A wave of lawsuits is pushing to change that
“Jose Martinez has been thwarted when buying concert tickets online. He changed banks after finding his financial institution’s mobile app wouldn’t work for him. Sometimes, when he can’t finalize a purchase on an e-commerce site, he simply takes his business elsewhere.
Martinez, 37, is legally blind. The Chicago resident uses screen-reading software on his computer that converts text into descriptive speech, a technology that has made it possible for him to live independently.
“I live alone … I want to make my life as practical as possible,” Martinez said.
But not every website is compatible with the software Martinez and visually impaired consumers across the country use. There is no federal law requiring businesses to design websites that work with the tools blind and deaf consumers use to navigate the internet. Nor are there any federal guidelines on how to create one. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires companies to make accommodations for individuals with disabilities, but it was signed in 1990 when the internet was nascent, and it does not address websites.”
As the internet has become an increasingly integral part of daily life, with everything from shopping and dating services to job applications moving online, there is a growing push to get companies to make their sites usable by all. But businesses and trade groups say that’s a costly, complex ask, and because of the lack of federal standards, it’s unclear how best to make the technological changes.
As a result, the number of lawsuits filed over companies’ websites is growing.”
Source: Special software can help the blind access the internet, but not every website supports it. A wave of lawsuits is pushing to change that | Chicago Tribune
by Karl Bode
“Biggest IoT study ever finds “smart” devices hoover up a universe of user behavior data and share it with a laundry list of global third parties, frequently with little transparency to the end user.
A new study has once again found that most “internet of things” (IOT) devices routinely deliver an ocean of sensitive data to partners around the world, frequently without making these data transfers secure or transparent to the end user.
The full study, a joint collaboration between Northeastern University and Imperial College London took a closer look at 81 popular smart TVs, streaming dongles, smart speakers, and video doorbells made by vendors including Google, Roku, and Amazon.
The results aren’t comforting: the majority of the devices collected and shared information including your IP address, device specs (like MAC address), usage habits, and location data. That data is then shared with a laundry list of third parties, regardless of whether the user actually has a relationship with those companies.
“Nearly all TV devices in our testbeds contacts Netflix even though we never configured any TV with a Netflix account,” the researchers said. They noted that devices reach out to Netflix to relay information such as the TV set being used and the location it’s being used in.
In a series of 34,586 experiments, the study found that 72 of the devices made contact with someone other than its manufacturer. In many instances, these transfers “expose information to eavesdroppers via at least one plaintext flow, and a passive eavesdropper can reliably infer user and device behavior from the traffic,” the researchers said.”
Source: The Internet of Things Is Still a Privacy Dumpster Fire, Study Finds | Vice
Photo by Dan LeFebvre
Another article of interest New organization aims to make Alberta centre for ‘Internet of Things’ | Calgary Herald
“A new organization aims to make Alberta a global centre of excellence for the Internet of Things, a phrase that refers to the millions of physical objects — from lightbulbs and home appliances to cars and industrial devices — that are now connected to the internet.
The organization, called Alberta IoT, has 30 member companies, all of which are working on Internet of Things technology.
Mark Scantlebury, the organization’s chair, said Alberta is well-positioned to capitalize on recent growth in this sector.
“Alberta finds itself in a unique position because of the people we have from a once-thriving telecommunications industry, and a strong industrial sector driven by oil and gas,” said Scantlebury… ”
Source: New organization aims to make Alberta centre for ‘IoT’ | Calgary Herald
Photo of bridge in Calgary, Alberta by Denisse Leon
Another article of interest Will Privacy First Be The New Normal? An Interview With Privacy Guru, Ann Cavoukian by Hessie Jones
By David Linabury
“Can I be sued if my website isn’t accessible? YES. Over 5,000 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in the United States between January and June last year. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was created. At first, it only dealt with “barriers to entrance” meaning physical barriers, such as installing wheelchair ramps for stairs, doors, etc. In 2010, the Act was updated to included websites. The ADA determined that denying access to information constitutes a barrier to entrance.” Read the full article on Automation Alley.
Read a related article on how businesses in Ontario are under pressure to make websites accessible.
“The internet has long been known as the great equalizer, democratizing access to information for the masses. But a glaring oversight has lately drawn the attention of advocates and shoppers alike: the lack of websites and online stores accessible to people with disabilities.
While the designs of brick-and-mortar stores increasingly accommodate people with mobility concerns, the online world still presents significant challenges for the 15 per cent of the world’s population living with disabilities. For example, hearing-impaired users may have trouble with…” Keep reading ↓
Source: We Build Stores With Disabilities In Mind. Why Not Websites?
by Hessie Jones
Ann Cavoukian, former 3-Term Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, and currently Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, leading the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada:
“I call myself an anti-marketer, especially these days. My background has predominantly come from database marketing and the contextualization of data to make more informed decisions to effectively sell people more stuff. The data that I saw, whether it be in banking, loyalty programs, advertising and social platforms – user transactions, digital behavior, interactions, conversations, profiles – were sewn together to create narratives about individuals and groups, their propensities, their intents and their potential risk to the business….”
Read the full article in Forbes, COGNITIVE WORLD
Judy Brewer has been named as the recipient of the 2018 SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility.
Source: Judy Brewer recognized for her contributions to improving the accessibility of the web – SD Times