Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

Apple’s WWDC annual week-long developer conference kicked off with a first peak at iOS 15 enhancements. That includes the next version of FaceTime, which will more closely resemble Zoom, including a grid view for group calls and spatial audio and voice isolation features. The company teased new software updates for AirPods Pro and AirPods, and a multitasking menu for iPadOS 15, coming this fall. The upcoming watchOS 8 will boost fitness, sleep and meditation features. Among numerous other announcements, the company showed data privacy improvements and revealed that HomeKit will now support Siri. Continue reading Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

MoviePass, which shut its doors in January 2019, just settled with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it prevented customers from using the service as advertised and did not protect their data privacy. The company offered users one movie ticket per day for any movie at any theater for $9.95 a month but soon had to raise subscription fees and limit movie tickets. The FTC accused the company of deceptively marketing its services, invalidating customer passwords to prevent users from obtaining tickets, and failing to secure user data. Continue reading MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

Google will reportedly soon let Android users opt out of being tracked by apps, a move recently taken by Apple. Industry watchers were tipped off by a Google support page detailing the new option and an email to developers announcing a Google Play app store policy change to be introduced later this year. The feature will turn off sharing for the advertising ID, which Android users can already manually reset, and also allow users to opt out of any alternative device identifiers used to track activity across apps. The news leaked several days prior to Apple’s June 7 WWDC21 event. Continue reading Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

Google Plans to Swap Cookies for Another Targeted Ad Tech

Google is making its first moves to adopt the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) tracking system by 2022. FLoC allows advertisers to target ads without exposing individuals’ personal data but, instead, groups people by similar interests, such as football fans, retired travelers or truck drivers. Google group product manager, user trust and privacy Chetna Bindra explained that, “this approach effectively hides individuals ‘in the crowd’ and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser.” Continue reading Google Plans to Swap Cookies for Another Targeted Ad Tech

ByteDance Executive Shouzi Chew Is New TikTok Chief Exec

TikTok announced that Shouzi Chew — chief financial officer of parent company ByteDance — has been named chief executive of TikTok, replacing interim chief executive Vanessa Pappas. Pappas, who took on that role last year when then-chief executive Kevin Mayer departed, has been named global chief operating officer. Previous to his role at ByteDance, Chew was chief financial officer and international business president at Xiaomi, where he led the company’s initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Chew is fluent in English and Chinese. Continue reading ByteDance Executive Shouzi Chew Is New TikTok Chief Exec

Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

In response to Apple’s changes that require users’ consent to track their behavior, Facebook — which claims the privacy change will make targeted advertising too difficult — has responded with its own solution. The social media company plans to introduce an in-app prompt that asks users to give permission to use data collected from apps and third-party websites and provides information on how the data is used for personalized ads. That screen will appear with the Apple prompt detailing its new privacy policy. Continue reading Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

Although ByteDance’s TikTok missed a Thursday deadline to complete its deal with Oracle and Walmart, the Commerce Department did not enforce the shutdown order, citing last month’s preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone. That suit was brought by three TikTok stars who charged that the government exceeded its authority by threatening the “robust exchange of informational materials.” President Trump initiated the effort to get TikTok to divest itself of its U.S. operations based on national security concerns. Now the deadline has been extended to November 27. Continue reading Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014 but has not yet earned revenue from it. The encrypted messaging service, free to its 2+ billion global users, now has a plan to monetize services. Rather than storing and handling customer data on their own, businesses will soon be able to do so via Facebook’s servers. In addition to hosting, businesses will also be offered options to market products through WhatsApp catalogs and Facebook shops and checkout carts, all for small fees. Continue reading Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

To comply with a 2018 EU antitrust decision, Google now provides Android OS users in Europe a “choice” screen that lists competing search engines to pick as the device’s default. The problem is that numerous smaller search engines that have popular followings in Europe didn’t win spots in large European countries in the latest auction and therefore don’t appear on that list of choices. DuckDuckGo, for example, a U.S.-based search engine that doesn’t collect personal data, only won the auction in four small European countries. Continue reading Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Oracle Corporation is making a bid to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, and President Trump has voiced his approval. Oracle cofounder and chair Larry Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his house earlier this year, and Oracle chief executive Safra Catz worked on Trump’s transition team in 2016. According to sources, Oracle has engaged in some preliminary conversations with minority TikTok owners, but it is unknown if the talks have advanced. Microsoft has also been in talks with TikTok and Twitter has explored a purchase. Continue reading Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

As the European Union readies to release new rules to govern digital platforms, Big Tech chief executives have made the trip to Brussels to add to the discussion on artificial intelligence. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai, for example, noted during his trip to Brussels that, “while AI promises enormous benefits for Europe and the world, there are real concerns about the potential negative consequences.” With its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU has set a standard that others look to follow. Continue reading EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, major tech players such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft asked lawmakers for regulations they once fought. Facing antitrust probes and pushback on AI, privacy and encryption among other issues, these companies believe laws are inevitable and want to have a role in creating them. They also fear a patchwork quilt of global laws. Most recently, the Justice Department sparred with Apple over its request for help to unlock the iPhones of the Saudi Arabian naval trainee who killed three people in Florida. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

Samsung Reveals More Details About Concept Robot Ballie

At its CES 2020 keynote address, Samsung introduced Ballie, an autonomous small sphere with built-in camera, microphone and speaker that moves by rolling. Samsung Think Tank Team co-founder/head Sajid Sadi, who is also Samsung vice president of research, described the Team’s vision for Ballie. Sadi noted that the first two issues regarding Ballie were “mobility and personality.” The small robot needed to be able to travel over many different floor types and couldn’t intimidate children or pets. Continue reading Samsung Reveals More Details About Concept Robot Ballie

Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

According to six sources, in response to FBI concerns, Apple dropped the plan to allow iPhone users to encrypt backups in its iCloud service. Although this took place two years ago, it is just now being reported. Stress between Apple’s stance on privacy and law enforcement’s push to have access to its phones re-emerged a few weeks ago when a Saudi Air Force officer killed three Americans at Naval Air Station Pensacola. U.S. attorney general William Barr and President Donald Trump urged Apple to unlock the killer’s two iPhones. Continue reading Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida that was later declared an act of terrorism, Attorney General William Barr requested that Apple provide access to the two iPhones used by the killer. He later complained that Apple has thus far provided no “substantive assistance.” The Saudi Arabian assassin, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was training with the U.S. military but had earlier posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist screeds on social media. Continue reading Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

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