Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace

In the previous episode, we discussed how using TARTLE can help save your life. Now, let’s talk about how we can improve your quality of life.

One of the most pressing problems we have today is that people don’t know the value of their data. We find ourselves giving away a treasure trove of information in exchange for meager services, like access to our ancestry or participation in a social network.

Big tech and other companies make so much money out of our data. It’s time we take back what’s rightfully ours.

You Are A Modern-Day Slave

We are allowing big tech to create a captain’s log of every human being there is. We are giving them the power to look over our shoulders while we write down our most secret desires, while we report the outcomes of our day to day activities.

It’s a violation of our right to privacy and it happens on a daily basis. We need to wake up now, before it gets even worse.

At the rate we’re going, we are allowing other companies to take data out of our human body. And then they conceal their intentions behind 200 pages of legal mumbo jumbo, and then they go ahead and make $600 billion off of our human work.

We’ve got a term for it here: data slavery.

Living in the Wild West of Data Era

What’s extra insidious about this is that it’s happening right under our noses, as we speak. We wouldn’t let other companies like Walmart get away with slave labor, so why do we let it happen with our personal information?

These companies may not be stealing to your face, but that doesn’t make it okay. You deserve to know that you are being farmed for your data and that other people are making money off of you.

You are a unique human being. Throughout your existence, you’ve created thoughts, actions, and preferences that are valuable to the evolution of humanity. You do not deserve to become a pawn in someone else’s convoluted gamble for profit and power.

Conclusion

TARTLE is designed to allow people to feel a sense of reciprocity. That they’re actually getting what they deserve. The platform is a more ethical and sustainable way of sharing data. 

On the TARTLE Marketplace, you get to choose how much data you share. You can capture your ancestry, genomic sequencing, social determinants of health, and more. Once you’re done uploading that information, you can choose who you sell that data to. That’s how important your consent is to us. You are a part of the process every step of the way.

You also get to keep all of the money you earn from TARTLE. We do not take a cut from your hard work.

What’s your data worth? Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.

How much do you know about Fac(ad)ebook?

Throughout the years, we’ve heard plenty. The platform has inspired, surprised, and betrayed us. A lot of us seem to have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, because while we recognize and resent their control over our personal information, we continue to condone their actions by being present on the site.

In this episode, Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby analyze the true intentions of Facebook after reading an article on how researchers lost access to their accounts after digging up data against the platform.

A Laundry List of Controversies

Since its creation, the platform has had its fair share of ups and downs. While it remains one of the biggest social media sites in the world and its presence has helped people connect with their loved ones it’s also been the subject of controversy. 

In 2014, Facebook was criticized for running psychological tests on 70,000 unconsenting participants in 2012. This test involved removing a certain list of words from their news feeds to see how it affected their reactions to posts. 

Later, in 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed everyone just how compromised their Facebook accounts were. The data analytics firm improperly harvested data from millions of users for ad targeting during the 2016 election.

And in 2019, the FTC fined Facebook $5 billion over violations of user privacy.

There are plenty more scandals in the past decade to illustrate how the platform has consistently pushed the boundaries of user privacy and personal rights. And yet, people continue to use the platform—effectively giving Facebook the power to also continue commercializing their personal data.

How Can We Change Facebook?

Alexander McCaig clarifies that he doesn’t care about the platform. He explains that this is because Facebook is a commercialization engine, and has been clear about their intentions for their users.

It’s difficult to expect change from a super tech company that is set on its ambition to continue profiting from its users. A more realistic goal to work on would be to take away its biggest source of income, which is its massive user base.

Jason pointed out that if a huge momentum against Facebook occurred and a billion users collectively decided to just stop using the platform, it would have a tangible and more concrete impact on their actions. In contrast, writing articles would not be as effective.

Closing Thoughts: Starting the Shift Away from  Facebook

The anger towards big tech corporations like Facebook is misplaced. With all the awareness around what it’s capable of doing and what it has already chosen to do before, people don’t need more content on how they’re being used as cash cows. They need a way to mobilize against the platform;  an incentive to move away from using Facebook as their primary source of connection and entertainment.

The TARTLE platform is capable of giving people this renewed purpose on the internet. The marketplace is designed to fully respect the autonomy and privacy of each individual. Users are free to fill out all the data packets they want and earn from their hard work. Everybody who is on the TARTLE platform has the opportunity to become a data champion.

If you have the strong desire to stop an enormous commercialization system like Facebook from using people as cash cows, the first step towards achieving your goal is to find out what you have control over—yourself, and your participation in that very system.

Cutting off their access to your data may seem insignificant when you are just one person out of a billion users on the platform. However, change is never about one big miraculous step that suddenly and neatly solves all the problems. It’s a series of small steps that amount to a big change over time.

You could be the first step of the movement that takes down Facebook’s monopoly over other people’s data. All you need to do is stop using it—and if you want a renewed perspective on your power as an individual, make the switch to the TARTLE marketplace.

It’s time to find out: what’s your data worth?

Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.

The women’s rights movement dates back to as far as 1848. It has made significant strides to ensure women are being treated fairly at home, at work, and in society as a whole. This manifests in equal pay, a union for working women, and the right to vote.

Women’s suffrage became the grounds from which women could put in place the various rights and laws that cater to needs specific to their lived experience. Now, what does it mean to be a woman today?

In this episode, we’re going to be discussing women’s suffrage, the women’s rights movement, and the social aspects of patriarchy. Joining us today is Susan Ware, author of various books including Beyond Suffrage: Women in the New Deal, Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, and many more.

The Basis for Women’s Rights

Women’s rights have always been human rights. This encompasses all women, not just a certain group or race. The basis for women’s rights is to ensure that women are equal and to be given the same amount of rights and responsibilities as men.

It was discussed that one look at the structures and hierarchies that make up the society we live in today shows that there are power struggles, glass ceilings, and unequal handouts for opportunity. In most scenarios, men were found to be in these groups of privilege while women were marginalized and disenfranchised. 

How, then, do we empower women so that they can operate on an equal playing field? According to Susan Ware, political power is paramount. If women never secured the right to vote nor hold office, they would have continued to go unrepresented and unheard. As a result, the win for women’s suffrage helped secure a variety of other rights for women because it gave them the economic, political, social, and cultural tools they needed to succeed.

Again, women’s rights are human rights. Being biologically female does not make you a lesser human being than men, and your rights shouldn’t be different. The sexes’ differences should only be in biological function, not in rights. Humanity, as a collective, has the responsibility of making sure that men and women are equal—regardless of race or religion. 

Changing the Status Quo for the Modern Woman

The Nineteenth Amendment brought about the right of American women to vote. It drastically changed the Constitution. This drastic change was brought about by equally drastic actions; it called for the struggles and efforts of so many people, with supporters carrying out rallies and marches, before finally achieving women’s suffrage.

Another law that greatly affected African Americans is The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices against African Americans. Harassment, intimidation, and physical violence discouraged African Americans from practising their right to vote. As a result, they were unable to fully wield their political power even though they were already allowed to vote. 

This also concerned African American women as they faced not only sexism but racism as well. It’s an indication that the struggles of marginalized communities do intersect and are doubly felt by certain groups. The fight for women’s rights isn’t just limited to the right to vote, but concerns a broader movement that also shares its struggles with other social movements. 

No one ever achieves total success when it comes to social movements, and the same can be said for women’s rights. The struggle will always be an up and down battle of wins and losses. However, our takeaway shouldn’t be to just give up, but must instead continue to fight for what’s right and just. Additionally, educating and empowering the next generation ensures that the movement will live on.

It is time for us to acknowledge: there are patriarchal aspects that are ingrained into our norms and social structures. These aspects indirectly hold back women, and consequently, society in general. This also reinforces the perspective of a patriarchal view, and convinces individuals into thinking that this is normal.

Women’s Solidarity and Its Relevance to Society

The notion that women have only recently been able to participate in the broader world is false. Both women and men have always built history, and will continue to build the path towards our future. 

