By not informing its users about what data it collects and by not asking for permission, Google is breaking the Dutch data protection act, privacy watchdog CBP said in a press release last Thursday.
The investigation shows that Google combines personal data relating to Internet users that the company obtains from different services. Google does this, amongst others, for the purposes of displaying personalised ads and to personalise services such as YouTube and Search. Some of these data are of a sensitive nature, such as payment information, location data and information on surfing behaviour across multiple websites. Data about search queries, location data and video’s watched can be combined, while the different services serve entirely different purposes from the point of view of users.
Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet points to a peculiarity of Dutch privacy law that says you have to ask users for informed consent. It’s not enough to say ‘this is how we deal with your privacy’, users should be able to understand what is going to happen and say ‘no’ before it happens. Also, Google shouldn’t say what they could do with your data, they are obliged to say what they will do with your data.
Apparently Google tried to defend themselves by claiming they do not collect personal data, they merely create profiles. CBP quotes Google’s own CEO Eric Schmidt back at them who once stated: “We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” Google’s chief Internet evangelist (and Internet co-inventor) Vint Cerf said two weeks ago at a privacy and security workshop of (of all people) the US Trade Commission (40 minutes into the video): “I would not go as far as to simply, baldy assert that privacy is dead. [...] But let me tell you that it would be increasingly difficult for us to achieve privacy. I want you to think for just a minute about the fact that privacy may actually be an anomaly.”
Engelfriet concludes: “Google of course believes the criticism is invalid and uses a barrage of marketing language [...] to keep dancing around the issue. And that is all that will happen. I don’t see what kind of effective measures CBP can take to make Google fundamentally change its ways—which is a pity, because this is one of the most substantial reports CBP has issued in a long time.”
(Link: the Register; photo by Jeff Schuler, some rights reserved)
Tags: Eric Schmidt, Google, privacy, Vint Cerf
Popular Dutch social network Hyves will stop operations on 2 December, Parool reported last month.
Although the paper doesn’t mention why the site is shutting down, it’s likely because Hyves was haemorrhaging visitors to Facebook, which offers a similar experience but to an international audience. The international ambitions of Hyves can presumably best be summed up by its name, which is the English word (spelled slightly different) for a skin rash. Marketing Facts reported in March 2012 that Hyves led Facebook by almost 3 million unique Dutch visitors in December 2010. Twelve months later that number was reversed. (The Netherlands has approximately 16 million inhabitants, 10 million of whom were Hyves members at the site’s peak .)
Starting today Hyves allows users to download the photos, videos, messages and so on that they left on the site. The download window is only two weeks. Parool further reports that the Hyves servers currently hold over 1 petabyte in data. Although Hyves will stop as a general social network, it will try and continue as a gaming website.
Update 17 November 2013: Volkskrant reports that Dutch people in their late teens are abandoning Facebook in droves. Of those aged 16 – 19 who had a Facebook account last year, 52% had abandoned their account by this year. On the whole Facebook is still growing though. Volkskrant suspects young people simply do not want to share a network with older relatives.
(Photo of a bus stop ad by Patrick Nielsen Hayden showing how in 2009 Hyves was considered the prime application of a smart phone, some rights reserved)
Tags: Facebook, Hyves, Internet
Dear big cheeses at Philips,
You do realise that your new logo is just a revamping of the old one, with elements from back in the days when you guys were making radios and light bulbs. Sure, retro can be cool, but one wonders about how much work was really put into this as opposed to how well it was pitched to you as being new. In other words, it kind of looks as if you’ve been had: the logo looks like it belongs on a football jersey and the redesigned waves remind me of Pepsi Cola.
Your last pay-off, ‘Sense and Simplicity’, sounded too much like the novel ‘Sense and Sensibility’ by Jane Austen, but I’m sure you got that a lot. ‘Simplicity’ was never really a good idea since you make very complicated products for medical purposes and not just coffee machines for the masses. I could speculate that you were more concerned with trying to convince yourselves than your intended consumers.
