Category Archives: Alphabet

How Europe's 'breakthrough' privacy law takes on Facebook and Google

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation is forcing big changes at tech’s biggest firms – even if the US isn’t likely to follow suit

Despite the political theatre of Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional interrogations last week, Facebook’s business model isn’t at any real risk from regulators in the US. In Europe, however, the looming General Data Protection Regulation will give people better privacy protections and force companies including Facebook to make sweeping changes to the way they collect data and consent from users – with huge fines for those who don’t comply.

“It’s changing the balance of power from the giant digital marketing companies to focus on the needs of individuals and democratic society,” said Jeffrey Chester, founder of the Center for Digital Democracy. “That’s an incredible breakthrough.”

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

Facebook is a tyranny – and our government isn't built to stop it

America’s founders didn’t envision the power of the corporation. We need a new structure for self-governance that can counter 21st-century monopolies

Last week, Senator Dick Durbin asked: “Mr Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?”

The Facebook CEO froze and then answered: “No.”

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

Google Chrome now blocks autoplaying video with sound

Most popular browser finally stops unwanted sound and moving image automatically on both desktop and mobile

Google’s Chrome browser now blocks auto-playing video with sound, taking a big step forward in removing one of the most irritating things about the modern web.

Originally promised to be delivered last January as part of version 64 of Chrome but delayed until now, the feature will stop any video that is set to autoplay with sound from doing so on sites where the video is not the primary purpose. That includes video reports for news sites and other ancillary video that is often played off to the side of text.

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

GDPR: how can I email data securely to comply with the new regulations?

Robert is often required to email sensitive data. Is there a secure way of doing so in view of the new data protection laws?

As a freelance media professional, I am often asked by my various employers to send copies of my passport, completed visa forms and other sensitive data in the form of email attachments. I have recently questioned this and have not really got a satisfactory response. I have tried uploading these documents to my Google Drive account and giving them a link, though I don’t really know whether this method is any safer. However, I am at a loss to see how companies should acquire such sensitive data in light of the new GDPR rules coming into force in May. Robert

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on May 25, will govern the storage and processing of data rather than its collection. It also includes some very important consumer rights. The most important are the right to be informed, the right of access, the right to correct errors, the right to erase data, the right to restrict processing, and the right take it elsewhere (data portability). How useful these will be in practice remains to be seen.

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

Is it time to break up the tech giants such as Facebook? | Larry Elliott

Amazon, Facebook and Google are as dominant as Standard Oil and AT&T were. But breaking them up is not going to be easy

In the first decade of the 20th century, Standard Oil was as mighty as the tech giants of Silicon Valley are today. The company had grown from a single refinery in Cleveland in 1863 to produce 87% of all US refined oil output. In 1911, the supreme court decided that Standard Oil was in breach of anti-trust legislation passed by Congress and ordered that the company be broken up.

Even before the data mining revelations that have engulfed Facebook, there was pressure in the US for similar action to be taken against the social media networking site and two other globally dominant companies – Google and Amazon – that have come from nowhere in the past two decades.

Continue reading…
Source: gad

'They'll squash you like a bug': how Silicon Valley keeps a lid on leakers

Working for a tech company may sound like all fun and ping-pong, but behind the facade is a ruthless code of secrecy – and retribution for those who break it

One day last year, John Evans (not his real name) received a message from his manager at Facebook telling him he was in line for a promotion. When they met the following day, she led him down a hallway praising his performance. However, when she opened the door to a meeting room, he came face to face with members of Facebook’s secretive “rat-catching” team, led by the company’s head of investigations, Sonya Ahuja.

The interrogation was a technicality; they already knew he was guilty of leaking some innocuous information to the press. They had records of a screenshot he’d taken, links he had clicked or hovered over, and they strongly indicated they had accessed chats between him and the journalist, dating back to before he joined the company.

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

Tim Berners-Lee: we must regulate tech firms to prevent 'weaponised' web

The inventor of the world wide web warns over concentration of power among a few companies ‘controlling which ideas are shared’

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, has called for large technology firms to be regulated to prevent the web from being “weaponised at scale”.

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

Google and Facebook don't qualify for First Amendment protections | Heather Whitney

Google has successfully argued that its search results are analogous to a newspaper editor’s decisions about what op-eds to run. They aren’t, though

There’s no doubt about it: the internet giants are on Congress’s radar. Despite intensive lobbying efforts by these companies, both individually and through their collective trade association, legislation imposing new restrictions on how they operate seems increasingly likely. “You’ve created these platforms. And now they’re being misused,” Senator Dianne Feinstein told the general counsels of Facebook, Google, and Twitter in a recent hearing. “And you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will.”

That hearing was directed at Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, but the companies are under scrutiny for a host of other reasons as well. One is the ways their own platforms shape and alter the flow of information, as when a company like Google demotes or delists competitors’ sites like Yelp! while bumping up its own Zagat-infused local offerings.

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

Google’s AI is being used by US military drone programme

DoD’s Project Maven uses tech firm’s TensorFlow artificial intelligence systems, prompting debate both inside and outside company

Google’s artificial intelligence technologies are being used by the US military for one of its drone projects, causing controversy both inside and outside the company.

Google’s TensorFlow AI systems are being used by the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Project Maven, which was established in July last year to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyse the vast amount of footage shot by US drones. The initial intention is to have AI analyse the video, detect objects of interest and flag them for a human analyst to review.

Continue reading…
Source: gadt

Google to provide free UK phone calls through Home smart speaker

Tech firm is first to offer calls to UK mobile and landline numbers without charge, as battle for the home intensifies

Google has started offering free voice calls through its Home smart speakers to UK landlines and mobile phones, bringing it in line with US offerings.

Following an update rolling out this week, Google’s Home and Home Mini smart speakers will be able to place calls to ordinary UK numbers over its wifi connection, for hands-free phone calls. It doesn’t need a mobile phone to work, unlike some rival systems.

Continue reading…
Source: gadt