However, it is unfortunate that women have not always been given the credit they deserve. This is evident throughout our history, given the amount of notable male individuals compared to females. Because of this, it’s important to educate people about the contributions that women have made throughout history.

Through the women’s rights movement, a sense of solidarity and camaraderie was formed for those involved, especially women. This created a feeling of joy of being united towards a common goal. Working together and sharing their struggles has united women in realizing the rights they should have gotten from the beginning.

Empowering Women With TARTLE

With every little success, the human rights that women have been deprived of are lessening, and despite the frustrations that come with any social movement. We are now in an era that the previous generation could only dream of, and that is something to take pride in. 

Within the local and even national levels, women are forming collectives and organizations that aim to tackle the problems that plague our society. These include the aforementioned women’s rights, but also problems like climate change and pollution.

TARTLE’s mission is to become one of the platforms and tools that women can use to champion their cause and make their voices heard. The marketplace provides a level playing field for anybody, regardless of sex, ethnicity, location, or race, to do their part in helping humanity take the next big step forward.

What’s your data worth? Sign up for the TARTLE Marketplace through this link here.

We know that our data isn’t just a reflection of what we do on the internet; it’s a direct result of our thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives as unique individuals. So when we are caught in the power struggle between governments and big tech companies, how can we position ourselves to respond appropriately? Is it possible to take control of our own data?

Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby discuss plenty of heavy-hitting issues in this episode. Aside from the possibility of an Orwellian future, brought about by the Chinese government’s efforts to surveil and assign social credits to all their citizens, they also discuss the government’s attempt to control big tech companies.

Are We Government Puppets in the Making?

China aims to be a leader in harnessing big data. The Social Credit System, which was first conceptualized in 2014, is definitely a development that we need to keep a wary eye on. However, it’s still got a long way to go. While there is a lot of information being collected, the government remains challenged to unify efforts being made across the country and centralize information.

But once the government does get the hang of the credit system, the future looks pretty bleak. What’s it like to live in a society where you are so heavily surveilled and regulated, you eventually start to change the way you think and act? It’s probably going to be like slowly boiling a frog in a pot filled with water—you won’t know you’re dead meat until it’s too late.

TARTLE campaigns for government and corporate transparency, and human rights. We believe in a world where the individual is empowered to make their own decisions, take their own actions, and hold their own data. This is not possible in a society where the government is making an effort to farm our personal information to control our words, thoughts, and actions.

Caught in the Tug of War Between Government and Big Tech

As individuals, we find ourselves caught in a power struggle between big tech companies and the government. One seeks to commodify us, and the other seeks to control us. It is amidst this struggle that we, more than ever, need to reclaim our data for ourselves.

The controversial Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) discussed by Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby on this episode was just recently passed and enforced last November 1, 2021. While the title makes it sound like a noble act, the duo discussed how this law is the latest attempt in China’s efforts to rein in the growth of its tech giants.

Its effect on data in the country is a double-edged sword. It does stop unauthorized data trading and theft— but it also caters to the national government’s vested interests. Tech companies from overseas that cannot fulfill the PIPL are in danger of being blacklisted. This bans them from processing Chinese personal data.

In fact, the implications of operating under China’s PIPL have already scared away tech companies. Yahoo shut down its last few services in the country after the law was passed, citing in a statement to BBC that their decision was because of the “increasingly challenging business and legal environment” in the country. Linkedin also pulled out of China for similar reasons a month before the PIPL went live.

Closing Thoughts: Are We Really Free?

It’s difficult to say for certain if we remain in full control of our thoughts and actions in a world where we are constantly being sent subliminal messages—where we are both pawns and subjects in the power struggles of bigger entities.

The people on the ground need platforms that function as safe spaces for them to practice taking ownership over their own data. We have become so accustomed to having other entities handle our information that the idea of profiting from our personal data seems so foreign. However, it is possible—and it’s a future we want to build here at TARTLE.

TARTLE’s mission is to make the answer to that issue a bit clearer and in our favor. We deserve to have the tools and skills that will help empower us and our data. It is our vision to have a world where our personal information benefits ourselves, and not big tech nor the government.

