutch privacy law.

Iran has continually used DPI to quell political activism. The AS12880 government proxy uses Deep Packet Inspection to detect and prevent attempts to establish an encrypted international connection, even for email and online banking sites. And unencrypted connections in Iran are scanned for specific terms. Try searching for information on how to create a Tor in Iran. It doesn’t work.

So, even though iPhone/Android apps makers might move to encrypt that data transfer of your address book, as Chris Dixon suggests, the reality is that if you are dealing in a jurisdiction where DPI is employed, your privacy is at risk.

So, may I humbly submit a suggestion: Yes, we should absolutely take startups like Path to task for their lapses. Yes, your address book is sacred.

But let’s also investigate the companies that are doing weird things with our private communications on a more – how can I put it? – industrial scale.

And there is an implicit problem here.

Silicon Valley blogs and news sites, quite rightly, continue to pore over the practices of mobile apps.

But it shows that the page views are to be found in talking about our mobile social apps spilling the beans on us. Yes, folks that little intimate app we know and love is actually screwing us from behind. Bam! – page impression spikes!

It’s going to be much harder to squeeze page views out of investigations into relatively unsexy DPI companies – and maybe that’s a problem we should really be concerned about.

Source: Apps Uploading Address Books Is A Privacy Side-Show Compared To DPI

Paris Lemon and the No Good, Very Bad Day

February 13th, 2012 02:00 admin View Comments

path150.jpgSometimes we have bad days. It’s a part of being human, part of working in a stressful time and place. Among the problems of being a blogger are that it exposes one’s weaknesses, magnifies the limits of one’s personal perspective, and often amplifies our feelings beyond what we might have intended. I have avoided being a blogger in the traditional sense partly because I’m fairly certain that you don’t care – nor should you – about these things as they pertain to me.

Andy Rooney was among the greatest news writers of his generation. But during the latter stages of his life, he complained about how awful life had become, about how things had ceased to be familiar any more, about how disruption had left his world a blur. Rooney’s complaints had become emblematic of what has been perceived as the decline of the role of television as an information medium. So when M.G. Siegler spends a few minutes with us in the same vein, complaining about how the object of his career up until recently has been “bulls—,” one wonders whether this should be emblematic of the end of something else.

The Path to Bulls—

Siegler, by any measure, is one of the more noteworthy bloggers of his generation, still contributing to TechCrunch while working now as an investor in the CrunchFund partnership. Yesterday, Siegler posted a critique of an online article by New York Times reporter Nick Bilton. His subject was a rundown of the unauthorized sharing of iPhone users’ address books by Path, and the subsequent apology from Path CEO Dave Morin, which RWW’s Jon Mitchell praised as “full of refreshing self-consciousness.”

NYT’s Bilton was disturbed by the sudden reversal of apparent public sentiment toward Morin, from indignation to outright support, which he credited to savvy public relations, especially toward the “technorati.” But along the way, his original story had some inaccuracies which NYT corrected, with its usual addendum.

Writing in his personal Paris Lemon blog, Siegler chastised Bilton for not doing the requisite legwork. Had Bilton taken the time to do more research, Siegler pointed out, he would have discovered that Path is not the only app uploading address books to Apple’s servers. “Apps that have been doing it for a long time. That actually would have made his point much stronger,” Siegler wrote. “But that would have been more work. And work is hard. Path was served up on a platter, the homework already done.”

Had Siegler stopped there, we might have considered this a valuable and important lesson. It has become commonplace for Web journalists and bloggers to acquire a story in its mostly, if not entirely, completed state, add one layer of informativeness or newsiness to it, and pass it along the pike. From there, someone may copy it in part or whole, perhaps adding another layer of commentary. Yes, that’s not a particularly ethical way to run a news business.

But Siegler was having a bad day. He had come to the deep, personal revelation that the world of investing into which he had entered, and the world of writing about investors which he has not entirely exited, were – in his words – “not aligned. At all.”

“More Bulls— Than Information”

(Do forgive me for not repeating Siegler’s words here verbatim, including several of the Seven Words You Can’t Say as compiled by the late genius George Carlin. I know writing in street language is oh-so-Hunter S. Thompson these days, but as both my longtime readers will know, as an editor, I tend to lean more towards Fulton J. Sheen.)

“Most of what is written about the tech world – both in blog form and old school media form – is bulls—,” remarks Siegler. “I won’t try to put some arbitrary label on it like 80%, but it’s a lot. There’s more bulls— than there is 100% pure, legitimate information.”

