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Apple CEO Sides With The Need For Tougher Privacy Laws

Google, meanwhile, shut down its Plus social network this month after revealing it had a flaw that could have exposed personal information of up to half a million people.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a data privacy conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. VOA

The head of Apple on Wednesday endorsed tough privacy laws for both Europe and the U.S. and renewed the technology giant’s commitment to protecting personal data, which he warned was being “weaponized” against users.

Speaking at an international conference on data privacy, Apple CEO Tim Cook applauded European Union authorities for bringing in a strict new data privacy law this year and said the iPhone maker supports a U.S. federal privacy law.

Cook’s remarks, along with comments due later from Google and Facebook top bosses, in the European Union’s home base in Brussels, underscore how the U.S. tech giants are jostling to curry favor in the region as regulators tighten their scrutiny.

Data protection has become a major political issue worldwide, and European regulators have led the charge in setting new rules for the big internet companies. The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, requires companies to change the way they do business in the region, and a number of headline-grabbing data breaches have raised public awareness of the issue.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook, Wikimedia

“In many jurisdictions, regulators are asking tough questions. It is time for rest of the world, including my home country, to follow your lead,” Cook said.

“We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States,” he said, to applause from hundreds of privacy officials from more than 70 countries.

In the U.S., California is moving to put in regulations similar to the EU’s strict rules by 2020 and other states are mulling more aggressive laws. That’s rattled the big tech companies, which are pushing for a federal law that would treat them more leniently.

Cook warned that technology’s promise to drive breakthroughs that benefit humanity is at risk of being overshadowed by the harm it can cause by deepening division and spreading false information. He said the trade in personal information “has exploded into a data industrial complex.”

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An empty chair reserved for Google’s parent Alphabet, which refused to send its top executive, is seen as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

“Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,” he said. Scraps of personal data are collected for digital profiles that let businesses know users better than they know themselves and allow companies to offer users increasingly extreme content that hardens their convictions,” Cook said.

“This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich only the companies that collect them,” he said.

Cook’s appearance seems set to one-up his tech rivals and show off his company’s credentials in data privacy, which has become a weak point for both Facebook and Google.

“With the spotlight shining as directly as it is, Apple have the opportunity to show that they are the leading player and they are taking up the mantle,” said Ben Robson, a lawyer at Oury Clark specializing in data privacy. Cook’s appearance “is going to have good currency,” with officials, he added.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are sworn in before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google head Sundar Pichai were scheduled to address by video the annual meeting of global data privacy chiefs. Only Cook attended in person.

He has repeatedly said privacy is a “fundamental human right” and vowed his company wouldn’t sell ads based on customer data the way companies like Facebook do.

His speech comes a week after the iPhone maker unveiled expanded privacy protection measures for people in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, including allowing them to download all personal data held by Apple. European users already had access to this feature after GDPR took effect in May. Apple plans to expand it worldwide.

The International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, held in a different city every year, normally attracts little attention but its Brussels venue this year takes on symbolic meaning as EU officials ratchet up their tech regulation efforts.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, seen in this Nov. 3, 2015, file photo, will answer questions about cybersecurity before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. VOA

The 28-nation EU took on global leadership of the issue when it beefed up data privacy regulations by launching GDPR. The new rules require companies to justify the collection and use of personal data gleaned from phones, apps and visited websites. They must also give EU users the ability to access and delete data, and to object to data use.

GDPR also allows for big fines benchmarked to revenue, which for big tech companies could amount to billions of dollars.

Also Read: EU Expresses Concern Over Facebook Losing Data

In the first big test of the new rules, Ireland’s data protection commission, which is a lead authority for Europe as many big tech firms are based in the country, is investigating Facebook after a data breach let hackers access 3 million EU accounts.

Google, meanwhile, shut down its Plus social network this month after revealing it had a flaw that could have exposed personal information of up to half a million people. (VOA)

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Stadia Pro Members to Get Six Bonus Games in June, Reveals Google

The game is supposed to be launched on June 16

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Google reveals that Stadia Pro members will get 6 new free games in June. Pixabay

Google has revealed that Stadia Pro members will get six bonus games in June, or twice as many as usual.

Six new games for free with Stadia Pro are Get Packed, Little Nightmares, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, SUPERHOT, Panzer Dragoon Remake, and The Elder Scrolls Online,

The game will be launched on June 16 and will be available on the subscription-based game service Stadia immediately, Google said on Friday.

Stadia also brought some big updates to users who use the service via Google’s Chrome browser. The platform added support for wireless Stadia Controller play and 1440p resolution — exclusively for Stadia Pro subscribers.

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The game will be available on the subscription-based game service Stadia immediately, Google said. (Representative Image). Pixabay

Also Read: Odisha Govt to Hold Rath Yatra Without Devotees this Year

The company also announced 12 existing games that are still available to add to Stadia Pro collection.

Earlier, Google revealed that it will add more than 120 games to its subscription-based game service this year. (IANS)

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Venue: Facebook Launches New App for Interactive Live Events

The app aims to make live events more social

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Facebook has launched a new app called 'Venue' to make live events more interactive. Pixabay

Facebook is rolling out a new app for iOS and Android called ‘Venue’ which aims to provide an interactive second-screen experience for live events.

The digital companion app has been developed by Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team and it is the third app the team has launched this week. The last two were focused on collaborative music video creations and voice-only group calling.

Facebook will first test Venue with NASCAR’s Food City presenting the Supermarket Heroes 500 race on May 31.

Future NASCAR races will also be hosted in Venue, with commentators including nascarcasm, FOX Sports NASCAR reporter Alan Cavanna and NASCAR driver Landon Cassill.

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Venue happens to be the third app Facebook’s New Product Experimentation team has launched this week. Pixabay

Also Read: US Lawmaker Proposes Bill in Congress to Recognise Tibet and Hong-Kong as Independent Nations

“As NASCAR makes its return to action over the coming weeks, Venue will provide users with a unique and exciting way to connect with fellow race fans from around the globe — all from the safety and comfort of their own homes,” Tim Clark, NASCAR SVP and chief digital officer, said in a statement.

The service has been widely compared to Twitter’s live event streaming capabilities, offering fans a place to interactively gather and respond to events in real time. (IANS)

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Scam Spotter: Google Launches Programme to Stop Scammers Exploiting Covid-19

Google has launched a new programme to stop COVID-19 scammers

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Google launches a new programme to spot stop Covid-19 scammers. Pixabay

Google on Thursday launched a new programme called Scam Spotter to spot and stop scammers who are exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic with alarming speed, taking advantage of fear and uncertainty.

The programme simplifies expert advice with three rules when you receive a suspicious phone call or message to figure out if it’s a scam.

The three rules are: “Slow it down, spot check and stop! Don’t send.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people reported $1.9 billion lost to scams in 2019.

Every minute, more than $3,600 disappeared from wallets and bank accounts in response to made-up stories of urgently overdue tax payments, bogus contest winnings, or a smooth-talking online suitor who suddenly needs some gift cards.

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According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people reported $1.9 billion lost to scams in 2019. Pixabay

“A high-pressure phone call or exciting message can overcome many people’s judgment, especially if they are caught at a vulnerable moment,” said Google.

Also Read: The New Trends Of Fashion World Post-Pandemic

While people ages 25-40 are most likely to be scammed, research shows it’s seniors who stand to lose the most, with their median losses more than double the average.

The company also unveiled a new website ScamSpotter.org.

“If we learn how to spot the bad actors, we can spend our time focusing on those moments that matter,” said the company. (IANS)