aggregator

Study Proves the FCC's Core Justification For Killing Net Neutrality Was False

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-09-27 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A new study has found the FCC's primary justification for repealing net neutrality was indisputably false. For years, big ISPs and Trump FCC boss Ajit Pai have told anyone who'd listen that the FCC's net neutrality rules, passed in 2015 and repealed last year in a flurry of controversy and alleged fraud, dramatically stifled broadband investment across the United States. Repeal the rules, Pai declared, and U.S. broadband investment would explode. But a new study from George Washington University indicates that Pai's claims were patently false. The study took a closer look at the earnings reports and SEC filings of 8,577 unique companies from Q1 2009 through Q3 2018 to conclude that the passage and repeal of the rules had no meaningful impact on broadband investment. Several hundred of these were telecom companies. "The results of the paper are clear and should be both unsurprising and uncontroversial," The researchers said. "The key finding is there were no impacts on telecommunication industry investment from the net neutrality policy changes. Neither the 2010 or 2015 U.S. net neutrality rule changes had any causal impact on telecommunications investment." While the study is the biggest yet to do so, it's not the first to reach this conclusion. "This paper once again validates what the FCC found in 2015 and what net neutrality advocates have said for years -- that neither the net neutrality rules nor Title II classification had any impact on ISP investment," Gigi Sohn, a former FCC lawyer who helped craft the FCC's 2015 rules, said. "Not surprisingly, the ISPs and their friends at the FCC and the Hill keep saying the opposite, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary," she added. "Hopefully this comprehensive study, which studies ISP investment over nearly a decade, will put this matter to rest."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Locast, a Free Streaming Service, Sues ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-09-27 16:05
Locast, a little-known nonprofit behind a free streaming service, sued ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox on Friday, alleging that the television networks colluded in an effort to chill its business. From a report: Locast streams network shows and sports programs through a free app that relays broadcast feeds online. People can get the streams without a cable or satellite plan, potentially cutting off licensing fees to the broadcasters. (More traditionally, viewers can also receive broadcast signals over the air, at no charge, with a digital antenna.) In July, the networks banded together to sue Locast, arguing that it had violated their copyrights and chipped away at the revenue they get from pay-television operators like AT&T and Comcast. The networks are expected to receive more than $10 billion in such fees this year. The broadcasters' lawsuit also named David Goodfriend, a former media executive and lawyer with stints in the Federal Communications Commission, who started Locast in January 2018.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Is Writing Its Own Facial Recognition Laws To Pitch To Lawmakers

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-09-27 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says his company is developing a set of laws to regulate facial recognition technology that it plans to share with federal lawmakers. In February, the company, which has faced escalating scrutiny over its controversial facial recognition tech, called Amazon Rekognition, published guidelines it said it hoped lawmakers would consider enacting. Now Amazon is taking another step, Bezos told reporters in a surprise appearance following Amazon's annual Alexa gadget event in Seattle on Wednesday. "Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense to regulate that," Bezos said in response to a reporter's question. The idea is that Amazon will write its own draft of what it thinks federal legislation should look like, and it will then pitch lawmakers to adopt as much of it as possible. "It's a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don't want to put the brakes on it," Bezos added. "But, at the same time, there's also potential for abuses of that kind of technology, so you do want regulations. It's a classic dual-use kind of technology." He did not provide details on what's in the proposed legislation. ACLU Northern CA Attorney Jacob Snow said in a statement: "It's a welcome sign that Amazon is finally acknowledging the dangers of face surveillance. But we've seen this playbook before. Once companies realize that people are demanding strong privacy protections, they sweep in, pushing weak rules that won't protect consumer privacy and rights. Cities across the country are voting to ban face surveillance, while Amazon is pushing its surveillance tech deeper into communities."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Vimeo Sued For Storing Faceprints of People Without Their Consent

