Google loses “Location History” court battle in Australia

Google loses “Location History” court battle in Australia

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The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ruled that Google misled Android users over its collection of location data. This ruling is in reference to the “Location History” controversy from a few years ago. The Associated Press reported at the time that turning off the Location History setting does not disable all location-tracking features across every Google product.

The ACCC’s press release states that from January 2017 to December 2018 (the AP article was published in August 2018), “Google misrepresented that the ‘Location History’ setting was the only Google Account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept or used personally identifiable data about their location.” The ruling continues, saying, “In fact, another Google Account setting titled ‘Web & App Activity’ also enabled Google to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default.”

With the ACCC’s finding of wrongdoing, it’s not clear what the Australian government plans to do about the situation yet. The press release says, “The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, publications orders, and compliance orders. This will be determined at a later date.” ACCC Chair Rod Sims added, “In addition to penalties, we are seeking an order for Google to publish a notice to Australian consumers to better explain Google’s location data settings in the future. This will ensure that consumers can make informed choices about whether certain Google settings that… collect location data should be enabled.”

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

Google Backs New Security Standard for Smartphone VPN Apps

The Internet of Secure Things Alliance, an IoT security certification body (a.k.a. ioXt), has launched a new security certification for mobile apps and VPNs. From a report: The new ioXt compliance program includes a ‘mobile application profile’ — a set of security-related criteria against which apps can be certified. The profile or mobile app assessment includes additional requirements for virtual private network (VPN) applications. Google and Amazon had a hand in shaping the criteria, along with number of certified labs such as NCC Group and Dekra, and mobile app security testing vendors such as NowSecure. Google’s VPN within the Google One service is one of the first to be certified against the criteria. Mobile app makers can get their apps certified against a set of security and privacy requirements. The ioXt Alliance has a broad cross-section of members from the tech industry, with its board comprising execs from Amazon, Comcast, Facebook, Google, Legrand, Resideo, Schneider Electric, T-Mobile, the Zigbee Alliance, and the Z-Wave Alliance. About 20 industry figures helped write the requirements for the mobile app profile, including Amit Agrawal, a principal security architect at Amazon, and Brooke Davis from the Strategic Partnerships team at Google Play. Both are vice-chairs of the mobile app profile group.

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Source: Slashdot

Apple Music Reveals How Much It Pays When You Stream a Song

Apple Music told artists it pays a penny per stream in a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. From a report: The disclosure, made in a letter to artists delivered Friday via the service’s artist dashboard and sent to labels and publishers, is part of a growing effort by music-streaming services to show they are artist-friendly. For Apple, it can be seen as a riposte to Spotify Technology, which last month shared some details of how it pays the music industry for streams on its service. Apple’s penny-per-stream payment structure — which music-industry experts say can dip lower — is roughly double what Spotify, the world’s largest music-streaming service, pays music-rights holders per stream. Spotify pays an average of about one-third to one-half penny per stream, though its larger user base generates many more streams. Apple’s payments come out of monthly subscription revenue from users. Artists, managers and lawyers, still reeling from the loss of touring revenue during the pandemic, have been calling for higher payouts from music streaming, which has grown rapidly in the past year. Many fans have joined the push to raise artists’ compensation.

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Source: Slashdot

Pentagon Confirms Video of Pyramid Shaped UFO Is Real, Taken By US Navy Pilot

alaskana98 writes: The Defense Department has confirmed that leaked photos and video of “unidentified aerial phenomena” taken in 2019 are indeed legitimate images of unexplained objects. Photos and videos of triangle-shaped objects blinking and moving through the clouds were taken by Navy personnel, Pentagon spokeswoman Sue Gough said in a statement to CNN. She also confirmed that photos of three unidentified flying objects — one “sphere” shaped, another “acorn” shaped and one characterized as a “metallic blimp” — were also taken by Navy personnel. “As we have said before, to maintain operations security and to avoid disclosing information that may be useful to potential adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examinations of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP,” Gough said.

She also said that the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, created in August to investigate UFO sightings observed by the military, has “included these incidents in their ongoing examinations.” The Navy photos and videos were published by Mystery Wire and on Extraordinary Beliefs’ website last week but had been circulating online since last year. There have been “a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years” the Navy said in 2019. Last year, the Pentagon released three videos showing “unidentified aerial phenomena” — clips that the US Navy had previously confirmed were real.

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Australia Finds Google Misled Users Over Data Collection

Australia’s federal court found that Google misled users about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices between 2017 and 2018, the country’s competition regulator said Friday. From a report: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) — which launched legal proceedings against Google in 2019 — said the ruling was an “important victory for consumers” with regard to the protection of online privacy. Google misled Android users into thinking the search giant could collect personal data only if the “location history” setting was on, the ACCC said. The court found that Google could still collect, store and use personally identifiable location data if the setting for “web and application activity” was on — even if “location history” was turned off. “This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the Court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

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Source: Slashdot

Pfizer CEO Says Third Covid Vaccine Dose Likely Needed Within 12 Months

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will “likely” need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. His comments were made public Thursday but were taped April 1. From a report: Bourla said it’s possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually. “A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role,” he told CNBC’s Bertha Coombs during an event with CVS Health. “It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” Bourla said. The comment comes after Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC in February that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Researchers still don’t know how long protection against the virus lasts once someone has been fully vaccinated.

