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Paul Merrell

Canadians sue Facebook over use of personal info | Toronto.com - 1 views

  • Two Facebook users are seeking damages on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose personal data may have been improperly used for political purposes. The proposed class-action lawsuit filed by Calgary residents Saul Benary and Karma Holoboff asks the Federal Court to order the social-media giant to bolster its security practices to better protect sensitive information and comply with federal privacy law. It also seeks $1,000 for each of the approximately 622,000 Canadians whose information was shared with others through a digital app.
Paul Merrell

Facebook to invest $1bn in news business after Australia dispute | Media News | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • Facebook Inc on Wednesday pledged to invest at least $1bn in the news industry over the next three years, days after a high-profile standoff with the Australian government over paying news outlets for content. The social network’s commitment to the news industry follows Google’s $1bn investment last year, as technology giants come under scrutiny over their business models as well as the proliferation of misinformation on their platforms.
  • Facebook on Tuesday restored Australian news pages, ending an unprecedented weeklong blackout after the company wrung concessions from the government over a proposed law that will require tech giants to pay traditional media companies for their content. The brief blackout shocked the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the tech giants.
  • Facebook said on Wednesday that it has already invested $600m in the news industry since 2018. The social media company added it was in active negotiations with news publishers in Germany and France for a deal to pay for content for its news product, where users can find headlines and stories next to a personalised news feed.
Paul Merrell

Apple Being Investigated By "Majority" Of States Over Claims Of Deliberately Slowing Old iPhones | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • Right around the time that Apple stock was surging to new highs thanks to a better than expected earnings report and stock split, another story was surfacing: Arizona is leading a multi-state investigation into whether or not Apple is deliberately slowing its old iPhones, and whether such practices would violate deceptive trade laws.  A probe has been ongoing "since 2018" and investigators are focusing on data that shows "unexpected shutdowns" of old Apple iPhones and the company's potential slowing down of devices using power management software, according to Reuters.  Documents obtained last week from a Texas watchdog group showed that the Texas AG was also involved in the investigation. Sources told Reuters that a "majority of U.S. states", with AGs spanning both parties, are involved and are "teaming up" together in the probe. 
  • Apple agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle a related class action lawsuit earlier this year. 
Paul Merrell

Google and Facebook fined $240 million for making cookies hard to refuse | Malwarebytes Labs - 0 views

  • French privacy watchdog, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), has hit Google with a 150 million euro fine and Facebook with a 60 million euro fine, because their websites—google.fr, youtube.com, and facebook.com—don’t make refusing cookies as easy as accepting them. The CNIL carried out an online investigation after receiving complaints from users about the way cookies were handled on these sites. It found that while the sites offered buttons for allowing immediate acceptance of cookies, the sites didn’t implement an equivalent solution to let users refuse them. Several clicks were required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them. In addition to the fines, the companies have been given three months to provide Internet users in France with a way to refuse cookies that’s as simple as accepting them. If they don’t, the companies will have to pay a penalty of 100,000 euros for each day they delay.
  • EU data protection regulators’ powers have increased significantly since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in May 2018. This EU law allows watchdogs to levy penalties of as much as 4% of a company’s annual global sales. The restricted committee, the body in charge of sanctions, considered that the process regarding cookies affects the freedom of consent of Internet users and constitutes an infringement of the French Data Protection Act, which demands that it should be as easy to refuse cookies as to accept them. Since March 31, 2021, when the deadline set for websites and mobile applications to comply with the new rules on cookies expired, the CNIL has adopted nearly 100 corrective measures (orders and sanctions) related to non-compliance with the legislation on cookies.
Paul Merrell

Russian court slaps Google, Meta with massive fines - Taipei Times - 1 views

  • A Moscow court on Friday slapped Google with a nearly US$100 million fine and also fined Facebook Inc’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc US$27 million over their failure to delete content banned by local law, as Russia seeks to step up pressure on technology giants. The Tagansky District Court ruled that Google repeatedly neglected to remove the banned content, and ordered the company to pay an administrative fine of 7.2 billion rubles (US$97.7 million).
  • Later on Friday, the court also slapped a fine of nearly 2 billion rubles on Meta for failure to remove banned content. Russian courts had this year imposed smaller fines on Google, Facebook and Twitter Inc, and Friday’s rulings were the first time that the size of the fines were calculated based on revenue. Russian state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said that Google and Meta were specifically accused of contravening a ban on distributing content that promotes extremist ideology, insults religious beliefs and encourages dangerous behavior by minors, among other things.
Paul Merrell

Meta reaches $37.5 mln settlement of Facebook location tracking lawsuit | Reuters - 1 views

  • Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) reached a $37.5 million settlement of a lawsuit accusing the parent of Facebook of violating users' privacy by tracking their movements through their smartphones without permission.A preliminary settlement of the proposed class action was filed on Monday in San Francisco federal court, and requires a judge's approval.It resolved claims that Facebook violated California law and its own privacy policy by gathering data from users who turned off Location Services on their mobile devices.Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comRegisterAdvertisement · Scroll to continueThe users said that while they did not want to share their locations with Facebook, the company nevertheless inferred where they were from their IP (internet protocol) addresses, and used that information to send them targeted advertising.Monday's settlement covers people in the United States who used Facebook after Jan. 30, 2015.Meta denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. It did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.Advertisement · Scroll to continueIn June 2018, Facebook and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told the U.S. Congress that the Menlo Park, California-based company uses location data "to help advertisers reach people in particular areas."As an example, it said users who dined at particular restaurants might receive posts from friends who also ate there, or ads from businesses that wanted to provide services nearby.The lawsuit began in November 2018. lawyers for the plaintiffs may seek up to 30% of Monday's settlement for legal fees, settlement papers show.Advertisement · Scroll to continueThe cases is Lundy et al v Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-06793.
Paul Merrell

Senate to mark up antitrust bills targeting Apple, Google and Amazon - 1 views

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to deliberate on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which some experts consider to have the most realistic chance of becoming law out of broad slate of reforms, while creating major change in the industry. The committee schedule also lists a markup of the Open App Markets Act, another bipartisan competition bill.Both bills would prevent certain dominant tech platforms from favoring their own products or services over others that rely on their marketplaces to do business. But the Open App Markets Act’s impact would primarily be limited to those that run app stores, like Apple and Google, while the American Innovation and Choice Online Act would be more expansive, potentially preventing a company like Amazon from giving its own private label products a better ranking in its search than a third-party competitor.Apple and Google could similarly be barred from unfairly ranking their own apps above competitors’ in their mobile app stores, and for Google, the same principle would apply to its general search engine as well
Paul Merrell

House Committee Passes 'Big Tech' Antitrust Package Despite Lobbying Onslaught | ZeroHedge - 1 views

  • As the DoJ and FTC pursue civil antitrust litigation against some of America's largest tech firms, a House Committee has approved legislation to curb the market dominance of many of these same firms, including Google-owner Alphabet and Facebook. However, according to a report from WSJ, the tech firms targeted by the legislation are ramping up their lobbying efforts, precipitating a pitched battle over the legislation in the Senate.At the core of the six-bill raft of legislation is a measure to bar big tech firms from favoring their own products on their platforms. It was approved by the House committee early Thursday by a vote of 24 to 20.The NYT reported that Apple and other tech giants engaged in aggressive lobbying against the six-bill package, with Apple CEO Tim Cook going so far as to call Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top lawmakers to warn them against supporting the legislation. Per the NYT, the calls from Cook were "part of a forceful and wide-ranging pushback by the tech industry since the proposals were announced this month. Executives, lobbyists, and more than a dozen think tanks and advocacy groups paid by tech companies have swarmed Capitol offices, called and emailed lawmakers and their staff members, and written letters arguing there will be dire consequences for the industry and the country if the ideas become law."
  • Mirroring the outcome of several EU anti-trust investigations, the legislation, known as the "American Choice and Innovation Online Act," the legislation would prohibit the owners of big platforms (like Amazon's online marketplace) from creating disadvantages for goods and services provided by competitors.
Paul Merrell

Cyberstalking, pig masks, and cockroaches: Former eBay execs are sentenced - 0 views

  • The former Senior Director of Safety & Security at eBay, and the company’s former Director of Global Resiliency, have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a cyberstalking campaign. The targets of the campaign were the editor and publisher of a newsletter that eBay executives viewed as critical of the company.
  • For those that missed the reason for these sentences, we’ll need a quick rewind to 2019. Many see this letter by a hedge fund demanding better results from eBay as a direct cause for what followed. The letter caused some stress among eBay management, and for some reason they saw the negative reviews by EcommerceBytes as an obstacle that was holding their desired success back. EcommerceBytes was and is a resource for sellers on a number of platforms that enable users to sell items online. The website was set up by a couple that were both e-commerce bloggers. The eBay management team at the time was very unhappy with the criticism it got on the site. A third victim of their attention was the handler of a Twitter account named Fidomaster.
  • It was not that EcommerceBytes focused on ebay. Lots of similar companies featured in its e-commerce newsletter. Only the eBay employees felt the need to act and tried to silence them. A campaign was launched by eBay’s staff to harass and threaten the critics. This campaign featured packages being sent containing cockroaches, a bloody pig mask and pornography, death threats, physical surveillance, and late-night pizza deliveries. A full recount of what they had to go through makes for a gruesome read.
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  • Together with five other employees, the two staff members and the chief communications officer were fired in 2020, after eBay hired a law firm to investigate the harassment. The US Department of Justice charged seven of the former ebay employees and contractors with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. They all pleaded guilty. The only two that were arrested at the time were the executives that have now been sentenced. One of their former co-conspirators was sentenced in July 2021 to 18 months in prison, while four others are awaiting sentencing.
  • The former senior director of safety and security was sentenced to 57 months in prison and two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $40,000. The former director of global resiliency was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $20,000.
Paul Merrell

China's quantum satellite enables first totally secure long-range messages - 2 views

