Bloomberg has reported that Facebook is again being sued for allegedly spying on Instagram users, this time through the unauthorized use of their mobile phone cameras.

The lawsuit springs from media reports in July that the photo-sharing app appeared to be accessing iPhone cameras even when they weren’t actively being used.

Facebook denied the reports and blamed a bug, which it said it was correcting, for triggering what it described as false notifications that Instagram was accessing iPhone cameras.

n the complaint filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco, New Jersey Instagram user Brittany Conditi contends the app’s use of the camera is intentional and done for the purpose of collecting “lucrative and valuable data on its users that it would not otherwise have access to.”

By “obtaining extremely private and intimate personal data on their users, including in the privacy of their own homes,” Instagram and Facebook are able to collect “valuable insights and market research,” according to the complaint.

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine, announced that August 2020 ended in over 2 billion total searches via its search platform.

While Google remains the most popular search engine, DuckDuckGo has gained a great deal of traction in recent months as more and more users have begun to value their privacy on the internet.

DuckDuckGo saw over 2 billion searches and 4 million app/extension installations, and the company also said that they have over 65 million active users. DuckDuckGo could shatter its old traffic record if the same growth trend continues.

Even though DuckDuckGo is growing rapidly, it still controls less than 2 percent of all search volume in the United States. However, DuckDuckGo’s growth trend has continued throughout the year, mainly due to Google and other companies’ privacy scandal.

A recently published study conducted by three Mozilla employees has looked at the privacy provided by browsing histories.

Their findings show that most users have unique web browsing habits that allow online advertisers to create accurate profiles.

These profiles can then be used to track and re-identify users across different sets of user data that contain even small samples of a user’s browsing history.

Effectively, the study comes to dispel an online myth that browsing history, even the anonymized one, isn’t useful for online advertisers. In reality, the study shows that even a small list of 50 to 150 of the user’s favorite and most accessed domains can let advertisers create a unique tracking profile.

The Mozilla research paper is named “Replication: Why We Still Can’t Browse in Peace: On the Uniqueness and Reidentifiability of Web Browsing Histories” [PDF].

Many people believe Apple is a privacy hero. It’s surprising that a lot of people believe Apple really respects their privacy. For years, Apple has advertised about how it respects users and cares about their privacy and many people fell for their lie.

Apple is simply one of the worst companies when it comes to respecting people and users privacy. Apple doesn’t encrypt your data and when it does, it has full control over encrypted data and decrypts whatever it wants, but that’s not even the case.

Apple tracks users, collects personal information, stores sensitive and personal data, shares every data it wants, targets people with advertisements and even uses human workers to listen to people’s conversations with Siri sound recordings.

Apple is no better than Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc. What Apple does, is the same as what Google does but Apple does it in a fancy way and falsely advertises about its fake privacy practices.

Every Apple device and service is a violation of people’s privacy. Don’t listen to those who are hardcore Apple fans and want to reduce Apple’s privacy violation to service providing. Apple and every other major company can deliver service without tracking and storing people’s data.

Yes, to get maps and routes working, the device needs to track your location but the service provider doesn’t need to store this location data. If Apple respects people’s privacy, then it should stop storing data, or at least, at least store data anonymously without any piece of data that can be used to identify an individual personally.

There are ways to avoid Apple and Google. We can still buy phones that has no Google or other trackers in it or we can simply install custom Android distributions ourselves. Some like Replicant and LineageOS are freedom-respecting and privacy-focused.

Remember, Apple is no better than Google or other companies. Respect yourself and avoid it.

Reuters reported that Apple announced on Thursday that it will delay until early next year changes to its privacy policy that could reduce ad sales by Facebook Inc and other companies targeting users on iPhones and iPads.

The delay could benefit Facebook, which last week said the changes to the iOS 14 operating system would render one of its mobile advertising tools “so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it.”

Apple announced new privacy rules in June that were slated to take effect with the launch of its iOS 14 operating system this fall. Among them is a new requirement that advertisers who employ an Apple-provided tracking identifier, or other tools that have a similar function, must now show a pop-up notification asking for tracking permission.

When I say that these companies don’t value privacy and userfreedom I exactly mean this. For them, benefit is always much more important than people. Apple always brags about its privacy policy and advertises about how it respects users but the truth is Apple is no better than Google or another corporations.

Amazon is famous for its extreme efficiency yet behind the curtain is a crippling culture of surveillance and stress, according to a study by the Open Markets Institute.

The think tank and advocacy group that repeatedly takes companies like Google and Facebook to task warned in the report [PDF] that Amazon’s retail side has gone far beyond promoting efficient working and has adopted an almost dystopian level of control over its warehouse workers, firing them if they fail to meet targets that are often kept a secret.

Among the practices it highlighted, the report said that workers are told to hit a target rate of packages to process per hour, though they are not told what exactly that target is. “We don’t know what the rate is,” one pseudonymous worker told the authors. “They change it behind the scenes. You’ll know when you get a warning. They don’t tell you what rate you have to hit at the beginning.”

If they grow close to not meeting a target rate, or miss it, the worker receives an automated message warning them, the report said. Workers who fail to meet hidden targets can also receive a different type of electronic message; one that fires them.

“Amazon’s electronic system analyzes an employee’s electronic record and, after falling below productivity measures, ‘automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors’,” it stated. The data is also generated automatically: for example, those picking and packing are required to use a scanner that records every detail, including the time between scans, and feed it into a system that pushes out automated warnings.