The reason, he reports (in exhaustive detail), is the relentless drive by advertisers for publishers to produce greater page views, which in turn means bloggers devote less time per story, thus reducing the amount of research they’re allowed to do to near- or absolute zero. It gets worse. Most tech bloggers don’t think, Siegler goes on. He himself pleads guilty as charged, adding that it was impossible to know the full extent of what tech bloggers do not know, until he could step outside the shell and observe them from the outside.

Now he realizes just how many different topics a blogger is expected to be an expert in, simultaneously. “You cannot be an authority on 20 different topics. You just can’t,” Siegler writes, in what should have been a concluding paragraph but wasn’t. “But people are trying to convey that they are. And there’s often a perception that they are. And this horribly broken system works from the perspective of the pageview machine.”

So here’s the problem: Some of us appear to have spent a great deal of our careers disrupting the monster that is mainstream media. In Andy Rooney’s day, these were the oracles from which all information flowed in regularly scheduled intervals and in properly proportioned nuggets. Why do people attribute that much authority to a single institution, folks asked?

But now that we have the floor and the spotlight is shining on us – all the myriad individuals who tore down the walls separating the people from open and transparent access to the information they need to live and work – all of a sudden, no one person can be an authority on twenty different things. Now the burden is too hard to bear. We redefined the news business from something about institutions into something about ourselves. We’ve deconstructed the three or four big silos and built a thousand smaller ones. And we’ve come to the realization not only of how under-informed we are, but how uninteresting we are to boot.

We Interrupt This Diatribe…

A news service can be an authority on twenty different things, or a hundred, or five hundred. It’s already happened, just deep in our past. An institution of reporters working together under established, trusted editorial leadership, sharing their knowledge and collaborating with one another, can and has earned a rightful place of authority in millions of people’s lives. Great news broadcasts, newspapers, and newsmagazines about the world and about technology were typically produced by a few dozen people.

Byte February 1983.jpgIt is perhaps the narcissistic nature of this generation that has led people to believe they work better in closets, collaborating to the extent that one can by way of the occasional tweet or IM. Fewer people indeed do generate more content per publication than ever before in history. But as Siegler himself correctly points out, the truth – if and when it ever does become known – is produced through a complex and often random exchange of data from one blogger to the next to the next. When you connect all the various blogs together into one steel-wool-shaped mass, and perceive the product rather than its individual threads as the modern engine of journalism, you realize that far more people are involved today in the production of a complete story than ever before. Each blog publication may act as a subatomic component in the creation of facts, and whatever else accompanies them; the greater molecule of news production is bigger, bulkier, and less efficient than ever before in history. Tens of thousands of people, all ping-ponging hyperlinks in M.G. Siegler’s pageview machine.

“I offer no solutions because my honest opinion is that nothing will change where we’re headed,” the TechCrunch writer closes. Well, okay then. We’ve had our tantrum, and now we’re exhausted and a little embarrassed. Thank you for your input.

My turn now. Journalism is not about being an expert about twenty different things. It’s about being interested in all of them, knowing how to ask questions, and how to elicit information from the answers. You do not have to be an expert in anything at all to be a journalist. In fact, your need to know must be more potent than your need to profess what you know. Your methodologies will improve, your insight will be sharpened, your ability to separate fact from filth will be well-honed.

But you can’t ask questions and expect answers in a vacuum. First, you have to open the f—tarded closet door and step outside. Breathe some clean air. Then start finding the right people to ask questions of. I strongly suspect it’s something M.G. Siegler is yearning to do anyway.

Scott M. Fulton, III is the author of this document, and is fully responsible for his content.

Byte Magazine cover, February 1983, from VintageComputers.net

Source: Paris Lemon and the No Good, Very Bad Day

Paris Lemon and the No Good, Very Bad Day

February 13th, 2012 02:00 admin View Comments

path150.jpgSometimes we have bad days. It’s a part of being human, part of working in a stressful time and place. Among the problems of being a blogger are that it exposes one’s weaknesses, magnifies the limits of one’s personal perspective, and often amplifies our feelings beyond what we might have intended. I have avoided being a blogger in the traditional sense partly because I’m fairly certain that you don’t care – nor should you – about these things as they pertain to me.

Andy Rooney was among the greatest news writers of his generation. But during the latter stages of his life, he complained about how awful life had become, about how things had ceased to be familiar any more, about how disruption had left his world a blur. Rooney’s complaints had become emblematic of what has been perceived as the decline of the role of television as an information medium. So when M.G. Siegler spends a few minutes with us in the same vein, complaining about how the object of his career up until recently has been “bulls—,” one wonders whether this should be emblematic of the end of something else.

