Rob’s Roundup: Tech Giants Back Apple, Google Tracks Photos, LinkedIn’s Oscar Commercial

In this week’s post, we look at the ongoing legal battle between the FBI and Apple as key tech companies weigh in, Google’s scary-but-awesome image tracking software and take a peek at LinkedIn’s first TV commercial.

Tech Giants Back Apple’s Encryption Fight

Apple CEO Tim Cook has doubled down on his company’s decision to deny backdoor encryption access to the FBI, citing extremely serious concerns with regards to user privacy and security. The Department of Justice recently sided with the FBI on their request, which is demanding that Apple design numerous backdoor entrances to get around the multitude of security measures on iPhones.

The request comes after the FBI wanted to access the San Bernardino shooters iPhones and could not get pass the encryption. Apple has come out against the decision, stating that the court order (based on a law over 200 years old) would have a chilling effect on privacy and security in every American industry. Tech giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft have spoken out in support of Apple, and it seems likely that this court ruling will head to the Supreme Court.

Google Wants to Know Where Every Image Was Taken

It seems like half my posts about Google fit neatly into the ‘this is amazingly terrifying’ category. This week, Google has announced a sophisticated AI program called PlaNet (no relation to SkyNet so far) that allows them to use pixels from any picture you post to connect it to their massive image library to determine where the photo was taken. So far they have over 90 million geotagged images (not sure if this includes images included from Google Maps, but that would make the most sense).

So far, the technology isn’t extremely accurate, but it’s still significantly better than humans attempting to determine the country/location of origin for a photo:

In a trial using 2.3 million images, PlaNet managed to determine the country of origin 28.4% of the time, and the correct continent in 48% of cases.

I’m not sure I want them to get to 98% – other than tracking every single image and its location/owner, it seems like a bit of a privacy nightmare (see story #1 above).

LinkedIn Airs its First Commercial During the Oscars

The Oscars aired on Sunday and social networking job site LinkedIn aired its first television commercial. The premise is based on the idea that NASA is looking to hire an astronaut, and LinkedIn crunched some numbers to determine that 3 million out of their 400 million users qualify for the role.

The commercial, which is admittedly pretty cool and uses footage from NASA, kicked off LinknedIn’s new brand campaign, which will run the gamut of print, social and digital. Given its highly digital audience, it will be interesting to see what impact an expensive TV spot will have – although their tweet announcing it was their most popular ever, so they may have a hit on their hands.

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