Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
Facebook kills over 300 Russia-linked fake accounts, Pages, (VOA)

In 2018, technology firms such as Facebook and Google faced more scrutiny and negative press over their handling of data breaches and online speech. The issue may mean new rules and more regulations in the future.

The question of who can access personal user data through technology caused many people to rethink how much they trust these companies with their private information. At a recent hearing, House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy grilled Google over accusations it uses algorithms to suppress conservative voices.


“Are America’s technology companies serving as instruments of freedom? Or instruments of control? Are they fulfilling the promise of the digital age? Are they advancing the cause of self-government? Or are they serving as instruments of manipulation used by powerful interests and foreign governments to rob the people of their power, agency, and dignity?,” he said.


Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing “examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

At the hearing, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said he runs the U.S. technology giant without political preference.

In October, Google acknowledged that several months earlier, it had discovered a data breach involving its Google Plus service, which the company said would be shut down.

Pantas Sutardja, chief executive of data storage company LatticeWork Inc., says such scandals are forcing the companies to take a closer look at how they manage and protect user content.

“2018 has been a challenging year for tech companies and consumers alike. Company CEOs being called to Congress for hearings and promising profusely to fix the problems of data breach but still cannot do it,” said Sutardja.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Also this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questions from U.S. lawmakers over a breach that allowed a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, to exploit the data of millions of Facebook users. Zuckerberg apologized to lawmakers, but some legislators say the giant social network cannot be trusted to regulate itself.

Separately, the attorney-general for Washington, Karl Racine, said the U.S. capital had sued Facebook over reports involving Cambridge Analytica’s use of data from the social media giant.

The year saw new revelations that foreign operatives were using social media to secretly spread divisive and often bogus messages in the United States and worldwide. Walt Mossberg, a former tech journalist, says consumers are frustrated.

“It doesn’t matter to whose benefit they were operating. What bothers people here is that a foreign country, using our social networks, digital products and services that we have come to feel comfortable in, a foreign government has come in and used that against us,” he said.


This photo taken March 22, 2018, shows apps for WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks on a smartphone. VOA

The Facebook data breach has prompted companies like Latticework to create new ways for users to protect their information and themselves, Sutardja says.

“Despite apologizing profusely about leaking customer data, they can’t do anything about it because their real master, their boss is Wall Street,” he said.

User data was just one area in which tech firms came under criticism. Under pressure, social media companies tightened restrictions on the kinds of speech they tolerate on their sites.

And workers pressed managers about their companies’ government contracts and treatment of female colleagues.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

Mossberg says he wants federal law to limit U.S. internet firms’ collection and use of personal data.

“These are giant companies now. There really are four or five of them that control everything. And governments and citizens of countries around the world need the right to regulate them without closing down free speech. And that’s tricky,” he said.

Mossberg says he has given up Facebook. (VOA)


Popular

Unsplash

Canadian researchers have discovered an overlooked gene that plays a major role in the development of antibodies

Canadian researchers have discovered an overlooked gene that plays a major role in the development of antibodies, which help the immune system recognize and fight viruses including SARS-CoV-2, bacteria and other causes of infectious disease. The gene -- FAM72A -- facilitates production of high-quality antibodies by enabling the effect of an enzyme called AID (for Activation-Induced Deaminase), the researchers showed.

Immunologists have known for two decades that AID is essential to produce antibodies capable of clearing infections, but the full mechanism of its effect has remained unknown. "Our findings answer the long-standing question of how AID does its work," said Alberto Martin, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine. "FAM72A helps AID to promote mutations in antibody genes that are essential for the development of effective antibodies," he added.

Virus Pathogen Antibody - Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. | Pixabay

Keep Reading Show less
IANS

Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur

Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur at a total cost of Rs 301.92 crore, moving steadily towards its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. MCL has placed a turnkey order to set-up a 50 MW solar power plant with a Chennai-based firm M/s Hild Energy Ltd, which will establish this green energy project within a timeline of 10 months, the MCL said in a statement on Saturday.

This solar plant would cater to the captive power requirement of MCL. The Central PSU had successfully set-up a 2MW solar power plant in Sambalpur in 2014. The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024 in order to become a net zero energy company, aligning itself to use cleaner forms of energy for coal production.

white and blue solar panel system The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024. | Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
IANS

As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him.

As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him. The actor took to his blog where he poured his heart out and also shared an unseen photo with his father. The image in question is from Big B's wedding in 1973, where the two are caught in a sweet moment as they look at each other.

Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog,

"My Father , my all .. November 27th his birth in the year 1907 .. Which makes it his 114th Anniversary .. He is in the heavens, with my Mother and they celebrate .. as do we , in thought word and deed .. (sic). But first."


Keep reading... Show less