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-09-27 03:30
The ad-free video platform Vimeo is collecting and storing thousands of people's facial biometrics without their permission or knowledge, according to a complaint filed on September 20 on behalf of potentially thousands of plaintiffs under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Naked Security reports: The suit takes aim at Vimeo's Magisto application: a short-form video creation platform purchased by Vimeo in April 2019 that uses facial recognition to automatically index the faces of people in videos so they can be face-tagged. BIPA bans collecting and storing biometric data without explicit consent, including "faceprints." The complaint against Vimeo claims that users of Magisto "upload millions of videos and/or photos per day, making videos and photographs a vital part of the Magisto experience." The complaint against Vimeo claims that users of Magisto "upload millions of videos and/or photos per day, making videos and photographs a vital part of the Magisto experience." The court document points to a Magisto website, "How Does Magisto Video Editor Work?" that touts its "so-called 'artificial intelligence engines' that intuitively analyze and edit video content" using "facial detection and recognition technology." The complaint maintains that unbeknownst to the average consumer, Magisto scans "each and every video and photo uploaded to Magisto for faces" and analyzes "biometric identifiers," including facial geometry, to "create and store a template for each face." That template is later used to "organize and group together videos based upon the particular individuals appearing in the videos" by "comparing the face templates of individuals who appear in newly-edited videos or photos with the facial templates already saved in Magisto's face database." The complaint also asserts that Magisto analyzes and face-matches the biometrics of non-Magisto users who happen to appear in the photos and videos, which is a violation of BIPA. The suit is looking for $5,000 per class member, along with court fees.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

DoorDash Confirms Data Breach Affected 4.9 Million Customers, Workers, and Merchants

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-09-27 00:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: DoorDash has confirmed a data breach. The food delivery company said in a blog post Thursday that 4.9 million customers, delivery workers and merchants had their information stolen by hackers. The breach happened on May 4, the company said, but added that customers who joined after April 5, 2018 are not affected by the breach. It's not clear why it took almost five months for DoorDash to detect the breach. DoorDash spokesperson Mattie Magdovitz blamed the breach on "a third-party service provider," but the third-party was not named. "We immediately launched an investigation and outside security experts were engaged to assess what occurred," she said. Users who joined the platform before April 5, 2018 had their name, email and delivery addresses, order history, phone numbers, and hashed and salted passwords stolen. The company also said consumers had the last-four digits of their payment cards was also taken, though full numbers and card verification values (CVV) were not taken. Both delivery workers and merchants had the last four-digits of their bank account numbers stolen. Around 100,000 delivery workers also had their driver's license information stolen in the breach.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Confirms Its 'Standards' Don't Apply To Politicians

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-09-26 22:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Facebook this week finally put into writing what users -- especially politically powerful users -- have known for years: its community "standards" do not, in fact, apply across the whole community. Speech from politicians is officially exempt from the platform's fact checking and decency standards, the company has clarified, with a few exceptions. Facebook communications VP Nick Clegg, himself a former member of the UK Parliament, outlined the policy in a speech and company blog post Tuesday. Facebook has had a "newsworthiness exemption" to its content guidelines since 2016. That policy was formalized in late October of that year amid a contentious and chaotic US political season and three weeks before the presidential election that would land Donald Trump the White House. Facebook at the time was uncertain how to handle posts from the Trump campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported. Sources told the paper that Facebook employees were sharply divided over the candidate's rhetoric about Muslim immigrants and his stated desire for a Muslim travel ban, which several felt were in violation of the service's hate speech standards. Eventually, the sources said, CEO Mark Zuckerberg weighed in directly and said it would be inappropriate to intervene. Months later, Facebook finally issued its policy. "We're going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest -- even if they might otherwise violate our standards," Facebook wrote at the time. Facebook by default "will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard." It won't be subject to fact-checking because the company does not believe that it is appropriate for it to "referee political debates" or prevent a politician's speech from both reaching its intended audience and "being subject to public debate and scrutiny." Newsworthiness, Clegg added, will be determined by weighing the "public interest value of the piece of speech" against the risk of harm. The exception to all of this is advertising. "Standards are different for content for which the company receives payment, so if someone -- even a politician or political candidate -- posts ads to Facebook, those ads in theory must still meet both the community standards and Facebook's advertising policies," reports Ars.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why So Many Apps Are Asking To Use Bluetooth on iOS 13

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-09-26 21:30
Apple's new iOS 13 update adds a new privacy measure that requires apps to get your consent in order to use your device's Bluetooth. From a report: After installing the latest version of iOS, trust me when I say you'll be surprised by the number of apps asking for Bluetooth permission the next time you open them. Some might seem very strange (like Dunkin' Donuts in my case), but others probably won't make you think twice about giving the thumbs-up. The reason Apple implemented this is because Bluetooth has enabled companies to sneakily track your location over Bluetooth by using beacons in stores, shopping malls, and even on popular city streets if they're placed within range of a place you'd walk by. This is entirely separate from your iPhone's location privacy settings, which makes it seem all the more underhanded. A beacon is very easily able to detect your device's Bluetooth chip and log that with a retailer or some other app on your phone. So getting more strict about Bluetooth is a good move by Apple to prevent unwanted tracking of its customers. Similarly, the company is also getting even more transparent about location, showing you on a map how often and where apps have recorded your position. This prompt is much easier to understand, and will probably startle people into slimming down the list of apps that can monitor where they are. As it should!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Is Still Rattled Over US 'Sneak-and-Peek' Searches