The Path to Bulls—

Siegler, by any measure, is one of the more noteworthy bloggers of his generation, still contributing to TechCrunch while working now as an investor in the CrunchFund partnership. Yesterday, Siegler posted a critique of an online article by New York Times reporter Nick Bilton. His subject was a rundown of the unauthorized sharing of iPhone users’ address books by Path, and the subsequent apology from Path CEO Dave Morin, which RWW’s Jon Mitchell praised as “full of refreshing self-consciousness.”

NYT’s Bilton was disturbed by the sudden reversal of apparent public sentiment toward Morin, from indignation to outright support, which he credited to savvy public relations, especially toward the “technorati.” But along the way, his original story had some inaccuracies which NYT corrected, with its usual addendum.

Writing in his personal Paris Lemon blog, Siegler chastised Bilton for not doing the requisite legwork. Had Bilton taken the time to do more research, Siegler pointed out, he would have discovered that Path is not the only app uploading address books to Apple’s servers. “Apps that have been doing it for a long time. That actually would have made his point much stronger,” Siegler wrote. “But that would have been more work. And work is hard. Path was served up on a platter, the homework already done.”

Had Siegler stopped there, we might have considered this a valuable and important lesson. It has become commonplace for Web journalists and bloggers to acquire a story in its mostly, if not entirely, completed state, add one layer of informativeness or newsiness to it, and pass it along the pike. From there, someone may copy it in part or whole, perhaps adding another layer of commentary. Yes, that’s not a particularly ethical way to run a news business.

But Siegler was having a bad day. He had come to the deep, personal revelation that the world of investing into which he had entered, and the world of writing about investors which he has not entirely exited, were – in his words – “not aligned. At all.”

“More Bulls— Than Information”

(Do forgive me for not repeating Siegler’s words here verbatim, including several of the Seven Words You Can’t Say as compiled by the late genius George Carlin. I know writing in street language is oh-so-Hunter S. Thompson these days, but as both my longtime readers will know, as an editor, I tend to lean more towards Fulton J. Sheen.)

“Most of what is written about the tech world – both in blog form and old school media form – is bulls—,” remarks Siegler. “I won’t try to put some arbitrary label on it like 80%, but it’s a lot. There’s more bulls— than there is 100% pure, legitimate information.”

The reason, he reports (in exhaustive detail), is the relentless drive by advertisers for publishers to produce greater page views, which in turn means bloggers devote less time per story, thus reducing the amount of research they’re allowed to do to near- or absolute zero. It gets worse. Most tech bloggers don’t think, Siegler goes on. He himself pleads guilty as charged, adding that it was impossible to know the full extent of what tech bloggers do not know, until he could step outside the shell and observe them from the outside.

Now he realizes just how many different topics a blogger is expected to be an expert in, simultaneously. “You cannot be an authority on 20 different topics. You just can’t,” Siegler writes, in what should have been a concluding paragraph but wasn’t. “But people are trying to convey that they are. And there’s often a perception that they are. And this horribly broken system works from the perspective of the pageview machine.”

So here’s the problem: Some of us appear to have spent a great deal of our careers disrupting the monster that is mainstream media. In Andy Rooney’s day, these were the oracles from which all information flowed in regularly scheduled intervals and in properly proportioned nuggets. Why do people attribute that much authority to a single institution, folks asked?

But now that we have the floor and the spotlight is shining on us – all the myriad individuals who tore down the walls separating the people from open and transparent access to the information they need to live and work – all of a sudden, no one person can be an authority on twenty different things. Now the burden is too hard to bear. We redefined the news business from something about institutions into something about ourselves. We’ve deconstructed the three or four big silos and built a thousand smaller ones. And we’ve come to the realization not only of how under-informed we are, but how uninteresting we are to boot.

We Interrupt This Diatribe…

A news service can be an authority on twenty different things, or a hundred, or five hundred. It’s already happened, just deep in our past. An institution of reporters working together under established, trusted editorial leadership, sharing their knowledge and collaborating with one another, can and has earned a rightful place of authority in millions of people’s lives. Great news broadcasts, newspapers, and newsmagazines about the world and about technology were typically produced by a few dozen people.

