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Will Intel Succeed In Banking With Blockchain?

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Intel backed blockchain project has apparently passed its tests with more than eight finance outfits on their bond transactions.

For those that came in late, blockchain is similar technology which is behind bitcoin and is being looked at by the finance houses as a secure way to carrying out banking translations. Intel has baded a financial innovation start-up R3 to push the tech and it trialed it with eight banks, including HSBC and State Street.

The platform featured advanced smart contract technology that enabled trading, matching, and settlement of U.S. Treasury bonds, as well as automated coupon payments and redemption, R3 said in a statement.

Tim Grant, chief executive officer of R3’s Lab and Research Center said the goal at R3 was to bring our members together with the strongest technology players and work collaboratively to evaluate and accelerate this technology to production using real-world use cases.

R3 is leading a consortium of more than 60 of the world’s largest financial institutions created to develop commercial applications of blockchain technology for the financial services industry. The R3 consortium members involved in U.S. Treasury debt project included CIBC, ING Bank, HSBC, Scotiabank, Societe Generale scgly , State Street stt , UBS ubs , and UniCredit.

The blockchain trial was undertaken at R3’s Lab and Research Center. R3, Intel and each of the banks used physical, “non-cloud-based nodes” hosted across the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia and Europe to interact and simulate US Treasury trading on the blockchain.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The Firefox OS History?

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Big Cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation have announced that they are killing off the Firefox OS.

For those who came in late, the OS was supposed to be part of a cunning plan to provide a new sort of operating system for mobiles as an alternative to Android. However, it was greeted by a loud sounding yawn by customers and manufacturers alike.

Now Mozilla has said that it will stop its efforts to build and ship smartphones through carrier partners. Apparently it had a cunning plan to re-position the OS for the internet of things.

“We had ideas for other opportunities for Firefox OS, perhaps as a platform for explorations in the world of connected devices, and perhaps for continued evolution of Firefox OS TV. To allow for those possibilities, and to provide a stable release for commercial TV partners, development would continue on a Firefox OS 2.6 release,” Mozilla said.

The spokesperson said the Firefox OS TV was a project to be run by its commercial partner and not a project to be led by Mozilla. Further, Firefox OS was determined to not be sufficiently useful for ongoing Connected Devices work to justify the effort to maintain it.

This meant that development of the Firefox OS stack was no longer a part of Connected Devices, or Mozilla at all. Firefox OS 2.6 would be the last release from Mozilla.

“Work at Mozilla on Firefox OS has ceased, we very much need to continue to evolve the underlying code that comprises Gecko, our web platform engine, as part of the ongoing development of Firefox,” the statement said.

Courtesy-Fud

MasterCard Launches Developer’s Platform For App Creation

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mastercard-logo-150x150Mastercard has unveiled an ambitious open Mastercard Developers platform to help third-party developers easily create commerce-related apps and services.

Developers will be able to use six different coding languages to work with 25 different Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in payment, data, security and experimental areas. The experimental category includes APIs for bot commerce such as chatbots and virtual reality and augmented reality devices.

In one example of how a bot commerce API could be rolled out in an actual setting, Mastercard and Pizza Hut Asia are piloting a commerce application with Pepper the humanoid robot, who acts as a restaurant waiter capable of taking orders, serving food and collecting payment at the table.

Pepper is a humanoid robot developed by a subsidiary of Softbank Group of Japan.

Mastercard’s role in the Pepper pilot is the commerce element through MasterPass, a service that allows secure payments across various devices. Restaurants could soon deploy the waiter robots in Japan because of a serious labor shortage in restaurants there, said Oran Cummins, senior vice president for APIs at MasterCard.

MasterCard is also experimenting with blockchain, a distributed database first implemented in 2009 as the underpinning of bitcoin. Blockchain can be used as a public ledger to automatically maintain a continuously-growing list of records.

“It’s very much exploratory,” Cummins said in an interview. “We’ve done a lot of work in blockchain and we’ve been experimenting with a number of things in exposing APIs and blockchain functionality.”

It isn’t clear when blockchain will be part of the Mastercard Developers platform, however.

The platform is made up of Software Developer Kits (SDKs), developer tools and sample code for each of the 25 APIs. The code provided is in Java, Javascript, C#, Ruby, Python and Node.js.

Mastercard first started offering third-party developer APIs six years ago, and has seen a 400% increase in API usage in 2016. With the growing interest from tens of thousands of individual developers and those inside large companies globally, Mastercard decided to expand the program to provide open APIs for all of its products.

 

Health Insurer Aetna To Offer Discount On Apple Smartwatches

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

aetna-and-apple-150x150Health insurer Aetna Inc said it would provide some customers discounts on Apple Inc’s smartwatch, marking the first deal made by the tech giant with an insurer for its devices.

Aetna, which has about 23 million members in the United States, will also give away the Apple Watch for free to its nearly 50,000 employees, Aetna said in a statement on Tuesday.

The deal could help Apple boost the appeal of its Watch to potential customers as the company looks to target health and fitness conscious users with its new device.

Aetna will discount a significant portion of the cost, and will offer users monthly payment options to pay off the remaining amount.