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-09-26 17:30
Microsoft said it's challenging a federal judge's order that prohibits the company from telling one of its larger corporate customers that the U.S. government issued a warrant for data on the customer. From a report: The software maker and cloud services provider failed to get the "secrecy order" lifted so that it could notify the unidentified enterprise customer of the data demand, Dev Stahlkopf, Microsoft's general counsel, said in a blog post. "We have challenged that order in the lower court, and we will pursue an appeal in the appellate court if necessary, and continue to stand up for the principle that our customers are entitled to know when the government obtains their data," she wrote in the blog. The case is the latest salvo in a yearslong battle between Microsoft and the U.S. government over what are called "sneak and peek" searches in which the subject of a federal inquiry doesn't know their data has been requested or turned over. In 2016, Microsoft sued the government over the practice, saying it had become too widespread. A year later, the Justice Department said it would scale back the use of secrecy orders.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Match.com Connected Daters To Fake Accounts To Boost Subscriptions, US Regulators Say

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-09-26 01:30
The FTC has filed a lawsuit against Match Group alleging that the company connected Match.com daters with fake accounts in an effort to get them to subscribe. "The case hints at the murky line between genuinely helpful notifications and those that prey on people's curiosity to monetize a service," reports The Verge. From the report: Non-paying Match.com users cannot view or respond to messages they receive on the service, but whenever they receive one, Match.com emails them to let them know, encouraging them to subscribe to see the message. The FTC claims that, in hundreds of thousands of instances, Match.com notified daters of messages even after the company detected that the account sending the message was fraudulent. Once these people subscribed, they opened the message to see that the user had already been banned or, days later, would be banned for on-platform fraud, the lawsuit says. When these users then complained to Match.com or tried to get their money back, Match.com denied any wrongdoing. The FTC claims this behavior led to 499,691 new subscriptions, all traced back to fraudulent communications, between June 2016 and May 2018. The lawsuit also claims that these automatically generated email alerts were often withheld from paying subscribers until Match.com completed a fraud review. It still allegedly automatically sent the advertisement email to non-paying users, however. The FTC also claims that Match.com made canceling subscriptions incredibly difficult -- canceling requires over six clicks, according to the complaint. Match.com also allegedly locked people out of their accounts after they disputed charges, even if they lost their dispute and had time remaining in their subscription. The FTC is seeking monetary relief for consumers who lost money from the company's practices.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cloudflare Relaunches Its Security-Focused Mobile VPN Warp

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-09-25 21:30
tearmeapart writes (edited to add more details): Cloudflare is opening up its security and speed-focused mobile VPN service called WARP and WARP Plus to the general public. WARP is a mobile app for Android and Apple to establish a VPN to CloudFlare's huge global network. Cloudflare is promising:1. No user-identifiable log data to disk;2. No selling browsing data;3. No need to provide any personal information4. Regularly get audited. This is the second time Cloudflare is launching Warp. The VPN builds on Cloudflare's existing mobile app 1.1.1.1, which encrypts domain name system connections. But Warp goes beyond this protection to encrypt the whole journey from your device to a web server and back -- even if the website itself still isn't offering HTTPS web encryption. And all of this happens quickly, without draining your battery, and without complicated setup. In an interview with Wired, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said: Yeah, what we thought was going to be easy back in April turned out to be a lot harder than we expected. We had been testing this primarily in San Francisco and Austin and London, which is where the teams that were working on this are based. But as soon as users started to get anywhere that didn't have a fairly reliable internet connection, just all hell broke loose. The report adds: In describing the hurdles Cloudflare faced getting Warp off the ground, John Graham-Cumming, the company's chief technology officer, and Dane Knecht, its head of product strategy, note that many of the challenges came from dealing with interoperability issues between mobile device models, operating system versions, and different mobile network and Wi-Fi configurations around the world. For example, Warp is built on a newer secure communication protocol for VPNs known as WireGuard, which isn't ubiquitous yet and therefore isn't always natively supported by devices. The team also faced challenges dealing with web protocols and standards that are implemented inconsistently across different wireless carriers and internet service providers around the world. Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 focuses on encrypting DNS connections specifically, but Warp aims to encompass everything in one protected tunnel. Keeping everything together as data traverses the labyrinth of servers that make up the internet, including Cloudflare's own massive network, was tough. Warp is free to use without any bandwidth caps or limitations. But Warp Plus, which is being offered through a monthly subscription fee, offers a "faster version of Warp that you can optionally pay for. The fee for Warp Plus varies by region and is designed to approximate what a McDonald's Big Mac would cost in the region. On iOS, the Warp Plus pricing as of the publication of this post is still being adjusted on a regional basis, but that should settle out in the next couple days. Warp Plus uses Cloudflare's virtual private backbone, known as Argo, to achieve higher speeds and ensure your connection is encrypted across the long haul of the Internet. We charge for it because it costs us more to provide," the company said in the blog post.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AI Reads Privacy Policies So You Don't Have To -- and It's Actually Pretty Good