Byte February 1983.jpgIt is perhaps the narcissistic nature of this generation that has led people to believe they work better in closets, collaborating to the extent that one can by way of the occasional tweet or IM. Fewer people indeed do generate more content per publication than ever before in history. But as Siegler himself correctly points out, the truth – if and when it ever does become known – is produced through a complex and often random exchange of data from one blogger to the next to the next. When you connect all the various blogs together into one steel-wool-shaped mass, and perceive the product rather than its individual threads as the modern engine of journalism, you realize that far more people are involved today in the production of a complete story than ever before. Each blog publication may act as a subatomic component in the creation of facts, and whatever else accompanies them; the greater molecule of news production is bigger, bulkier, and less efficient than ever before in history. Tens of thousands of people, all ping-ponging hyperlinks in M.G. Siegler’s pageview machine.

“I offer no solutions because my honest opinion is that nothing will change where we’re headed,” the TechCrunch writer closes. Well, okay then. We’ve had our tantrum, and now we’re exhausted and a little embarrassed. Thank you for your input.

My turn now. Journalism is not about being an expert about twenty different things. It’s about being interested in all of them, knowing how to ask questions, and how to elicit information from the answers. You do not have to be an expert in anything at all to be a journalist. In fact, your need to know must be more potent than your need to profess what you know. Your methodologies will improve, your insight will be sharpened, your ability to separate fact from filth will be well-honed.

But you can’t ask questions and expect answers in a vacuum. First, you have to open the f—tarded closet door and step outside. Breathe some clean air. Then start finding the right people to ask questions of. I strongly suspect it’s something M.G. Siegler is yearning to do anyway.

Scott M. Fulton, III is the author of this document, and is fully responsible for his content.

Byte Magazine cover, February 1983, from VintageComputers.net

Source: Paris Lemon and the No Good, Very Bad Day

Paris Lemon and the No Good, Very Bad Day

February 13th, 2012 02:00 admin View Comments

path150.jpgSometimes we have bad days. It’s a part of being human, part of working in a stressful time and place. Among the problems of being a blogger are that it exposes one’s weaknesses, magnifies the limits of one’s personal perspective, and often amplifies our feelings beyond what we might have intended. I have avoided being a blogger in the traditional sense partly because I’m fairly certain that you don’t care – nor should you – about these things as they pertain to me.

Andy Rooney was among the greatest news writers of his generation. But during the latter stages of his life, he complained about how awful life had become, about how things had ceased to be familiar any more, about how disruption had left his world a blur. Rooney’s complaints had become emblematic of what has been perceived as the decline of the role of television as an information medium. So when M.G. Siegler spends a few minutes with us in the same vein, complaining about how the object of his career up until recently has been “bulls—,” one wonders whether this should be emblematic of the end of something else.

The Path to Bulls—

Siegler, by any measure, is one of the more noteworthy bloggers of his generation, still contributing to TechCrunch while working now as an investor in the CrunchFund partnership. Yesterday, Siegler posted a critique of an online article by New York Times reporter Nick Bilton. His subject was a rundown of the unauthorized sharing of iPhone users’ address books by Path, and the subsequent apology from Path CEO Dave Morin, which RWW’s Jon Mitchell praised as “full of refreshing self-consciousness.”

NYT’s Bilton was disturbed by the sudden reversal of apparent public sentiment toward Morin, from indignation to outright support, which he credited to savvy public relations, especially toward the “technorati.” But along the way, his original story had some inaccuracies which NYT corrected, with its usual addendum.

Writing in his personal Paris Lemon blog, Siegler chastised Bilton for not doing the requisite legwork. Had Bilton taken the time to do more research, Siegler pointed out, he would have discovered that Path is not the only app uploading address books to Apple’s servers. “Apps that have been doing it for a long time. That actually would have made his point much stronger,” Siegler wrote. “But that would have been more work. And work is hard. Path was served up on a platter, the homework already done.”

Had Siegler stopped there, we might have considered this a valuable and important lesson. It has become commonplace for Web journalists and bloggers to acquire a story in its mostly, if not entirely, completed state, add one layer of informativeness or newsiness to it, and pass it along the pike. From there, someone may copy it in part or whole, perhaps adding another layer of commentary. Yes, that’s not a particularly ethical way to run a news business.

But Siegler was having a bad day. He had come to the deep, personal revelation that the world of investing into which he had entered, and the world of writing about investors which he has not entirely exited, were – in his words – “not aligned. At all.”

“More Bulls— Than Information”

(Do forgive me for not repeating Siegler’s words here verbatim, including several of the Seven Words You Can’t Say as compiled by the late genius George Carlin. I know writing in street language is oh-so-Hunter S. Thompson these days, but as both my longtime readers will know, as an editor, I tend to lean more towards Fulton J. Sheen.)

