Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

At a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai faced tough questions about how his company handles data privacy and disinformation by foreign actors. Republicans on the Committee also grilled him about a perceived anti-conservative bias, which Pichai staunchly denied, saying Google uses a “robust methodology” on all topics “without regards to political ideology.” Unconvinced, these lawmakers pointed to videos and emails from Google executives expressing dislike of right-leaning ideas. Continue reading Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

Internal Emails Reveal the Way Facebook Treated Companies

Based on 250 pages of internal Facebook emails and documents from 2012 to 2015 and released by a U.K. parliamentary committee, it’s been revealed that Facebook used its massive cache of data to favor some companies, such as Airbnb and Netflix with “special access,” and punish others by cutting them off. Further, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were closely involved in decisions to “increase sharing back into Facebook” and other moves to primarily benefit the company. Continue reading Internal Emails Reveal the Way Facebook Treated Companies

Facebook Fails to Police Device Makers’ Use of Personal Data

Last month, Facebook admitted that it failed to properly oversee the seven device manufacturers that the company allowed to access personal data of hundreds of million of people in order to build a so-called Facebook Experience. The Silicon Valley company detailed its errors, which was detected by its own government-approved privacy monitor in 2013, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), a privacy advocate and frequent Facebook critic. Meanwhile, Facebook users whose data was compromised have not been alerted. Continue reading Facebook Fails to Police Device Makers’ Use of Personal Data

Tim Berners-Lee Publishes Magna Carta for a Better Internet

At Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon this week, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, unveiled his “Contract for the Web,” which outlines central principles to protect users from abuse, discrimination, political manipulation and other ills. More than 50 organizations have signed the contract, which was published on Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation site. The full contract will be published in May 2019, when it is deemed that half the world’s population will be able to access the web. Berners-Lee also published a call-to-action. Continue reading Tim Berners-Lee Publishes Magna Carta for a Better Internet

Oregon Senator Proposes a Consumer Data Protection Bill

Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden drafted a data privacy bill akin to the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation in Europe. Dubbed the Consumer Data Protection Act, Wyden’s bill would give users more control over selling and sharing their data, and would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to set privacy and security standards and fine those companies that do not protect consumer data. One provision is a “Do Not Track” feature that would allow people to opt out of being tracked. Continue reading Oregon Senator Proposes a Consumer Data Protection Bill

5G Could Enable Interactive Video But Raise Privacy Issues

People typically associate 5G with ultra-fast high-bandwidth Internet connections, but few realize it will also impact how we watch video and could lead to a range of privacy concerns. With 5G, truly interactive television programming can become a reality, with minimal latency enabling content to respond quickly to the viewer’s emotional and physical responses. According to interactive video company Wirewax co-founder Dan Garraway, the video becomes “a two-way conversation.” In other words, while we watch 5G content, it watches back. Continue reading 5G Could Enable Interactive Video But Raise Privacy Issues

Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

Alphabet, dealing with pushback from regulators and struggles in its corporate culture, reported net profit that increased 37 percent to $9.19 billion in the quarter through September. Last year, during the same period, the company posted $6.7 billion. Although this growth exceeded analysts’ expectations, overall revenue is actually down, growing 21 percent to $33.74 billion versus last year’s 24 percent growth in the same period. Revenue from advertising, representing the majority of sales, grew 20 percent to $28.95 billion. Continue reading Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

Startups Use Blockchain to Democratize Artificial Intelligence

A group of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists believe blockchain can be used with artificial intelligence to create an open marketplace and thus speed development of AI projects. University of California computer science professor Dawn Song and Hanson Robotics chief scientist Ben Goertzel are among the group that wager adoption of blockchain would create a wider distribution of data and algorithms. That would democratize the development of AI beyond the handful of large companies currently dominating the field. Continue reading Startups Use Blockchain to Democratize Artificial Intelligence

Technology Giants Envision the Future of Augmented Reality

If Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft attain their goal, more of us will soon have our first experiences with augmented reality. These tech behemoths are hiring the talent and spending the money to make it a reality, with the hope that AR headsets will become lighter and sleeker — maybe even contact lenses. The experts note that all of our Internet-connected devices (IoT), paired with the cloud and AI, will dramatically “unlock the spaces around us.” But the potential applications also raise a number of potential privacy issues. Continue reading Technology Giants Envision the Future of Augmented Reality

Developers Are Able to Track Users Who Uninstall Their Apps

Uninstalling an app is no longer a sufficient method to remove it from your digital life. App developers and the companies that serve them have figured out how to identify users that have uninstalled an app and then bombard them with ads to try to get them back. Among the companies that currently offer uninstall trackers (as part of an overall toolkit for developers) are Adjust, AppsFlyer, MoEngage, Localytics and CleverTap. T-Mobile US, Spotify Technology, Yelp and Bloomberg are among the users of such tools, although the trackers are not always used to send ads.

Continue reading Developers Are Able to Track Users Who Uninstall Their Apps

Facebook Says Spammers, Not Nation-State, Behind Breach

Facebook’s internal investigation into the recent data breach that affected 30 million user accounts has concluded that the hack was the work of spammers disguised as a digital marketing company, and not foreign nationals. Facebook believes the attack was initiated by a group of Facebook and Instagram spammers that intended to make money by means of deceptive advertising. The FBI is continuing its investigation into the hack, which is the worst security breach in the social network’s 14-year history. Continue reading Facebook Says Spammers, Not Nation-State, Behind Breach

Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Just last week, Facebook announced its two new Portal video chat devices featuring 12-megapixel cameras with HD video and AI-powered software. New information suggests that the social giant is also readying a camera-equipped device codenamed “Ripley,” designed to work with your TV for video calling in addition to entertainment services including Facebook Watch. According to an insider with direct knowledge of the project, Ripley — which will use the same core tech as Portal — is likely to be announced by the spring of 2019. Continue reading Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Facebook Offers More Hack Details, Exposes Web Scraping

Facebook downgraded the number of users hacked two weeks ago to 30 million, revealing that the personal information stolen was more substantial for 14 million of the those hacked, including gender, religion, telephone number, email addresses and computing devices used to connect to Facebook. Hackers also captured the last 15 people or things the user had searched for on Facebook and the last 10 physical locations he had checked into. Another 15 million profiles were scraped for names and contact information. Continue reading Facebook Offers More Hack Details, Exposes Web Scraping

Demise of Google+ Points to Facebook’s Social Dominance

Google is shutting down its Google+ social network in the wake of revelation that a software bug exposed the data of up to 500,000 Google+ users since 2015. The company also debuted tools that give users more control over the data they share with Google-connected apps and services. The demise of Google+ is in stark contrast to its 2011 launch, when it represented an “exclusive club” that required a private invitation to enter. In following years, Google discovered running a social network is trickier than it appears to be. Continue reading Demise of Google+ Points to Facebook’s Social Dominance

Politicians Team With Tech Industry on Internet Bill of Rights

Given compelling issues of privacy breaches and data hacks, Senator Nancy Pelosi became convinced that a set of principles that everyone in the tech industry agreed to would be a good step toward adhering to values. She asked Democratic legislator Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, to create such a list. He consulted with Apple, Facebook, Google, think tank Center for Democracy and Technology and individuals including Nicole Wong and Tim Berners-Lee, and just recently released the resulting Internet “Bill of Rights.” Continue reading Politicians Team With Tech Industry on Internet Bill of Rights

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