The UK "taxman" has fallen foul of the GDPR, agreeing to wipe 5 million voice recordings used to make biometric IDs.
Yes, that's right; Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, aka the tax collector, has agreed to delete five million voice recordings it used to create biometric IDs.
The Voice IDs were used to speed access to its phone line but were created before the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulation and violated the tougher rules.
HMRC will keep about 1.5m Voice IDs which are in use, but delete around five million where explicit consent was not received and where those people had never used the system since creating the ID.
Chief executive, Sir Jonathan Thompson said in a letter that they will continue to use Voice ID because it is "popular with our customers, is a more secure way of protecting customer data, and enables us to get callers through to an adviser faster."
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
Did your Firefox browser break over the weekened? You're not alone. In fact, virtually everyone who uses Mozilla's popular browser encountered this issue, and we'll tell you why.
On Friday, the expiration of a Mozilla certificate used to check the signatures of add-on codes in Firefox desktop and Android Web browsers caused a nearly universal failure of Firefox plug-ins and extensions as browsers detected them as invalid and disabled them.
The bug, dubbed "armagadd-on 2.0," was addressed by a hot-fix issued over the weekend, and a new version of the browser has been pushed out.
This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened with Firefox. The original "armagadd-on" happened almost exactly three years ago, on May 2, 2016, when an expired certificate caused signature verification errors for add-ons.
A patch was pushed out to most Firefox desktop users on May 5. However, the fix does not help Firefox ESR or Android users. An update for those browsers is still in the works.
For some users, the patch required them to change browser privacy and security settings before it can kick in—because Mozilla is deploying the patch using Firefox's "Studies" system to rapidly deploy the patch.
Studies is a system used by Firefox to deploy pre-release features to users before they're added to a release update. Some organizations and users may disable Studies because they introduce code that hasn't been tested fully and may send usage data back to Mozilla. But because of the speed with which Mozilla needed to deploy this certificate fix, it was pushed out with Studies rather than as part of a browser update—which means users will have to at least temporarily re-enable Studies to regain functionality. From the point of enabling Studies, it could take up to six hours for the patch to be applied.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
On Tuesday, Google began rolling out a new feature that allows you to configure how long it can save data from all of the Google services you use, like maps, search, and everything you do online.
Until now, you had to manually go in and delete this data or turn it off entirely. But deleting it means Google doesn’t always have enough information about you to make recommendations on what it thinks you’ll like, or where you might want to go.
Now, you can tell Google to automatically delete personal information after 3 months or 18 months.
Google’s activity page says this: “The activity you keep can improve your experience anywhere you use your Google Account. What you search, read and watch can work together to help you get things done faster, discover new content and pick up where you left off.”
Google said during its event Tuesday that it will expand these controls to make them easier to find right inside of its apps. But for now, the quickest and easiest way to manage your privacy is under "Data & Personalization" when you login to myaccount.google.com. You'll find the new feature under "Manage Activity."
Google said it is also rolling out similar controls for how it tracks your location data.
Sent to us by: Jeff Weston
Researchers have taken steps towards an iconic Star Trek medical device.
How've you been treating yourself lately? Any cuts or abrasions? Have you had to kiss any skinned knees? Gotten a scratch from a temperamental cat?
If you've had to reach for a bandage since the year began, don't worry — you're not alone. In fact, in 2018, the US spent close to $774 million on self-sticking bandages of various kinds. And we needed them! Open wounds must be covered up so they can heal properly; you don't want anything infecting the dermis —that’s your skin— while it grows new layers to replace what was lost in injury, and that takes time.
Obviously, a paper cut heals faster than a nasty slip of the knife while dicing veggies for dinner. And even that heals faster than a larger wound sustained in a high impact accident. The larger the wound, the longer it takes to heal. If your skin is too damaged to heal by itself (or with the aid of stitches) doctors might try taking a graft of healthy skin from another part of your body to replace the injured spot. But it's a painful process, leaving you with just that much more dermis to regrow. Taking healthy skin from somebody else isn’t an option either; your immune system — zealous defender that it is — might mistakenly treat the new graft as hostile and make you terribly sick as it tries to fight off the invader.
Of course, in Star Trek’s 24th century, any ship's sickbay, home medicine cabinet, or halfway decent field medical kit includes a trusty "dermal regenerator". It's the ultimate point-and-click solution: just aim it at the wound and turn it on, and its gentle beam of healing light magically closes the skin up.
How does it do that? The name is a dead giveaway. A dermal regenerator seems to literally regenerate your dermis by prompting new skin cells grow in the beam’s wake. It's the perfect solution.
While you won’t find the 24th century's answer to the Band-Aid in a drugstore near you anytime soon, we can at least see it on our long-range sensors. Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, led by assistant professor Sean Murphy, developed something they call a "Mobile Skin Bioprinter" in June 2018. The paper was just published in Nature's journal Scientific Reports in February 2019.
Let's say you've got a big, bad scrape that needs healing, and you call the Wake Forest team into action. First, they take a small sample of healthy skin from you and put it in a jar where it can grow, independent of your body. Once lab techs have a nice supply of healthy, happy skin cells, they mix them into a life-sustaining hydrogel and pour it into the Bioprinter — which looks like a couple of microwaves combined with a 3D printing arm bolted to a rack on wheels. They roll it over to your bedside, where an attached device scans your scrape, getting a laser's-eye view of all its contours and ridges. The machine proceeds to figure out exactly where and how to place layers of new cells so they'll match the structure of the skin that was originally there. Once the scanning is done, the Bioprinter's printing arm gets to work putting down the cells it was given, layer by layer.
Initial tests were highly encouraging: the Bioprinter technique closes wounds faster, causes less puckering from scarring, and generates new skin quicker. The next step for the Wake Forest team is to start clinical trials on humans.
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson