Items tagged with Privacy

Privacy has become a major concern for computer users, so Microsoft has announced that it has new features that are rolling out right now to Windows Insiders and will become part of the next major update for Windows 10. These new features are rolling out ahead of Data Privacy Day and include the Diagnostic Data Viewer and an updated Privacy Dashboard. Microsoft's Marisa Rogers, WDG Privacy Officer, wrote, "Our commitment is to be fully transparent on the diagnostic data collected from your Windows devices, how it is used, and to provide you with increased control over that data. This is all part... Read more...
Amazon seems to have struck gold with its Echo products, capitalizing on the trend towards digital assistants that became popular in smartphones. In similar fashion, smart speakers offer a level of intelligent convenience—just bark out a command and Alexa (if you're using an Echo speaker) will fetch weather information, look up facts on the web, and even order a pizza, among many, many other tricks. But this level of functionality requires that smart speakers constantly listen to their surroundings, leading some to wonder if consumers are giving up too much privacy. There is an article at... Read more...
Back in October Google disabled the touch controls on the Google Home Mini after a flaw in the controls left the speaker listening to everything that was said in a home. The touch controls on the top of the unit were supposed to be used to activate the Google Assistant. Originally it was said that the touch controls were permanently removed from the speaker, but Google has reactivated the functionality in the latest preview firmware for the device. Rather than simply tapping the top of the Home Mini, you now have to long-press the side of the device. The functions returning with touch controls... Read more...
One of the fancy new features of the iPhone X has repeatedly come under fire. We are talking about Face ID, the biometric security feature that Apple touted as being highly secure. Face ID allows iPhone X users to sign into their phones without entering a password or PIN code. However, there is growing concern about the amount of data Face ID might be sharing with third-party apps. This was a concern that surfaced several weeks ago, as it came to light that Apple's policy is to let developers access any necessary facial data if they are granted permission by the customer, and agree not to sell... Read more...
When it comes to your location data, sometimes you just want to keep things to yourself and not send every single data point regarding your whereabouts to the cloud. It's for this reason that companies like Apple and Google give users the option to disable location sharing; although both companies will often tell you that this will result in a less than optimal experience for services that rely on that data. However, it appears that Google hasn't been playing nice, and has been harvesting location data of nearby cell towers from Android users -- giving Google access to your daily travails -- even... Read more...
Germany's regulatory arm for electricity, gas, telecommunications, post, and railway markets, has issued a ban on smartwatches designed for children over concerns that they can be used by parents to spy on their kids and teachers. Furthermore, the regulatory office is urging parents to go a step further and physically destroy these smartwatches, should their children own one. The agency has also taken action against several firms that offer smartwatches designed for children. "Via an app, parents can use such children's watches to listen unnoticed to the child's environment and they are to be regarded... Read more...
Technology is great, wonderful, groovy, and every other kind of positive adjective, except when it isn't. There are always downsides to be found, and the iPhone X with its fancy facial recognition technology—Face ID, as Apple calls it—is no exception. The problem raised by privacy advocates is that even though facial data used to unlock the iPhone X is securely stored on the handset, Apple's privacy policies do not cover apps that give developers access to such data. App developers can tap into the iPhone X's facial data to build various different experiences for users, such as having a game character... Read more...
Perception can be more powerful than reality, and right now there is a strong perception that Facebook spies on its users, even going so far as to listen in on conversations using a device's microphone. But is that really the case? The answer is no, according to Facebook—Rob Goldman, the social network's vice president of advertising, felt compelled to announce on Twitter that Facebook does not, and never has, leveraged microphones for ads. Goldman's post was in reply to a tweet by PJ Vogt, who hosts a technology podcast called Reply All. Vogt put out a feeler on Twitter asking for people with... Read more...
For many people, the most important aspect of a smartphone is the camera performance. That is why phone makers put so much focus on the camera, with each new generation handset upping the ante with better photo-taking capabilities. But what if these cameras were used to spy on you? According to a software developer, the permissions granted to iPhone apps gives them the ability to take pictures and record video without the user's knowledge. Felix Krause, a developer who obtained a Software Engineering degree from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK and currently works at Google, wrote... Read more...
Thanks in part to Microsoft, the Department of Justice has issued a new policy that limits how and when prosecutors may use gag orders to prevent technology firms from informing customers government agencies are access their cloud data, including emails. The new policy requires that secrecy orders "have an appropriate factual basis" and last long enough to "satisfy the government's request" rather than indefinitely. The decision to implement the new policy is a result of a lawsuit filed by Microsoft against the DoJ in April 2016. In its lawsuit, Microsoft brought up the fact that the US government... Read more...
What was supposed to be a temporary workaround that was doled out to Google Home Mini smart speaker owners has now turned permanent, effectively disabling a key feature of the device. Users can no longer activate the speaker's Google Assistant by tapping on the unit's touch panel. Following the latest update, the only way to engage the artificial intelligence technology is to say, "Okay Google" or "Hey Google." Google initially disabled the touch-to-activate feature ahead of the smart speaker's global launch in response to a glitch discovered by reviewers. Under normal circumstances, Google Home... Read more...
A software engineer has discovered that OnePlus is actively collecting certain data on its users without their knowledge or permission. Chris Moore, owner of a UK-based security and tech blog and a finalist at Cyber Security Challenge UK, published an article detailing the Chinese electronic company's data collection and how there does not appear to be a setting to turn it off. Moore noticed the curious activity while participating in a security event. What he found was that his OnePlus 2 was feeding specific data to open.oneplus.net, which after a DNS lookup was revealed to be an Amazon AWS instance.... Read more...
A team of researchers from Positive Technologies have dug into the innards of Intel Management Engine (ME) 11 and have found a way to turn the feature off. If you aren't familiar with ME, it's a separate processor that is tucked away inside Intel CPUs that allows companies to manage the computers on their networks. Essentially, it allows the IT team to get into your machine to fix issues or apply updates among other things. The catch is that ME 11 is essentially a backdoor leaving some concerned about potential security exploits and privacy concerns. That fact has left many people who use Intel... Read more...
Sarahah, an anonymous feedback app that has recently exploded in popularity across the globe, is now coming under fire for privacy violations. The app stands accused of uploading emails and phone numbers from user address books to its servers. More intriguingly, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for why the company would need to take such an ill-advised action in the app's current form. The developers of Sarahah describe the app, stating, “Sarahah helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner”.... Read more...
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