“Most of what is written about the tech world – both in blog form and old school media form – is bulls—,” remarks Siegler. “I won’t try to put some arbitrary label on it like 80%, but it’s a lot. There’s more bulls— than there is 100% pure, legitimate information.”

The reason, he reports (in exhaustive detail), is the relentless drive by advertisers for publishers to produce greater page views, which in turn means bloggers devote less time per story, thus reducing the amount of research they’re allowed to do to near- or absolute zero. It gets worse. Most tech bloggers don’t think, Siegler goes on. He himself pleads guilty as charged, adding that it was impossible to know the full extent of what tech bloggers do not know, until he could step outside the shell and observe them from the outside.

Now he realizes just how many different topics a blogger is expected to be an expert in, simultaneously. “You cannot be an authority on 20 different topics. You just can’t,” Siegler writes, in what should have been a concluding paragraph but wasn’t. “But people are trying to convey that they are. And there’s often a perception that they are. And this horribly broken system works from the perspective of the pageview machine.”

So here’s the problem: Some of us appear to have spent a great deal of our careers disrupting the monster that is mainstream media. In Andy Rooney’s day, these were the oracles from which all information flowed in regularly scheduled intervals and in properly proportioned nuggets. Why do people attribute that much authority to a single institution, folks asked?

But now that we have the floor and the spotlight is shining on us – all the myriad individuals who tore down the walls separating the people from open and transparent access to the information they need to live and work – all of a sudden, no one person can be an authority on twenty different things. Now the burden is too hard to bear. We redefined the news business from something about institutions into something about ourselves. We’ve deconstructed the three or four big silos and built a thousand smaller ones. And we’ve come to the realization not only of how under-informed we are, but how uninteresting we are to boot.

We Interrupt This Diatribe…

A news service can be an authority on twenty different things, or a hundred, or five hundred. It’s already happened, just deep in our past. An institution of reporters working together under established, trusted editorial leadership, sharing their knowledge and collaborating with one another, can and has earned a rightful place of authority in millions of people’s lives. Great news broadcasts, newspapers, and newsmagazines about the world and about technology were typically produced by a few dozen people.

Byte February 1983.jpgIt is perhaps the narcissistic nature of this generation that has led people to believe they work better in closets, collaborating to the extent that one can by way of the occasional tweet or IM. Fewer people indeed do generate more content per publication than ever before in history. But as Siegler himself correctly points out, the truth – if and when it ever does become known – is produced through a complex and often random exchange of data from one blogger to the next to the next. When you connect all the various blogs together into one steel-wool-shaped mass, and perceive the product rather than its individual threads as the modern engine of journalism, you realize that far more people are involved today in the production of a complete story than ever before. Each blog publication may act as a subatomic component in the creation of facts, and whatever else accompanies them; the greater molecule of news production is bigger, bulkier, and less efficient than ever before in history. Tens of thousands of people, all ping-ponging hyperlinks in M.G. Siegler’s pageview machine.

“I offer no solutions because my honest opinion is that nothing will change where we’re headed,” the TechCrunch writer closes. Well, okay then. We’ve had our tantrum, and now we’re exhausted and a little embarrassed. Thank you for your input.

My turn now. Journalism is not about being an expert about twenty different things. It’s about being interested in all of them, knowing how to ask questions, and how to elicit information from the answers. You do not have to be an expert in anything at all to be a journalist. In fact, your need to know must be more potent than your need to profess what you know. Your methodologies will improve, your insight will be sharpened, your ability to separate fact from filth will be well-honed.

But you can’t ask questions and expect answers in a vacuum. First, you have to open the f—tarded closet door and step outside. Breathe some clean air. Then start finding the right people to ask questions of. I strongly suspect it’s something M.G. Siegler is yearning to do anyway.

Scott M. Fulton, III is the author of this document, and is fully responsible for his content.

Byte Magazine cover, February 1983, from VintageComputers.net

Source: Paris Lemon and the No Good, Very Bad Day

Path Apologizes For Privacy Mistake. Do You Accept?

February 8th, 2012 02:48 admin View Comments

path_asleep150.jpgAfter an enterprising hacker discovered a privacy problem in beloved new social app Path yesterday, its creators have issued an update and an apology. “We commit to you that we will continue to be transparent and always serve you our users, first,” CEO Dave Morin writes.

