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Facebook to Pay $5 Billion Fine to Settle FTC Privacy Investigation

Facebook to Pay $5 Billion Fine to Settle FTC Privacy Investigation
July 13, 2019Swati Khandelwal
After months of negotiations, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a record $5 billion settlement with Facebook over its privacy investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal . The settlement will put an end to a wide-ranging probe that began more than a year ago and centers around the violation of a 2011 agreement Facebook made with the FTC that required Facebook to gain explicit consent from users to share their personal data. The FTC launched an investigation into the social media giant last year after it was revealed that the company allowed Cambridge Analytica access to the personal data of around  87 million Facebook users without their explicit consent. Now, according to a new report published by the Wall Street Journal, the FTC commissioners this week finally voted to approve a $5 billion settlement, with three Republicans voting to approve the deal and two Democrats against it. Facebook anticipated the fine to between $3 billion and

Unprotected Database Exposes Personal Info of 80 Million American Households

Unprotected Database Exposes Personal Info of 80 Million American Households
April 30, 2019Wang Wei
A team of security researchers has claims to have found a publicly-accessible database that exposes information on more than 80 million U.S. households—nearly 65 percent of the total number of American households. Discovered by VPNMentor's research team lead by hacktivists Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, the unsecured database includes 24GB of extremely detailed information about individual homes, including their full names, addresses, ages, and birth dates. The massive database which is hosted on a Microsoft cloud server also contains coded information noted in "numerical values," which the researchers believe correlates to homeowners' gender, marital status, income bracket, status, and dwelling type. Fortunately, the unprotected database does not contain passwords, social security numbers or payment card information related to any of the affected American households. The researchers verified the accuracy of some data in the cache, but they did not download the

New York, Canada, Ireland Launch New Investigations Into Facebook Privacy Breaches

New York, Canada, Ireland Launch New Investigations Into Facebook Privacy Breaches
April 27, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Facebook has a lot of problems, then there are a lot of problems for Facebook—and both are not going to end anytime sooner. Though Facebook has already set aside $5 billion from its revenue to cover a possible fine the company is expecting as a result of an FTC investigation over privacy violations, it seems to be just first installment of what Facebook has to pay for continuously ignoring users' privacy. This week, Facebook has been hit with three new separate investigations from various governmental authorities—both in the United States and abroad—over the company's mishandling of its users' data . New York Attorney General to Investigate Facebook Email Collection Scandal New York Attorney General is opening an investigation into Facebook's unauthorized collection of the email contacts of more than 1.5 million users during site registration without their permission. Earlier this month, Facebook was caught practicing the worst ever user-verification mechanism

Facebook Could Be Fined Up To $5 Billion Over Privacy Violations

Facebook Could Be Fined Up To $5 Billion Over Privacy Violations
April 24, 2019Mohit Kumar
Facebook expects to face a massive fine of up to $5 billion from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the result of an investigation into its privacy policies—that's about one month's revenue for the social media giant. To be clear the amount of fine is not what the FTC has announced or hinted yet; instead, it's an estimated due that Facebook disclosed on Wednesday in its first quarter 2019 financial earnings report. In its earnings report, Facebook said the company had set $3 billion aside in anticipation of the settlement with the FTC, who launched a probe into Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal . The probe centers around the violation of a 2011 agreement Facebook made with the FTC that required the social media to gain explicit consent from users to share their data. The FTC launched an investigation into Facebook last year after it was revealed that the company allowed Cambridge Analytica access to the personal data of around 50 million Face

Congress Asks Google 10 Questions On Its Location Tracking Database

Congress Asks Google 10 Questions On Its Location Tracking Database
April 24, 2019Mohit Kumar
U.S. Congress has sent an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking for more information about its Sensorvault database that's reportedly being used by law enforcement agencies to solve crime cases. Last week, we reported a story based upon NY Times findings that revealed how using a "geofence" warrant, authorities obtain location history of all devices from Google's Sensorvault database that pass through a crime scene over a certain time period. For those unaware, Google maintains Sensorvault database over nearly the past decade which contains precise location information from hundreds of millions of smartphones around the world and shares it with authorities to help in criminal cases. However, Google does not share identifiable information on all devices after receiving a warrant. Instead, authorities have to first narrow down their list of suspects using the location history data, only after which Google shares further information about a few selected u