Always watching

As with other companies, Amazon installs surveillance cameras in its workspaces to reduce theft. But the report claims Amazon has taken that approach to new lengths “with an extensive network of security cameras that tracks and monitors a worker’s every move”.

Bezos’ bunch combines that level of surveillance with strict limits on behavior. “Upon entering the warehouse, Amazon requires workers to dispose of all of their personal belongings except a water bottle and a clear plastic bag of cash,” the report noted.

For Amazon drivers, their location is constantly recorded and monitored and they are required to follow the exact route Amazon has mapped. They are required to deliver 999 out of every 1,000 packages on time or face the sack; something that the report argues has led to widespread speeding and a related increase in crashes.

The same tracking software ensures that workers only take 30 minutes for lunch and two separate 15-minute breaks during the day. The report also noted that the web goliath has patented a wristband that “can precisely track where warehouse employees are placing their hands and use vibrations to nudge them in a different direction”.

Amazon also attempts to prevent efforts to unionize by actively tracking workers and breaking up any meetings of too many people, including identifying possible union organizers and moving them around the workplace to prevent them talking to the same group for too long, the report claimed.

It quoted a source named Mohamed as saying: “They spread the workers out … you cannot talk to your colleagues … The managers come to you and say they’ll send you to a different station.”

The combined effort of constant surveillance with the risk of being fired at any point has created, according to workers, a “Lord Of The Flies-esque environment where the perceived weakest links are culled every year”.

Stress and quotas

The report said Amazon’s workers “are under constant stress to make their quotas for collecting and organizing hundreds of packages per hour” resulting in “constant ‘low-grade panic’ to work. In this sense, workers are dehumanizingly treated by Amazon as if they are robots – persistently asked to accomplish task after task at an unforgiving rate.”

At the end of the day, warehouse employees are required to go through mandatory screening to check they haven’t stolen anything, which “requires waiting times that can range from 25 minutes to an hour” and is not compensated, the report said.

Amazon also allegedly fails to account for any injuries, the report said, to the extent that “Amazon employees feel forced to work through the pain and injuries they incur on the job, as Amazon routinely fires employees who fall behind their quotas, without taking such injuries into account.”

It quoted another piece of reporting that found Amazon’s rate of severe injuries in its warehouses is, in some cases, more than five times the industry average. It also noted that the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health listed Amazon as one of the “dirty dozen” on its list of the most dangerous places to work in the United States in 2018.

The report concluded that “Amazon’s practices exacerbate the inequality between employees and management by keeping employees in a constant state of precariousness, with the threat of being fired for even the slightest deviation, which ensures full compliance with employer-demanded standards and limits worker freedom.”

Being a think tank, the Open Markets Institute listed a series of policy and legal changes that would help alleviate the work issues. It proposed a complete ban on “invasive forms of worker surveillance” and a rule against any forms of surveillance that “preemptively interfere with unionization efforts”.

It also wants a law that allows independent contractors to unionize and the legalization of secondary boycotts, as well as better enforcement of the rules against companies by government departments including America’s trade watchdog the FTC and Department of Justice, as well as a ban on non-compete agreements and class action waivers.

In response to the allegations in the report, a spokesperson for Amazon told us: “Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazonian – be it corporate employee or fulfillment center associate and we measure actual performance against those expectations.

“Associate performance is measured and evaluated over a long period of time as we know that a variety of things could impact the ability to meet expectations in any given day or hour. We support people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve.”

(original post)

The crisis in Belarus still unfolding following more massive protest demanding that dictator Lukashenko resign but authorities also now increasing pressure with the heavy security presence on the streets of capital over the weekend.

ABC’s reporter in Belarus reported that a massive peaceful protestors confronted a wall undisguised authoritarian power. For the third weekend running over a hundred thousand protestors flooded the capital, Minsk, to demand an end to rule of dictator Lukashenko in power for 26 years.

There are big loads of army trucks and troops in the city of Minsk. The atmosphere is very festive at it has been but at the same time there’s much bigger security presence there. Hundreds of blue pigs were blocking the roads and even military armored vehicles deployed as a show of force.

some demonstrators now intervening to drag others away from plainclothes thugs but there was also no sign the security forces loyalty to Lukashenko is weakening.

Lukashenko also has a clear backing from Russia. Vladimir Putin warning Moscow could intervene if protesters seek to violently topple Lukashenko saying he’s created a reserve of Russian thugs to send if necessary but we also agreed that it would not be used so long as the situation doesn’t get out of control.

On a GitHub issue chat, a man stated that he lost 1400 bitcoins (worth $16M currently) from a Electrum wallet scam when phishing exploit disguised as an update proceeded to sweep his Electrum wallet off his bitcoins.

The crypto community tried to offer help, with Binance vowing to block the addresses involved. “My coins propagated. I attempted to transfer about 1 BTC however I was unable to proceed,” he said. A pop-up message appeared asking the holder to update his security prior to being able to transfer the funds. “I installed the update which immediately triggered the transfer of my entire balance to a scammer’s address.”

According to Electrum developer Thomas Voegtlin, the exploit is nothing new and has been around since 2018. Voegtlin said the Electrum website displays a warning about the exploit and that warning has been up for the last 18 months. “The user was scammed because he used old software, susceptible to phishing,” Voegtlin told news outlet Decrypt. The publication noted that this is the largest amount of Bitcoins stolen through the exploit.