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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.
Designing a Winning E-Commerce Customer Experience
January 11, 2020
An optimized customer experience can tip the balance toward gaining a purchase instead of losing a customer. Excellent CX has transitioned firmly from something nice to have to a business requirement. No matter how good a product or service is, the e-commerce Web and mobile design surrounding it will play a key role in maintaining engagement and ensuring consumers complete their shopping journey.
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.
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.
How Safe Are Home Security Systems?
November 21, 2019
I have loved the story of Ring doorbells ever since seeing the CEO Jamie Siminoff on TV's Shark Tank several years ago. I also loved the SimpliSafe story with CEO Chad Laurans. Companies like these, including competitors Blink and Nest -- all started by creative entrepreneurs -- are changing the security industry. However, there are several problems users need to be aware of.
'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.
Amazon Trying Out Hand-Scanning Payment System: Report
September 5, 2019
Amazon is testing scanners that can identify a human hand to use as a payment method for in-store purchases. The company plans to introduce "Orville" to some Whole Foods stores by the beginning of 2020, and later expand it to all locations in the United States. Employees at Amazon's New York offices are said to be using the technology to buy items from specially equipped vending machines.
Apple Says Sorry for Listening In on Siri Talks
August 29, 2019
Apple has suspended audits of consumer interactions with Siri, and undertaken a review of practices and policies related to the voice assistant. Before suspending grading, the process involved reviewing a small sample of audio and computer-generated transcripts from Siri requests -- less than 0.2 percent -- to measure how well Siri responded. The goal was to improve the assistant's reliability.
Storm Erupts Over Google's Advice Against Blocking Cookies
August 28, 2019
Google's recent announcement of Privacy Sandbox -- an initiative to develop a set of open standards geared toward fundamental enhancements of privacy on the Web -- has stirred up a controversy. Blocking cookies is not a good idea for a number of reasons, and standardization of such efforts is needed, argued Justin Schuh, director, Chrome Engineering. Google invited the Web community to comment.
Instagram May Roll Out App for 'Real Friends' Sharing
August 28, 2019
A new application may be in the works that allows Instagram users to share real-time information with their closest friends. Called "Threads," the app allows users to set up automatic sharing with their closest Instagram buddies of such information as location, movement and battery life, as well as text, video and photo messages generated using Instagram's tools.
Report: Chinese Hackers Eye US Cancer Research
August 27, 2019
Hackers affiliated with the Chinese government have been making a concerted effort to steal medical research, particularly cancer research, from U.S. institutions. The step-up in medical research theft by Chinese APT hacker groups appears to be linked to China's growing concern over cancer mortality rates and increasing healthcare costs. Cancer in the leading cause of death in China.
Major Browsers Block Kazakhstan Government's Fake Safety Cert
August 22, 2019
Google, Mozilla and Apple have blocked a fake root certificate issued by Kazakhstan's government to spy on its citizens' online activities. The government provided separate installation instructions for Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and IE Web browsers. When those who installed the certificate attempt to access website using Chrome, Firefox or Safari, they now will see an error message.
Facebook Gives Privacy-Minded Users Some Control Over Activity Tracking
August 21, 2019
Facebook has announced the release of Off-Facebook Activity, a tool that will let members see which apps and websites supply information about their online activity, and clear that information from their Facebook accounts if they wish. Once members have cleared their off-Facebook activity, Facebook will remove their identifying information from the data it collects.
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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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