What’s your data worth?

Collectivism, Individualism, and the Environment.

Are we a collective or atomized individuals? This is one of the central dividing lines for all human worldviews. In the past, the collectivist mindset held sway. Tribes, kingdoms, races were seen as a whole, with people merely being parts of the collective that could be sacrificed or punished to serve the whole. At the extreme end if members of one tribe killed one member of another, it could very easily lead to vengeance being taken on the entire tribe. Outside of one’s tribe, personal responsibility did not exist, the responsibility was collective. The same mindset is carried into today in the form of communism in which all the citizens of a given country are treated as nearly indistinguishable parts of the whole.  

In more recent history, with the rise of republican and democratic governments, following in the wake of the Reformation, a more individualist philosophy has arisen, which at its extreme advocates for complete selfishness and acting without any sense of obligation to anything or anyone else. 

What does any of this have to do with the environment? Both outlooks create bad outcomes for people and for the environment in which we live. Most people will readily agree that the individualist mindset hasn’t been great for the world. It’s hard to swing a keyboard without hitting pictures of animals swimming in oil or of massive landfills bursting at the seams with plastic. It’s easy to see how one can draw a line from that through consumerism and to the short term thinking that results from the idea that I’m an individual and I can do what I want. People in the future can figure out how to deal with future problems. But what about collectivism? How is that bad for the environment?

That has to be addressed since there is a fresh drive back to that mindset. Given the weaknesses and excesses of extreme individualism, it might make sense to go back to collectivism. After all, all the pollution didn’t start until individualism came along. Right? Wrong. Fact is, when you take on a collectivist mindset, the tendency is to push responsibility for things onto others. Whether you just assume someone else will pick up that trash, or you count on the government to do what needs to be done, the point is, you aren’t doing anything yourself. If things go poorly, it’s almost inevitable that people will just shrug because it’s all out of their control anyway. And in a socialist society, it is. If you want proof, look at pictures of the environmental devastation that was revealed in Eastern Europe when the Iron Curtain fell. 

So, what is the answer? What if I told you the answer lies where Aristotle always said virtue was, in the middle? In realizing that we are part of a collective in the sense we are all living on the same blue green jewel hurtling through the void we realize that we are connected, that there is a greater whole. In recognizing each other and ourselves as individuals within that collective we take on responsibility for our own actions. We realize that for the collective to be healthy, we have to individually make good choices for ourselves because our choices can affect many others. Instead of shrugging at the litter, you deal with it. Instead of waiting for the government or some organization to do something about the plastic in the ocean, you buy in bulk and so use less plastic. 

It almost seems too simple doesn’t it? The thing is, people tend to be drawn to one extreme or the other, to go all in until the damage is done. Then the pendulum swings back and the cycle continues. Over and over and over.

One thing you can do in addition to the simple little everyday things like just using less junk is contributing your individual data through TARTLE. That allows organizations to analyze it and determine consumption habits and what sort of products, policies, and services people are looking for as well as get suggestions on how those organizations can themselves do better to help protect the world we are all a part of. 

What’s your data worth?

When the Data is False

The internet, cloud computing, data and all the rest of it can be amazing when it is used appropriately. Used correctly, these tools can be a massive benefit, helping us to understand the world we live in and to be better able to solve whatever problems come our way. Unfortunately, these tools can be abused all too easily. 

It’s like that with all tools. You can use the tool of fire to keep yourself warm, provide light, and cook a meal. An arsonist will take that perfectly neutral tool and use it to burn down a building. A gun can be used to stop a crime or shoot up a school. Digital tools are the same, and just as with those other tools, there is perhaps no more terrifying abuser of digital tools than the government. Just like Nero burning Rome, the KGB using guns and other tools to terrorize their fellow citizens, governments can use the tools of the digital age against their own people.

