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From Personal to Planetary: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 4
January 30, 2020
We asked ECT News Network's roundtable of industry insiders to reflect on their own personal tech preferences, to speculate on what popular gadgets may vanish from use in the next decade, to consider the role of wearable health tools -- and then to expand the discussion to the health of the planet, tech advances in traveling on it, and the prospect of leaving it altogether.
COPRA May Be Coming, and It's Not Too Soon to Prepare
January 28, 2020
All eyes are on the West Coast as California reins in the unfettered collection, use and sale of the personal data consumers share as part of the bargain for "free" online services. For years this bargain has been explained in privacy policies that few people read, because there is not a lot of negotiating in the personal data market. The CCPA gives consumers revolutionary rights.
Grabbing the Cybersecurity and Privacy Problems by the Horns: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 3
January 23, 2020
Cybersecurity and privacy threats aren't confined to the tech world. They've cast their pall on the world in general. Computer viruses, malware and data leaks have become commonplace, personal privacy has become a bad joke, and cyberwar looms like a virtual mushroom cloud. What sometimes gets lost in the gloom are the many ways security professionals have been working to shore up cyberdefenses.
Report: FBI Got Apple to Roll Over on iCloud Encryption
January 23, 2020
Apple shelved plans to give iPhone users control over encrypted backups stored on the company's iCloud service over concerns raised by the FBI and internal sources, according to a report. The company made the decision to retain control over iCloud encryption around two years ago, but it came to light just recently. The plan would have removed Apple's ability to decrypt users' backups.
Is Congress Finally Ready to Take On Cybersecurity?
January 23, 2020
The United States Congress made some significant progress this session when it comes to data privacy, but cybersecurity remains a blind spot for lawmakers. Congress currently is considering a national privacy law that mirrors legislation enacted in the European Union. It would allow people to access, correct and request the deletion of the personal information collected from them.
Google CEO Adds His Voice to AI Regulation Debate
January 21, 2020
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet, called for government regulation of artificial intelligence technology in a speech at Bruegel, a think tank in Brussels, and in an op-ed. There is no question in Pichai's mind that AI should be regulated, he said. The question is what will be the best approach. Sensible regulation should balance potential harm with potential good.
It's Crunch Time for California Consumer Privacy Act Compliance
January 15, 2020
The CCPA -- widely considered to be the toughest law in the U.S. regulating the collection, storage and use of personal information -- went into effect on Jan. 1. Rather than preparing for it, however, many businesses have taken a wait-and-see approach. This could be a serious mistake. The new law is similar in many respects to the EU's GDPR, which went into effect last spring.
Apple, DoJ Grapple Over Cracking Terrorist's iPhones
January 15, 2020
Apple and the U.S. Justice Department are at it again. This time it's over cracking a brace of iPhones owned by the Saudi Air Force cadet who killed three sailors in a shooting spree last month at the naval air station in Pensacola, Florida. At a news conference on the findings of an investigation into the incident, U.S. Attorney General William Barr called out Apple for refusing to help the FBI.
Is Privacy Possible in 2020?
December 27, 2019
The California Consumer Protection Act goes into effect in 2020, and other state and federal laws are on the horizon -- but is it possible that these state laws will really provide us privacy? How many readers take the time to read the privacy policy, or click agreement, when they download a new version of an app on their smartphone or tablet? Probably none. What are the consequences?
Is Your Health Data at Risk?
December 20, 2019
We've recently seen much breathless news coverage of the Nightingale Project, Google's half-secret partnership with Ascension, the second-largest healthcare system in the U.S. The details of the project -- which involves sharing the healthcare data of tens of millions of unsuspecting patients -- have raised significant concerns. The concerns have centered around issues that by now are familiar.
Apple Feature Forces Change in Online Ad Industry
December 11, 2019
Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature has made it difficult for online advertisers to use cookies to target Safari users. Third-party cookies "serve as the foundation for almost all advertising use cases," noted Jordan Mitchell, head of consumer privacy, identity and data at the IAB Tech Lab. The blocking "negatively affects the ability for brands to target audiences."
Facebook Won't Let US, UK, Australia Get Toe in Backdoor
December 11, 2019
Facebook has rejected a request from the U.S., the UK and Australia for a "backdoor" in its encrypted messenger apps to help law enforcement agencies combat crime and terrorism. "Cybersecurity experts have repeatedly proven that when you weaken any part of an encrypted system, you weaken it for everyone, everywhere," wrote WhatsApp head Will Cathcart and Facebook Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky.
New 'DNA of Things' Method Stores Digital Memory in Common Objects
December 10, 2019
Researchers at a Swedish university have unveiled a method for mixing genetically encoded digital data into common manufacturing materials. The project, carried out in collaboration with an Israeli scientist, involved embedding artificial DNA in a small plastic 3D-printed plastic bunny, which would allow self-replication, according to a report published in Nature Biotechnology.
Your Smart TV Could Give Hackers a Window on Your World
December 6, 2019
Cybercriminals have discovered ways to compromise smart TVs, the FBI recently warned. Smart TV owners should do their due diligence to secure the devices, the bureau urged. Smart TVs are just as accessible to unauthorized parties as computers or other Internet-connected devices. Because many TVs now feature microphones and cameras, predators could commit serious privacy intrusions.
Twitter Sets Up Privacy Center but Moves to Skirt GDPR
December 4, 2019
Twitter's new Privacy Center will give users more clarity on what it does to protect the information people share. The center will host everything relevant to Twitter's privacy and data protection work, including initiatives, announcements, new privacy products and communication about security incidents, noted Twitter Data Protection Officer Damien Kieran and Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour.
