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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.
Users Rate 'Creep Factor' in New Privacy-Security Product Guide
November 16, 2018
The Mozilla Foundation is expanding a campaign begun last year to help consumers buy safe, secure connected toys and mobile gadgets this holiday season. Mozilla's 2018 edition Privacy Not Included buyers' guide offers an assessment of the privacy and security qualities of 70 products, ranging from connected teddy bears and smart speakers to game consoles and smart home gadgets.
How to Protect Your Online Privacy: A Practical Guide
November 7, 2018
Do you take your online privacy seriously? Most people don't. They have an ideal scenario of just how private their online activities should be, but they rarely do anything to actually achieve it. The problem is that bad actors know and rely on this fact, and that's why there's been a steady rise in identity theft cases from 2013 to 2017, often resulting in loss of reputation or financial woes.
Mobile Phone Security: All You Need to Know
November 6, 2018
We rely on our phones to process and store reams of personal digital data. Our digital activities -- from checking bank balances to paying for a product with a tap of the screen, to sending friends and family messages over social media, to accessing work emails remotely -- have turned our phones into a goldmine of personal information. How secure is your mobile device?
Former White House CIO Theresa Payton: 'There Are Grave Concerns About Election Interference'
October 26, 2018
Theresa Payton, CEO of Fortalice Solutions, is one of the most influential experts on cybersecurity and IT strategy in the United States. She is an authority on Internet security, data breaches and fraud mitigation. She served as the first female chief information officer at the White House, overseeing IT operations for President George W. Bush and his staff.
Death Watch Begins for Google
September 17, 2018
The EU has been stretching its wings. In the shadow of Brexit, it apparently has decided it has the real enemy of the people in its sights: social media companies and Google. France is even more aggressive, suggesting that the EU's "right to be forgotten" law should apply worldwide. Given that it actually does fall within the legitimate purview of government, it is hard not to agree.
Google Digs In Heels Over Global Expansion of EU's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
September 14, 2018
Google took on French lawyers at the European Union Court of Justice this week, in an effort to fend off expansion of the EU's "right to be forgotten" judgment. The EU's attempts to broaden the scope of that judgment would be "completely unenvisagable," and it could result in impositions on the values of different countries around the world, Google argued.
The Thrill Is Gone for Many Facebook Users
September 6, 2018
American consumers' attitudes toward Facebook appear to be cooling, based on the results of a Pew Research Center survey. Forty-two percent of the roughly 4,600 people who responded to the May poll said they had taken a break of several weeks from checking the platform. "Facebook's probably losing subscribers for a number of reasons," said Frost & Sullivan's Michael Jude.
'Five Eyes' Nations Push for Encryption Backdoors
September 5, 2018
Strong encryption can be a threat to law enforcement and national security, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand said in a statement issued Sunday. "The increasing use and sophistication of certain encryption designs present challenges for nations in combating serious crimes and threats to national and global security," maintained the countries.
Alexa and Cortana: Two AI Heads May Be Better Than One
August 16, 2018
Microsoft and Amazon have released a public preview of the integration of their Cortana and Alexa voice assistants. Cortana will be available on amazon Echo devices, while Alexa will be available on Windows 10 devices and on Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. "Our ongoing goal has been to make Cortana your intelligent assistant, wherever you need assistance," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
How Online Businesses Must Comply With New California, EU Privacy Laws
July 27, 2018
Governor Jerry Brown last month signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act. The CCPA is the state's response to a growing concern that consumers need stronger means to protect their personal information. The issue came to a head in part due to recent breaches that exposed the personal data of millions of American consumers. However, the CCPA also addresses other privacy incidents.
Earrings With Earphones and a Smartphone Bonanza
July 26, 2018
Swings Bluetooth Earrings with built-in earphones showcase a practical, clever idea for people with pierced ears. Swings certainly could fix the problem of losing Apple's expensive AirPods to the ether or having to root around in one's pockets or purse to find one's tangled-up headset. You can expect five hours of listening time out of the Swings on a single charge.
New iOS Security Feature Ripe for Defeat
July 11, 2018
A new feature in iOS 11.4.1, which Apple released earlier this week, is designed to protect against unwanted intrusions through the iPhone's Lightning Port. However, the protection may be weak at best. The feature, called "USB Restricted Mode," disables data transfer through the Lightning Port after an hour of inactivity. In some cases, the phone might not charge, according to Apple.
US Lawmakers Eye Apple, Alphabet Data Privacy Practices
July 11, 2018
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has written Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook demanding information on their companies' practices with regard to third-party access, audio and location data collection. "This is a huge issue," said Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson. "People are becoming aware of how much data about them is being sucked up by their smartphones."
Polar Flow Fitness App Exposes Soldiers, Spies
July 10, 2018
A popular fitness app provided a convenient map for anyone interested in shadowing government personnel who exercised in secret locations, including intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world. The fitness app, Polar Flow, publicized more data about its users in a more accessible way than comparable apps, investigators found.
EU Watchdog Accuses Facebook, Google of Privacy Shenanigans
June 29, 2018
Facebook and Google have manipulated users into sharing data using so-called "dark patterns," according to a report from the Norwegian Consumer Council. The practices nudged users toward accepting privacy options that favored the tech companies rather than themselves, the NCC found. Facebook and Google have no intention of providing users with an actual choice, the NCC has claimed.
Upcoming iOS Access Restrictions Could Stymie Law Enforcement
June 16, 2018
Apple plans to equip iOS 12 with USB Restricted Mode, which requires users to unlock their iPhone with their passcode before USB accessories can connect if the phone last was unlocked more than an hour earlier. The company included this feature in the developer versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12. Apple will release USB Restricted Mode publicly in a future software update, it confirmed this week.
The CLOUD Act's Dramatic Impact on International Privacy Laws
June 7, 2018
Just when the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was about to go into effect, the United States Congress created the CLOUD Act. Without any public hearings, review or public comment, Congress passed the legislation as part of the $1.3 trillion government spending bill. The CLOUD Act changed the privacy provisions that previously were in effect.
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