We’ve talked about this before. China uses the internet to control, rather than foster the flow of information and we recently discussed how New York City uses facial recognition software to profile people. The latest abuse comes out of Morocco where a human rights advocate is currently being held based on falsified charges according to Amnesty International. Apparently, the government does not like Maati Monjib advocating for freedom of expression and is using false data to accuse him of embezzlement. This is frankly terrifying. When the government itself is willing to lie and falsify information to attack its own citizens, there is little any one person can do against that. That’s true no matter where you are or which government is doing the abusing. 

What lessons can we take from this situation? One, it is more important than ever to protect your data. There are simply too many bad actors out there who are willing to steal or falsify data for their own ends. Whether the intent is to steal a credit card number and run up the balance or extort a hospital with some ransomware, the need to be careful about privacy is greater than ever. Yet, how does protecting your data from theft prevent anyone from just making stuff up? After all, can’t they just access a given server and insert whatever information they want? Yes and no.

To make that work, the falsified data has to be at least somewhat believable in most cases. Which means they need to have some legitimate data to work with. If your real information is protected, it at least makes that task a lot more difficult. Yet, let’s assume this is possible or that the prosecuting body just doesn’t care. This is why blockchain is important for data. If all data or at least all of your data has a blockchain attached to it, it becomes much harder to falsify. If it doesn’t have the appropriate chain that leads back to you then it isn’t your data. Even if someone figures out how to fake that, it still won’t work because it won’t be duplicated in all the other nodes in the system. A defense, even in a show trial becomes much, much easier. 

Of course, a reasonable person will ask how you keep bad actors from using blockchain. Well, you do the best you can. TARTLE screens for known bad actors like actual terrorists. However, there isn’t any way to stop every bad actor before they do something they shouldn’t. Even if you engaged in all the profiling and regulating you can imagine, there would be those who would slip through the cracks, while restricting the freedoms of many more innocents. 

TARTLE believes that the free flow of data is paramount. As such we take an innocent until proven guilty approach. Better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man is punished.

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

China, Censorship, and ‘the Common Good’

Recently, we mentioned in this space that we want to do a better job of highlighting the good things being done in the world. And we want to do that. Really. Unfortunately, you sometimes come across something so out of the left field, so demonstrably bad that you have no choice but to throw the flag. 

What is it that is so egregious? Chinese state media recently put out some information on how great they did with their COVID response. How the data shows how much better they did than their Western counterparts. There are a few significant points to make here. Let’s begin with the fact that the government is a communist dictatorship that does not allow dissent and tightly controls the flow of information. The Chinese government doesn’t allow Twitter past the Great Firewall and only allows Google and Facebook because those companies willingly comply with the government’s oppressive censorship requirements. They’ve also been caught pulling a few shenanigans regarding their COVID response as well, such as where it came from, how long it had been active, whether or not human to human transmission was possible, the list goes on. In short, getting trustworthy information out of China is difficult at best. 

What is just as concerning is the tendency of some outside of China to take their word for it and even admire their actions. Even if the claims China makes about its economy are true, they do it by grossly exploiting and abusing their own populations. The same is true of their much lauded COVID response. Even if they really did knock the case and fatality numbers down so swiftly, they did so by doing things like literally welding people inside their homes to prevent them from leaving. No, that isn’t made up. Or if they didn’t weld your door shut, they might come and physically drag you to a hospital. People unable to access healthcare jumped from balconies, a child with special needs died because his father was forcefully taken into quarantine. The human rights abuses that were going on boggle the mind. And the worst part is even outside of China, even in an article somewhat critical of China’s human rights record, the first words reference China’s economy. Again, even if it’s as great as they say, why should that be the first thing someone talks about? It seems misguided to say the least. 

It’s especially misguided in light of China just sweeping away such concerns, saying they were necessary “for the greater good” because after all, the case and fatality numbers reported went down. At least that’s what the Chinese government reported. Regardless, anytime people start glorifying the suffering of others in the name of some greater good, people should get nervous. This is particularly true given that the people talking about the greater good are never the ones doing the suffering. In fact, one way to be sure that you are dealing with the actual human rights abuses is that the policies put forth are done so with no concern as to how others will suffer while the people enacting them are not even remotely touched by their own policies. 