Facebook slapped with $1.43 million fine for violating users' privacy in Spain

Facebook slapped with $1.43 million fine for violating users' privacy in Spain
September 11, 2017Wang Wei
Facebook is once again in trouble regarding its users' privacy. The social media giant has recently been heavily fined once again for a series of privacy violations in Spain. Recently, Google also incurred a record-breaking fine of $2.7 billion (€2.42 billion) by the European antitrust officials for unfairly manipulating search results since at least 2008. Now, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) has issued a €1.2 Million (nearly $1.4 Million) fine against Facebook for breaching laws designed to protect its people's information and confidentiality. According to the data protection watchdog, the social network collects its users' personal data without their 'unequivocal consent' and makes the profit by sharing the data with advertisers and marketers. The AEPD also found Facebook collects sensitive data on user's ideology, religious beliefs, sex and personal tastes and navigation—either directly from its own services or through third parties—w

US Judge Ordered Google to Hand Over Emails Stored On Foreign Servers to FBI

US Judge Ordered Google to Hand Over Emails Stored On Foreign Servers to FBI
February 06, 2017Swati Khandelwal
In this world of global mass surveillance by not the only US, but also intelligence agencies across the world, every other country wants tech companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft to set-up and maintain their servers in their country to keep their citizen data within boundaries. Last year, Microsoft won a case which ruled that the US government cannot force tech companies to hand over their non-US customers' data stored on servers located in other countries to the FBI or any other federal authorities. However, a new notable ruling just goes against the court judgment last year, raising concerns regarding people's privacy. A US magistrate reportedly ruled Friday that Google has to comply with FBI search warrants seeking customer emails stored on servers outside of the United States, according to RT . U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Rueter in Philadelphia noted that transferring emails from outside servers so FBI could read them locally as part of a domestic f

Germany Bans Facebook From Collecting WhatsApp Data

Germany Bans Facebook From Collecting WhatsApp Data
September 27, 2016Mohit Kumar
Just last month, the most popular messaging app WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and T&Cs to start sharing its user data with its parent company, and now both the companies are in trouble, at least in Germany and India. Both Facebook, as well as WhatsApp, have been told to immediately stop collecting and storing data on roughly 35 Million WhatsApp users in Germany. The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Johannes Caspar even ordered Facebook on Tuesday to delete all data that has already been forwarded to WhatsApp since August. Also in India, the Delhi High Court on September 23 ordered WhatsApp to delete all users' data from its servers up until September 25 when the company's new privacy policy came into effect. When Facebook first acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash in 2014, WhatsApp made a promise that its users' data would not be shared between both companies. But now apparently this has changed, which, according to Caspa

Dutch Police Seize Two VPN Servers, But Without Explaining... Why?

Dutch Police Seize Two VPN Servers, But Without Explaining... Why?
September 03, 2016Mohit Kumar
Recently, two European countries, France and Germany, have declared war against encryption with an objective to force major technology companies to built encryption backdoors in their secure messaging services. However, another neighborhood country, Netherlands, is proactively taking down cyber criminals, but do you know how? Dutch Police has seized two servers belonging to Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider Perfect Privacy , as part of an investigation, without even providing any reason for seizures. Switzerland-based VPN provider said they came to know about the servers seizure from I3D, the company that provides server hosting across Rotterdam. For those unfamiliar, Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are easy security and privacy tools that route your Internet traffic through a distant connection, protecting your browsing, hiding your location data and accessing restricted resources. VPNs have now become a great tool not just for large companies, but also for individual

Check 'My Activity' Dashboard to know how much Google knows about you

Check 'My Activity' Dashboard to know how much Google knows about you
June 30, 2016Swati Khandelwal
It's no secret that Google knows a lot about you. The company tracks almost everything you do on the Internet, including your searches, music you listen to, videos you watch, and even the places you travel to, and it does this for targeting relevant ads to its users and better improve its service. Now the technology giant has a plan to make it easier to control all the data the company collects throughout all your different devices. Google has rolled out a new My Activity page that shows a searchable history of pretty much everything you do online, including previously visited websites, voice searches, searched things and places, watched Netflix programs, and all activities you did on each of its products. "My Activity is a central place to view and manage activity like searches you've done, websites you've visited, and videos you've watched," Google says. "Your activity is listed as individual items, starting with the most recent. These items