EU Digital Czar to Probe Facebook's and Google's Data Wrangling
December 3, 2019
The European Union has launched a probe into how Google and Facebook gather, process, use and monetize data for advertising purposes. The European Commission has begun distributing questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google's and Facebook's data practices. Facebook and Google join Amazon as targets of the EU's "digital czar," Margrethe Vestager.
Apple to Conduct 3 Medical Studies Using Research App
November 19, 2019
Apple is getting into the medical research field with its recent announcement of three studies to be conducted through its Research app. Apple Watch and iPhone users in the United States can use the app to enroll in the Apple Women's Health Study, the Apple Heart & Movement Study, and the Apple Hearing Study. Participants can use their Apple devices to contribute data to the studies.
'Nightingale Project' to Turn Over Millions of Medical Records to Google
November 13, 2019
A venture between Google and Ascension, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, will give the tech giant access to the sensitive medical information of as many as 50 million patients in 21 states. Its venture with Google, called "The Nightingale Project," would enable it to improve the experience of patients, consumers, providers and associates, Ascension said.
Calling All Retailers - Ready or Not, CCPA Is on Its Way
November 9, 2019
We're just a few short months away from the California Consumer Privacy Act going into effect. The regulation brings privacy rights to residents in California and gives them control of their personal information and how companies can use it. Any business that sells to a California resident needs to be CCPA-compliant. Nearly every brick-and-mortar store nowadays has an e-commerce site.
Google Pays $2.1 Billion to Get Fit(bit)
November 7, 2019
Google has inked a deal to buy wearable fitness device maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion. The acquisition will give Google an immediate leading position in the wearables market, able to compete against the likes of Apple and Samsung rather than having to build up market share from scratch. Fitbit's products are carried in approximately 39,000 retail stores in more than 100 countries around the world.
Data Brokers' Secret Scores Can Cripple Consumers
November 6, 2019
Many businesses have been using secret scores created by data brokers to determine how much to charge consumers, whether to allow purchase returns, and what level of service to offer, among other things. "Most consumers will never know when they are the victim of a secret surveillance score," noted Laura Antonini, policy director at the Consumer Education Foundation.
Safari's Safe Browsing Option Raises Privacy Concerns
October 15, 2019
An option in Apple's Safari browser that's supposed to protect Web surfers from malicious sites has raised privacy concerns in some quarters. The option, called "safe browsing," is turned on by default. Depending on where an Apple device is registered, the browser could be sending IP information to Tencent, a conglomerate with close ties to China's government.
Get Serious About Cybersecurity: Take Ownership of Your Personal Data
October 4, 2019
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and one of the prongs in the three-part theme is for all computer users to "Own IT." This means staying safe on social media, updating privacy settings, and keeping tabs on apps. Simply put, users need to take better ownership of their data and their online presence as part of daily safe cyber practices.
The CCPA May Affect You, So Get Ready
October 3, 2019
Although not every United States business will be affected, the new California Consumer Protection Act almost certainly will have implications for many businesses outside of California. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, qualifying businesses will be subject to data privacy and security standards currently required only by the 28 member states in the European Union.
Congress Eyes Google's Chrome Encryption Plans
October 1, 2019
Google's plans to test an encrypted Internet DNS protocol reportedly have spurred some members of Congress to consider opening an antitrust investigation. They are concerned that the new technology could give Google an edge over competitors by making it harder for them to access consumer data. Google is experimenting with new ways to enhance online privacy.
Spotlight on Cybersecurity Awareness: Own IT, Secure IT, Protect IT
September 27, 2019
Cybersecurity should be a concern for all businesses -- large and small. Cybersecurity also should be a concern for consumers, government agencies, and basically anyone who relies on the Internet in our increasingly connected world. Among efforts to focus attention on the threatscape is designating October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
Google's 'Right to Be Forgotten' Approach Wins Nod From EU Court
September 25, 2019
Google need not comply with the right to be forgotten outside of the European Union, according to a European Court of Justice ruling. A global de-referencing would meet the EU's data protection objectives, the court said, but it found that numerous third states do not recognize the right to de-referencing or have a different approach to that right.
Google Promises Assistant Users More Audio Privacy
September 24, 2019
Google has announced tweaks to its privacy policy following earlier reports that its Google Assistant software was eavesdropping on user conversations. Although it does not retain Assistant audio recordings by default, according to Senior Product Manager Nino Tasca, the company has increased privacy protections affecting the transcription process used to check the accuracy of responses.
Facebook's New Portals: More Ways to Follow
September 19, 2019
Facebook has announced three additions to the Portal family: a new Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV. The devices let users make calls using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Portal has a new design that resembles a picture frame. The Portal Mini is similar but smaller. The Portal TV blends the functionality of a set-top box with social media and video conferencing.
Google's Super-Sized Nest Hub Draws Mixed Reviews
September 10, 2019
The new larger version of Google's Nest Hub smart display has been garnering mixed reviews. It has a 10-inch screen, compared to its predecessor's 7-inch display, and it sells for $229, compared to $129 for the Nest Hub introduced in June. "I like the big screen on the Nest Hub Max, since I was able to watch a football game in the kitchen and still see the score," wrote Todd Haselton.
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Digital River - Sell Like a Local
How will the pandemic influence your holiday shopping habits this year?
I will shop online exclusively, for my own safety and to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
I will do some shopping online, and some in-person because I want to support merchants in my area.
I will shop online definitely, and I will consider local retailers -- but only if they provide curbside service.
I will only shop in-person because the risks associated with e-commerce outweigh my chance of catching COVID-19.
I will not do any holiday shopping this year due to circumstances related to the pandemic.
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