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Top Stories for the Week of November 28, 2018

  • Episode 584
  • November 28, 2018

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday November 28, 2018


Google has been accused of disregarding European data protection laws when it tracks users' locations.

Google has been accused of disregarding European data protection laws when it tracks users' locations.

A coalition of seven consumer organisations is filing complaints with data protection regulators over Google's tracking system.

The complaints draw on research by one coalition member, which alleges people are forced to use the location system.

Google said tracking was turned off by default and could be paused at any time by users.

In a statement, the coalition said Google used "deceptive practices" to make people turn on its different tracking systems. Consent, it said, was not being freely given.

In addition, it alleged, Google did not give "straightforward information" about what surrendering the data entailed.

The statement warns that this location data could give deep insight into someone's lifestyle including their religious beliefs, political activity, health and sexual orientation.

Organisations in the Netherlands, Poland, Greece, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and the Czech Republic all plan to file complaints to their local regulators under Europe's General Data Protection Regulation.

The seven organisations are members of BEUC - an umbrella group that represents and lobbies for European consumer advocacy groups in Brussels.

In response, Google said: "Location history is turned off by default and you can edit, delete, or pause it at any time. If it's on, it helps improve services like predicted traffic on your commute."

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


A cache of Facebook documents has been seized by MPs investigating the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

A cache of Facebook documents has been seized by MPs investigating the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Rarely used parliamentary powers were used to demand that the boss of a US software firm hand over the details.

The Observer, which first reported the story, said the documents included data about Facebook's privacy controls.

MP Damian Collins later told the BBC that he believed the documents were "highly relevant" to his inquiry. Facebook has demanded their return.

The documents were intercepted when an executive of US tech firm Six4Three was on a trip to London.

In a highly unusual move the House of Commons serjeant-at-arms was sent to the businessman's hotel and he was given a final warning and a two-hour deadline to comply with the order.

When the executive failed to do so he was escorted to Parliament and warned he risked fines and imprisonment if the documents were not surrendered, the paper said.

The firm is involved in court action against Facebook in the US, where the documents were obtained through legal procedures.

Facebook told the Observer: "The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure. We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook."

But Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said he believes the documents - which include emails - contain important information about how Facebook and other parties handle user data.

Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg have faced intense pressure over the social media giant's use of personal data and the spread of fake news.

Last month the UK data watchdog fined Facebook £500,000 following its investigation into the Cambridge Analytica affair.

Facebook has appealed against the fine, claiming that the watchdog found no evidence that UK users' personal data had been shared inappropriately and the penalty was therefore unjustified.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Google’s making it easier to connect bluetooth headphones to Android phones

Google’s making it easier to connect bluetooth headphones to Android phones

Last year, Google announced ‘Fast Pair’ to make it easier to connect wireless headphones to Android devices, and now the company is taking that tech a step further.

Once users set up Fast Pair on an Android device that’s signed in with their Google account, other devices that are signed into the same account will be able to Fast Pair as well. This allows Fast Pair to work similarly to Apple’s W-chip series that also makes it so users don’t have to re-pair their headphones to multiple devices that are signed into the same account.

Google is taking it even further in 2019 when it plans to add the feature to Chome OS. Perhaps after that, it will come to Android TV as well.

The feature works by sending out signals over Bluetooth Low Energy that will then prompt nearby Android phones running Android 6.0 and newer with a notification that says “tap to pair with device.”

Google promises that it’s working with tons of manufacturers like Jaybird, Anker, Bose and more to bring the technology to more headphones.

Source: mobilesyrup.com

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


The US space agency Nasa has landed a new robot on Mars after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface of the Red Planet.

The US space agency Nasa has landed a new robot on Mars after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface of the Red Planet.

The InSight probe aims to study the world's deep interior, and make it the only planet - apart from Earth - that has been examined in this way.

The robot's touchdown ended an anxious wait in which it radioed home a series of updates on its descent.

Nasa's mission control at California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory erupted into cheers when it became clear InSight was safe on the ground.

The agency's chief administrator, James Bridenstine, celebrated what he called "an amazing day". President Trump called to offer his congratulations, and the director of JPL, Mike Watkins, said the success should remind everyone that "to do science we have to be bold and we have to be explorers."

InSight is now sitting on a vast, flat plain known as Elysium Planitia, close to the Red Planet's equator. Before landing, Nasa had dubbed it the "biggest parking lot on Mars".

The first picture of this landscape came back very quickly, within minutes. It showed a smudged, fisheye view of the robot's surroundings.

The image was taken through the translucent lens cap of a camera positioned on the underside of the lander. The dust kicked up in the descent obscured much of the scene, but it was still possible to make out a small rock, one of the probe's feet and the sky on the horizon.

A later picture captured by a camera on InSight's topside was much clearer.

InSight entered the martian atmosphere faster than a high-velocity bullet, using the combination of a heatshield, parachute and rockets to bring itself to a gentle stop.

InSight's first critical task on landing was to deploy its solar panels, which were stowed for the descent. The robot had to start generating power to operate its systems and to warm equipment in the sub-zero temperatures that persist on the Red Planet. Notification of the panels' set-up came seven hours after landing.

This will be the first probe to dedicate its investigations to understanding Mars' interior. Scientists want to know how the world is constructed - from its core to its crust. Earth is one data point and Mars will give researchers a different perspective on how a rocky planet can be assembled and evolve through time.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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