Ring Doorbell App Packed with Third-Party Trackers

Ring isn't just a product that allows users to surveil their neighbors. The company also uses it to surveil its customers.

Four main analytics and marketing companies were discovered to be receiving information such as the names, private IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data on the devices of paying customers.

The danger in sending even small bits of information is that analytics and tracking companies are able to combine these bits together to form a unique picture of the user's device. This cohesive whole represents a fingerprint that follows the user as they interact with other apps and use their device, in essence providing trackers the ability to spy on what a user is doing in their digital lives and when they are doing it. All this takes place without meaningful user notification or consent and, in most cases, no way to mitigate the damage done. [...]

Ring has exhibited a pattern of behavior that attempts to mitigate exposure to criticism and scrutiny while benefiting from the wide array of customer data available to them. It has been able to do so by leveraging an image of the secure home, while profiting from a surveillance network which facilitates police departments' unprecedented access into the private lives of citizens, as we have previously covered. For consumers, this image has cultivated a sense of trust in Ring that should be shaken by the reality of how the app functions: not only does Ring mismanage consumer data, but it also intentionally hands over that data to trackers and data miners.

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Recent Movies

Blood Drive: I reviewed this the first time around, but on a rewatch, yes, it is still excellent and I am sad that it only got the one season. Their over-use of black censorship bars is mastery of the form.

Code 8: This was pretty good. The premise is that people with superpowers exist, but rather than taking over the world or being exploited as weapons, they're legislated out of the workforce. That seems an unlikely outcome to me, but it holds together in the story, which is half heist movie and half class war.

Star Wars 9: I have not felt a disturbance in The Force like this since... Episode 1. At one point I inadvertently yelled "AWWWWW FUCK YOUUU" at the screen and then I remembered "I'm at Alamo, they might throw me out now." Well, we do what we must. Here are just some stupid things in no particular order:

  • There is literally no explanation for how or why Palpatine is alive. No I don't care what you read in the novelization.

  • Rey is Palpatine's granddaughter, so the whole "biology is not destiny" thing that was the best part of Episode 8 is now, "Oh, yeah, actually it is". Thanks, Jar Jar Abrams. This is the "Kill Newt before the opening credits, obviating the entire previous movie" of the Star Wars franchise.

  • If Kylo Ren has a goal I can't tell what it is, other than periodically freaking out like Nicolas Cage (see below).

  • Every Star Destroyer has a planet killing cannon now. Cool, cool. Oh but they can't run shields in atmosphere so you can take down a Star Destroyer with a blaster I guess?

  • Palpatine somehow managed to secretly build a fleet of like, 10,000 Star Destroyers that he donated to the First Order - and don't those things take like a quarter million people to crew them? Who are all these people??? Don't say clones. Fuck you.

  • Oh and Snoke (remember him? Yeah neither do I) was a vat-grown meat puppet of Palpatine all along. How do you get elected Supreme Leader of a book club like that? Does this guy not have staff meetings? Which is the same problem I have with Kylo Ren. Dude must have paperwork at some point. Who actually manages his empire??

  • Nothing builds tension and urgency like a Heal/Resurrection Spell fake-out. Wait no, strike that, reverse it. Also there's a scene where Kylo Ren cuts down what I assume are the Knights of Ren? So like, didn't he spend years training these guys? Shouldn't this be more of A Thing?

  • I cannot accept that there is still life on the moon of Endor. (This may have been when I yelled at the screen.) The Chicxulub asteroid was only 7 miles across, Death Star Two Electric Boogaloo was 120. You don't dump 904,000 cubic miles of steel honeycomb on a planet and still have surface life. The Endor Holocaust is being covered up.

Parasite: It's about a family of broke grifters and a gig that goes really wrong. It's well written, and has some really horrific moments as well as some strait-up screwball comedy. (I'm kind of puzzled why every review tried to keep the plot totally secret, as if there would be huge spoilers?)

Ballad of Buster Scruggs: Somehow I missed that this even came out. It's definitely one of the lesser Cohen Brothers movies, but still fun. There is a surprising amount of singing. And it is unsurprisingly bleak.

Zeiram (1991) and Zeiram II (1994): I hadn't seen these in ages: sexy bounty hunter and her software sidekick come to earth to chop-socky a fugitive monster whose power level is well over 87. They are way more low budget than I remembered, but still very fun. I remembered there being more power-armor karate and less body horror -- wow is there a lot of body horror! Also, maybe it's a translation thing, but why did they keep calling Zeiram "he"? It's covered with boobs and lays eggs that grow into fighting monster slime babies! Also, I'll take Squeaky Zeiram Face over Baby Yoda any day.

Scooby Doo: Return to Zombie Island: A solid outing. Shaggy makes the gang promise not to solve any mysteries while they are on vacation, and they really, really try. Guest appearance by Elvira!

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988): I hadn't seen this since I was a kid, and it was funnier than I expected! These are exactly the sort of groaner jokes we expect from a burlesque show. Also, fun fact, I'm pretty sure that this movie was where I saw tassle-twirling for the very first time.

Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001): This was... not very funny. I can imagine their enthusiasm: "We get to go to Bulgaria to do a Vincent Price pastiche! Richard O'Brian said yes!" But wow, did it fizzle.

Infinity Train: This is so great! A kid runs away and gets on the wrong train that is... infinitely long and each car is a pocket universe. It's got an amazing Tex Avery-meets-anime cartoon logic to it, the jokes are very clever, and the plot superballs between surreal zaniness and super emo dark. And if you are ever looking for a name for a pet, the answer is "Alan Dracula".

Color Out of Space: This was exactly what I expected from a Nicolas Cage movie. He freaked out, was covered in blood, and did inexplicable accents. The movie was... ok, but there wasn't much to it. I still contend that Cage has been in exactly one good movie in his career, and that was Raising Arizona. (If they would release the pre-FX version of Ghost Rider, I might revise this opinion.)

Harriet: This was great! Hey, remember when Obama's treasury department was going to replace genocidal slaveholding piece-of-shit Andrew Jackson on the $20 with escaped slave, abolitionist, insurgent and spy Harriet Tubman, and then Trump and Mnuchin killed it because they're racists? Well, might I direct your attention to Tubman Stamp dot Com.

BTW, a couple people asked me if I'm going to resume my year-end music wrap-ups this year, since I skipped last year. Probably not. I'm just not feeling it.

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