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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Facebook to encrypt Instagram messages ahead of integration with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger

Facebook is planning to roll out end-to-end encryption for Instagram messages, as part of a broader integration effort across company’s messaging platforms, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

First reported by The New York Times, the social media giant said reworking the underlying infrastructure of its three messaging apps to allow users to talk to each other more easily. The apps will reportedly remain independent of one another — with Instagram and WhatsApp bringing in 1 billion and 1.5 billion respectively.

In doing so, Facebook is adding end-to-end encryption to Instagram messages. That will bring a new level of security and privacy to Instagram users for the first time. Facebook will also begin encrypting Facebook Messenger by default, which has to date required users to manually switch on the feature.

So far, only WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted by default.

The plans are part of the company’s effort to keep people on the platform for longer, the Times reported, at a time when the company has 2.2 billion users but user trust has declined following a string of privacy scandals and security incidents. End-to-end encrypted messages can’t be read beyond the sender and the recipient — not even Facebook. In shutting itself out of the loop, it reduces the amount of data it can access — and can be theoretically stolen by hackers.

“We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”

“As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work,” the spokesperson said, without providing a timeline on the planned unification.

But how the integration will be met by European regulators is anybody’s guess.

Two years ago, Facebook rolled back its plans to begin sharing WhatsApp user data with the social network for advertising at the request of U.K. data protection authorities, putting the plan on ice across the European continent. Under the proposed changes to its terms and conditions, WhatsApp would have shared the user’s phone number that was used to verify their account, and the last time they used the service. That led to concerns about privacy, given that a real-world identity isn’t needed for WhatsApp unlike Facebook, which requires users display their real names.

Facebook acknowledged that it didn’t have answers just yet about how it plans to navigate the issue, citing the early stages of its planned integration.

The app integrations are said to be a priority for 2019, with an eye for a 2020 release, the Times said.


Source: TechCrunch

Crypto wallet BRD raises $15M for Asian expansion

Mobile cryptocurrency wallet BRD is announcing that it’s raised $15 million in Series B funding.

The funding comes from SBI Crypto Investment, a subsidiary of Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings (formerly a subsidiary of SoftBank). BRD said the funding will allow it to grow its product and engineering teams, and to expand in Japan and across Asia.

“SBI Group’s investment in BRD allows us to firmly cement ourselves in the Asian market,” said BRD co-founder and CEO Adam Traidman in a statement. “It shows incredible support for the foundation that we have built in North America and reinforces our proven ability to scale the success we have achieved in the past 4 years. The new investment will ensure our long-term global growth, and we are incredibly excited about collaborating with SBI as a strategic investor and business partner to make that happen.”

It’s surprising to see a crypto startup raising money now, given the broader crypto downturn. After all, BRD bills itself as the simplest way to start buying and storing cryptocurrencies — but does that mean anything if consumers are being scared away from investing?

BRD - App - Wallet Screen

When I asked Spencer Chen, the company’s vice president of global marketing (and an occasional friend of mine), about the industry’s recent challenges, he argued, “The need for a single, global currency still exists.”

“That’s what all got lost in 2018 as the fast-money, traders, and speculators came piling into the crypto space,” Chen told me via email. “It really convoluted the core mission of a natively digital currency. Money that worked just like the open internet. As a company that’s built-to-last and committed to the core mission of crypto currency, there was nothing more frustrating than to witness the many steps backwards the industry at large took in 2018.”

In fact, BRD says it doubled its total install base in 2018, ending the year with 1.8 million users globally. It also says it’s currently being used to store the equivalent of $6 billion —mostly in Bitcoin and Ethereum — with a 24 percent increase in monthly active users between in November and December, after it starting accepting stablecoins (namely, cryptocurrencies that are pegged to the value of a fiat currency).

BRD has now raised a total of $55 million. It’s also announcing a partnership with Coinify, allowing users to make cryptocurrency purchases using bank accounts in the European market.


Source: TechCrunch

GMC 'considering' electric trucks and SUVs, report says – Roadshow

The timing is right, considering Ford is working on an electric F-150.
Source: CNET

Get a one-month ClassPass subscription for free – CNET

This membership is worth $49 and nets you up to nine classes at participating exercise studios.
Source: CNET

HMD Nokia phones are coming to Verizon, Cricket and Rogers

The North American market can be a tough one to crack for a number of reasons, not the least of which is consumers’ continued reliance on carriers. Without their distribution channels, most handset makers just can’t get a foothold here. In a meeting earlier this week, HMD told me that North America is going to be its primary focus for 2019, a push that starts with a trio of carrier deals.

This morning, the Finnish smartphone maker announced that it will be bringing its Nokia-branded Android handsets to a trio of key carriers — Verizon and Cricket in the U.S. and Rogers in Canada. The U.S. devices are arriving this month, with Rogers’ arriving “very soon” through its Chatr brand.

Cricket users will get access to the Nokia 3.1 Plus, which focuses primarily on battery — it’s 3500mAh, which the company optimistically puts at two days of life. It’s a budget device, of course, priced at $160, sporting a 5.99 inch screen, a middling Snapdragon 439 and dual rear-facing cameras.

Verizon users will get access to the Nokia 2 V, which sports an even larger 4,000mAh battery and a 5.5 inch screen. That one will be available through Verizon stores on January 30. Rogers, meanwhile, will be getting the Nokia 2.1.

HMD’s already had pretty solid growth in its first few years of existence, bucking the trend of an otherwise stagnate mobile market. That growth comes thanks in part to its out of the gate brand recognition from acquiring Nokia IP, some buzzy early retro handsets, a focus on budget devices and its continued commitment to the oft-neglected feature phone market.


Source: TechCrunch

Electric scooters lead to lots of injuries, report says – CNET

One third of scooter riders involved in accidents end up in the emergency room.
Source: CNET

New sub-$200 Nokia phones are Verizon and Cricket exclusives – CNET

The Nokia 3.1 Plus and Nokia 2 V are coming to Cricket and Verizon respectively; Canada’s Rogers getting a phone soon.
Source: CNET

Vodafone pauses Huawei network supply purchases in Europe

Huawei had a very good 2018, and it’s likely to have a very good 2019, as well. But there’s one little thing that keeps putting a damper on the hardware maker’s global expansion plans. The U.S. and Canada have already taken action over the company’s perceived link to the Chinese government, and now Vodafone’s is following suit over concerns that other countries may join. 

The U.K.-based telecom giant announced this week that it’s enacting a temporary halt on purchases from the Chinese hardware maker. The move arrives out of concern that additional countries may ban Huawei products putting the world’s second largest carrier in a tricky spot as it works to roll out 5G networks across the globe,

For now, the move is focused on European markets. As The Wall Street Journal notes, there remains some possibility that Vodafone could go forward with Huawei networking gear in other markets, including India, Turkey and parts of Africa. In Europe, however, these delays could ultimately work to raise the price and/or delay its planned 5G push.

“We have decided to pause further Huawei in our core whilst we engage with the various agencies and governments and Huawei just to finalize the situation, of which I feel Huawei is really open and working hard,” Vodafone CEO Nick Read said in a statement.

Huawei has continued to deny all allegations related to Chinese government spying.


Source: TechCrunch

The Roger Stone Indictment: 4 Key Takeaways

The indictment of longtime Trump advisor Roger Stone allegedly sheds new light on where the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks intersected.
Source: Wired

These Chickens Lay Designer Eggs for Big Pharma

Photographer Daniel Szalai uncovers the intensely regulated production of Novogen Whites, premier eggs used to test new vaccines.
Source: Wired

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