Un giudice ha chiesto ad Amazon di fornire i file audio di Echo

Per cercare indizi in un caso di omicidio nel New Hampshire, un giudice ha richiesto ad Amazon i file del dispositivo Echo sequestrato all’interno della scena del crimine.

Siamo lontani dalla delicatezza e dall’entità del caso FBI contro Apple, ma la questione può essere l’inizio di una serie di eventi in cui la sicurezza e la tutela della privacy da parte di Amazon verranno messe alla prova.

An Amazon spokesperson told The Associated Press it would not release the recordings “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.” [link]

La storia di Bloomberg sull’hacking cinese continua a non convincere

Nelle settimane passate non è saltata fuori una prova che sia una a sostegno della loro inchiesta. Nel frattempo, dopo i comunicati stampa che negavano dettagliatamente le accuse, Apple e Amazon hanno pubblicamente chiesto a Bloomberg di rimangiarsi l’articolo.

“There is no truth in their story about Apple,” Cook told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. “They need to do the right thing and retract it.”

This is an extraordinary statement from Cook and Apple. The company has never previously publicly (though it may have done so privately) called for the retraction of a news story — even in cases where the stories have had major errors or were demonstratively false, such as a This American Life episode that was shown to be fabricated. [link]

Il capo del servizio web di Amazon, AWS, appoggia la posizione di Cook e via Twitter sostiene che

[Tim Cook] is right. Bloomberg story is wrong about Amazon, too. They offered no proof, story kept changing, and showed no interest in our answers unless we could validate their theories. Reporters got played or took liberties. Bloomberg should retract. [link]

Una cosa così non l’avevo ancora mai vista. Sul Washington Post un bell’articolo chiude così:

Bloomberg, on the other hand, gives readers virtually no road map for reproducing its scoop, which helps to explain why competitors have whiffed in their efforts to corroborate it. The relentlessness of the denials and doubts from companies and government officials obligate Bloomberg to add the sort of proof that will make believers of its skeptics. Assign more reporters to the story, re-interview sources, ask for photos and emails. Should it fail in this effort, it’ll need to retract the entire thing.

There’s just too much at stake here. Supermicro’s stock, for starters, took an Acapulco dive following publication of the Bloomberg investigation. It hasn’t much recovered, denials notwithstanding. The company tells the Erik Wemple Blog that it “only became aware of the specifics of these allegations when the article was published.”

So, Bloomberg has some options, none of which is standing pat and hoping that the next Trump scandal distracts the body politic. Your move, Bloomberg. [link]

Un punto (temporaneo) sulla questione dell’hacking cinese

Probabilmente l’avrete letto in giro, negli ultimi giorni: Bloomberg è venuta fuori con uno scoop notevolissimo, se confermato: un’operazione di hacking hardware condotta dall’intelligence cinese ai danni delle aziende di informatica di tutto il mondo, in particolare Apple e Amazon.

È abbastanza credibile, in realtà: visto il tipo di regime, obbligare le aziende che producono hardware ad accettare intrusioni simili (attraverso corruzione o minacce, è poco importante) è relativamente facile.

Bloomberg ha un sacco di fonti, ma tutte anonime: il problema è che le aziende principali, Apple e Amazon, hanno negato dettagliatamente le accuse. Addirittura il Dipartimento della sicurezza interna degli Stati Uniti ha dato ragione alle aziende in questione, assieme al Dipartimento della sicurezza interna del Regno Unito.

Il comunicato di Apple è poi incredibile. Di solito è un’azienda misurata, qui ha lasciato proprio la briglia sciolta:

The October 8, 2018 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek incorrectly reports that Apple found “malicious chips” in servers on its network in 2015. As Apple has repeatedly explained to Bloomberg reporters and editors over the past 12 months, there is no truth to these claims. [link]

Anche l’ultimo avvocato dell’azienda si è espresso in merito, in maniera piuttosto chiara e tirando in ballo l’FBI:

“I got on the phone with him personally and said, ‘Do you know anything about this?,” Sewell said of his conversation with Baker. “He said, ‘I’ve never heard of this, but give me 24 hours to make sure.’ He called me back 24 hours later and said ‘Nobody here knows what this story is about.’” [link]

Amazon non è da meno: il suo comunicato è firmato dal suo dirigente a capo della sicurezza informatica: una mossa che fai quando sei sicuro di non rimetterci la faccia:

At no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in SuperMicro motherboards in any Elemental or Amazon systems. Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government. [link]

Dal momento che la storia è verosimile, e che sicuramente ci sono stati tentativi simili, non mi sento di tacciarla del tutto di bufala: ma il fatto che le due grandi aziende coinvolte nel pezzo sono anche le due aziende che hanno superato il trilione di dollari di valore di mercato, la questione puzza.

(Il valore di mercato è probabilmente una delle cose che mi interessa di meno, di un’azienda. Ma sicuramente c’è gente, in giro, che può ricavare dei vantaggi – e manco pochi – a manipolare le informazioni su di loro.)

La situazione degli audiolibri, in breve

Par buona. C’è un bel pezzo su Vulture che ne parla, raccontando soprattutto dell’ascesa di Audible (cioè di Amazon, dal 2008) e della quantità di soldi che è disposta a pagare per ottenere delle esclusive.

