Displaying items by tag: Scandal

Facebook embroiled in new data sharing claims

Written on Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:10

Beleaguered social media behemoth Facebook has been subjected to further scrutiny over its data sharing policies following a report by the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ has claimed that Facebook offered deeper access to user records in a series of customized data sharing deals.

According to the report in the New York-based publication the Silicon Valley based social networking firm struck agreements, known internally as whitelists with a small group of companies which allowed access to users’ data which included connections, phone numbers and a metric that measures the closeness of a user with other users in its network.

When quizzed about these agreements and whitelists by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook acknowledged the deals which included agreements with enterprises such as the Royal Bank of Canada and Japanese car manufacturer Nissan, among others.

It was further alleged that the access was offered to companies which advertise on the social network or were valuable for other reasons, the newspaper said. In addition to this, it was further disclosed that Facebook continued to offer such access for periods lasting weeks and months after declaring it had cut off access to third party developers in 2015.

Company officials told WSJ Facebook struck the deals to improve user experience, test new features and allow certain partners to wind down existing data sharing projects. The latest revelation is the latest in a string of publicly damaging setbacks for the company, which faced fierce criticism in recent months over its data sharing activities.

Last week, Facebook’s data sharing practices with 60 device makers, including China-headquartered vendors, was flagged by a US politician. The company is also attempting to deal with the fallout of revelations in March that it shared data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica. It was also announced last week that Instagram had overtaken Facebook amongst teenagers and young adults.

Published in Apps

Head of Samsung sentenced to five years in jail for bribery

Written on Sunday, 03 September 2017 09:31

South Korean conglomerate Samsung has been rocked following the decision by Seoul Central District Court to sentence its leader to five years in jail for bribery. Billionaire, Jay Y. Lee, was the head of Samsung Group but his career is now in turmoil as it faces up to the prospect of spending the next five years in prison.

The ruling by the court in South Korea brings to an end a six-month scandal that shocked the nation - the revelations of bribery and corruption that was uncovered also forced the then President Park Geun-hye to stepdown. The decision by the judiciary is seen as a ‘watershed’ moment in South Korean affairs, and ends the decade long economic order which was dominated by family-run conglomerates.

It emerged that a court found Lee guilty of paying bribes in anticipation of favors from the South Korean president. In addition to this, the court also found Lee guilty on charges of concealing assets overseas, embezzlement and perjury.

The head of Samsung is the heir to one of the world’s biggest corporate empires – and the 49-year-old has been in custody since February following allegations that he bribed Park in order to help him secure control of a conglomerate that owns Samsung Electronics, which is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer and chipmaker.

The judge who passed down sentence on Lee said that as the group’s heir apparent it was obvious who stood to benefit from any ‘political favors’ for Samsung. However, Lee has vehemently denied any wrongdoing since the outset, and maintains his innocence. A representative of Lee’s legal team, Song Wu-cheol confirmed they would appeal the decision and said the guilty verdict is ‘unacceptable. He said, “The entire guilty verdict is unacceptable, we’re confident that our client’s innocence will be affirmed by a higher court.”

It has emerged that the case is expected to be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court - and the appeal is likely to take place next year. Legal commentators have claimed that the sentence is quite severe and is one of the longest ever given to a prominent South Korean businessman, adding that the decision was a landmark ruling for family-run conglomerates that are revered in the country for transforming the war-torn country into a global economic superpower.

However, recently the family-run conglomerates have drawn criticism for stifling start-ups and being responsible for the economy to stall and stagnate. Samsung was seen as a shining example of the country’s rise from poverty during the Korean War which lasted from 1950-1953. In recent times though, the South Korean colossus has epitomized the sometimes ‘corrupt’ ties that exist between politicians and the chaebols.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick has sensationally resigned as CEO of Uber after coming under increased pressure from investors who raised serious concerns over his leadership. The co-founder of the ride-hailing service which has upended the taxi industry on a global scale has been under intense scrutiny over a series of scandals that have rocked the organization.