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-09-25 18:10
An anonymous reader shares a report: Don't you absolutely hate how dense and confusing privacy policies are? Considering they're full of gotchas and intentionally obscure legalese, it's no surprise that hardly anyone bothers to even read them -- we've simply accepted we're giving up our data, and with it, our sense of privacy. But thanks to this new policy-reading AI, things won't have to be this way for much longer. Guard is a recurrent neural network-based app that reads and analyzes privacy terms, so you don't have to. While it can't yet examine policies on request, the AI has rated the privacy terms of a slew of popular services like Netflix, Instagram, Twitter, and Tinder. What's particularly nifty about Guard is that it not only gives an overall score, but also breaks down the main threats included in privacy policies. It also lists the total number of threats, and looks at past privacy scandals a service has been involved in. Like I already said, Guard has only analyzed the privacy policies of a small batch of popular services, but you can easily suggest new apps for consideration. The app was built by developer Javi Rameerez, who created the software as part of his thesis on AI and natural language processing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Trump Impeachment Inquiry Opens as Call Transcript Is Released

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-09-25 17:26
The White House released a transcript that showed President Trump urged Ukraine's leader to contact Attorney General William Barr about opening an inquiry tied to Joseph R. Biden Jr. Two intelligence officials referred Mr. Trump's activity to the Justice Dept. for a possible criminal inquiry. It declined to open one. The New York Times: President Trump released the transcript on Wednesday of a July 25 call he had with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, in which he encouraged his Ukrainian counterpart to contact Attorney General William P. Barr about investigating a political rival. Mr. Trump has defiantly denied saying anything inappropriate on the call, but the transcript shows he clearly referred by name to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and encouraged Mr. Zelensky to reach out to Mr. Barr. Before the release, he declared on Twitter that Democrats had fallen into his trap, and that the release of the transcript would exonerate him -- and make them look foolish. The transcript's release and content ensured a day of intense scrutiny. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, marveled that the attorney general has now been pulled in. Republicans stuck to their position that Mr. Trump did not offer Mr. Zelensky any inducements nor did he threaten him, so his demand for a Biden inquiry was not improper. "From a quid pro quo aspect, there's nothing there," said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. The release did not go far enough for many Democrats, who have demanded to see the full complaint about Mr. Trump's actions lodged by a whistle-blower, which has not been shared with Congress. On Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi announced formal Trump impeachment inquiry. From a report: "Today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm directing our 6 committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella ... The president must be held accountable," she said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How TikTok Censors Videos That Do Not Please Beijing

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-09-25 13:30
According to leaked documents revealed by the Guardian, TikTok instructs its moderators to censor videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong. "The documents [...] lay out how ByteDance, the Beijing-headquartered technology company that owns TikTok, is advancing Chinese foreign policy aims abroad through the app," writes Alex Hern for the Guardian. From the report: The guidelines divide banned material into two categories: some content is marked as a "violation," which sees it deleted from the site entirely, and can lead to a user being banned from the service. But lesser infringements are marked as "visible to self," which leaves the content up but limits its distribution through TikTok's algorithmically-curated feed. This latter enforcement technique means that it can be unclear to users whether they have posted infringing content, or if their post simply has not been deemed compelling enough to be shared widely by the notoriously unpredictable algorithm. The bulk of the guidelines covering China are contained in a section governing "hate speech and religion." In every case, they are placed in a context designed to make the rules seem general purpose, rather than specific exceptions. A ban on criticism of China's socialist system, for instance, comes under a general ban of "criticism/attack towards policies, social rules of any country, such as constitutional monarchy, monarchy, parliamentary system, separation of powers, socialism system, etc." Another ban covers "demonization or distortion of local or other countries' history such as May 1998 riots of Indonesia, Cambodian genocide, Tiananmen Square incidents." A more general purpose rule bans "highly controversial topics, such as separatism, religion sects conflicts, conflicts between ethnic groups, for instance exaggerating the Islamic sects conflicts, inciting the independence of Northern Ireland, Republic of Chechnya, Tibet and Taiwan and exaggerating the ethnic conflict between black and white." All the above violations result in posts being marked "visible to self." But posts promoting Falun Gong are marked as a "violation," since the organization is categorized as a "group promoting suicide," alongside the Aum cult that used sarin to launch terrorist attacks on the Tokyo Metro in 1995 and "Momo group," a hoax conspiracy that went viral earlier this year. ByteDance said in a statement that the version of the documents that the Guardian obtained was retired in May, and that the current guidelines do not reference specific countries or issues.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Court Says FCC Ignored Hard Data In Rush To Help Media Companies

