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AM-Prep-Cyber Corner

October 9, 2018

GOOGLE PLUS-PRIVACY FLAW

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is shutting down its long-shunned Plus social network for consumers, following its disclosure of a flaw discovered in March that could have exposed some personal information of up to 500,000 people.

The announcement came in a Monday blog post , which marked Google’s first public description of the privacy bug.

Google deliberately avoided disclosing the problem at the time, in part to avoid drawing regulatory scrutiny and damaging its reputation, according to a Wall Street Journal story that cited anonymous individuals and documents.

The Mountain View, California, company declined to comment on the Journal’s report, and didn’t fully explain in its blog post why it held off on revealing the bug until Monday.

The Google Plus flaw could have allowed up to 438 external apps to scoop up user names, email addresses, occupations, genders and ages without authorization. The company didn’t find any evidence that any of the personal information affected by the Plus breach was misused.

The timeline laid out by Google indicates the company discovered the privacy lapse around the same time that Facebook was under fire for a leak in its far more popular social network.

Congress summoned CEO Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be grilled about his company’s privacy issues in April.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently declined to an invitation to travel to Washington to testify before the Senate about foreign governments’ manipulation of online services to sway U.S. political elections.

FACEBOOK-HOME DEVICE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook is launching the first electronic device to bear its brand, a screen and camera-equipped gadget intended to make video calls easier and more intuitive.

But it’s unclear if people will open their homes to an internet-connected camera sold by a company with a questionable track record on protecting user privacy.

Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls. The device features a camera that uses artificial intelligence to automatically zoom as people move around during calls.

Since Echo’s release nearly four years ago, both Google and Apple have followed Amazon in releasing smart speakers designed for use with their other digital services — some of them, at least. These speakers can serve as hub-like controllers for “smart” homes as people install appliances, lighting and security systems that can be controlled over the internet.

Portal represents Facebook’s entry into that fray. But pointing an artificially intelligent camera into peoples’ homes could well raise other privacy questions.

On Monday, Twitter users were quick to point to Facebook’s privacy fallacies and what they saw as the company’s impudence in asking people to trust it with a camera called Portal inside their homes. Some compared it to the always-on, always-watching telescreens in George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” Others saw the gadget’s appeal — but not if it comes from Facebook.

REMOVING ANKLE MONITOR-FACEBOOK

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man is charged with a felony after he allegedly filmed himself removing an ankle monitor and then posted the video on Facebook.

Thirty-three-year-old Dustin Burns of Springfield was charged last week with tampering with electronic monitoring equipment.

The video shows someone using a butter knife and screwdriver to remove an ankle monitor. The man advises viewers to remove the ankle monitor without damaging it to avoid hefty fines.

The Springfield News-Leader reports court records show Burns pleaded guilty to violating a restraining order earlier this year and was placed on probation.

Court records show warrants were issued this summer after several probation violations were filed against Burns. He has been in the Greene County jail since Aug. 28.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A new U.N report says nNew technologies from artificial intelligence to gene editing hold immense potential to improve people’s live — but can also drive greater inequality and social dislocation.

The World Economic and Social Survey 2018 focused on whether leading edge technologies can be used to meet U.N. goals for 2030 including ending extreme poverty, preserving the environment and promoting economic growth.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “frontier technologies — from DNA sequencing to 3D-printing, from renewable energy technologies to biodegradable plastics, from machine learning to artificial intelligence — present immense potential for the 2030 agenda.”

Guterres urged governments to adopt policies that ensure that frontier technologies “are not only commercially viable but also equitable and ethical.”

While richer developed countries grapple with the opportunities of new technologies that can help eradicate disease and automate manual and repetitive tasks, the report said “many developing countries are yet to fully reap the benefits of existing technologies,” causing a “great technological gap.”

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