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Category Archives for "Technology"

Google adds new privacy controls in Android 11 launch

A number of privacy controls featured in Google’s release of Android 11.

Chief among these is the function to allow one-time permissions, or single-use access to the microphone, camera and location permissions, rather than allowing ongoing access after permission is initially granted.

In addition, Android now includes “auto-reset” permissions for apps that have remained unused for a while, meaning that you will need to re-grant permission to the app if you wish to use it again.

Source: Google adds new privacy controls in Android 11 launch

Portland City Council Votes to Ban Facial Recognition

The Portland City Council has passed two ordinances banning the use of facial recognition.

One ordinance prohibits the city from using facial recognition. A second ordinance prohibits private companies from using facial recognition in public spaces. Thus Portland joins a growing list of cities that have banned the facial recognition technology, including Boston, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Source: Portland City Council Votes to Ban Facial Recognition

Apple delays new anti-tracking privacy feature for phones and tablets

Apple has delayed the introduction of a stricter privacy feature designed to stop apps and websites tracking people online without their consent. The company had previously announced a change that would mean app developers have to ask users for permission to track them for advertising purposes.

The company had previously announced a change that would mean app developers have to ask users for permission to track them for advertising purposes. The measures were due to be implemented in the iOS 14 update to its operating system in the autumn.

Source: Apple delays new anti-tracking privacy feature for phones and tablets

Doorbell Cameras Help to Spy on Police

Two leaked documents show how a monitoring tool used by police has been turned against them.

The rise of the internet-connected home security camera has generally been a boon to police, as owners of these devices can (and frequently do) share footage with cops at the touch of a button. But according to a leaked FBI bulletin, law enforcement has discovered an ironic downside to ubiquitous privatized surveillance: The cameras are alerting residents when police show up to conduct searches.

Source: Doorbell Cameras Like Ring Give Early Warning of Police Searches, FBI Warned

Facebook open-sources differential privacy tool

Facebook’s Opacus is a library for training PyTorch models with differential privacy that’s ostensibly more scalable than existing state-of-the-art methods.

With the release of Opacus, Facebook says it hopes to provide an easier path for engineers to adopt differential privacy in AI and to accelerate in-the-field differential privacy research.

Typically, differential privacy entails injecting a small amount of noise into the raw data before feeding it into a local machine learning model, thus making it difficult for malicious actors to extract the original files from the trained model.

Source: Facebook open-sources Opacus, a PyTorch library for differential privacy | VentureBeat

Commission will ‘not exclude’ potential ban on facial recognition technology

The European Commission has not ruled out a future ban on the use of facial recognition technology in Europe, as the EU executive mulls the findings of a recent public consultation on Artificial Intelligence.

Speaking to MEPs on the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee on 3 September, Kilian Gross of the Commission’s DG Connect said that all options were still on the table.

Should a potential ban on facial recognition technologies in public places ever manifest in the EU, it would provide clarity on an issue long debated by the Commission.

Source: Commission will ‘not exclude’ potential ban on facial recognition technology – EURACTIV.com

Microsoft launches a deepfake detector tool

Microsoft has added to the slowly growing pile of technologies aimed at spotting synthetic media (aka deepfakes) with the launch of a tool for analyzing videos and still photos to generate a manipulation score.

The tool, called Video Authenticator, provides what Microsoft calls “a percentage chance, or confidence score” that the media has been artificially manipulated.

Source: Microsoft launches a deepfake detector tool ahead of US election | TechCrunch

The Blurred Lines and Closed Loops of Google Search

Seemingly small design tweaks to the search results interface may change how and where people find information online.

In June 2018, a blistering report from the Norwegian Consumer Council found that Google and Facebook both used specific interface choices to strip away user privacy at almost every turn. The study details how both platforms implemented the least privacy-friendly options by default, consistently “nudged” users toward giving away more of their data, and more.

In May of this year, Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich sued Google under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, alleging “widespread and systemic use of deceptive and unfair business practices to obtain information about the location of its users.” Even a privacy-focused Google software engineer didn’t understand how location controls worked, according to recently unsealed court documents from the case first reported by the Arizona Mirror.

Full article: The Blurred Lines and Closed Loops of Google Search | WIRED

The Case Against Google Analytics for Organizations Collecting Personal Data

Almost 30 million website owners choose Google Analytics to gather data about their visitors. But even if you trust Google’s data privacy policies, Google Analytics still may not be the best option.

The biggest cost lies in how the data Google Analytics collects is used and shared. From Google Analytics, the data ends up all over the world for use in Google’s advertising products.

Full article: The Case Against Google Analytics for Organizations Collecting Personal Data – CPO Magazine

Amazon and FedEx Push to Put Delivery Robots on Your Sidewalk

The companies are backing bills in more than a dozen states that would legalize the devices. Some bills would block cities from regulating them at all.

Lawmakers and lobbyists in several states that considered robot delivery bills said representatives for Amazon and FedEx seemed open to discussions and changes in the bills. Scott Mooneyham, of the North Carolina League of Municipalities, contrasts that approach with the early actions of scooter companies, which became notorious for dropping their electric devices on public sidewalks without giving local officials prior warning.

Full article: Amazon and FedEx Push to Put Delivery Robots on Your Sidewalk | WIRED

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