Your new pay-off, ‘Innovation and You’, tells me you’ve figured out that ‘simplicity’ was not the way to go and that everyone should benefit from innovation when they buy your products. I like that. However, your retro logo seems to contradict your pay-off: you are trying to move forward while clinging to the glories of the past. That is what hipsters are doing and it’s not really working for them either.
(Link and screenshot: www.amsterdamadblog.com)
Tags: logo, Philips
Mobile phone manufacturer Motorola has announced it will be working with Dave Hakkens on his modular phone project Phonebloks.
More precisely, Motorola has been working on its own modular system in the past year called Project Ara, which is designed to be “a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”
The manufacturer will now be “engaging with the Phonebloks community throughout [Project Ara's] development process.” The idea behind Phonebloks is to create a modular phone to combat electronic waste—instead of throwing out an entire phone because a component is broken, you swap out the broken component instead. Phonebloks is looking for manufacturers who want to work in their ecosystem.
Motorola was once a major player on the mobile phone market. It was recently acquired by Google. Dave Hakkens is a 2013 graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven.
(Via The Verge)
Tags: Dave Hakkens, Design Academy Eindhoven, Eindhoven Design Academy, Google, GSM, mobile phones, Motorola, Phonebloks, Project Ara
Dutch dictionary Van Dale is considering a bunch of English words as well as translated English words to be included into the Dutch language. The words are often slang that goes mainstream and IT-related words.
Selfie – Same meaning and spelling as in English, taking a picture of yourself with a mobile phone.
Shishapen – In English ‘shisha pen’, an electric cigarette, shisha being of Egyptian origin.
Sukkelseks – Dutch for low-quality sex, although I thought it meant ‘pity sex’.
Gamechanger – ‘Game changer’, used by politicians and business people.
Factchecken – ‘Fact checking’, since the Dutch already use ‘checken’ (‘to check’) because it is more to the point than a Dutch construction.
3D-printer – Again the Dutch use ‘printer’, so this is a logical extension.
In May of this year, words like ‘religiestress’ (‘religion stress’, stress caused by religious beliefs) and ‘chillaxen’ (‘to chillax’, a slang word that combines ‘chill and relax’) were added to the online version of the Van Dale.
And finally words that are actually Dutch: ‘vingerpistool’ (‘finger pistol’, a gesture that indicates you’re shooting at someone) and ‘roeptoeteren’ (roughly pronounced ROOP-too-tee-ren), to give your opinion in a really loud and poorly considered manner.
(Links: www.nieuws.nl, www.rtlnieuws.nl)
Tags: dictionary, Van Dale
Back in 2011 we told you about a woman who refused to be fingerprinted to get a new Dutch passport. Although she finally got one, she definitely made her point of not wanting to let the government store her fingerprints in a database that could be used for other purposes.
The European high court has declared that using fingerprints in a passport is fine, but storing them in a centralised or decentralised database is illegal, as it does not serve the purpose of the passport. Furthermore, there is ‘no legal basis’ for storing the fingerprints, as they could be used for other purposes. Pursuant to Article 4b of the Dutch passport law, the government stores passport fingerprints in a central database, which the Ministry of Justice eventually intended to use to track down criminals, using them for other purposes.
I can imagine why the woman did not want to give away her privacy for free and the EU court agrees with her completely. There are a lot of cases pending and for now Big Brother is on the losing side.
(Links: webwereld.nl – vingerafdrukken, webwereld.nl-opslag)
Tags: fingerprints, passports
Last week Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum launched the ‘Touch Van Gogh’ app, allowing people to examine paintings by Vincent van Gogh in minute detail. The app is free and lets people ‘discover the secrets of Van Gogh’s painting techniques and learn more about his working methods.’
The app shows how a painting looked before restoration, exactly where it was painted, where the paint has become discoloured, and how the composition is constructed. This English-language app is available for iOS 6 and Android, and can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play.