Path was uploading iPhone users’ address books to its servers without asking. Today’s update, version 2.0.6, now prompts users to opt-in to the “Add Friends” feature, which is not mandatory. Path has deleted all the existing contact info from its servers.

pathsmash.jpgThis apology is full of refreshing self-consciousness. “As we continue to expand and grow we will make some mistakes along the way,” Morin reminds us. Everybody makes mistakes. And as we wrote yesterday, this was mostly just a procedural mistake. Path added the feature without asking its users first. If it had only alerted its users before uploading their contacts, most would probably have said “yes.”

There are some additional security measures Path could use with this contact information, as Matt Gemmell suggested in yesterday’s thread with Morin. The app could hash the information locally and then upload it. Path hasn’t taken that step yet, but it assures users that the connection is encrypted, and the data are stored behind a firewall. And now that it’s all opt-in, users are in control again.

So Path recovered as gracefully as possible. Do you accept its apology? Or did yesterday’s revelation do too much damage for you to trust the company again? It’s important to remember that you pay for free apps with your data. They’re going to do what they can to collect it, because that’s how they make money.

They should always ask the user for permission first. Apple requires app developers to ask the user for permission before gathering location data, and perhaps it should do the same for contacts. But the bottom line is that responsibility for user data starts with the user.

How much do you care about privacy when it comes to data like this? Is the price of free apps worth it? Share your responses in the comments.

path_thought.jpg

Source: Path Apologizes For Privacy Mistake. Do You Accept?

Path Apologizes For Privacy Mistake. Do You Accept?

February 8th, 2012 02:48 admin View Comments

path_asleep150.jpgAfter an enterprising hacker discovered a privacy problem in beloved new social app Path yesterday, its creators have issued an update and an apology. “We commit to you that we will continue to be transparent and always serve you our users, first,” CEO Dave Morin writes.

Path was uploading iPhone users’ address books to its servers without asking. Today’s update, version 2.0.6, now prompts users to opt-in to the “Add Friends” feature, which is not mandatory. Path has deleted all the existing contact info from its servers.

pathsmash.jpgThis apology is full of refreshing self-consciousness. “As we continue to expand and grow we will make some mistakes along the way,” Morin reminds us. Everybody makes mistakes. And as we wrote yesterday, this was mostly just a procedural mistake. Path added the feature without asking its users first. If it had only alerted its users before uploading their contacts, most would probably have said “yes.”

There are some additional security measures Path could use with this contact information, as Matt Gemmell suggested in yesterday’s thread with Morin. The app could hash the information locally and then upload it. Path hasn’t taken that step yet, but it assures users that the connection is encrypted, and the data are stored behind a firewall. And now that it’s all opt-in, users are in control again.

So Path recovered as gracefully as possible. Do you accept its apology? Or did yesterday’s revelation do too much damage for you to trust the company again? It’s important to remember that you pay for free apps with your data. They’re going to do what they can to collect it, because that’s how they make money.

They should always ask the user for permission first. Apple requires app developers to ask the user for permission before gathering location data, and perhaps it should do the same for contacts. But the bottom line is that responsibility for user data starts with the user.

How much do you care about privacy when it comes to data like this? Is the price of free apps worth it? Share your responses in the comments.

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Source: Path Apologizes For Privacy Mistake. Do You Accept?

Behold: Path Comes To Android In Public Beta

June 30th, 2011 06:17 admin View Comments

Well, well, well. It looks like everybody’s favorite limited social networking and photo-sharing app has finally come to Android. That’s right, Path announced via its blog that Path for Android will be available in the Android Market beginning today. And sure it enough, it is. Check it out. But this is by no means a finished product. Path considers Version 1.0 of its Android app to be a public beta, using it to test the waters and learn what works and doesn’t work as it ports to a new mobile OS.

This maiden voyage for Android has quite a few of the familiar features that Path fans have come to enjoy, but according to Path Co-founder Dave Morin, there’s much more to come.

For those unfamiliar with Path, the startup was founded in 2010 by Dave Morin and Dustin Mierau as an alternative approach to the idea of broadly sharable social information, targeting sharing among a smaller group of close friends and family. With a 50 friend limit, Path chose to offer no outside sharing features, Facebook, or Twitter. The team later amended this by adding a complementary app for Twitter photo sharing called With and has added a host of features, like Stacks, and more.

Since its inception, the startup has grown in fits and starts, but has been on a kick this year, turning down a $100 million acquisition offer from Google and raising an $8.5 million round from Kleiner, Index, and more.