Of course, this is hardly an issue unique to China. Too many people in governments around the world and in major corporations take similar approaches, deciding what information you get to see, what sort of things you should sacrifice for the common good as they define it, while sacrificing nothing themselves. It may not be to the same extent as locking people in their homes, but all too often the difference is not one of kind but of degree. 

Rather than censoring data, it needs to be shared, far and wide. TARTLE currently is not banned in China so we provide an avenue for people there to be able to share data and connect with the wider world in that way. Perhaps, as more people become more aware of good, truthful data, things can begin to change there, because for once, it will be the government that doesn’t have a choice. 

What’s your data worth?

Scanners!

Facial recognition software is becoming more and more common. There are lots of uses for it. One is as a way to unlock your phone. Another is for stores to be able to recognize incoming customers, enabling them to provide personal offers. However, the biggest and most controversial use of facial recognition software is in law enforcement. From federal agencies down to some smaller municipalities it is becoming common to see cameras mounted on street posts and the sides of buildings. There are different law enforcement applications of this software, from catching speeders in the act to recording crimes in progress. The main area of concern though is how this software is often used to search for suspects.

How can that be bad, you ask? Surely, tracking down suspected criminals can’t be a bad thing? Can it? It depends on how you go about it. If you have a good description of the suspect or even a photograph then you are in good shape. The software will find him and then he can be quickly and easily apprehended. However, what happens when you don’t have a good description of a suspect. What if you have a very generic description, skin color, hair color, height, just a few basics that don’t do much to narrow down the people your scanner is looking for?

In that case, you’re unfairly profiling people based on merely superficial characteristics. That leads to a few things. One, it leads to police resources getting wasted running down false suspects. Two, those false suspects are actually innocent people who are now getting harassed, innocent people who may develop resentment towards the police after such treatment. All because you didn’t have a better description to go off of than “tall black man, athletic build, wearing blue jeans”. True, sometimes that’s all there is to go on. However, a real person can spot all the little behavioral cues that separate a real suspect from just a face in the crowd. An algorithm in the facial recognition software that is going over the images collected by hundreds of cameras around a city has a much more difficult time. Unfortunately, all the real people are getting used up tracking false positives generated by the software. 

There is also the sad fact that facial recognition software currently is not great at recognizing the differences in faces amongst different ethnic groups. Most famously, Apple’s software for unlocking their phones was pretty bad at being able to tell Asian faces apart, at least when it was first released. Others have a more difficult time identifying differences in African faces. Why is that? Is the software racist? Of course not, its code, it only acts on the data that’s fed into it and can only do so based on how it is designed.

All right, are the coders racist then? Probably not. So, how does that happen? A simple explanation is that the coders are simply coding based on their experience and the fact is, Silicon Valley is mostly full of white people. So they code for those facial characteristics. Even when training the software and refining the code to pick out finer differences, the faces you are scanning for the purpose are probably white. Why? Because they are the faces most readily available. If the software were being developed in Shanghai, there is a good chance it would do great at picking out Asian faces and not be as good at picking out white ones. 

As an example, back in school, I had a friend whose parents were missionaries in Africa. He said when he first came back to the US, everyone in class looked the same to him. He was used to the differences in the black faces he’d spent the last year or so with and as such the white people he was now in contact with were bland copies, while to me each was incredibly different. Frame of reference matters and very often people don’t realize how much their natural environment affects things they do on a daily basis.

So, how do we deal with this? We can’t just accept the unfair profiling of people through poorly trained facial recognition software. The opportunity for abuse and rights violations is just too high. The clear answer is that the coders need to do a better job of training their software to recognize different ethnic groups. Get out there and do the effort to get some unfamiliar faces fed into the algorithm. Yes, we know there are deadlines. But what if we told you that you could do it without leaving your desk? What if someone – like TARTLE – had a whole marketplace of people who might be willing to share images of their face to help you with that? In that way, you can get better software and innocent people won’t be getting harassed by police whose time would be better spent tracking down actual criminals. 

What’s your data worth? Sign up and join the TARTLE Marketplace with this link here.

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