Touch van Gogh is available in the exhibition ‘Van Gogh at work’, which will run until 12 January 2014. This anniversary exhibition features how Van Gogh developed, through ten years of working and learning, into ‘a unique artist with an astounding oeuvre’.
(Link: www.dutchdailynews.com, Photo of Van Gogh Museum poster by Elias Rovielo, some rights reserved)
Tags: app, Vincent van Gogh
Eindhoven-based inventor and designer Dave Hakkens is a man of ideas and his latest idea, a mobile phone of which you can swap out parts when they break down or get too old, is getting a lot of attention on the Internet.
The idea behind Phonebloks is to commoditize the hardware behind the mobile phone in such a way that not manufacturers but consumers get to swap out parts—a sort of Lego for mobile phones. There would have to be a ‘Blok-store’ where you could order the parts you want (at a suitable mark-up of course) all the while feeling good about yourself for not throwing out your entire mobile phone when you get tired of parts of it.
Hakkens seems to have learned from a previous project, a power strip called Plugbook, which he ran on Kickstarter but which failed to reach its target. In order to show your interest in Phonebloks you do not have to pledge your own money. Instead you voice your support via Thunderclap in the hope that manufacturers and investors will sit up and take notice.
(Via my Facebook page where people were ‘liking’ the damn thing by the boatloads. Illustration: crop from Dave Hakkens’ video.)
Tags: commodities, Dave Hakkens, mobile phones, waste
In 1956 Dutch electronics giant Philips decided to see if there was a future for electronic music. It created a Studio for Electronic Music (STEM, also the Dutch word for ‘voice’) and let composers/engineers Tom Dissevelt, Dick Raaijmakers and others work there.
The studio was part of Philips’ famous research facility NatLab, a name which aided Raaijmakers in finding the stagename Kid Baltan (the reverse of Dik Natlab). From 1956 to 1960 composers had access to the most sophisticated technology and used tape splicing to combine sounds into musical compositions. Raaijmakers explains on Youtube how it worked.
Somewhere during that time Edgar Varése worked for nine months at STEM on his Poème électronique.
Philips lost interest in the project. STEM was moved to the university of Utrecht and Dissevelt and Raaijmakers moved on to other projects. Today STEM lives on at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague where Raaijmakers taught Electronic and Contemporary Music from 1966 to 1995. Last week Kid Baltan died at a retirement home in the same city at the age of 83.
(Links: Weirdomusic, NRC. Photo by Wikimedia user Rosemoon, some rights reserved.)
Tags: Dick Raaijmakers, Eindhoven, electronic music, Kid Baltan, NatLab, Philips, Tom Dissevelt
I’ve spotted a trend amongst my Dutch friends who own cars. They use TomTom sat nav, incidentally a well-known Dutch brand, but prefer to drive to the soothing sounds of the Belgian Dutch (notice I didn’t say Flemish) female voice over the ‘standard Dutch’ voice from the Netherlands, also known as ABN (‘Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands’).
The reasons they gave me include “Belgian Dutch is sexier”, “The Dutch woman sounds depressed” and “I can understand the Belgian Dutch pronunciation more clearly”. Even a quick lurk at some Dutch language forums shows that ‘Lucie’ (The Dutch Belgian voice — here she is for real, scroll down a bit) is considered quite the favourite. Her voice is ‘warm’, while the Dutch voice is more staccato (‘choppy’) in my humble driving opinion. As for the depressed bit, the Dutch voice lowers in tone at the end of sentences as if she were bored telling you were to go all the time. It could be my foreign ears, it could be my friends’ predilection for the exotic, who knows.
Lucie, or Hildegard, which is her real name, recorded the TomTom voice in just one afternoon and earned back in the early noughties no more than 450 euro. Anyone want to chime in as to why they like Lucie better or why they would actually rather use the Dutch voice or even the male equivalent? Do tell.
(Photo Photo of TomTom by LettError, some rights reserved)
Tags: sat nav, TomTom, voices