Though the app got its start on iOS and has grown its feature set on Apple’s platform, today proves that there’s no OS bias over at Path. After all, it seems par for the course today for app developers to start with Apple before moving to Android. As is such, Path’s Android v1.0 doesn’t quite offer the full suite of features available on iOS, but it does include quite a few of the components Path is known for.

Users capture and share photos with the same 50-friend limit, tag moments with people, places, and things, view friends’ moments, and make use Path emoticons to let friends and family know how you feel about their pictures and moments. Users can also take advantage of chat, see when friends have viewed their moments, and even publish a few moments to Facebook.

It’s a great start for an Android public beta, and there’s more to come. As Path’s blog entry indicates, the startup will “continue to iterate and release updates with more features frequently”, and uses can expect things to improve rapidly as Path continues through beta.

Path is currently available for users of Eclair version 2.1 and up.

Source: Behold: Path Comes To Android In Public Beta

New Health-Focused Startup Accelerator Rock Health Debuts Inaugural Batch

June 18th, 2011 06:45 admin View Comments

If the numbers shared by Gigaom in this infographic are any indication, Venture funding has stormed back to where it was before the financial collapse in 2008. The amount of capital invested is on the rise, and the current climate is providing an excellent opportunity for startups looking to raise money. GRP Partner Mark Suster confirmed as much at his talk at the Founder Institute this week, in which he urged startups to raise in the current “frothy market” — especially ahead of a potential bursting bubble.

Though the market is indeed frothy: Venture funding in the Web grew by over $1 billion from the first quarter last year. Yet, of all the digital areas in which startups are raising the most money, health and medical-related investment is on the low end, receiving only 3 percent of venture funding over the last year. (Compared to social commerce which led at 22 percent and advertising, sales, and marketing, which came in at 14 percent.)

A new seed accelerator that launched earlier this year called Rock Health, is hoping to break that trend in favor of health-related mobile and web startups. Though health care only continues to advance thanks to technology, human health remains on the decline and related health costs are increasing. In fact, Americans spent $2.4 trillion on health care in 2008, despite having lower patient outcomes than comparable nations.

Thus, Rock Health has designed a program, not unlike Y Combinator, Tech Stars, and those before it, that accepts applications from startups during a month-long period, before undergoing evaluation by a panel of health experts and investors. The panel than selects 10 startups to enter into a five-month program that includes a $20K grant, office space in San Francisco, medical, branding, communications, and legal support — as well as mentoring and workshops given by experts in the industry.

Rock Health’s mentors include Path CEO and early member of the Facebook team Dave Morin, co-founder and EVP at RedOctane Charles Huang, and former FDA Deputy Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. And the program’s advisors include, among others, Twitter VP of Engineering Michael Abbott, co-founder of 23andMe Linda Avey, and founder and CEO of HealthTap and former founder and CEO of Wellsphere Ron Gutman. Besides an impressive list of advisors and mentors, Rock Health has also partnered with leading hospitals, like the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in an attempt to give its startups a leg up in building their businesses — and a better shot at funding down the road.

On June 20, the program’s inaugural batch of ten will begin the program. Below is a brief introduction to the eight of these cool health startups ready for preview. Check ‘em out, and please chime in to let us know what you think.

BrainBot helps individuals monitor and learn from their brain activity. Powered by state-of-the-art technology designed by Harvard and MIT trained researchers, BrainBot makes it easy to improve mental performance — from stress management skills, better focused attention, or increased meditation benefits.

CellScope builds systems for at-home disease diagnosis using smartphone cameras connected to a web platform. The company is piloting a smartphone attachment for at-home diagnosis of pediatric ear infections, which cause 30 million doctor visits annually in the US.

Genomera seeks to heal the world through personal health collaboration, connecting communities of people solving similar problems. The first product is a platform for crowd-sourced health science, enabling consumers to operate open health studies.

By creating the first transparent marketplace for healthcare, HealthInReach is making quality care more affordable and accessible. Patients who pay out-ofpocket medical costs can learn about doctors and dentists based on experience, reputation and procedure prices, and schedule in confidence at pre-negotiated group discount rates.

Omada Health will be among the first to apply the principles of social networking to the legitimate clinical treatment of a disease. Recently spun out of IDEO, we are creating a type 2 diabetes prevention solution that emphasizes community, education, and metrics. Progress will be tracked using novel connected-health technologies that will serve both as motivation for patients and as validation of outcomes.

Pipette allows doctors to monitor and educate patients throughout the course of their care using smartphones and tablets, helping to improve recovery and outcomes, and identify opportunities for proactive and preventative care. Pipette’s easy-to-read reports automatically identify patterns and outliers that can be critical to improving a patient’s health.

