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6 Things We Won't Be Able to Live Without in 2035
June 24, 2019
Things rarely happen as fast as we think or progress as slowly as we hope. We all thought we'd have flying cars by the end of last century, for instance, but we are due to be up to our armpits in them by the end of next decade if the impressive number of trials continue to go well. I touched on the drone drop issue a little last week, and I have been thinking about it ever since.
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
Can Brands Protect Privacy While Personalizing?
June 14, 2019
I sometimes think personalization is the best thing that happened to humankind in terms of marketing. As a consumer, I love getting suggestions on what to buy, especially when it's exactly what I need. Sometimes I feel as though I'm under constant surveillance, however, so I turn on my ad blockers, I surf in private mode, and I report ads that are not relevant to me.
Apple Highlights User Experience in New OS Lineup
June 5, 2019
Apple dangled the next versions of iOS, macOS and watchOS before developers' eyes during the keynote event at its World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. In this round of operating system upgrades, Apple seems focused on improvements. "They're polishing a number of aspects of the operating systems, " said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.
Apple Spotlights Privacy, Big Iron at WWDC
June 4, 2019
Privacy, a new muscular Mac Pro workstation, and the debut of iPadOS were topline items at Apple's WWDC keynote. During its more than two-hour presentation, Apple emphasized new features in its products aimed at protecting users' data and privacy. "At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right and we engineer it into everything we do," Craig Federighi told the enthusiastic crowd.
Amazon Debuts Echo Show 5: Smaller, Cheaper, More Private
May 30, 2019
Amazon has announced the Echo Show 5 and is taking preorders. This third-generation Echo Show is called the "5" because it has a 5.5-inch diagonal display. he Echo Show 5 is available in the line's standard Charcoal and Sandstone colors. It is priced at $90. New Alexa routines are available on the Echo Show 5, such as a nighttime routine that turns off the bedroom lamp and plays soothing sounds.
Flexa Launches Crypto-Based Payment App
May 14, 2019
Flexa has launched a new digital payment network that uses cryptocurrencies to cut processing costs, eliminate fraud and preserve users' privacy. The network uses Flexa's Spedn app to process consumer transactions at cooperating merchants. The new payment platform makes it possible to spend Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and the Gemini dollar at any of the merchants currently accepting payments.
Google Showcases AI, Preaches Privacy at I/O Keynote
May 8, 2019
Google showed off its chops in AI and ML, renewed its commitment to giving users greater control over their data, and introduced a new economically priced smartphone during a keynote presentation at its annual I/O conference. "They were there to hammer home the point that when it comes to AI, they are ahead of their peers," said Paul Erickson, a senior analyst at IHS Markit.
EU Gives Nod to 'Big Brother' Biometrics Database
April 24, 2019
The European Parliament overwhelmingly approved two measures that would integrate the region's fragmented law enforcement and home affairs databases into a centralized one that would include biometric information on some 350 million EU and non-EU citizens. It approved creation of the new system on two votes -- one to merge border control systems, and one to merge law enforcement systems.
Zuckerberg Tries, Tries Again
April 6, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg's most recent effort to change the conversation about Facebook seems like just another attempt at self-justification. In a recent op-ed, he places the onus squarely on the shoulders of government to regulate how social media works. "I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability," Zuckerberg wrote.
What Lies Beneath Facebook's Sudden Embrace of Government Regulation
April 5, 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for greater government oversight and even regulation of the Internet in an op-ed piece published last weekend. Zuckerberg, who famously built the social network by playing by his own rules, said it was time for government and regulators around the world to step up and help rein in the Internet. The main point was to regulate what he called "harmful content."
With More Than 8 Billion Things, Where Are the IoT Privacy Laws?
April 4, 2019
No one knows for sure how many "things" are connected to the Internet, but the Federal Trade Commission reported last year that it was more than 8 billion, and that it would exceed 20 billion by the end of 2020! Astonishing as it seems, it turns out that U.S. privacy laws do not apply to all of those devices and the data they collect. So, for the third time in three years, the Senate has proposed a new law.
FTC Eyeballs ISPs' Data Privacy Practices
March 28, 2019
The United States Federal Trade Commission has announced an investigation into the privacy policies, procedures and practices of seven Internet broadband providers and related entities: AT&T Inc., AT&T Mobility LLC, Comcast Cable Communications doing business as Xfinity, Google Fiber Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., and Cello Partnership dba Verizon Wireless.
Telegram Provides Nuclear Option to Erase Sent Messages
March 26, 2019
Telegram Messaging has introduced a new feature that allows user to delete not only their own comments, but also those of all other participants in the message thread on all devices that received it. Although the move is meant to bolster privacy, it's likely to spark some controversy. Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging and VoIP service, is similar to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Mozilla Offers Free Secure File-Sharing Service
March 13, 2019
Mozilla has announced Firefox Send, a free encrypted file-sharing service that works in any browser. To share a file, you simply visit the Send site and drag your file to a box on the Web page. Unregistered users may upload up to 1 gigabyte in files, while registered users have a 2.5 GB allowance. After uploading your files, you choose an expiration time for the link used to share them.
US Government Forging Ahead With Airport Facial Recognition Plans
March 12, 2019
Plans to bring facial recognition to major U.S. airports by 2021 are on a fast flight path, despite concerns about the new technology's readiness. President Trump in 2017 issued an executive order expediting the deployment of biometric verification of the identities of all travelers crossing U.S. borders. It stipulates that facial recognition identification be used in the top 20 U.S. airports.
