Tag - Transparency
Apple was the recipient of over 32,000 requests for information about accounts and devices in the second half of last year, the company has revealed. The latest transparency report on Government Information Requests advises Apple received a total of 30,687 requests from law enforcement officials around the world relating to devices, while another 1,813 requests concerned data from user accounts on Apple's services, including iTunes and iCloud accounts.
In a transparency report on its dealings with the US government, alternative ride provider Uber Technologies has revealed that it provided data on more than 12 million riders and drivers to the government -- but that nearly all of it was abstract statistical reports to various US regulatory agencies. The company did, however, show that it would provide details of trips, pickup and drop off areas, fares, vehicles, and drivers to law enforcement when requested, but had just 415 requests from such agencies on just 469 users -- mostly revolving around the use of stolen credit cards. Importantly, Uber said it had not received any FISA orders, or national security letters to obtain data on drivers or passengers.
Amazon is joining the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple, by issuing its first transparency report. Later than other online giants in providing the information, and only doing so after criticism from civil liberties and digital rights groups, the retailer's first report advises of the number of times the company has received requests from both US and non-US governments for customer data, and how many times Amazon has provided what was requested.
Google is not fulfilling a high proportion of "Right to be Forgotten" requests, with more than half of requests being denied by the search company. According to its latest Transparency Report, Google has evaluated over 922 thousand requests for the removal of search listings since the program began last year, but out of that figure, 58.7 percent of all requests have been rejected.
Carrier AT&T has filed two notices with the Federal Communications Commission that argue against the planned introduction of a proposal by FCC Chair Tom Wheeler to reclassify broadband and mobile data providers as "common carriers" under Title II. The proposal, yet to be formally introduced, would get rid of paid-prioritization deals, ensure net neutrality, cease blocking and throttling users without cause, and require more transparency in dealings by ISPs.
In a public notice to Internet service providers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reminded business that they cannot lie to consumers about the services they offer. The notice informs business and the general public that "every provider of broadband Internet access in the United States" is subject to the Open Internet Transparency Rule.
Microsoft has announced three new ways the company will improve the security of customer data in the wake of the NSA surveillance revelations. New encryption has been added to Outlook.com, with OneDrive also receiving a similar encryption-based security boost, and the company is also introducing its first "Microsoft Transparency Center" on its Redmond campus, in order to help governments understand and trust the security of the company's software.
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has released a report, revealing a number of insights into the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). The report, posted on Tumblr, comes as part of a DNI directive from August 2013, itself prompted by President Obama in June of the same year, with the report listing how many information requests and surveillance-related activities have been performed by the US government in the entirety of last year.
The world's second-largest carrier has revealed its service is being monitored by government agencies. Following the lead of other technology companies in publishing a transparency report, Vodafone claims phone tapping is being widely used by agencies in a number of the 29 countries it operates in, and in some cases, authorities are able to access customer data without even requiring a warrant.
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WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R