Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Yelp will now provide recommendations that are more customized, based on users’ stated preferences. Yelp head of consumer product Akhil Ramesh noted that it’s the first time that, “two people with the same context searching for the same thing are going to see completely different results.” The Yelp app will now profile each user’s likes and dislikes to enable this to happen. A user, for example, will have the chance to choose dietary restrictions and preferences as well as list hobbies, pets, children and so on. Continue reading Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

The BBC is developing a voice assistant named Beeb that it promises will understand British accents. Other virtual assistants have struggled with regional accents, but the BBC team will be recording staff voices from multiple U.K. locations to address that issue. While there are no plans to introduce a standalone CE device similar to Google Home or Amazon Echo, the BBC plans to debut Beeb next year to help people interact with online services offered via the company’s website and its smart TV iPlayer app. The assistant’s software will also be available to manufacturers interested in including it in their own consumer devices. Continue reading BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

ADT teamed with technology publications including Digital Trends, CNET and Engadget to survey how consumers feel about smart technology and, more specifically, smart homes. The results are complex but pointed towards a growing interest in and support of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That aligns with other evidence that the IoT market is expected to also grow; by 2023, the smart home market worldwide is predicted to reach $150+ billion. The U.S. leads, with 45+ million smart devices already installed in homes. Continue reading Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

Google Melds Data Privacy, Advertising in Privacy Sandbox

Google said users will gain more control over the data that it shares with advertisers via a Privacy Sandbox, a new set of standards for its Chrome browser. Under pressure from the public, Google acted to create what it said will be “a more private web” that will make individual search histories harder for advertisers to follow and give users more choices over the types of data shared with marketers, including the ability to opt-out. So far, however, Google has remained “fairly vague” about the standards. Continue reading Google Melds Data Privacy, Advertising in Privacy Sandbox

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

YouTube has agreed to stop targeted ads that appear during videos that children are likely to watch, said sources. The Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating whether YouTube violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), reached an agreement with the company but hasn’t made its terms public yet. It isn’t clear whether YouTube’s move to end targeted ads in children’s videos is in response to the settlement. The move is expected to impact ad sales, and sources said YouTube’s plans could change. Continue reading YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

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

State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

After several states began pursuing an antitrust probe of the big technology companies, sources reported that representatives of several state attorneys general met with top Justice Department officials to air their concerns about the lack of competition in the technology sector. Now, according to sources, a bipartisan group of states plans to initiate a joint antitrust investigation, to be launched as soon as next month. Sources say the investigation will focus on whether dominant platforms stifle competition. Continue reading State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

Former Amazon employee Paige Thompson, charged with hacking Capital One Financial records, illegally accessed terabytes of data from 30+ other companies and institutions, according to authorities. Thompson, arrested July 29, was accused of stealing 106 million Capital One records, considered to be one of the largest thefts of cloud-based data. Court documents reveal that Thompson stole 140,000 Social Security numbers, 80,000 bank account numbers, millions of credit card applications and one million Canadian social insurance numbers. Continue reading Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Federal Trade Commission chair Joe Simons stated that, in the face of anti-competitive and antitrust behavior, he would be willing to break up the big tech companies, although, “it’s not ideal because it’s messy.” He’s head of a task force to examine these behemoths, including a close look at whether Facebook acquired startups, such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, to stifle competition. The FTC approved both purchases. The FTC is working in parallel with the Justice Department’s antitrust unit. Continue reading FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Facebook, which has been under scrutiny for its privacy policies, just settled with the U.S. government for a record $5 billion fine. But the FBI has now complicated that picture by more aggressively monitoring potential threats on all social media platforms. Last month, the FBI asked for third party vendors to submit proposals by August 27 for examining public data to “proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests” on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Continue reading Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Google is pausing Google Assistant voice transcriptions in the European Union for at least three months. In mid-July, it admitted that about 1,000 private communications were made available to human contractors evaluating Assistant’s speech recognition accuracy, revealing personal and private information. A Google spokesperson reported that the company ceased voice transcription involving human moderators after learning of additional leaks in the Netherlands. Amazon will allow Alexa users to opt out of the human review of recordings and Apple has halted its program allowing human contractors to listen in on Siri recordings. Continue reading Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Apple will no longer allow human contractors to listen in on users’ Siri recordings to “grade” them, and will not resume the program until it has completed a “thorough review.” The company also stated that, as part of a future update, users will be able to opt out of the quality assurance program. Apple told users that Siri data might be used to improve their experience, but not that humans would be listening to it. Most of the compromised confidential information was recorded via an accidental trigger of Siri. Continue reading Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

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