Anti-Encryption Bill Released, would Kill your Privacy and Security

Anti-Encryption Bill Released, would Kill your Privacy and Security
April 14, 2016Swati Khandelwal
The United States anti-encryption bill will kill your Privacy. In the wake of the Apple vs. FBI case, two leading Intelligence Committee Senators have introduced an anti-encryption bill that would effectively ban strong encryption. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the official version of their bill today in response to concerns that criminals and terrorists are increasingly using encrypted devices to hide their plans and plots from authorities. As its name suggests, the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 [ PDF ] would require people and technology firms like Apple and Google to comply with court orders to decrypt phones and its data. The draft copy of the Burr-Feinstein proposal was leaked last week, which has already faced heavy criticism from both the technology and legislative communities. Even the White House has declined to support the bill. The official version of the anti-encryption bill seems to be even wors

ISPs Sell Your Data to Advertisers, But FCC has a Plan to Protect Privacy

ISPs Sell Your Data to Advertisers, But FCC has a Plan to Protect Privacy
March 11, 2016Swati Khandelwal
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has put forward a proposal that aims to protect Internet user's privacy. The proposal [ pdf] will regulate the amount of customers' online data the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are able to collect and sell to the advertising companies. Currently, there is no particular rule by law covering broadband providers and customer privacy, and if adopted, this would be the first privacy rule for ISPs. The FCC already governs how phone companies can use and resell customer data, and the Chairman Tom Wheeler believes similar rules should be applied to ISPs. Is Your ISP Tracking Your Web Surfing and Selling Data to Advertisers? Your complete Internet traffic passes through your Internet Service Provider, which gives it the ability to access to vast and potentially lucrative amount of your web-browsing activity. If you are using a mobile phone, your ISP can also track your physical location throughout the day in real time. ISPs

France Orders Facebook To Stop Tracking Non-Users or Face Fines

France Orders Facebook To Stop Tracking Non-Users or Face Fines
February 09, 2016Unknown
8th February 2016 would be considered as a cursed day in the history of Facebook. You might have known that just yesterday India bans Facebook's Free Basic Internet in the country. Now, Zuckerberg had got another bombshell in the form of a French Order from the European Data Protection Authority, who ordered Facebook to stop tracking non-users' online activity and to stop data transfers of personal data to the US servers. Facebook Is Following You Everywhere Do you know: Facebook can still track you, even if you log out, with the help of its tracking cookies and plugins ( like, share buttons ) placed on any 3rd-party website. Facebook knows what sites you are visiting, and by " you ," I mean specifically your account, not an anonymous Facebook user . As per the French Order, Facebook is not legalized to track the web browsing habits of all European citizens, even those without a Facebook account. The French Government had also provided a tim

WhatsApp to Share your Personal Data With Facebook

WhatsApp to Share your Personal Data With Facebook
January 29, 2016Wang Wei
Recently the Facebook-owned messaging app dropped its $1 annual subscription fee to make WhatsApp Free for Lifetime . Now, WhatsApp has plans to introduce a new feature that would allow its users to integrate their Facebook accounts with the most widely used messaging app. So far, the social media giant has been focusing on its own messaging platform, Messenger and both WhatsApp and Facebook have been working separately in terms of adding new features. WhatsApp to Share User Data With Facebook Android developer Javier Santos spotted a new feature in the latest beta build of WhatsApp, which indicates that soon you'll start seeing some features interconnected between WhatsApp and Facebook. The feature (optional, for now), dubbed " Share my account info ," when selected will share your personal WhatsApp account information with Facebook in order "to improve your Facebook experience," according to the description. Although it's uncle

Microsoft Collecting More Data of Windows 10 Users than Initially Thought

Microsoft Collecting More Data of Windows 10 Users than Initially Thought
January 07, 2016Swati Khandelwal
After several controversial data mining and privacy invasion features within Microsoft's newest operating system, Microsoft continued convincing its users that Windows 10 is not spying on anyone and that the company is not collecting more data than it needs. In addition, Microsoft also updated its privacy policy in order to clear how and when Windows 10 utilizes users' data. But wait, before you convinced yourself by this statement, just have a look on the milestones (listed below) that Microsoft recently announced, revealing that Windows 10 is now actively running on 200 Million devices . Also Read:   Microsoft WARNING — 'Use Windows 7 at Your Own Risk' Microsoft Tracks Your Every Move Here's the list of milestones that Microsoft just achieved: People spent over 11 Billion hours on Windows 10 in December 2015. More than 44.5 Billion minutes were spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in December alone. Windows 10 users aske

