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Australia's IMF Bentham to fund complaint against Facebook over alleged privacy breach
July 10, 2018 6:43 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Litigation funding provider IMF Bentham Ltd (IMF.AX) said on Tuesday it was funding a representative complaint against social networking website Facebook Inc (FB.O) over alleged breaches of the Australian Privacy Principles.

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

The company said it would fund the complaint made to the Australian Information Commissioner against Facebook Australia, Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland. The complaint is being handled by Sydney-based law firm Johnson Winter & Slattery.

The Australian Information Commissioner has also commenced a separate investigation into the matter, IMF Bentham said, adding a class action may follow depending on the Commissioner’s findings.

Facebook has come under intense scrutiny after it admitted in March to making mistakes in letting 50 million users’ data get into the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The company lost more than $ 50 billion in market value in the week after the allegations emerged that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to build profiles on American voters and influence the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook had said in April that a little more than 311,000 Australian users may have had their information improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. (bit.ly/2Ejpktb)

Facebook’s Australian arm was not immediately available for a comment.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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U.S., China nearing deal to remove U.S. sales ban against ZTE: sources
May 22, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Washington and Beijing are nearing a deal that would remove an existing U.S. order banning American firms from supplying Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE Corp, two people briefed on the talks told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO – Visitors pass in front of the Chinese telecoms equipment group ZTE Corp booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Picture

The people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations were confidential, also said the deal could include China removing tariffs on imported U.S. agricultural products, as well as buying more American farm goods.

ZTE, hit by a seven-year ban in April which effectively crippled its operations, would gain a major reprieve after the world’s two largest economies stepped back from the brink of a fully blown trade war following talks last week.

The company did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

White House advisors have said publicly that the ban against ZTE is being reexamined, but that the firm would still face “harsh” punishment, including enforced changes of management and at board level.

One person told Reuters there was a “handshake deal” on ZTE between U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He during talks in Washington last week that would remove the U.S. Commerce Department’s ban on American companies selling to ZTE in exchange for the purchase of more U.S. agricultural products.

The second person said China may also eliminate tariffs on U.S. agriculture products it assessed in response to U.S. steel duties as a part of the deal, and that ZTE could still be forced to replace its corporate leadership, among other penalties.

Both sources said the deal, while not yet cemented, was likely to be finalised before or during a planned trip by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to Beijing next week to help finalize a broader trade agreement to avert a trade war.

The company, publicly traded but whose largest shareholder is a Chinese state-owned enterprise, had been hit with penalties for breaking a 2017 agreement after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea, in an investigation dating to the Obama administration.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Se Young Lee and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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ISS sides against two Tesla directors, backs split of Musk's roles
May 19, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

BOSTON (Reuters) – Proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recommended on Friday that investors vote against Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) directors Antonio Gracias and James Murdoch, increasing pressure on the car maker over their roles on its board.

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla charging station is seen in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. on September 28, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

ISS also backed two shareholder proposals to be voted on at the company’s annual meeting set for June 5, including one that would require it to separate the current chairman and CEO roles of founder Elon Musk.

“The complexity of large-scale manufacturing and the challenges of successfully commercializing new technologies and new manufacturing and marketing techniques suggest that shareholders would be better served by having Musk focus on running the company, and allowing an independent director to run the board,” according to a copy of ISS’ recommendations seen by Reuters.

The recommendations by the top proxy adviser echo those made earlier this week by rival Glass Lewis, although ISS did side with Tesla and recommend investors vote for Musk’s brother and current director Kimbal Musk.

Union-affiliated activist CtW Investment Group has criticized the three Tesla directors up for election this year as being too close to Elon Musk or unqualified.

In its report, ISS wrote that Gracias, CEO of Valor Management Corp, is not sufficiently independent for key board committees. It also cited concerns regarding the lack of performance-based elements in Tesla’s pay plan in recommending the vote against Gracias, a compensation committee member.

ISS wrote that Murdoch is “overboarded” since he serves as the CEO of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) and on other boards.

A Tesla director not up for election this year because of the board’s staggered election schedule is Steve Jurvetson. He has been on leave from Tesla’s board since November when he also resigned from venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) amid an internal DFJ probe into sexual harassment allegations made against him, which he denied.

ISS wrote Tesla’s proxy notes Jurvetson’s leave but not the background, and said that Tesla “shareholders should expect a greater degree of transparency from the company as to the reason he remains on leave” and about his future status.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Get Ready for the Next Big Privacy Backlash Against Facebook
June 4, 2017 4:15 pm|Comments (0)

Get Ready for the Next Big Privacy Backlash Against Facebook

Privacy watchdogs think a damning leaked document about Facebook targeting insecure teens could help usher in new era in privacy protections. The post Get Ready for the Next Big Privacy Backlash Against Facebook appeared first on WIRED.
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Google's Diane Greene has a secret weapon against Amazon Web Service to win cloud customers
September 14, 2016 1:32 am|Comments (0)

Google’s head of cloud computing, Diane Greene says she thinks that more companies which currently run their own data centers will follow …


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Is your data being used against you?
March 13, 2016 8:45 pm|Comments (0)

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We’ve had several decades of platforms and apps collecting data about us – and in a heavyweight panel on Sunday at SXSW, the debate turned to how that data is being used to both make assumptions about us and alter the products and services we’re offered.

In the introduction, Ashkan Soldani referenced IBM’s development of software that was designed to ascertain whether individuals arriving into Europe from Syria were terrorists or refugees. Using multiple data sources the software creates a ‘terrorist score’ which determines the likelihood that someone is involved in terrorism activity.