However, just last week it was announced following a board meeting that Kalanick had agreed to take a leave of absence for an undetermined period of time in an effort to grieve for his mother who had recently been tragically killed in a boating accident. His father was also seriously injured in the accident, and Kalanick said he needed a break to spend time with his family and work on his leadership skills.

It was expected he would return quietly in a few months when the controversies surrounding the organization blows over. However, it has been announced that Kalanick has now resigned as CEO after a letter from venture capitalist firm Benchmark called for his resignation.

In a statement given to the New York Times, Kalanick said it was imperative that Uber went back to building rather than becoming embroiled in a fight – and that he accepted the investors request. He said, “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors' request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

Uber has been under the spotlight following an investigation into the culture that exists within its workplace and the practices employed by the firm which Kalanick co-founded in 2009. Uber is now the world’s most highly valued start-up business. A growing momentum of voices demanded changes at the helm, and it was the call from Uber’s biggest investors that ultimately forced Kalanick to concede that his position was now untenable.

One of Uber’s largest shareholders Bill Gurley is a partner in Benchmark and he also sits on the board. Other venture capital firms such as First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, all called for the CEO to step aside. It has been reported that they delivered a letter to Kalanick when he was in Chicago. It is believed that Kalanick will remain on Uber’s board.

Gurley, one of Kalanick's closest confidants, praised the CEO on Twitter, after calling for his resignation. He tweeted, "There will be many pages in the history books devoted to @travisk - very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world.”

An Uber spokesman has expressed his shock and surprise at the decision taken by Kalanick. Some analysts felt that it was inevitable he had to go after an extensive investigation was initiated by former US Attorney General Eric Holder. Uber hired Holder to examine its culture and workplace practices after a former employee accused the company of engaging in brazen sexual harassment. Uber is now valued at $68 billion, which completely shattered the norms for Silicon Valley startups, and many feel the organization embodied many of Kalanick’s aggressive and pugnacious personality traits.

Published in Apps

Outgoing US President Barack Obama has called for a broad review to be conducted into the Russian hacking scandal which disrupted the US presidential election campaign last month. US Democrats believe the hacking scandal significantly benefited Donald Trump’s successful bid candidacy.

White House counterterrorism and Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco confirmed that President Obama has ordered intelligence officials to file a report into the hacking of Democratic officials’ e-mail accounts and Russia’s involvement in it – which has also further raised concerns over ‘foreign meddling.’

President Obama has requested the report to be submitted before he leaves office next month. However, it has not been confirmed whether or not the findings of the report will be made public. During a hostile campaign between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump – Trump regularly referenced the e-mail hacking scandal involving Clinton, labelling her ‘crooked Hilary’ and said he believed she should be in jail.

US intelligence officials accused the Russian government of ordering the breaches as part of an effort to interfere with the presidential campaign.

In the months leading up to the election, Hillary Clinton faced intense scrutiny after it emerged she used a private server when she was Secretary of State, rather than official State Department email accounts maintained on federal servers. Those official communications included thousands of emails that would retroactively be marked classified by the state department.

The FBI initiated an investigation but recommended that no charges be filed against her. Many political analysts believe it strengthened the campaign of President elect Donald Trump. However, Trump has downplayed the possibility that Russia was involved in the hacking scandal.

Since Trump's victory, Democratic senators on the intelligence committee have been pushing Obama to declassify more information about Russia's role. Congressman Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said he welcomed Obama's call for a review.

"Given President-elect Trump's disturbing refusal to listen to our intelligence community and accept that the hacking was orchestrated by the Kremlin, there is an added urgency to the need for a thorough review before President Obama leaves office next month. If the administration doesn't respond "forcefully" to such actions, "we can expect to see a lot more of this in the near future.”

The news of this investigation come hot on the heels of an announcement made by Kremlin officials last week, in which they disclosed information that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had signed a new cybersecurity doctrine in an effort to bolster Russia against cyberattacks from abroad.

Published in Government