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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Zuckerberg makes case for privacy regs with teeth — by failing to remember non-existent FTC fine

Chalk up a sharp political point in support for privacy legislation with actual teeth: In today’s testimony in front of the House Energy & Commerce committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked about the outcomes of a string of legal actions against the company — most of which he claimed not be aware of.

One which he at last said he could remember was Facebook’s 2011 FTC consent decree — when the company settled over deceptive privacy practices by agreeing to make product changes opt-in and pledging to gain express consent from users to any changes going forward.

As part of that decree it also agreed to submit to privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years; bar access to content on deactivated accounts; and avoid misrepresenting the privacy or security of user data.

But congresswoman Diana DeGette pressed the Facebook CEO on whether the company paid a financial penalty as a result of the FTC action. A confused looking Zuckerberg finally replied: “I don’t remember if we had a financial penalty.”

“You’re the CEO of the company, you entered into a consent decree and you don’t remember if you had a financial penalty,” she responded, tone set to sarcastic incredulity.

“I remember the consent decree,” said Zuckerberg hastily. “The consent decree is extremely important to how we operate the company.”

“Yes I would think a financial penalty would be too,” interjected DeGette, leaving her point hanging in Zuckerberg’s silence.

“The reason you probably don’t remember it is because the FTC doesn’t have the authority to issue financial penalties for first time violations,” she picked up. “The reason I’m asking these questions, sir, is because we continue to have these abuses and these data breaches but at the same time it doesn’t seem like future activities are prevented. So I think one of the things that we need to look at in the future… is putting really robust penalties in place — in case of improper actions.”

A little later in the session, congressman Mike Doyle also raised the 20-year FTC consent decree, listing several of the practices it had deemed “unfair and deceptive” — namely: Facebook making users private information public “without sufficient notice or consent”; claiming to certify the security and integrity of certain apps “when in fact it did not”; and enabling developers to access “excessive information about a user and their friends”.

When he asked Zuckerberg whether the list was correct, the Facebook CEO again claimed not to know — saying: “I’m not familiar with all of the things that the FTC said,” before adding hastily: “Although I am very familiar with the FTC consent order itself.”

“But these were part of the consent decree,” interjected Doyle, adding: “I’m just concerned that despite this consent decree Facebook allowed developers access to an unknown number of user profiles on Facebook for years — potentially hundreds of millions, potentially more! And not only allowed but partnered with individuals and app developers such as Aleksandr Kogan who turned around and sold that data on the open market into companies like Cambridge Analytica.”

The congressman went on to ask Zuckerberg why Facebook users should trust the company to follow through on its “promises” to safeguard their information when — as he put it — “you have demonstrated repeatedly that you’re willing to flout both your own internal policies and government oversight when the need suits you”.

Zuckerberg said he “respectfully disagreed” with Doyle’s characterization, saying Facebook has had an app review process for “a number of years”, reviewing “tens of thousands” of apps per year and taking action “against a number of them”.

“Our process was not enough to catch a developer who sold data and had the data on their systems outside our systems,” he finished.

“To my mind the only way we’re going to close this trust gap is through legislation that creates and empowers a sufficiently resourced expert oversight agency with rule-making authority to protect the digital privacy and ensure that companies protect their users’ data,” replied Doyle, capping out his four minutes.

Since fresh revelations about the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke last month the FTC has opened a new investigation into Facebook’s practices.  And now at least the company could face a financial penalty if it’s deemed to have violated the earlier consent decree.

The FTC can apply a fine of $40,000 per privacy violation — so with up to 87 million Facebook users’ data leaked to Cambridge Analytica there is at least a chance Facebook will end up with a sanction that Zuckerberg is able to remember in future.


Source: TechCrunch

Google Sheets gets macros

Google is launching a major update to Google Sheets today that’ll make the life of spreadsheet jockeys just a little bit easier — and may just make the switch from Microsoft Excel a bit more tempting for some. That’s because with this update, Sheets users can now finally record macros. That’s a feature that has long been part of virtually every other productivity suite but that was sorely missing in Google’s G Suite.

The new “record macros” feature, which sits in the Tools menu, does exactly what you think it should do. You simply start your recording, go through your usual steps and when you’re done, all it takes to repeat all those steps is to run the macro again. Never again will you have to spend minutes on reformatting that same spreadsheet over and over again. Instead, you’ll have more time to play with your puppy (or get more work done, if you’re so inclined).

