Displaying items by tag: privacy

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against video sharing app TikTok by a university student in California who claims that the app has been collecting large amounts of private user data and storing it in China.

Published in Apps

EU to re-launch deadlocked effort to regulate messaging apps

Written on Wednesday, 04 December 2019 06:44

The European Union (EU) plans to push for greater regulation of internet phone messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, Skype and WhatsApp.

Published in Government

Facebook faces historic $5bn fine over privacy violations

Written on Thursday, 25 July 2019 06:11

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to fine Facebook $5 billion over privacy violations from the Cambridge Analytica scandal as well as a $100 million penalty by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for releasing misleading information about user data.

Notwithstanding the highest ever fine imposed on the tech giant, the FTC said that Facebook will also have to submit new sweeping restrictions and a newly modified corporate structure which aims to hold the company accountable for their decision regarding the privacy of its users.

The FTC issued a new 20-year settlement in an effort to avoid another potential situation where Facebook deceives its users about their privacy. The settlement order will reform the way the company makes its decisions about privacy through encouraging greater transparency and holding the tech behemoth responsible through several levels and channels of compliance.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, stated, “The next focus for our company is to build privacy protections as strong as the best services we provide. I’m committed to doing this well and delivering the best private social platform for our community.”

The $5 billion fine accounts for around 9% of the tech company’s 2018 revenue.

In fact, the decisions came amidst Facebook’s announcement of its second quarter earnings. The company’s stock experienced a 2% decrease during this quarter in the pre-market trading.

After the fines were made official, Zuckerberg said, “Just as we have an audit committee of our board to oversee our financial controls, we’ll set up a new privacy committee of our board that will oversee our privacy program. We’ve also asked one of our most experienced product leaders to take on the role of Chief Privacy Officer for Products.”

Published in Government

A French consumer rights group said that it has launched a class action lawsuit against US tech giant Google for violating the EU's strict data privacy laws.

Published in Government

Tech titans face clampdown from Australian regulator

Written on Sunday, 23 June 2019 11:33

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) called for new regulations on Facebook, Google and other tech behemoths which could have far-reaching ramifications on their money-making procedures and their ability to choose which content consumers would consume.

The country’s competition watchdog devised some recommendations which, if confirmed, would be among the most restrictive towards tech giants. These recommendations were created in an effort to limit the power of these tech giants due to global concerns of their influence and various other issues such as anti-trust, privacy abuse and the role they play in spreading discriminatory content and misinforming the public.

The ACCC plans to issue its final report by the end of June, following its 18-month inquiry into the issue. This report is expected to comprise of various proposals pertaining to controls that will be imposed on tech giants which handle a large quantity of personal data to use for marketing purposes such as the use of algorithms to coordinate which advertisements to display to customers, which tailored search results will appear and other tailored content.

In the lengthy preliminary report which was issued in December last year, the ACCC raised concerns about the market power of tech companies like Facebook and Google and how their operations are characterized by a “lack of transparency”, especially with regards to the use of our data.

The report, which was initiated by the conservative government, read,: “We are at a critical point in considering the impact of digital platforms on society.” It also shed some light on the impact the tech giants had on Australia’s new industry.

In fact, it was found that since 2014, two tech titans were receiving a huge fraction of the revenues generated from digital advertising which resulted in the number of newspapers and online journalists falling by over 20 per cent.

“While the ACCC recognizes their significant benefits to consumers and business, there are important questions to be asked about the role the global digital platforms play in the supply of news and journalism in Australia,” read the report.

The competition watchdog stated that it wanted to make sure the big firms did not “favor their own business interests, through their marketing power and presence across multiple markets”.

“There are also issues with the role of digital platforms in determining what news and information is accessed by Australians, how this information is provided, and its range and reliability.”

Rod Sims, ACCC chairman, stated that regulatory authorities In the UK, Europe and the U.S. were monitoring the outcome of their inquiry very closely as they are all still in the process of determining their policies regarding the issue.

Many are of the belief that the ACCC’s recommendations are impractical and a little radical.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has already begun to take action against the growing influence of Big Tech. This includes enabling criminal penalties for social media execs which allow the spread of violent or hateful content on their platforms.

Head of  DIGI, the lobbying group formed by various tech behemoths to deal with the regulator, Sunit Bose, said, “We obviously need really clear rules for the internet that protect privacy, safety, the economic and social benefits of technology while also protecting competition and innovations.”

She also argued that the Australian regulator’s recommendations would hurt Big Tech, as well as start-ups and smaller companies that lack the resources to deal with the new regulations.

“the prospect of having to disclose such sensitive information will serve as a deterrent to global digital companies and start-ups initiating or expanding their operation in Australia,” she said.

Published in Government

Huawei founder denies ties to Chinese government

Written on Tuesday, 14 May 2019 11:41

The founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei said that he would “shut the company down” if the Chinese government asked them to eavesdrop on phone call conversations, according to a senior executive.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Facebook hires Patriot Act co-author as new chief lawyer

Written on Tuesday, 23 April 2019 11:43

Facebook has hired a new lawyer, Jennifer Newstead, a high-ranking US State Department Lawyer, who will oversee Facebook’s global legal functions amid pressure from regulators regarding its privacy policies.

Published in Government

On Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British Police at the embassy of Ecuador in London.

Published in Government

Facebook stores millions of user passwords

Written on Tuesday, 26 March 2019 09:17

Facebook revealed that it has kept a record of hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text.

The social media giant’s Vice President of Engineering, Security and Privacy, Pedro Canahuati, wrote in  a blog post that hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users will be notified about this and so will the millions of Facebook and Instagram users.

Facebook Lite is a version of Facebook which is used in areas with weak connectivity.

According to Canahuati the mistake they made was noticed in January but did failed to comment on why an announcement wasn’t made about the issue at the time. Instead, the announcement came over two months later.

“As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems,” said Canahuati.

He also stated that the passwords which were stored were never visible to anyone outside Facebook and that they were not abused or improperly used by any of the staff.

“This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable.

We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.”

Published in Apps

Security researcher Victor Gevers has uncovered a database of 1.8 million women in China who have their names, addresses, marital status, education levels, and phone numbers listed however the most troubling part of this database is the fact that women of a certain age group were also categorized as “breed ready”.

Gevers has said that anyone with an IP address has access to this database. This comes after his discovery of the Chinese database that leaked 300 million private messages last week.

“We don’t know who is behind this database and what the intention was… that is the part that worries us the most,” said Gevers. Most of the women in the database were located in Beijing.

Gevers reported the database on Twitter and had it closed down by 4am ET on Monday. 

Some of the women are linked to their Facebook profiles and as Facebook is banned in China, they must have accessed it through the use of a VPN.

“In China, they have a shortage of women. So an organization started to build a database to start registering over 1.8 million women with all kinds of details like phone numbers, addresses, education, location, ID number, marital status, and a “BreedReady” status?” he tweeted.

Also, around 90 per cent of the women on that list were listed as single and were between the ages of 15 and 95. The “BreedReady” women were categorized,  the youngest status was given to 18 year olds and the oldest with the status was 39.

The purpose of this database still remains uncertain however, many internet users said that it may have been the Chinese government’s effort to track the fertility of Chinese women as China’s birth rate has hit an all-time low.

China’s National Statistics Bureau found that only 15 million children were born in 2018 which was 2 million less than the previous year.

Published in Government
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