And while the motivation behind this kind of tool is understandable, the potential for misuse or mistakes is clear.

data ethics

Nicole Wong, former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama administration, introduced the concept of negative selection algorithms, citing the case of a major university in the U.S. that changed its procedures for recruitment to its highly regarded computer science degree when it became clear the initial screening process had inadvertently discriminated against women.

Other examples of how data is (deliberately and unknowingly) changing both the content we see online and the products were offered includes Facebook’s patent on judging financial worthiness based on your social graph and a study that showed that women were less likely to be shown Google ads for the highest paying jobs.

All the panelists acknowledged the huge challenges of addressing these kinds of issues and the lack of a definitive answer to solving them. Legislation would likely prove to be ineffectual, since the landscape is changing so rapidly, we certainly don’t even know the full picture of what we need to legislate against.

Companies could work harder to examine their systems and processes but sometimes seemingly benign processes can be causing problems without an organization even being aware of it. The panelists agreed that including data ethics as a mandatory subject within computer science courses was vital.

Even these measures are unlikely to completely solve the problems, but we have to start making a more concerted effort to push harder to try and address them. Oftentimes, the impact of data-driven decisions on our lives is hidden, and the resulting danger is that we don’t see it as a pressing problem.

As journalist and author Julia Angwin said:

“You might not know why you didn’t get that job, you may never know that it was data that discriminated against you. “

It is clear that we have reached a pivotal point in society – one where we have to collectively consider what we want the future of data collection and use to look like. We must take the time to understand the enormous potential impact of data on our lives.

Follow our coverage of SXSW 2016 here


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Following Google’s lead, telecoms and users can join in the fight against robocalls
September 29, 2015 8:45 pm|Comments (0)

robocalls

For the first time, Google joined the legal fight last week against robocalls.

It filed suit against a search engine optimization firm in California for robocalls that promised better results from its search engine. It also set up a new Web page for reporting robocall scams.

But even mighty Google can only do but so much to counter the epidemic of robocalls. Carriers can and should do more to combat them, according to Jan Volzke, vp of reputation services for identity management firm Whitepages.

From VentureBeat

Location, location, location — Not using geolocation to reach your mobile customers? Your competitors are. Find out what you’re missing.

We’re at “at a point where we have no trust in a phone call,” he told me in a recent conversation.

In case you’re one of the six people in the U.S. who haven’t encountered such “extremely urgent” robocalls, here’s one Googlized version that also touts Bing and Yahoo. (Although it’s of the same ilk, it’s not clear if this robocall is from the company Google is suing.)

But things could change. In early summer, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) strengthened carriers’ hand in combatting robocalls.

In a big breakthrough this past June, the FCC gave the carriers the green light to block unwanted calls. The carriers had asked the federal agency to decide if they could legally offer call-blocking, given their common carrier status and other issues. Under common carrier, all traffic needs to be handled in the same manner.

Yes, the agency said. You, the carriers, can block calls.

The FCC also gave consumers additional latitude in how they grant consent and in their ability to block calls. They said consent could be withdrawn at any time, consent is automatically removed if a landline or cell number gets assigned to someone else, and text messages count as robocalls.

Previously, Volzke pointed out, it was difficult to undo consent once you gave it, and “now all robocallers must allow you to get out of it.”

If there is any doubt you have opted out, the FCC clarified that later in the summer — the burden is on the robocalling business to show the user has opted in or that there is an existing business relationship.

Carriers now “need to get serious” about the fight, Volzke said.

As one example of their weak response, he said that carriers offer “these services for a ridiculous $ 4.99 a month to block up to ten [robocalling phone numbers], and then you have to renew it every 30 days.”

He’s not alone in his frustration. The attorneys-general of dozens of states have written to the carriers to take care of this.

But robocalls have not been declining since the FCC’s decision in June. In fact, Volzke said, the amount of mobile spam and robocalls that Whitepages blocks monthly is up about 40 percent since then.

He pointed to several remaining structural issues, such as the fact that unwanted calls can involve multiple carriers and the solution would best be industry-wide. And right now carriers can only block calls as the result of each subscriber’s request — that is, it’s still onesies.

So robocalling — even, probably, robocalling that drops Google’s name — is not going away anytime soon.

As we await the ultimate battle, Volzke offers a few tips:

  • The number one thing that affects the robocalls you get is the amount of consent you’ve given. In most cases, your phone number is the key to granting consent. So, treat your phone number with a level of confidentiality just below that of your Social Security number. He noted with amazement that people list their primary phone number on Facebook and Craigslist, where it can be scooped by a spider.
  • “Get a second phone number” for public postings, he advised, and be careful when you give your number to people or sites you don’t know. “No one reads all the fine print,” Volzke pointed out.
  • If you’re already on robocallers’ list, he suggests getting an app to filter the calls by originating phone number — assuming we’re talking about your smartphone and not your landline. (Not coincidentally, Whitepages offers a robocall- and robotext-blocking app for Android and iOS devices.)
  • Next step up is call blocking for a specific phone number, although the bad guys may well change their number after a while.
  • If that still doesn’t help, and you’re still getting multiple robocalls, Volzke said that getting a new phone number is “sometimes the only option.” That is, until the carriers get their act in gear.

By the way, Whitepages is an identity data company, not the phone book. They are involved in robocall issues because a) phone numbers are a key identifier, and b) they recently bought robocall blocker NumberCop.

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Pulling up the drawbridge: protecting yourself against cyber attacks Part 1
September 20, 2015 11:45 am|Comments (0)

… cyber risks, through to corporate governance and systems accreditation. In the next issue we’ll focus on the specific challenges of cloud computing.


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