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-09-25 01:40
The FCC's multi-year effort to kill media consolidation rules at the behest of giants like Sinclair Broadcasting has been rejected by the courts, who ruled the agency failed to seriously consider the negative impact unchecked media monopolies have on the public at large. Motherboard reports: In a 2-1 new ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit forced the FCC to go back to the drawing board in its quest to make life easier for media giants, arguing the agency "did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities." In 2017, Pai's FCC voted to eliminate a cap preventing any one broadcaster from reaching more than 39 percent of the nation, a 77-year-old rule requiring broadcasters keep a local studio in the towns they service (to encourage community participation), as well as rules preventing broadcasters from owning more than two TV stations and one radio station in the same market. These changes were intended to help companies like Sinclair Broadcasting, whose proposed $3.7 billion merger with Tribune Media would have given the company ownership of more than 230 broadcast stations, reaching 72 percent of the American public. That deal was scuttled last year after Sinclair was accused of misleading the FCC to gain regulatory approval. The court said that FCC analysis justifying its decision was "so insubstantial that it would receive a failing grade in any introductory statistics class."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

German Prosecutors Indict Top VW Bosses Over Diesel Emissions Scandal

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-09-24 23:00
dryriver shares a report from Reuters: German prosecutors have accused Volkswagen's CEO of holding back market-moving information on rigged emissions tests four years ago, raising the prospect of fresh upheaval at the carmaker just as it tries to reinvent itself as a champion of clean driving. Prosecutors in the city of Braunschweig said on Tuesday they would press criminal charges of stock market manipulation against Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, as well as non-executive Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and former CEO Martin Winterkorn. The charges show how the German company, which in September 2015 admitted using illegal software to cheat U.S. diesel engine tests, is struggling to move on from a scandal which has cost it more than $30 billion in vehicle refits, fines and provisions. In a statement issued after an emergency meeting, the (VW supervisory) board's executive committee said it "cannot see that there was any deliberate attempt not to inform the capital market." The former U.S. regulator who helped bring Volkswagen's cheating to light dismissed the company's arguments. "The excuse that top managers knew nothing is very weak," Alberto Ayala, who served at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) until 2017, told German news magazine Spiegel. Separately on Tuesday, German prosecutors hit rival carmaker Daimler with an 870 million euro fine for breaking diesel emissions rules. The Stuttgart-based maker of Mercedes-Benz cars said it would not appeal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon's Ring Wanted To Use 911 Calls To Activate Its Video Doorbells

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-09-24 18:01
Ring considered building a tool that would use calls to the 911 emergency number to automatically activate the video cameras on its smart doorbells, according to emails obtained by CNET. From the report: The Amazon-owned company isn't currently working on the project, but it told a California police department in August 2018 that the function could be introduced in the "not-so-distant future." In the emails, Ring described a system in which a 911 call would trigger the cameras on Ring doorbells near the site of the call. The cameras would start recording and streaming video that police could then use to investigate an incident. Owners of the Ring devices would have to opt in to the system, the emails said. "Currently, our cameras record based on motion alerts," Steve Sebestyen, vice president of business development for Ring, said in an email that CNET obtained through a public records request. "However, we are working with interested agencies and cities to expand the device owners controls to allow for situations where a CFS [call-for-service] event triggers recording within the proximity of an event." It's unclear how long Ring had contemplated this idea and how many cities it proposed this plan to, but the project is no longer being pursued.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft's New 'Data Dignity' Team Could Help Users Control Their Personal Data