Facebook's 2FA 'Security' Practices Violate User Privacy
March 5, 2019
Facebook has undermined privacy on its network by exposing mobile phone numbers provided to secure user accounts through two-factor authentication. That's because anyone can use the numbers to look up a user's account. One doesn't even have to be a Facebook member to do so. Moreover, there's no way to opt out of the setting, although it can be limited to "friends" only.
Wireless Carriers Caught Playing Fast and Loose With Location Data
February 8, 2019
AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have sold access to subscribers' real-time location data to aggregators, which in turn have sold it to about 250 bounty hunters and related businesses, according to a report. In some cases, the data allowed users to track individuals to their specific locations inside a building. Some companies made thousands of location requests to data brokers.
Zuckerberg's Take on Facebook's History Raises Eyebrows
February 6, 2019
Musing about Facebook's first 15 years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg positioned it as a David confronting a Goliath composed of hierarchical institutions. Facebook gives the masses a voice, he wrote. It brings communities together and provides businesses with low-cost outreach. Progress has been made in addressing the new social and ethical issues raised, including protection of privacy, he said.
Apple to Raise Barrier Against VR, AR Websites
February 6, 2019
The next upgrade of Apple's mobile operating system will come with an annoying surprise for VR and AR developers. It reportedly will block Web access to the accelerometer and gyroscope in Apple mobile devices by default. That means users will have to grant permission to any Web apps or sites that need those components to function, including those with VR and AR components.
Apple Banishes Facebook Data Reaper From iPhones
January 31, 2019
Apple has blocked a Facebook app that paid users for total access to all network data. The controversy over use of the Facebook Research app erupted earlier this week, with a report that revealed Facebook was paying users $20 a month for root network access to their phones. Facebook was on-boarding users of the program, which included teenagers, through Apple's Enterprise system.
What's Wrong With the Social Media Model
January 31, 2019
The social media model has come under increased scrutiny following revelations of data misuse and news of executives reneging on some security commitments. People expecting to change the situation will need to address how social media works. This means changing not just the business model, which describes how a social media business makes money, but the fundamental technology model too.
Apple Squashes FaceTime Eavesdropping Bug
January 30, 2019
Apple has suspended its Group FaceTime application following reports that a bug in the software allowed callers to eavesdrop on the people they were calling. The flaw let a person making a FaceTime call listen through the phone of the person called before the call was accepted or rejected. It reportedly also allowed access to the front-facing camera in an iPhone.
Dutch Doc Wins 'Forget My Suspension' Case
January 23, 2019
Google must remove search results about medical regulators' conditional suspension of a Dutch physician in the first "right to be forgotten" case of its kind in the European Union. After Google and Dutch data privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens rebuffed the doctor's initial attempts to get disciplinary actions purged from online search results, a district court in Amsterdam sided with the surgeon.
Court: Cops Can't Compel the Use of Body Parts to Unlock Phones
January 16, 2019
Authorities can't force people to unlock their biometrically secured phones or other devices, ruled a federal judge in California. "The Government may not compel or otherwise utilize fingers, thumbs, facial recognition, optical/iris, or any other biometric feature to unlock electronic devices," Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore wrote. Passcodes already are protected by the Fifth Amendment.
Pichai Puts Kibosh on Google Search Engine for China
December 12, 2018
Google is not working on a bespoke search engine that caters to China's totalitarian tastes, and it has no plans to develop one, CEO Sundar Pichai told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. "Right now, we have no plans to launch in China," he told members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at a public hearing on Google's data collection, use and filtering practices.
Location Data Selling Threatens Consumer Privacy
December 11, 2018
Selling location data collected by mobile phones has become a lucrative business, according to a report that noted location advertising sales are expected to reach $21 billion this year. At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from applications with the location services feature activated. Several of those outfits claim to track 200 million mobile devices in the U.S.
Google Hasn't Kept Promise to Stop Bubble-Wrapping Users: Report
December 6, 2018
Google hasn't released consumers from its filter bubble -- the package of personalized search results it delivers -- despite having promised to do so, according to study results from DuckDuckGo. Most participants saw results unique to them, the researchers found, which could not be explained by changes in location, time, by being logged into Google, or by Google testing algorithm changes.
Quora Looks for Answers in Wake of Massive Data Breach
December 5, 2018
The personal data of some 100 million people who have used Quora, a popular question and answer website, has been compromised, the company disclosed. "We recently discovered that some user data was compromised as a result of unauthorized access to one of our systems by a malicious third party," wrote Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo in an online post. "We are working rapidly to investigate the situation."
How to Use a VPN for Safer Online Shopping
December 4, 2018
With the holidays fast approaching, are you looking to buy presents online? The holiday season has become synonymous with online shopping. This isn't really surprising as physical stores usually attract crowds of deal hunters. This often conjures up images of throngs of people waiting in line outside the store, some even camping out. This activity is tolerable for some and even fun for others.
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Should government regulators force the breakup of big tech companies?
Yes -- it's the only way to restore competition.
No -- breaking them up would make them less useful to consumers.
Yes -- it would encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
No -- but some regulation is needed to restrict their power.
Yes -- but only the firms that function as utilities.
No -- the government should keep its hands off and let the market decide.