Skimble powers the mobile health & fitness movement through a platform of fun and interactive applications. Two top free Healthcare & Fitness titles that help motivate people to get and stay active are Workout Trainer (for iPhone/iPad), providing follow along multimedia workouts lead by real & virtual trainers, and GPS Sports Tracker (for iPhone and Android), enabling people to track & share over 45 different activities.

WeSprout is exploring the connection between health data and community. Soon, parents will be able to find relevant resources faster than ever and make better choices for their children’s health, supported by a community of parents who have been there before.

Source: New Health-Focused Startup Accelerator Rock Health Debuts Inaugural Batch

Behold: Facebook’s Secret Photo Sharing App

June 15th, 2011 06:04 admin View Comments

Last night, something very interesting came our way. Something massive — documents and images outlining what appears to be a new Facebook iPhone app built around photo sharing. We teased what we had with a single image last night. Now, as promised, here’s the rest.

A few notes: the images we have suggest that while polished, this still may be a work in progress. It’s clear that some of these mock-ups are older than other ones, given a few documents we have as well. Also, some images make it seem as if the service will eventually reside within the existing Facebook iPhone app, while others seem to showcase an entirely new app (or a completely redesigned Facebook app). It’s entirely possible that both will be correct. It would make a lot of sense for Facebook, which is by far the largest photo service on the Internet with close to 100 billion photos, to make their own dedicated photo app. The space is exploding with popularity right now as Instagram and others are gaining millions of users quickly. Regardless, Facebook’s focus on mobile photos going forward is very clear.

It also looks as if at least a part of these apps are using the some HTML similar to what has been recently rolled out to m.facebook.com. This is not surprising. Given their talk of commitment to HTML5, Facebook likely wants to make an app that is as portable as possible. That is, while it may be built first for iOS, it can easily be ported to Android and other platforms with the HTML5 elements in place.

The app seems to be a combination of Instagram, Color, Path, and even Path’s new side project, With. The last two are particularly interesting since those two projects are the work of Dave Morin, the former lead of Facebook’s Platform team. And while Path is tied in closely now with Facebook integration, With went with Twitter. Also worth noting is that Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom was once approached by Mark Zuckerberg about working at Facebook way back in 2004, after they caught wind of his first take on a photo sharing service. Systrom declined the invitation, and now Zuckerberg is a Instagram user (which also connects to Facebook).

Going back to Twitter, the obvious thing to say here would be that this is in reaction to Apple teaming up with that other social network for iOS 5. But this new Facebook app, which we’ve heard may be internally called “Hovertown” or “WithPeople”, has clearly been in development for quite a while. But it’s also true that Facebook and Apple had been talking about iOS integration at various points (notably for iOS 4, which obviously never happened).

Below, enjoy the full monty. Note the location elements, likes and comments, multi-picture mode, filters, multi-user albums, face-tagging, and more. I hope this app sees the light of day. It looks awesome.

And sorry, Facebook. But consider us even for the Facebook Fax thing. Finally.

Source: Behold: Facebook’s Secret Photo Sharing App

Stealthy Startup SnapGuide Closes $2+ Million Round

June 8th, 2011 06:32 admin View Comments

Talk about a happy birthday. SnapGuide, a stealthy mobile startup founded by Daniel Raffel and Steve Krulewitz, has just closed a funding round totaling over $2 million. The round closed today — which is also Raffel’s birthday.

Leading the round is Index Ventures (Mike Volpi will be taking a board seat), with participation from Atlas Ventures (Jeff Fagnan) and a number of angels including Dave Morin, Gary Clayton, SV Angel, and our own Michael Arrington.

So what exactly is SnapGuide? Aside from the name, there isn’t much to go by on the company’s homepage, which has the tagline “show and tell made mobile”. But we did get a bit more information.

In particular, Clayton’s investment is interesting — he’s the Chief Creative Officer over at Nuance, which is known for its powerful voice recognition software. Raffel isn’t sharing much about the company about this point, but he did confirm that it will include significant voice recognition capabilities.

Raffel is best for being one of the original creators of Yahoo Pipes, and Krulewitz was on Google’s Chrome team working on Sync — both left their jobs last summer and began working on this project in February.

The SF-based company is hiring.

Disclosure: As mentioned before, TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington is investing in SnapGuide. You can find his investment policy here.

Source: Stealthy Startup SnapGuide Closes $2+ Million Round

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