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-09-24 17:21
Microsoft is staffing up a new 'Data Dignity' team in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. The team is researching ways to give users more control of their personal data, possibly even one day enabling them to buy and sell it to third-party entities. From a report: Microsoft has run afoul of privacy mavens, especially as a result of its collection of data in the name of telemetry with Windows 10, and more recently, for using human contractors to transcribe Skype conversations. An initiative like Data Dignity could further the company's quest to make itself look like a champion of users' privacy (at least in theory). I knew Microsoft had been investigating ways to give users more control of their own data after I unearthed some information about the company's "Project Bali" earlier this year. Bali, a Microsoft Research incubation project that seemingly was in private testing as of January, is a "new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them." The idea is to give usrs a way to store, visualize, manage, control, share and monetize the data, according to the "About" page for the project, which Microsoft has since hidden. This week, The New York Times ran an interactive feature about Jaron Lanier that is focused on data privacy. Lanier is a virtual-reality pioneer and a chief scientist at Microsoft.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Wins Fight To Restrict Right-To-Be-Forgotten Ruling To EU Search Engines

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-09-24 16:00
Google has won a long-standing battle with the European Union (EU), after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled the company can limit the scope of the "right-to-be-forgotten" (RTBF) regulation to searches made within the EU. From a report: Today's announcement was largely expected, given that an adviser to the EU's top court backed Google's case in January. (ECJ judges typically follow the advice given by the advocate general.) But now it's official, meaning Google and others will only have to delist search results from search engines inside the EU's perimeters. "The Court concludes that, currently, there is no obligation under EU law for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject, as the case may be, following an injunction from a supervisory or judicial authority of a Member State, to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine,â the ECJ said in a press release.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China Boosts Government Presence At Alibaba, Private Giants

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-09-24 02:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The government of one of China's top technology hubs is dispatching officials to 100 local corporations including e-commerce giant Alibaba, the latest effort to exert greater influence over the country's massive private sector. Hangzhou, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, is assigning government affairs representatives to facilitate communication and expedite projects, the city government said on its website. Chinese beverage giant Hangzhou Wahaha and automaker Zhejiang Geely are among the other companies based in the prosperous region that have been singled out, according to reports in state media. The Hangzhou government said the initiative was aimed at smoothing work flow between officials and China's high-tech companies and manufacturers. But the move could be perceived also as an effort to keep tabs on a non state-owned sector that's gaining clout as a prime driver of the world's No. 2 economy. Representatives of the country's public security system are already embedded within China's largest internet companies, responsible for crime prevention and stamping out false rumors. Government agencies may also be heightening their monitoring of the vast private sector at a time China's economy is decelerating -- raising the prospect of destabilizing job cuts as enterprises try to protect bottom lines. Alibaba is hosting its annual investors' conference this week in Hangzhou against the backdrop of a worsening outlook for the country.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Is Reducing How Much Audio It Saves For Human Review

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-09-24 02:22
Google is making some changes to its audio data retention policies in the coming months. "Most importantly for those concerned about humans reviewers listening to you, it plans on asking every user to re-affirm their choice to opt-in to that program -- which is 'paused globally' pending an EU investigation," reports The Verge. "The company is also making other changes, including a new sensitivity option for 'Hey Google' hotword detection, so that users who want to can make it less likely that their smart speakers will pick up unintended audio." From the report: Google says that having your voice recordings stored and reviewed was always opt-in and that voice recordings that humans reviewed were also always disassociated with user accounts. However, the so-called "Voice & Audio Activity (VAA)" setting wasn't very clear about what was happening when you agreed. Going forward, Google will explicitly mention human review for the VAA setting and, just as importantly, present that new, clearer screen to all Google Assistant users so they can choose if they want to opt-in or not. The company also says that it's going to "vastly reduce the amount of audio data we store," promising to "delete the vast majority of audio data associated with your account that's older than a few months" for people who have opted in to VAA. Google also made a vague promise to add "an extra layer of privacy filters" to the audio transcription process, which we are told involves filtering out certain classes of audio data. It's not entirely clear what that means, however Google does say it intends on being more aggressive at automatically deleting accidental recordings. Google has a penchant for solving all problems with more settings -- especially with the Google Assistant -- and it's doing it yet again now. Soon it will add a hotword sensitivity option, which means you'll be able to choose how clearly you have to enunciate "Hey Google" in order to turn on the smart speaker. If you are worried about accidental recordings, you'll be able to turn it up, if you're not, you can set it to be a little more forgiving.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.