  • In the middle of the night, invisible to anyone but special telescopes in two Chinese observatories, satellite Micius sends particles of light to Earth to establish the world’s most secure communication link. Named after the ancient Chinese philosopher also known as Mozi, Micius is the world’s first quantum communications satellite and has, for several years, been at the forefront of quantum encryption. Scientists have now reported using this technology to reach a major milestone: long-range secure communication you could trust even without trusting the satellite it runs through. Launched in 2016, Micius has already produced a number of breakthroughs under its operating team led by Pan Jian-Wei, China’s “Father of Quantum”. The satellite serves as the source of pairs of entangled photons, twinned light particles whose properties remain intertwined no matter how far apart they are. If you manipulate one of the photons, the other will be similarly affected at the very same moment.
  • It is this property that lies in the heart of the most secure forms of quantum cryptography, the entanglement-based quantum key distribution. If you use one of the entangled particles to create a key for encoding messages, only the person with the other particle can decode them.
  • Secure long-distance links such as this one will be the foundation of the quantum internet, the future global network with added security powered by laws of quantum mechanics, unmatched by classical cryptographic methods. The launch of Micius and the records set by the scientists and engineers building quantum communication systems with its help have been compared to the effect Sputnik had on the space race in the 20th century. In a similar way, the quantum race has political and military implications that are hard to ignore.
Paul Merrell

Google, Amazon Face Shareholder Revolt Over Israeli Defense Work - 3 views

  • Google and Amazon are both set to help build “Project Nimbus,” a mammoth new cloud computing project for the Israeli government and military that is spurring intense dissent among employees and the public alike. Shareholders of both firms will soon vote on resolutions that would mandate reconsideration of a project they fear has grave human rights consequences. Little is known of the plan, reportedly worth over $1 billion, beyond the fact that it would consolidate the Israeli government’s public sector cloud computing needs onto servers housed within the country’s borders and subject solely to Israeli law, rather than remote data centers distributed around the world. Part of the plan’s promise is that it would insulate Israel’s computing needs from threats of international boycotts, sanctions, or other political pressures stemming from the ongoing military occupation of Palestine; according to a Times of Israel report, the terms of the Project Nimbus contract prohibit both companies from shutting off service to the government, or from selectively excluding certain government offices from using the new domestic cloud.
  • While a wide variety of government ministries will make use of the new computing power and data storage, the fact that Google and Amazon may be directly bolstering the capabilities of the Israeli military and internal security services has generated alarm from both human rights observers and company engineers. In October 2021, The Guardian published a letter from a group of anonymous Google and Amazon employees objecting to their company’s participation. “This technology allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land,” the letter read. “We cannot look the other way, as the products we build are used to deny Palestinians their basic rights, force Palestinians out of their homes and attack Palestinians in the Gaza Strip — actions that have prompted war crime investigations by the international criminal court.” In March, an American Google employee who had helped organize the employee opposition to Nimbus said the company abruptly told her she could either move to Brazil or lose her job, a move she said was retaliation for her stance. Nimbus will now face a referendum of sorts among Google and Amazon shareholders, who next month will vote on a pair of resolutions that call for company-funded reviews of their participation in that project and others that might harm human rights.
Paul Merrell

2 million people-and some dead ones-were impersonated in net neutrality comments | Ars Technica - 1 views

  • An analysis of public comments on the FCC's plan to repeal net neutrality rules found that 2 million of them were filed using stolen identities. That's according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "Millions of fake comments have corrupted the FCC public process—including two million that stole the identities of real people, a crime under New York law," Schneiderman said in an announcement today. "Yet the FCC is moving full steam ahead with a vote based on this corrupted process, while refusing to cooperate with an investigation."
  • Some comments were submitted under the names of dead people. "My LATE husband's name was fraudulently used after a valiant battle with cancer," one person told the AG's office. "This unlawful act adds to my pain that someone would violate his good name." Schneiderman set up a website where people can search the FCC comments for their names to determine if they've been impersonated. So far, "over 5,000 people have filed reports with the Attorney General's office regarding identities used to submit fake comments," the AG's announcement said.
  • While the 5,000 reports provide anecdotal evidence, the AG's office performed an analysis of the 23 million public comments in order to figure out how many were submitted under falsely assumed identities. Many comments for and against net neutrality rules are identical because advocacy groups urged people to sign form letters, so the text of a comment alone isn't enough to determine if it was submitted by a real person. The AG's office thus examined comment text along with other factors, such as whether names matched lists of stolen identities from known data breaches. Schneiderman's office also told Ars that it looked into whether or not the submission of comments was in alphabetical order, one after another, in short time periods. In general, analysis of formatting and metadata played a role in the analysis. The number of comments believed to be fake has grown as the A.G.'s investigation continues, and it isn't done yet. Schneiderman's office is still analyzing the public comments. We asked Schneiderman's office how many of the fake comments supported net neutrality rules, and how many opposed them, but were told that the information was not available. While fake comments used names and addresses of people from across the nation, more than "100,000 comments per state" came "from New York, Florida, Texas, and California," Schneiderman's announcement said.
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