Sostenibilità è una cosa estranea al quadro, per ora (e infatti un editore si domanda fino per quanto durerà, il gioco).

As with e-books, which Amazon also cornered quickly (fighting a pricing battle with the industry in which the DOJ sided with the monopolist), the Big Six (now Five) legacy megapublishers were initially slow to adapt. Audio had always been an afterthought for publishers, and many books sat unrecorded, even as Amazon bought Audible in 2008. [link]

Le pagine di risultati di Amazon

Piene di pubblicità, esattamente come quelle di Google. Mi chiedo se arrivare a essere la seconda azienda a toccare il triliardo di dollari non richieda loro di incassare più soldi che in passato.

Amazon-sponsored product ads have been around since 2012. But lately, as the company has invested in growing its advertising business, they’ve become more aggressive. [link]

I lavoratori dei centri di Amazon in sciopero

A Bezos dev’essere andato di traverso qualsiasi cosa.

Thousands of workers will walk off the job on Tuesday at Amazon warehouses in Germany to demand better working conditions, joining colleagues in Spain and Poland in taking action that coincides with a major sales promotion. [link]

Non sono di quelli favorevoli a qualsiasi sciopero, a prescindere (ce ne sono alcuni davvero pretestuosi): ma in questo caso, dalla parte dei lavoratori.

Facebook ha condiviso dati con 61 aziende

Già il mese scorso Facebook aveva ammesso di aver condiviso in maniera più o meno diretta di aver condiviso i dati relativi agli utenti con più di sessanta aziende fra cui Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify, Samsung e BlackBerry.

Questi ed altri dettagli sono contenuti in un documento di 748 pagine risalente a venerdì scorso e indirizzato al Congresso USA.

These integrations were reviewed by Facebook, which had to
approve implementations of the APIs. Typically, these apps were reviewed and approved by
members of our partnerships and engineering teams.

La “città di Amazon Prime”

Blaine sta sul confine tra Canada e Stati Uniti, dove i canadesi vanno a recuperare i loro pacchi di Amazon per approfittare del maggior catalogo di Amazon US, rispetto a quello canadese. Per questi motivi, la cittadina da 5mila abitanti circa è cresciuta vertiginosamente, ma ora il futuro è incerto: Amazon sta ampliando e migliorando l’offerta in Canada, e allo stesso tempo i negozi che offrono e-commerce nel paese si stanno mettendo al passo coi tempi.

But as Amazon continues to step up its Canadian operations and a growing number of American (and Canadian) retailers have made it easier to ship to Canada, Canadians are no longer as dependent on their US mailing addresses. Between economics and politics, Blaine will soon be forced to reckon with an uncomfortable question: is there a future for the town if it no longer serves as Canada’s front porch? [link]

Why e-readers succeeded as a disruptive innovation in the US, but not in Japan

Why e-readers succeeded as a disruptive innovation in the US, but not in Japan

Japanese e-readers introduced both before and after the U.S. Kindle launch received a lukewarm response from Japanese consumers.

One obvious explanation was the relative lack (compared to the US) of best-selling novels and other popular books in e-book form. To try and understand the reasons for the disparity in e-book availability between the U.S. and Japan, we interviewed key figures from both the American and Japanese book industry. Our research revealed a number of interesting insights, which we organise into three categories: organisational, environmental and technological factors.

Amazon is a powerful partner, but as book publishers have learned, it can also be a fickle one.

Amazon is a powerful partner, but as book publishers have learned, it can also be a fickle one
If you rely on Amazon affiliates fee for your business or publication, think about diversification of your links (or, better, your affiliations):

Amazon announced last week that it’s making its affiliate revenue program less generous in some categories (though more generous in others).

The ending of this article is pretty interesting:

It’s also possible that changes in affiliate revenue programs could shift product coverage at news organizations. With the changes, for instance, Amazon is paying a higher affiliate rate on luxury beauty products (10 percent, when it was previously between 4 and 8.5 percent). As affiliate revenue becomes a more important source of income, news organizations could make decisions on what to cover or review based on what’s pulling in the highest affiliate fees. That’s not all that different from launching new sections or verticals to attract high-end advertisers — it’s just an interesting wrinkle to think about.

Amazon Prime’s latest perk is discounted student loans | @TechCrunch

Amazon Prime’s latest perk is discounted student loans | @TechCrunch

A friend of mine moved to Texas one year ago to get his PhD and was telling me about the crazy amounts of money you have to spend in the USA the get your education.

We always read about students loan, but as always, it’s only when it involves someone you care for that you really understand the direness of the situation.

So what Amazon is trying to do here is one of the best things you’ll see happen this year without even knowing it.

Diego Piacentini, senior vice president of Amazon’s international consumer business, will take a two-year leave to head the Italian Prime Minister’s digital technology office

Diego Piacentini, senior vice president of Amazon’s international consumer business, will take a two-year leave to head the Italian Prime Minister’s digital technology office

Starting this summer, Diego Piacentini will take a two-year leave from his role as the senior vice president of Amazon’s international consumer business. He will return to his native Italy and lead the Prime Minister’s digital technology office.

“After 16 years at Amazon, it’s a way for me to give back to the country in which I was born and lived for 40 years of my life,” says Piacentini, 55, who will work pro bono.