Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Amazon acquired online pharmacy PillPack for $1 billion, making it a direct threat to the more than $400 billion pharmaceutical industry. PillPack, a startup founded five years ago, pre-sorts medications and delivers them to customers’ homes in every U.S. state except Hawaii. With the purchase, Amazon will soon have the capability of shipping prescriptions overnight all over the U.S. The e-commerce behemoth will also now have a great deal of information about peoples’ health and prescriptions, a highly regulated arena. Continue reading Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Facebook Reveals More Data Sharing Details in New Report

Facebook revealed that it made a deal to give dozens of app developers, hardware device manufacturers and software developers special access to user data, despite having stated that it did not release personal information to outsiders starting in 2015. In a 747-page document released to Congress last Friday, Facebook described those deals in much greater detail, and also stated why it believed these special deals were necessary to allow developers and manufacturers to become compliant with changes in its policies. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More Data Sharing Details in New Report

Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

Facebook announced yesterday that it was notifying more than 800,000 users about a bug in Facebook and Messenger that unblocked some of the people that those users had previously blocked. The bug was active between May 29th and June 5th. “It did not reinstate any friend connections that had been severed,” according to Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan. “83 percent of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked, and someone who was unblocked might have been able to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them.” Continue reading Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

The California State Legislature quickly passed a digital privacy law that gives consumers much more control over their online personal data. Governor Jerry Brown signed the law into effect, narrowly beating a deadline to remove another, tougher initiative headed for the November ballot. Consumers now have the right to know what information tech companies are collecting, and why they’re collecting it, as well as with whom they are sharing it. Consumers can also demand their data be deleted or not sold or shared. Continue reading California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

The Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to obtain data showing the location of cell phone users. Similar to rulings made in 2012 and 2014, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that police should have the same access as investigators do in order to examine business records held in banks or conduct physical surveillance. The ruling stated the “world of difference” between 1970s decisions allowing the limited personal information obtained in accessing business records and today’s digital records. Continue reading Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

New Version of Alexa Coming to Hotels With Echo Speakers

Amazon introduced Alexa for Hospitality this week, a new version of its virtual assistant designed specifically for the hotel industry. Alexa for Hospitality will initially be offered on an invitation basis to locations such as hotels and vacation rentals. The voice assistant will be customized per hospitality location so that customers can interact with an Echo smart speaker to easily adjust room controls, order room service, request housekeeping, ask location-specific questions, contact the front desk, check out, and more. Continue reading New Version of Alexa Coming to Hotels With Echo Speakers

Senators Query Amazon on Echo, Data Privacy Parameters

Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons asked Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos to explain how the Echo smart speaker listens to and stores users’ voices — and what his company does to protect users’ data. Their concern is sparked by such incidents as an Echo device that mistook background conversation for voice commands of a Portland, Oregon woman, and then sent the private conversation to one of her contacts. Flake and Coons are, respectively, chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. Continue reading Senators Query Amazon on Echo, Data Privacy Parameters

Apple Bans Developers From Sharing Data Without Consent

For years, developers for Apple’s App Store have been able to ask users for access to their phone contacts and then share or sell the data of everyone listed in those digital address books, without their consent. That practice has recently been getting a lot of negative attention, and now Apple plans to ban developers from using that information. The updated Guidelines nixes the creation of databases of address book information collected from iPhone users as well as selling or sharing it with third parties. Continue reading Apple Bans Developers From Sharing Data Without Consent

Apple Closing Loophole That Lets Authorities Hack iPhones

Since Apple’s publicized showdown with the FBI following the San Bernardino shooting in 2015, after the company refused to unlock a suspected killer’s iPhone, law enforcement agencies have been turning to third parties in order to access information from iPhones. Now Apple has indicated an upcoming software update, designed to enhance security, will block access to an iPhone’s Lightning port one hour after it is locked. Some authorities believe the update also impacts their ability to access phone data in criminal investigations, which could reignite the privacy debate that followed San Bernardino. Continue reading Apple Closing Loophole That Lets Authorities Hack iPhones

Facebook Rejects U.S. Congress Claim That It Is a Monopoly

After two months, Facebook responded to the more than 2,000 questions that Congressional committees asked chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. In the resulting 450-page document, Facebook rebutted government claims that it is a monopoly and didn’t answer if an app can spy on its rivals. Instead, Facebook emphasized that it has learned its lesson and is giving its users more control over their data. It also revealed more details about the info it collected, such as battery levels of users’ devices and computer mouse movements. Continue reading Facebook Rejects U.S. Congress Claim That It Is a Monopoly

Facebook Extended Some Partner Deals to Share More Data

In 2015, Facebook said it ended data sharing of its users’ records with other companies. Now, court documents, company officials and sources reveal that, after that date, Facebook struck so-called whitelist deals to share information with many more companies than previously acknowledged, including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor, both of which were Facebook advertisers. Among the shared data were phone numbers and the “friend link” that measured degrees of closeness between the targeted user and others in her network. Continue reading Facebook Extended Some Partner Deals to Share More Data

Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Noted venture capitalist and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker recently released her annual Internet Trends report at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Among the 294 slides, Meeker explained that smartphone shipments did not grow in 2017, and Internet user growth slowed to 7 percent (more than half the world is already online). However, people are spending more time online. Of the 5.9 hours per day that U.S. adults spent on digital media last year, 3.3 were spent on mobile, which is leading the charge in digital media consumption. Continue reading Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

A recent deal between Google and Huawei Technologies now has some influential Congress members looking into the relationship between the two behemoths. Google and Huawei, which have an operating-system partnership, recently struck a deal to upgrade capabilities on Huawei smartphones, which run Google’s Android operating system. After Congressional scrutiny, another Silicon Valley giant — Facebook — said it will end its relationship with Huawei and three other Chinese electronics manufacturers. Continue reading Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

Senate Intelligence Committee vice chair Mark Warner wrote to Alphabet and Twitter to raise questions about their relationships with Chinese vendors. Now, he and other top Committee members want to call in Facebook, Google and Twitter chief executives to a public hearing about their platforms’ security, especially with regard to their relationships with Chinese telecommunication companies. Warner also asked Google for information about its partnership with Tencent for patent sharing and future technology development. Continue reading Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

Facebook Faces Another Privacy Issue Due to Software Bug

Facebook revealed that a software bug was live for 10 days during May and, as a result, may have affected up to 14 million users. The company explained that millions of users who believed they were sharing privately with their friends or small groups may have actually shared their information publicly; the bug apparently updated the audience selector to “public” without notifying users. Facebook announced it plans to contact the individuals that may have been impacted. “We’d like to apologize for this mistake,” said Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan in a statement yesterday. Continue reading Facebook Faces Another Privacy Issue Due to Software Bug

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