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Could Google Be About To Break Bitcoin?

Google sent shockwaves around the internet last month when it was claimed the search giant had built a quantum computer able to solve formerly impossible mathematical calculations–with some fearing bitcoin could be at risk.

Details of Google’s so-called “quantum supremacy,” meaning it can solve calculations impossible with traditional computers, were posted to a Nasa website before being deleted, it was claimed by the Financial Times, a business newspaper.

Google’s quantum supremacy could mean it is able to perform in 200 seconds what would take a powerful computer 10,000 years and potentially mean bitcoin, and the encryption that underpins it, could be broken.

Bitcoin, cryptography, and encryption rely on complex mathematical problems and the fundamentals provide the basis of the internet and digital communication trust.

Today In: Money

A powerful enough computer, similar to Google’s quantum computer, could solve these classical equations quickly enough to crack not only bitcoin but also the encryption that the internet is built on.

An explosion in bitcoin investors and the bitcoin price over recent years have made many worried that their newfound crypto-based wealth could be under threat from these powerful quantum computers.

However, steps can be taken to prevent the likes of Google or any other quantum computer breaking into bitcoin and digital communication.

“Cryptocurrencies can be updated with quantum resistant tech,” said Charles Hayter, chief executive of bitcoin and cryptocurrency data website, CryptoCompare. “This is just a continuation of the age old arms race between crackers and enciphers.”

It would appear Google is still some way away from building a quantum computer that could be a threat to bitcoin or other encryption.

“Google’s supercomputer currently has 53 qubits,” said Dragos Ilie, a quantum computing and encryption researcher at Imperial College London.

Qubits, or quantum bits, are the basic unit of quantum information which use the properties of a quantum system, such as the polarization of a photon or the spin of an electron, where as traditional computers store and process data as a series of ‘1’s and ‘0’s.

“In order to have any effect on bitcoin or most or most other financial systems it would take at least about 1500 qubits and the system must allow for the entanglement of all of them,” Ilie said.

Google may not even be as far along as thought, with subsequent reports suggesting the original post was removed from Nasa’s website because it had not been confirmed.

Meanwhile, scaling quantum computers is “a huge challenge,” according to Ilie.

“As you add more qubits the system becomes more and more unstable … [though] researchers can try different approaches for solving these issues so maybe there are ways to mitigate these problems but right now we are quite far from breaking bitcoin.”

In short, “don’t dump your bitcoins yet,” Ilie added.

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I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world. As the founding editor of Verdict.co.uk I reported on how technology is changing business, political trends, and the latest culture and lifestyle. I have covered the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrency since 2012 and have charted its emergence as a niche technology into the greatest threat to the established financial system the world has ever seen and the most important new technology since the internet itself. I have worked and written for CityAM, the Financial Times, and the New Statesman, amongst others. Follow me on Twitter @billybambrough or email me on billyATbillybambrough.com. Disclosure: I occasionally hold some small amount of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Source: Could Google Be About To Break Bitcoin?

Everyone should see it! Click here! http://youtube.com+watch=@3162039724/… Best cryptocurrency exchanger: https://700.by/101 Best cryptocurrency trading platform: https://700.by/102 The crypto community is reacting to a new report claiming Google has achieved a massive breakthrough in quantum computing. According to the Financial Times, a leaked document written by Google’s researchers says the company has achieved “quantum supremacy.”
In other words, Google has created a quantum computer that can perform a calculation that no other computer on earth has the power to process.“A paper by Google’s researchers seen by the FT, that was briefly posted earlier this week on a NASA website before being removed, claimed that their processor was able to perform a calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds that would take today’s most advanced classical computer, known as Summit, approximately 10,000 years.”
Quantum computers use the properties of atoms and molecules to create systems that can simultaneously explore multiple possible solutions to a problem. Many experts believe quantum tech could be used to crack the modern methods of cryptography that keep the internet secure. The threat to the world of cryptography is real enough that the National Security Agency (NSA) is now working to create new techniques that are resistant to quantum computing. News of Google’s apparent breakthrough made it to the front page of the cryptocurrency subreddit, where crypto proponents pondered the potential impact the advancement could have on blockchain technology.
The question is if and when quantum computing can crack the long strings of letters and numbers known as private keys, which Bitcoin users need to access their funds. So far, Google’s researchers say their quantum computer can “only perform a single, highly technical calculation,” indicating it will still take years until the technology can solve real-world problems.
But according to the document cited by the Financial Times, Google expects the tech to evolve at twice the speed of traditional computer processors. Steve Brierley, an adviser on quantum technologies to the UK government, says Google has taken a major leap forward.“It’s a significant milestone, and the first time that somebody has shown that quantum computers could outperform classical computers at all. It’s an amazing achievement.”So far, Google itself has refused to comment. #quantum #cryptocalculator #bitcoinblockexplorer #cryptocurrencynews #cryptocurrencyexchange #cryptonews #cryptoexchange Will Google’s ‘Quantum Supremacy’ Achievement Break Bitcoin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haRLj…

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New Google Android Warning As Malicious Apps Hit 300 Million Play Store Users

Malicious Google Android apps seem to be hitting the Play Store increasing rapidly at the moment–or at least, reports of them are. This was the thinking behind ESET security researcher Lukas Stefanko’s report detailing the harmful apps on Google Play that hit the news in September.

The results are far from pretty: Stefanko’s analysis shows that 172 harmful apps with over 335 million installs were found on Google’s Play Store, according to various news reports written during the month. Of course, the installs would have taken place over a longer period than just the month of September.

In August, I reported that a dangerous spyware app had hit the Play Store twice. It came after Trend Micro researchers reported adware containing apps had been downloaded 8 million times.

Meanwhile, among reports in September, Forbes contributor Zak Doffman wrote how two apps with over 500 million downloads were revealed to contain dangerous adware.

And Adware was the top attack vector, with 48 apps that had over 300 million installs in total.  Subscription scams were another area of concern, with 15 apps found and 20 million installs. That was followed by apps containing hidden ads, with 14.5 million installs across 57 apps.

Google Play: Out of control?

So, is the number of malicious apps increasing, or are security researchers and as a result, journalists reporting them more? It is difficult to say but one thing is clear: Many people, including Android users, are worried that the Google Play Store is getting out of control.

This data highlights the problem that Google faces, says security researcher Sean Wright. “Unfortunately, this issue only seems to be getting worse. It would be interesting to see if Google has any plan in place to try tackle the problem.”

With multiple players involved in the Android ecosystem, coupled with Google’s less than stringent app store policies–at least compared to Apple–it’s really down to users to assess what’s safe and what’s not.

It’s certainly not ideal, but there are some best practices you can follow. As well as ensuring your operating system is as up to date as possible, you should use anti-virus and read app reviews.

Wright advises: “Only install apps that you are going to use. Pay close attention to details such as required permissions. If you are installing a flashlight app and it is asking for permissions to read your contacts, this should serve as an immediate red flag.”

Follow me on Twitter.

I’m a freelance cybersecurity journalist with over a decade’s experience reporting on the issues impacting users, businesses and the public sector. My interests within cybersecurity include critical national infrastructure, cyber warfare, application security and data misuse. I’m a keen advocate for women in security and strive to raise awareness of the gender imbalance through my writing.

Source: New Google Android Warning As Malicious Apps Hit 300 Million Play Store Users

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Subscribe: https://bit.ly/2x9BOFg Blog: https://channelworldnews.blogspot.com Android warning: Stay clear of these Google Play Store apps which stalk youANDROID fans have been put on alert and warned about several malicious apps found on the Google Play Store which stalk users.Android fans are being warned to stay clear of a number of apps found on the Google Play Store which stalk users of the Google mobile OS.Android is the most poplar pieces of software in the world, with it used by more than two billion people each month.However Android users are no strangers to security alerts, with some recent widespread threats being circulated via apps found on the Goole Play Store.Six Android apps that were downloaded a staggering 90million times from the Google Play Store were found to have been loaded with the PreAMo malware.While another recent threat saw 50 malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store infect over 30million Android devices.And now Android users are being warned once again about a security threat spread through the Google Play Store.Security experts at Avast have discovered seven apps on the Google Play Store that were loaded with stalkerware.This is a malicious form of software that stalks users and other people.These apps in total were downloaded more than 130,000 times, with the most popular one along being installed more than 50,000 times.The Android apps all have the capacity to collect information on users without their consent.Data collected by the stalking apps include call logs, contact information, as well as the location of the victim and text messages, according to an Avast blog post.The apps can also reportedly intercept WhatsApp and Viber messages on rooted devices.Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Avast’s head of mobile threat intelligence and security, said: “These apps are highly unethical and problematic for people’s privacy and shouldn’t be on the Google Play Store.“They promote criminal behaviour, and can be abused by employers, stalkers or abusive partners to spy on their victims.“We classify such apps as stalkerware, and

Google Is Randomly Giving Away Even More Free Google Home Mini Speakers

If you’re in the market for a Google Home Mini smart speaker, your lucky day may be on its way (if you haven’t received one already).

One YouTube Premium user reported over the weekend, on Reddit, that Google offered him a free Google Home Mini. The user, based in Germany, received the offer when he opened the YouTube app.

Today In: Innovation

Earlier this week, Android Police reported that the company was once again giving away Google Home Mini speakers to subscribers of its Google One storage service. Users with paid plans of over 2TB said they received an email offering them a free home speaker. Google also offered this perk to Google One subscribers earlier this year.

Google has been pushing the compact home speakers, likely in a move to expand market share in the voice assistant space. The company partnered with Spotify to give away free Google Home Minis to premium family plan members and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in a donation to 100,000 patients living with paralysis, along other giveaway promotions. Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak has suggested the company go a step further – offering a free Google Home Mini to every U.S. household. Google has not taken that advice – yet.

While Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant remains the clear market leader in the smart speaker market – Google Home has made inroads over the past few years, now possessing about 25 percent of the U.S. market.

The speaker retails for about $49 – although interested buyers (who do not receive one for free) may find one at a reduced price through a third-party retailer.

I asked Google for comment, but did not hear back. I will update the article if I receive a statement.

Follow me on Twitter.

I’m a Los Angeles-based contributing writer for Forbes covering Google and Alphabet. I’m also a writer and curator for Inside.com, where I have covered a variety ot topics, ranging from automotive to Google. Send tips, pitches or notes via email (johanmore@gmail.com), on Twitter (@dudejohan) or on Signal (714-331-5730).

Source: Google Is Randomly Giving Away Even More Free Google Home Mini Speakers

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Google Warns LastPass Users Were Exposed To ‘Last Password’ Credential Leak

Google Project Zero is a team of highly talented security analysts with a brief to uncover zero-day vulnerabilities. If a vulnerability is found, Project Zero reports to the vendor concerned and starts a 90-day countdown for a fix to be issued before full public disclosure is made. LastPass is also in the security business, being one of the most popular password management solutions with more than 16 million users, including 58,000 businesses. Project Zero has just disclosed that a security vulnerability left some of those 16 million users exposed to the risk of credential compromise as, in an ironic twist, LastPass could leak the last password used to any website visited.

How could the LastPass ‘last password’ vulnerability be exploited?

In a tweet posted September 16, Google Project Zero analyst Tavis Ormandy stated that “LastPass could leak the last used credentials due to a cache not being updated,” adding “this was because you can bypass the tab credential cache being populated by including the login form in an unexpected way!”

Ormandy reported the vulnerability on August 29, as Project Zero issue 1930, which showed how the credentials previously filled by LastPass could be exposed to any website under certain circumstances.

Today In: Innovation

Ferenc Kun, the security engineering manager for LastPass at LogMeIn, which owns LastPass, said in an online statement that this “limited set of circumstances on specific browser extensions” could potentially enable the attack scenario described.

“To exploit this bug, a series of actions would need to be taken by a LastPass user including filling a password with the LastPass icon, then visiting a compromised or malicious site and finally being tricked into clicking on the page several times,” Kun said, “any potential exposure due to the bug was limited to specific browsers (Chrome and Opera.)”

The answer, thankfully, is nothing. LastPass has already patched the vulnerability, and the fix was comprehensively verified with Project Zero. Indeed, the fix was rolled out on September 13, and Kun confirmed that “we have now resolved this bug; no user action is required and your LastPass browser extension will update automatically.”

As a precaution, the LastPass update was deployed to all web browsers and not just Chrome and Opera.

How severe was this vulnerability and should you stop using LastPass?

Let’s deal with the last part of that question first; there’s absolutely no reason to stop using LastPass or your preferred password manager for that matter. “Although password managers like any other software have flaws the benefits of using one far outweigh the risks,” says ethical hacker John Opdenakker. “It’s far more likely that your accounts will get compromised by attacks that exploit poor passwords,” Opdenakker says, “such as through credential reuse, than by attacks against password managers themselves.”

OK, so how serious was this particular vulnerability? It certainly sounds serious enough, right? Tavis Ormandy at Project Zero allocated the vulnerability a “high” severity rating. Opdenakker isn’t so sure it merits that. “I think it’s most important that LastPass fixed this bug, which is certainly not a critical one, within a reasonable amount of time,” Opdenakker says, “it’s debatable whether it’s high or medium because, as Ormandy says, it doesn’t work for all URLs.”

LastPass security recommendations

Ferenc Kun said that LastPass continues to recommend the following best practices for added online security:

  • Do not click on links from people you don’t know, or that seem out of character from your trusted contacts and companies.
  • Always enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for LastPass and other services like your bank, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Never reuse your LastPass master password and never disclose it to anyone, including us.
  • Use different, unique passwords for every online account.
  • Keep your computer malware-free by running antivirus with the latest detection patterns and keeping your software up-to-date.

More at Forbes

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Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share

Source: Google Warns LastPass Users Were Exposed To ‘Last Password’ Credential Leak

This is a short intro to how to use LastPass. Links: https://www.lastpass.com https://youtu.be/M4Z0xwzpQrk (My Diceware Video) ======================================== Follow me on Twitter: @redfalconsec Like me on Facebook: search “RedFalcon Security” Fonts used: Digitalt by gluk (http://www.dafont.com/digitalt.font) Royalty free ClipArt provided by LibrOffice Impress and clker (www.clker.com). This video made entirely in Linux using open source tools.

Google Warning: Tens Of Millions Of Android Phones Come Preloaded With Dangerous Malware

Millions of shiny new Android smartphones are being purchased with dangerous malware factory-installed, according to Google’s own security research team. There have been multiple headlines about the millions of harmful apps being installed from the Play Store, but this is something new. And the danger to unsuspecting users, trusting that new boxed devices are safe and clean, is that some of that preinstalled malware can download other malware in the background, commit ad fraud, or even take over its host device.

Android is a thriving open-source community, which is great for innovation but not so great when threat actors seize the opportunity to hide malware in basic software loads that come on boxed devices. New phones can have as many as 400 apps factory-installed, many of which we just ignore. But it transpires that many of those apps have not been vetted. The apps themselves will work as billed, providing a useful capability or service, so we can be forgiven for not considering the risk that might lurk within.

Google’s Maddie Stone, a security researcher with the company’s Project Zero, shared her team’s findings at Black Hat on Thursday. “If malware or security issues come as preinstalled apps,” she warned, “then the damage it can do is greater, and that’s why we need so much reviewing, auditing and analysis.”

The risk impacts Android’s Open-Source Project (AOSP), a lower-cost alternative to the full-fat version. AOSP is installed on lower-cost smartphones where cheaper software alternatives help keep prices down. This means owners of Android-badged devices from the likes of Samsung and Google itself are safe from this particular risk.

For an attacker, Stone warned, the benefit of supply chain compromise is that they “only have to convince one company to include their app, rather than thousands of users.” The Google team didn’t disclose any details of the brands of phones involved, but more than 200 device manufacturers fell foul of the testing, with malware allowing the devices to be attacked remotely.

Of particular concern were two particularly virulent malware campaigns: Chamois and Triada. Chamois generates various flavors of ad fraud, installs background apps, downloads plugins and can even send premium rate text messages. Chamois alone was found to have come installed on 7.4 million devices. Triada is an older variant of malware, one that also displays ads and installs apps.

Google is working to help device manufacturers screen for such vulnerabilities, and between March 2018 and March 2019, Stone claims such screening helped reduce the instances of devices infected by Chamois from 7.4 million to “only” 700,000. “The Android ecosystem is vast,” she warned, “with a diversity of OEMs and customizations—if you are able to infiltrate the supply chain out of the box, then you already have as many infected users as how many devices they sell—that’s why it’s a scarier prospect.”

In the meantime, the usual advice applies around downloading and installing apps from the Play Store. A healthy dose of skepticism does not go amiss when the app is from an unknown source. Not much users can do if those threats come preinstalled, though, and that’s why this revelation is so dangerous. For this one we need to rely on manufacturers to do the right thing and follow Google’s advice in screening software fully to eradicate such risks.

I am the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers, a provider of video surveillance and analytics technologies to security and defense agencies as well as commercial organizations. I cover the sectors in which DB operates, potential conflicts are highlighted.

Source: Google Warning: Tens Of Millions Of Android Phones Come Preloaded With Dangerous Malware

Viral App FaceApp Now Owns Access To More Than 150 Million People’s Faces And Names

Everyone’s seen them: friends posting pictures of themselves now, and years in the future.

Viral app FaceApp has been giving people the power to change their facial expressions, looks, and now age for several years. But at the same time, people have been giving FaceApp the power to use their pictures — and names — for any purpose it wishes, for as long as it desires.

And we thought we learned a lesson from Cambridge Analytica.

More than 100,000 million people have downloaded the app from Google Play. And FaceApp is now the top-ranked app on the iOS App Store in 121 countries, according to App Annie.

While according to FaceApp’s terms of service people still own their own “user content” (read: face), the company owns a never-ending and irrevocable royalty-free license to do anything they want with it … in front of whoever they wish:

You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public.

FaceApp terms of use

That may not be dangerous and your likeness may stay on Amazon servers in America, as Forbes has determined, but they still own a license to do whatever they want with it. That doesn’t mean the app’s Russian parent company, Wireless Labs, will offer your face to the FSB, but it does have consequences, as PhoneArena’s Peter Kostadinov says:

You might end up on a billboard somewhere in Moscow, but your face will most likely end up training some AI facial-recognition algorithm.

Peter Kostadinov 

Whether that matters to you or not is your decision.

But what we have learned in the past few years about viral Facebook apps is that the data they collect is not always used for the purposes that we might assume. And, that the data collected is not always stored securely, safely, privately.

Once something is uploaded to the cloud, you’ve lost control whether or not you’ve given away legal license to your content. That’s one reason why privacy-sensitive Apple is doing most of its AI work on-device.

And it’s a good reason to be wary when any app wants access and a license to your digital content and/or identity.

As former Rackspace manager Rob La Gesse mentioned today:

To make FaceApp actually work, you have to give it permissions to access your photos – ALL of them. But it also gains access to Siri and Search …. Oh, and it has access to refreshing in the background – so even when you are not using it, it is using you.

Rob La Gesse

The app doesn’t have to be doing anything nefarious today to make you cautious about giving it that much access to your most personal computing device.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I forecast and analyze trends affecting the mobile ecosystem. I’ve been a journalist, analyst, and corporate executive, and have chronicled the rise of the mobile econom

Source: Viral App FaceApp Now Owns Access To More Than 150 Million People’s Faces And Names

How Google’s Work With Motorbike Riders In India Demonstrates Its Plan For Emerging Markets

India is the world’s largest market for motorbikes, with two-wheelers making up 70% of all vehicles registered by its 1.3 billion residents. It’s these motorbike drivers, more so than car owners, that Google needs to please as it competes for mindshare in this emerging market. So when user research showed that motorbikers in India didn’t find Maps useful, a team in Google’s Seattle office was tasked with figuring out how to change it.

A dive into the data revealed that motorbike drivers would only open the app for about 30 seconds and then close it. The team of product experts hypothesized that drivers needed more guidance on their route, so they spun up a prototype that would provide more in-ride prompts. But when they tested it with users in Jaipur, the largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the prototype flopped.

The trials and errors to make Maps work better in India were a wake-up call, says Lauren Celenza, lead designer on Google’s two-wheeler project. As Google aims to reach more users in emerging markets like India, South East Asia, Africa and Latin America, the company needed to better integrate user research with product design.

“Opening up of the process beyond the walls of our offices is a playbook that we’re looking to for future projects,” Celenza says.

After actually spending time in India talking to people, the product team realized that the exact opposite of their initial assumption was true: Motorbike drivers didn’t want to look at or listen to their phones at all as they navigated the crowded and often chaotic roads. Instead, they wanted clearer guidance before starting out.

That initial design process highlights the too common tech industry hubris wherein companies launch tools for people far away without proper preparation or understanding of regional wants, needs or cultural differences. At its most anodyne, this approach leads to unpopular products. But it can also fuel real-world crises, like fake news and hate-speech going viral in Myanmar because Facebook didn’t have enough Burmese-speaking moderators.

The Google Maps team on the project ended up building a “two-wheeler mode” with customized routes for motorbikes that simplifies the maps and highlights landmarks to make it easier for drivers to understand and memorize the way before starting out. Since that product launched about a year and a half ago, its usage has grown from one million daily users to 5 million, and Google has launched the feature in more than a dozen new markets.

Two-wheeler mode falls under the domain of what Google calls its “Next Billion Users” initiative to reach users in emerging markets, either by launching new products or adapting old ones. For example, Google launched data-light and offline versions of Search, YouTube and Maps, and created an India-specific payments service called Tez.

At Google’s I/O developers conference last week, the company announced several other features geared at emerging markets. For example, it will start allowing people to pay for Android apps using cash and demoed an automatic text-to-speech service that will initially launch in Google’s Go app for entry-level devices.

“We need to do a lot more work to make sure our technologies and our services actually work really well for these users, including designing the right products for their unique needs,” Caesar Sengupta, vice president of Google’s Next Billion Users group, tells Forbes. “The amount of work we have left to do is still huge.”

In the past year, Google has faced a handful of controversies about how it cooperates with foreign governments. In August, the Intercept reported that the company was working on a version of its search engine in China that would comply with the country’s strict censorship laws. U.S. politicians, human rights activists and Google employees criticized the project, describing it as a tool for oppression and a slap in the face of Internet freedom. Google eventually told Congress in December that it has “no plans” to launch a search engine in China.

This spring, Google (and Apple) received widespread criticism for offering a Saudi Arabian smartphone app that allows husbands to track their wives. The country’s “male guardianship system,” which requires women to obtain male approval for certain actions, makes tracking legal, and Google said it would not remove the app.

Sengupta, who reportedly had a leadership role in the Dragonfly project, said that the company is “really engaged” in debates about the services it provides.

“The world is evolving fast,” he said. “We need to be constantly looking at what we’re doing and what are the right ways to be doing something.”

Contact this reporter at jdonfro [at] forbes.com. Have a more sensitive tip? Reach Jillian via encrypted messaging app Signal at 978.660.6302 using a non-work phone or contact Forbes anonymously via SecureDrop (instructions here: https://www.forbes.com/tips/#6ebc8a4f226a).

I’m a San Francisco-based staff writer for Forbes reporting on Google and the rest of the Alphabet universe, as well as artificial intelligence more broadly.

Source: How Google’s Work With Motorbike Riders In India Demonstrates Its Plan For Emerging Markets

Why Google’s Theme For Its Big Developers’ Conference Could Fall Flat

This week, thousands of visitors will swarm Google’s home city of Mountain View, California, for the company’s annual I/O developers’ conference. The event serves as a state of the union of sorts for Google, allowing it to parade out new products, share milestones for existing ones, and lay out its vision for the future as techies and press from all over the world tune in.

“This year, you’ll hear a lot about how we’re building a helpful Google for everyone,” the company wrote in a press teaser ahead of the show, which starts Tuesday (the bold emphasis is the company’s).

But while Google hopes to wow audiences with presentations on artificial intelligence and accessibility, that rosy messaging may fall flat in light of the company’s recent controversies.

In the past year, Google has faced an unprecedented level of criticism from experts and its own employees on issues like censorship, workplace misconduct, and AI ethics. One consistent theme of the various accusations has been how Google has not, in fact, been helpful for everyone. Google’s timeline since its 2018 conference is studded with complaints of exclusionary behavior.

Take, for example, last fall when The Intercept revealed that the company was secretly developing censored search products in China. Lawmakershuman rights activists, and Google employees alike denounced the plans, and in an open letter, workers admonished the company for building technology that would “aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable.” Google ultimately said it has tabled its plans.

Not long after, employees staged a massive walkout to protest what organizers described as a “workplace culture that’s not working for everyone” following a New York Times report on how Google shielded executives from misconduct claims. Demonstrators shared stories of inequity and harassment, including for Google’s “shadow workforce” of temporary and contract workers, who have less job security and fewer protections than their direct-employee peers. Google has updated a handful of policies and practices since the walkout, but its organizers have continued to push for other changes.

More recently, employees and outsiders called out Google for including Kay Coles James, the president of a conservative think tank, on a new advanced technology advisory council, citing her anti-LGBTQ views. Google eventually disbanded the so-called AI ethics board, saying in a statement that it had “become clear that in the current environment, [the council] can’t function as we wanted,” but didn’t address protestors’ arguments about underrepresented groups, like LGBTQ people, being especially at-risk for unintended consequences for AI.

For Google to hang its conference on the theme of being helpful for everyone without acknowledging its slew of exclusion-based issues may make the company’s intended theme seem hollow or ironic.

This wouldn’t be the first time Google has undermined its own messaging: Last year it sabotaged its recurring I/O mantra about developing “responsible AI” by launching a product that imitated humans but didn’t self-identify as a robot, which raised major ethical red flags.

Gartner research director Werner Goertz, who plans to attend the conference, doubts that any of the many product managers and executives who get up on the main stage will directly address Google’s litany of recent controversies. Viewers will hear details about a cheaper Pixel smartphone and the next edition of Android, but no atonement.

“Remember, I/O is a developers’ conference,” he says. “Google will focus on addressing the technical details, and I don’t think these other topics will really distract from that message.”

Perhaps they should.

Contact this reporter at jdonfro [at] forbes.com. Have a more sensitive tip? Reach Jillian via encrypted messaging app Signal at 978.660.6302 using a non-work phone or contact Forbes anonymously via SecureDrop (instructions here: https://www.forbes.com/tips/#6ebc8a4f226a).

I’m a San Francisco-based staff writer for Forbes reporting on Google and the rest of the Alphabet universe, as well as artificial intelligence more broadly.

Source: Why Google’s Theme For Its Big Developers’ Conference Could Fall Flat

Google Confirms It Will Automatically Delete Your Data — What You Need To Know

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Ahead of the annual Google I/O developer festival opening its doors on Tuesday, Google has already made one major announcement: it will soon start deleting your data automatically.

Writing in the official Google safety and security blog, David Monsees and Marlo McGriff, the product managers for Google search and maps respectively, say that the company is responding to user feedback asking to make managing data privacy and security simpler. “You can already use your Google Account to access simple on/off controls for Location History and Web & App Activity,” they say, “and if you choose, to delete all or part of that data manually.” What’s new is the soon to be rolled out “auto-delete controls” that will enable users to set time limits on how long Google can save your data.

Said to be arriving within weeks, the new controls will apply to location history as well as web and app activity data to start with. Users will be able to choose a time limit of between three and 18 months after which the data concerned will automatically delete on a rolling basis. You can already delete this data manually if you want, but the ability to have it deleted automatically is long overdue in my never humble opinion. Especially given reports last year that suggested Google was storing location data even when users had turned off location history and considering the somewhat arduous manual deletion process.

Not that everyone will want to delete this data of course. As with most things online these days it comes down to a choice between privacy and function. Actually, make that a balance between the two as it’s rare for anyone to be totally binary when it comes to such matters truth be told. Google says that this data “can make Google products more useful for you, like recommending a restaurant that you might enjoy, or helping you pick up where you left off on a previous search.” If you are of the don’t store any of my location data thank you very much persuasion, then disabling location history altogether would seem like a better option given that some mobile apps can track location data when they aren’t running. For everyone else, the new auto-deletion controls will be a welcome weapon in the “taking back control of at least some of your data” arsenal.

Keep checking the Data & Personalization section of your Google account settings, specifically the “Manage your activity controls” option I would imagine, to see if the function has rolled out for you in the coming weeks.

Please follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn, you can find more of my stories at happygeek.com

I have been covering the information security beat for three decades and Contributing Editor at PC Pro Magazine since the first issue way back in 1994.

Source: Google Confirms It Will Automatically Delete Your Data — What You Need To Know

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