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Source: Slashdot

99.992% of Fully Vaccinated People Have Dodged COVID, CDC Data Shows

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Cases of COVID-19 are extremely rare among people who are fully vaccinated, according to a new data analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among more than 75 million fully vaccinated people in the US, just around 5,800 people reported a “breakthrough” infection, in which they became infected with the pandemic coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated. The numbers suggest that breakthroughs occur at the teeny rate of less than 0.008 percent of fully vaccinated people — and that over 99.992 percent of those vaccinated have not contracted a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The figures come from a nationwide database that the CDC set up to keep track of breakthrough infections and monitor for any concerning signs that the breakthroughs may be clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type, or vaccine lot number. The agency will also be keeping a close eye on any breakthrough infections that are caused by SARS-CoV-2 variants, some of which have been shown to knock back vaccine efficacy. […] The extraordinary calculation that 99.992 percent of vaccinated people have not contracted the virus may reflect that they all simply have not been exposed to the virus since being vaccinated. Also, there are likely cases missed in reporting. Still, the data is a heartening sign. As for the “breakthroughs,” the agency says many of them occurred in older people, who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. There are some scattered through every age group, but more than 40 percent were in people ages 60 and above.

“We see [breakthroughs] with all vaccines,” top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in a press briefing earlier this week. “No vaccine is 100 percent efficacious or effective, which means that you will always see breakthrough infections regardless of the efficacy of your vaccine.”

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Almost everything we’d want in a gaming laptop—the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

Recently, we managed to get our hands on an Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 laptop. We had to do it just like anybody else does, by finding one and buying it retail. That’s notable because this laptop combines AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900HS processor with an Nvidia RTX 3070 Mobile GPU, a combination that means this device sells out extremely quickly.

Make no mistake, the RTX 3070 in this year’s AMD-powered Zephyrus is a distinct step up. Last year, if you wanted an RTX 3000 series GPU in a laptop, you had to settle for an Intel CPU to go with it.

Overview

Specs at a glance: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 GA503, as tested
OS Windows 10 Home
CPU 3.0GHz 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS (4.5GHz boost)
RAM 16GiB DDR4-3200
GPU AMD Radeon 8 core / Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 MaxQ
SSD SK Hynix M.2 NVMe PCIe3.0 1TB
Battery ASUStek 90Wh
Display 1440p WQHD, non-glare, 165Hz, adaptive sync
Connectivity
  • two USB-A ports
  • two USB-C ports
  • 3.5mm phone/mic combo jack
  • DC power jack
  • full-size HDMI out
  • RJ-45 wired Ethernet
  • micro SD reader
  • Kensington lock slot
  • no camera
Price as tested $1,800 at Best Buy

This year’s Ryzen-powered Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is almost everything we’d want in a gaming laptop. Beastly CPU? Check. Beastly GPU? Check. Full-size wired LAN port? Check. Loud speakers? Absolutely. 1440p display with high refresh? Yes. Even the storage on this laptop—a model of SK Hynix NVMe SSD we’d never seen before—is blistering fast.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

Amazon Tried To Coerce Ecobee Into Collecting Private User Data, the WSJ Reports

Amazon tried to use its power to coerce Ecobee into using its smart home products to collect user data by threatening Ecobee’s ability to sell its products on Amazon, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The Verge reports: As of now, Ecobee’s products can still be purchased on Amazon, but the WSJ claims that negotiations between Ecobee and Amazon are ongoing. According to the WSJ, the online retail giant asked Ecobee to share data from its Alexa-enabled smart thermostats, even when the customer wasn’t actively using the voice assistant. Ecobee reportedly refused to have its devices constantly report back to Amazon about the state of the user’s home, including data on which doors were locked or unlocked and the set temperature. The reasoning being that enabling its devices to report this data to Amazon would be a violation of its customer’s trust.

Ecobee may have also been concerned that Amazon wanted the data to build competing products. The retail giant has a reputation for taking non-public sales data and using it to develop products — something that’s come up in antitrust investigations in the US and EU. Amazon has also been accused of using this sales data to directly copy and compete with other companies using its Amazon Basics brand.

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Source: Slashdot

Massachusetts Wants To Pull the Plug On Robinhood

Regulators in Massachusetts are seeking to revoke Robinhood’s broker-dealer license in the state, after accusing the company of failing to properly account for fractional shares traded by customers on its platform. They also say the company “continues to entice and induce inexperienced customers into risky trading.” CNN reports: The battle began in December when regulators in Massachusetts filed a 24-page complaint against Robinhood accusing the company of violating state law and regulations by failing to protect customers and safeguard its system. Officials alleged Robinhood lured inexperienced investors to its platform with gaming elements such as colorful confetti — a practice that the company recently said it is getting rid of. The amended complaint filed Thursday says Robinhood has continued a pattern of aggressively enticing customers, including some with “little or no investment experience.” It cites news reports indicating Robinhood has expanded margin lending and sought to persuade customers to deposit their stimulus checks by offering “free cash” for deposits.

Robinhood’s conduct since the complaint was filed in December “poses a substantial and continued risk to Massachusetts investors,” the complaint said. Massachusetts regulators said Robinhood has failed to report its fractional share trade executions for over a year, “demonstrating its inability to follow the most basic requirements” required of broker-dealers.

In a blog post, Robinhood sharply criticized what it described as “unfounded, politicized allegations and unreasonable demands” from regulators in Massachusetts and warned that revoking its license would block access for millions of customers. “The Massachusetts Securities Division’s attempt to prevent Massachusetts residents from choosing how they invest is elitist and against everything we stand for,” Robinhood said. “We don’t believe our customers are naive as the Massachusetts Securities Division paints them to be.” Robinhood fired back by filing a complaint and motion in Massachusetts State Court for a preliminary injunction that would stop the regulatory case against the company. Robinhood is arguing that the regulator’s new fiduciary rule “exceeds its authority” under both state and federal law. “By trying to block Robinhood, the division is attempting to bring its residents back in time and reinstate the financial barriers that Robinhood was founded to break down,” Robinhood said in the blog post.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot