Passport photos stolen from U.S. border protection

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lost control of more than 100,000 photos of people and vehicles traveling in and out of the country, in what amounts to a nightmare scenario for most of us.

Naturally, it blames a contractor, who it says copied the images “without authorization,” and was later hacked, but why did the contractor have access to them in the first place, then? It’s always the contractor’s fault, except CBP clearly had poor data controls in place anyway.

But, who was the unnamed contractor that lost said data? Well, CBP refused to name the company, but the title of a Word document with a public statement included the name “Perceptics.” That happens to be the name of one of the companies that provides technology for license plate scanning, and the company was bragging about being the exclusive supplier just last month. 

This is a significant event for two reasons: 1) losing your passport photo makes identity theft much more likely and 2) the CBP is literally in the middle of rolling out facial recognition across airports for 100% of international travelers. 

A devastating breach like this, of arguably the most important data it’s mandated to guard, demonstrates that ‘biometric’ information like a scan of your face should not be used as credentials. Modern security features like Face ID rely on scans of your face, which can be regarded as public data at this point (because you can’t hide your face, and it’s now in stolen data archives!).

This kind of data should never have been given to a contractor, let alone accessible outside of any government network. 

If this had happened in the European Union, GDPR’s strict privacy legislation would likely mean that the contractor would need to pay those affected by the breach... but the U.S. still has weak privacy legislation, so those caught in the net will never receive compensation, let alone be notified that they were caught up in this mess.

Salesforce’s biggest deal ever

$15.7 billion in stock goes to Tableau, a company that specializes in data visualization software, in a deal that’s the largest ever for Salesforce (and a premium over Tableau’s $10.7B market cap).

Why is Tableau important? It’s one of the most powerful and well-regarded data visualization tools out there, used by everyone from Spotify to build its “soundtrack your business” products to Chipotle, which gets a comprehensive view of its 2,400 retail locations with the tool.

In my experience with Tableau, it allows product teams to feel like they’re empowered to experiment with data and properly interpret, mine and analyze it, rather than assume it’s too complicated to gain any insight. 

Salesforce acquiring the tool makes a great deal of sense: putting rich analytics right alongside one of the world’s most popular customer relationship management tools makes sense. The company says as much in its announcement: “Tableau’s intuitive and powerful analytics will enable millions more people to discover actionable insights across their entire organizations.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out, and if anything should be taken away from this, it’s that the ability to actually do something with the vast pools of data enterprises are gathering is no simple feat, but is more important than ever. 

Tab Dump

Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox will land in 2020 with outrageously powerful hardware
Forget streaming services, which are likely to only serve those that have ultra-quick connections in dense cities. Microsoft’s next-gen console doubles down on having a box for games under your TV, with 8K graphics, SSD speeds, ray-tracing and a bunch more. 

We have no idea what the console, dubbed “Scarlett,” looks like hardware-wise yet. But it’s proof that the old-school console isn’t going anywhere any time soon (and, frankly, I kind of want one).

YouTube’s CEO “apologizes” to LGBTQ community without actually changing anything
The company finds itself in one hell of a sticky position after deciding to allow a user directing hate on its platform to remain, even against its own actual policy.

Facebook will make even more Portal devices available in the Fall
I have a sneaking suspicion that Facebook is using Messenger/WhatsApp exclusivity as a significant advantage in the smart speaker wars, since those are not available on any other smart product. I’ve heard rumors that these are very popular with older age groups, who purchase them after seeing them in their news feeds. 

Everyone’s launching a subscription gaming service and Ubisoft wants in on the action too