Why a Republican senator wants the FTC to throw the book at Facebook

Found on Ars Technica on Tuesday, 07 May 2019
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"The FTC must set a resounding precedent that is heard by Facebook and any other tech company that disregards the law in a rapacious quest for growth," write Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). "The commission should pursue deterrent monetary penalties and impose forceful accountability measures on Facebook."

The Republican chairman reportedly favors a fine of around $5 billion and has the backing of the other two Republican commissioners. In its last quarterly earnings statement, Facebook said it was budgeting $3 billion to $5 billion for an expected FTC fine.

But the two Democrats consider this inadequate. They not only want a larger fine, they're also seeking to hold Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible for the company's missteps.

In their letter, Blumenthal and Hawley firmly side with the Democrats in this intra-agency fight. The pair describes a $5 billion fine as a "bargain" for a company with $15 billion in quarterly revenues, and they also argue that "fines alone are insufficient."

You have to hit them, and you have to hit them hard. Otherwise they won't learn from it.

Firefox armagg-add-on: Lapsed security cert kills all browser extensions

Found on The Register on Monday, 06 May 2019
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Every single web extension, theme, search engine plugin, and language pack had been nuked from netizens' Firefox installations, stripping any data and settings associated with them as they were removed.

For those using the Netflix add-on, there would be no video. For those using HTTPS Everywhere, there would be no enforced privacy. And the situation was similar for users of password management add-ons, content blocking add-ons, and the like.

It's not like monitoring expiration times of certificates is impossible. Any decent monitoring agent can do that.

A hacker is wiping Git repositories and asking for a ransom

Found on ZD Net on Sunday, 05 May 2019
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Hundreds of developers have had had Git source code repositories wiped and replaced with a ransom demand.

The hacker claims all source code has been downloaded and stored on one of their servers, and gives the victim ten days to pay the ransom; otherwise, they'll make the code public.

However, all evidence suggests that the hacker has scanned the entire internet for Git config files, extracted credentials, and then used these logins to access and ransom accounts at Git hosting services.

Now your super-clud solution for storing the codebase of your company that should be kept secret does no sound so amazing anymore. If you go into the cloud, you eventually will be rained on.

Facebook gives social scientists unprecedented access to its user data

Found on Nature on Saturday, 04 May 2019
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Facebook is giving social scientists unprecedented access to its data so that they can investigate how social media platforms influence elections and alter democracies.

The scientists will have access to reams of Facebook data such as the URLs that users have shared and demographic information including gender and approximate age.

Remember, a few days ago Zuckerberg pointed out how important the privacy of its users will be in the future. Today, more data sharing.

Google to 'auto-delete' web tracking history

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 02 May 2019
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Google is to offer users the option of automatically deleting their search and location history after three months.

The search giant has faced scrutiny over the personal data it collects. In November, it was accused of tracking where people went even when they had switched off location history.

And earlier this month, to the surprise of many people, Google said human reviewers sometimes listened to voice recordings from its Home speaker and Assistant app.

Now you only need to trust Google to really do that.

If Facebook Wants Our Trust, Mark Zuckerberg Must Resign

Found on Tom's Guide on Sunday, 28 April 2019
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If Zuckerberg wants to prove just how serious Facebook is about guarding user privacy, though, he should it prove it by announcing he's quitting.

Incidents where Facebook was too cavalier with user data stretch back years, and while the particulars change from scandal to scandal, the one constant is the guy sitting in the CEO chair.

Zuckerberg also promised a Clear History feature that would let you easily delete information about apps and websites you've interacted with, sort of like erasing your browser history.

Well, the Clear History feature never launched — it's coming later in 2019, Facebook now says.

Facebook cannot have a serious interest in more privacy or deleting features; and even if Clear History arrives at some day, there is still the question if "clear" just means "hide from user".

Customers furious over days-long outage as A2 Hosting scores a D- in Windows uptime

Found on The Register on Friday, 26 April 2019
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Bewildered customers of A2 Hosting have endured a multi-day outage this week as the company battled to clear some pesky malware from its fleet of Windows Servers.

The full horror of the situation started to become clear just over four hours later when it announced: "Our System Operations team has taken all Windows services offline."

Why would anybody even just remotely consider hosting on Windows? It's already quirky enough as a desktop; using it as a server operating system requires some serious levels of masochism.

Which? survey reveals customers' least favourite mobile network

Found on BBC News on Tuesday, 23 April 2019
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Vodafone has been rated as the UK's worst mobile network provider for the eighth year in a row, in consumer lobby group Which?'s eighth annual survey.

In a statement, the company added: "We are working hard to understand the issue and what more we can do."

Vodafone will easily turn the eight into ten years.

Amazon will no longer sell Chinese goods in China

Found on CNN on Saturday, 20 April 2019
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Amazon first entered the Chinese market 15 years ago, when it acquired an online book retailer, but it has struggled amid fierce competition. Research suggests that the company's market share in China was miniscule compared to local rivals.

"There is too much domestic competition and Amazon lacks the kind of brand awareness that Tmall or JD.com have," said Ben Cavender, an analyst at China Market Research Group. "That leaves Amazon in a position where it has to spend a lot of money to acquire customers while also competing aggressively with multiple strong players on price."

Amazon is not even a good shop and can only exist because with its current market position it's hard for competition to grow. It's shop itself is rather awful: a ridiculous lack of fine-grained search options meets an inconsistent UI layout; and let's not forget that a product is sometimes cheaper if you order it directly from the seller's own shop.

Mark Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user data to fight rivals and help friends

Found on NBC News on Wednesday, 17 April 2019
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The documents, which include emails, webchats, presentations, spreadsheets and meeting summaries, show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook’s trove of user data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over companies it partnered with.

However, among the documents leaked, there’s very little evidence that privacy was a major concern of Facebook’s, and the issue was rarely discussed in the thousands of pages of emails and meeting summaries.

Unbelievable that politicians and governments don't do anything about it; or perhaps they would if Facebook would not have data on them?