In the backend, Sheets actually converts your macro into Apps Script code, which also means that if you want to dive a bit deeper or make a small change, you can edit that script.

In addition to macro support, this Sheets update also brings a couple of other features, including the ability to add page breaks (for when you print a spreadsheet), custom paper sizes, new options for row and column grouping and the option to turn a cell into a checkbox. You can now also group data in pivot tables by time frame (think week, month, year).


Source: TechCrunch

The Web’s Recommendation Engines Are Broken. Can We Fix Them?

Algorithms used by Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms keep us clicking. But those systems often promote misinformation, abuse, and polarization. Is it possible to temper them with a sense of decency?
Source: Wired

Uber's New Game Plan: Rental Cars, Transit, and Jump Bikes

The company’s bid for dominance now hinges on controlling every way you move.
Source: Wired

AMD has a fix for Spectre variant II, but will motherboard makers support it?

AMD’s latest microcode fix for the Spectre exploit (Variant 2) has been released, though it will rely on motherboard manufacturers picking it up to see widespread adoption among affected users.

The post AMD has a fix for Spectre variant II, but will motherboard makers support it? appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Felix Gray adds prescription lens option to its stylish computer glasses

Ever notice eye issues or headaches after staring at a screen for too long? The culprit is likely the blue light. Computer glasses can help, and Felix Gray wants to make them stylish to wear, even with a prescription.

The post Felix Gray adds prescription lens option to its stylish computer glasses appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

How to Share Songs on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Google Play Music

All of the popular streaming services have features where you can follow friends or recommend tracks. Here’s how to use them.
Source: Wired

2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Made for America – Roadshow

The seventh-generation Jetta was built for the US market, and it shows, packing qualities that should definitely have it on your radar.
Source: CNET

UK-based vTime raises $7.6 million to get people to create memories inside VR

After a few years of hype, a lot of the noise within the VR industry has died down, but with so many pushing social experiences as one of the platform’s most endearing user cases, there has still managed to be a feverish amount of activity to own the social networking space.

One such startup, Liverpool-based vTime, has been shooting to accomplish this for quite a while — it introduced its social app in late 2015.

The app allows groups of up to four users to jump into VR and talk in what is essentially a private chat room. Users can customize an avatar and select a 3D environment to host the chat inside. Unlike other platforms, vTime seems to be focusing entirely on promoting discussions rather than the shared social gaming experiences.

vTime has just closed a $7.6 million Series A round. This latest bout of funding was led by Deepbridge Capital with participation from MSIF.

“Our most important thing right now is to learn how people are using the app and how they are deriving genuine use and value from it, because I think that’s the key thing in terms of the really long-term viability of apps in the consumer space,” vTime Managing Director Clemens Wangerin told TechCrunch.

Nevertheless, the company has more than 40 full-time employees so it’s fair to say that the startup can’t afford to think about its central app as merely a trial run indefinitely. Like its competitors, vTime is in the fairly undesirable position of competing directly with Facebook in the social VR space, the experience of the starup’s app has been copied quite closely in the product Facebook Spaces, where groups of up to four users can meet up and chat.

“Our horizon is set very differently to what Facebook is probably thinking about,” said Wangerin. “I think there’s plenty of green space for us to follow our own path.”

The startup did not give me active user stats, but did note that it was nearing one million downloads.

Though the user base of social VR networks seems to be quite small for the time being, the involved companies have been quite active. Altspace VR, one of the more recognizable stateside VR social networks, sold to Microsoft after spending through its cash. VRChat experienced some major growth in late 2017 after it become virally popular with streamers on Twitch and YouTube. Against Gravity, which makes the popular social game Rec Room, raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital and First Round last year.

Though the small startups are currently fighting over what is likely just a few million monthly active users, investors are keeping an eye on the long-term opportunity, which they believe could by massive.

vTime’s multi-platform social experience boasts a home on quite a few different systems currently including Windows Mixed Reality, Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Android and iPhone.


Source: TechCrunch

Lexus teases new ES sedan for Beijing – Roadshow

It’s not a huge surprise, given the current model’s age.
Source: CNET

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