Facebook’s New Tool Offers Transparency on Data Sharing

Facebook has long collected information about its users’ browsing behavior, even when they weren’t using its platform. Now, it’s introduced a tool, Off-Facebook Activity, that lets users see and control the information gathered outside of the social network. The tool gives users a summary of the third-party websites and apps that share data with Facebook. The company noted that people generally have 80+ apps on their phones and use about half of them per month, making it difficult to track the data’s use. Continue reading Facebook’s New Tool Offers Transparency on Data Sharing

Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

Amazon unveiled Echo Show 5, the third generation of its Alexa-enabled Echo Show, which offers a 5.5-inch 960×480-pixel diagonal smart display and built-in far-field microphones. Although in numerous ways, the Echo Show 5 resembles past generations of the device, it differs in that it includes a mechanical slide that lets the user close the shutter on the device’s front-facing camera. To assuage consumers’ privacy concerns about Alexa, Amazon has also added the “Alexa Privacy Hub,” an online collection of privacy settings. Continue reading Amazon Launches Echo Show 5 and Alexa Privacy Features

Verizon’s VPN Product Protects Mobile Users on Public Wi-Fi

Verizon debuted a VPN (virtual private network) product, dubbed Safe Wi-Fi, marketed as a security measure for smartphone users who log onto public networks, as well as an ad-blocker. Public Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for advertisers and bad actors to track a user’s IP address, which the VPN will hide from public view. Safe Wi-Fi — available to Verizon customers on Android and iOS devices — is priced at $3.99 per month per account. Safe Wi-Fi can protect up to 10 devices on a single account. Continue reading Verizon’s VPN Product Protects Mobile Users on Public Wi-Fi

Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

In the wake of criticism over data privacy issues and in anticipation of the European Union’s stricter data regulations, Facebook has formed a new team devoted to privacy. The 300-person team, headed by product director David Baser, is tasked with integrating stronger privacy features into all Facebook products. The first such tool is Clear History, which the company introduced at last week’s F8 conference. This feature allows users to opt out of Facebook collecting and matching their browsing history to their profile. Continue reading Facebook Establishes Team to Integrate Privacy into Products

Facebook Aims to Balance New Services with Protecting Data

At Facebook’s F8 conference, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the company’s new “Clear History” tool that gives users the ability to clear their browsing history on the social media platform. The tool is still under construction — Zuckerberg said it will take a few months to build — so there were no further details about its user interface, but Facebook said that, in addition to clearing browsing history, users will also “be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.” Continue reading Facebook Aims to Balance New Services with Protecting Data

Consumer Groups Say Next Gen TV Standard Ignores Privacy

The FCC is scheduled to vote today on the long-awaited ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard. On the eve of the vote, privacy advocates have expressed concern that the standard allows broadcasters to harvest data about individual viewing habits so that advertisers can target their pitches, and there are no rules governing how broadcasters handle the data. In its 109-page proposal for the new rule, the FCC does not mention the issue of privacy. Broadcasters perceive the rule as a way to catch up to Facebook, YouTube, Amazon Prime and others. CTA president Gary Shapiro defends the standard and suggests the vote is being politicized due to the Sinclair-Tribune merger proposal. Continue reading Consumer Groups Say Next Gen TV Standard Ignores Privacy

Google Creates a Unified Corporate, Consumer Gmail Policy

Google has just standardized its Gmail policy, saying it will no longer scan the user emails of its free consumer service in order to serve targeted ads. The company adopted this policy with its G Suite corporate customers’ emails, and now adds its consumer service to avoid confusion and create a single policy. Google says the new policy, which will impact 1.2 billion consumers, will become active later this year. The company will continue to serve ads, but will draw data from YouTube or search rather than emails. Continue reading Google Creates a Unified Corporate, Consumer Gmail Policy

Internet Privacy Legislation Is Overturned in Win for Telecoms

In a 215-to-205 vote that largely followed party lines, House Republicans successfully dismantled the new FCC Internet privacy protections for individuals, which was landmark legislation of the Obama administration. Overturning the legislation marks a victory for telecoms that are now free to collect and sell data on users’ online activities without permission, although some have expressed plans to honor voluntary privacy policies. The protections were originally slated to go into effect later this year. Continue reading Internet Privacy Legislation Is Overturned in Win for Telecoms

FCC Introduces Amended Version of Consumer Privacy Rules

The Federal Communications Commission has offered new regulations — modeled on the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet-privacy policies — that scale-back some of consumer privacy rules in the first version. Internet providers must still get the consumer’s approval before selling her browsing history or other sensitive information to a third-party, but they are now allowed to market more data. Consumer advocates have given wide approval to the new plan. The FCC will vote on the revised regulations later this month. Continue reading FCC Introduces Amended Version of Consumer Privacy Rules

Facebook to Track ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ Buttons for Ad Targeting

Next month, hitting the “Like” or “Share” button on Facebook will do more than signal approval. Facebook’s algorithms will begin to share data on peoples’ browsing history into its ad targeting systems, which means that, depending on what a user “Likes” or “Shares,” he or she can be served related ads on Facebook, photo-sharing service Instagram or any mobile app that uses Facebook’s ad network. Facebook’s “Like” button, which adds a bit of code to the page, was first offered to publishers in 2010. Continue reading Facebook to Track ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ Buttons for Ad Targeting