North Korea's Red Star OS (Looks Like Mac OS X) Spies on its Own People

North Korea's Red Star OS (Looks Like Mac OS X) Spies on its Own People
December 30, 2015Swati Khandelwal
North Korea has its own homegrown computer operating system that looks remarkably just like Apple's OS X, which not only prevents potential foreign hacking attempts but also provides extensive surveillance capabilities. Two German researchers have just conducted an in-depth analysis of the secretive state's operating system and found that the OS does more than what is known about it. Dubbed Red Star OS , the operating system based on a Linux 2009 version called Fedora 11 limits its users to a government-approved view of the world and has the tendency to ' watermark ' files on USB sticks to track user's shuttling contraband material. Red Star OS Tracks User's Every Move In short, whenever a user inserts a USB storage device containing photos, videos or other documents, into a computer running Red Star, the OS takes the current hard disk's serial number, encrypts that number, and writes that encrypted serial into the file, marking it. The p

Microsoft Keeps Backup of Your Encryption Key on its Server — Here's How to Delete it

Microsoft Keeps Backup of Your Encryption Key on its Server — Here's How to Delete it
December 29, 2015Swati Khandelwal
Have you recently purchased a Windows computer? Congratulations! As your new Windows computer has inbuilt disk encryption feature that is turned on by default in order to protect your data in case your device is lost or stolen. Moreover, In case you lost your encryption keys then don't worry, Microsoft has a copy of your Recovery Key. But Wait! If Microsoft already has your Disk Encryption Keys then what's the use of using disk encryption feature? Doesn't Encryption mean Only you can unlock your disk ? Microsoft Probably Holds your Encryption Keys Since the launch of Windows 8.1, Microsoft is offering disk encryption as a built-in feature for Windows laptops, Windows phones and other devices. However, there is a little-known fact, highlighted by The Intercept, that if you have logged into Windows 10 using your Microsoft account, your system had automatically uploaded a copy of your recovery key to Microsoft's servers secretly, and you can't pre

Privatoria — Best VPN Service for Fast, Anonymous and Secure Browsing

Privatoria — Best VPN Service for Fast, Anonymous and Secure Browsing
October 27, 2015Swati Khandelwal
PRIVACY  – a bit of an Internet buzzword nowadays. Why? Because the business model of the Internet has now become data collection. If you trust Google, Facebook or other Internet giants to be responsible managers of your data, the ongoing Edward Snowden revelations are making it all clear that this type of information can be easily snooped by the intelligence agencies like NSA and GCHQ. In short, the simple truth is that you have no or very little privacy when you are online. So, if you are worried about identity thieves, or your ISP spying on or throttling your traffic, the most efficient way to secure your privacy on the Internet is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. Though you can take other measures to increase security on your end, like installing a firewall as well as blocking known intrusive IP addresses that might be spying on you — But VPN takes your security to the next level by encrypting all inbound and outbound data. VPN (Virtual Priv

My Government Doesn't Understand How Encryption and Cyber Security Work

My Government Doesn't Understand How Encryption and Cyber Security Work
September 22, 2015Swati Khandelwal
Almost every day or every second day, When I come across various announcements in Newspaper, TV News Channels, and Press releases that... ...Indian Government and related Policy-making organizations are going to set up their so-called " CyberSecurity Task Forces " or drafted a " National Cyber Security Policies ," with an aim to boost cyber security in India… The first thing that comes to my mind is: Why Doesn't my Government Understand How Encryption and Online Cyber Security Works? Yes, My Government really have no idea, How Encryption relates to users' Privacy. And… Narendra Modi's Government has done it again! With the release of the draft National Encryption Policy , the government wants access to all your messages whether sent over online email services like Gmail or messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber, or Messenger. The National Encryption Policy ( before addendum ) required: Access to your Private Data To stor

Tails 1.3 Released, Introduces 'Electrum Bitcoin Wallet'

Tails 1.3 Released, Introduces 'Electrum Bitcoin Wallet'
February 27, 2015Wang Wei
A new Tails 1.3 has been released with support to a secure Bitcoin wallet. Tails, also known as the ' Amnesic Incognito Live System ', is a free security-focused Debian-based Linux distribution, specially designed and optimized to preserve users' anonymity and privacy. Tails operating system came to light when the global surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden said that he had used it in order to remain Anonymous and keep his communications hidden from the law enforcement authorities. Tails 1.3 offers new applications, updates to the Tor browser, and fixes a number of security vulnerabilities from previous releases of the software and specially introduces Electrum Bitcoin Wallet . NEW FEATURES IN Tails OS 1.3 Electrum Bitcoin Wallet Updated Tor Browser Bundle obfs4 pluggable transport KeyRinger Electrum Bitcoin Wallet is one of the major changes Tails 1.3 received. Electrum is a new open-source and easy-to-use bitcoin wallet that protects you fro
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