The discounts on the devices will vary for customers, according to Aetna spokesman Ethan Slavin.

However, reaction to the second edition of the Apple Watch has been muted since its launch earlier this month with the device likely to remain a niche offering, according to some analysts.

Apple shipped 1.6 million units of the original Apple Watch, in the second quarter, down by 56.7 percent from last year, according to research firm IDC.

In comparison, Fitbit Inc shipped 5.7 million units in that period.

Aetna is also developing health applications for Apple’s devices that will remind users to take their medications, order refills for prescriptions and message or call their doctor.

The applications, which will use Apple Wallet to allow customers to pay their bills, will be available early next year.

Sears Teams Up With Uber To Enhance Rewards Program

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

sears-auto-center-150x150Sears Holdings Corp is joining forces with ride-services company Uber Technologies Inc as the struggling retailer tries to make its rewards program more attractive to shoppers.

Sears is betting on its Shop Your Way loyalty plan, which offers points and tailored deals to members, as the company looks to revive sales. The program accounted for 75 percent of the company’s sales through the first half of 2016.

Riders who link their Uber account to Sears’ loyalty plan will receive up to $2 in loyalty points for every trip. The program, Rider Rewards, is currently available in Chicago and New York City, and will be rolled out nationally soon, the companies said.

While new drivers who sign up to drive with Uber through Shop Your Way will get up to $1,000 in points, existing Uber drivers in some cities including Chicago, New York City and San Francisco can also earn points by enrolling in the program.

Sears, which has not reported a profit in five years, has made the Shop Your Way program the focus of its revival strategy, even as it shrinks its store base to reduce costs.

“We are looking at more and more ways where we can reach out to top-tier brands and find more opportunities where our members can earn points,” Leena Munjal, senior vice president of customer experience and integrated retail at Sears, told Reuters.

The company declined to disclose Shop Your Way’s membership count, but said it is in “tens of millions”.

Other Shop Your Way partners include Starbucks Corp, daily deals website Groupon Inc, florist 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc and identity theft protection services provider LifeLock Inc.

Sears’ 638 Auto Centers will also serve as one of Uber’s preferred maintenance providers, offering exclusive discounts and points to Uber drivers, the companies said.

DoesThe PS4 Pro Truly Offer 4K Gaming?

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-ps4-proA little bit of clarity can go a long way. A few weeks ago at the reveal of the PS4 Pro, in a staff roundtable I questioned whether Sony’s new console would hurt Microsoft’s chances with the more powerful Scorpio. I also gave Sony an edge because of its HDR rollout to all PS4s. As it turns out, the HDR update is practically useless (no games supported yet and no video streaming) and the PS4 Pro itself will see most games upscaled, according to Sony Interactive boss Andrew House.

While PS4 architect Mark Cerny did make it clear during the conference that the Pro does not render games in true 4K resolution, many fans had no doubt assumed it would and likely glossed over his technical explanation of the Pro’s “streamlined rendering techniques” and “temporal and spatial anti-aliasing.” It’s hard to say how much consumers will care when the Pro goes on sale in November, but Microsoft wasted no time in puffing up its chest to declare its superiority with a console that won’t ship for many, many months.

Microsoft Studios Publishing general manager Shannon Loftis told USA Today, “Any games we’re making that we’re launching in the Scorpio time frame, we’re making sure they can natively render at 4K.” Moreover, Albert Penello, senior director of product management and planning at Xbox, hammered home the point with our sister site Eurogamer, commenting, “I think there are a lot of caveats they’re giving customers right now around 4K. They’re talking about checkerboard rendering and up-scaling and things like that. There are just a lot of asterisks in their marketing around 4K, which is interesting because when we thought about what spec we wanted for Scorpio, we were very clear we wanted developers to take their Xbox One engines and render them in native, true 4K. That was why we picked the number, that’s why we have the memory bandwidth we have, that’s why we have the teraflops we have, because it’s what we heard from game developers was required to achieve native 4K.”

That’s a punch to the gut in true console war fashion, and one that Microsoft is no doubt happy to get in during a console cycle which has seen PS4 dominate. It may not seem like a big deal right now, as 4K TV sales are still relatively minor, but the prices are falling and interest in 4K and HDR is picking up, not only with consumers, but also with game developers and content providers for streaming services like Netflix. This could be a decent holiday for the 4K TV market, and by the time Scorpio actually does launch there will be that many more 4K TV owners to target with the only console that renders 4K natively. That’s a nice feather in Microsoft’s cap.

This week we also featured an interesting writeup on VR and AR from DICE Europe. While VR proponents like Unity’s Clive Downie said there will be over a billion people using VR in the next 10 years, others such as Niantic’s John Hanke and Apple boss Tim Cook cast doubt on the long-term appeal and commerical success of VR. Of course, this isn’t the first time that people have wondered whether VR will ever move beyond a niche category – and indeed, our Rob Fahey talks about the over-investment in the space in his column today – but the idea that VR is merely an intermediary step before AR comes into its own is the wrong way to think about these technologies in my view.

Just because they both offer altered realities and utilize headsets does not mean they should be lumped together. The use cases and experiences are vastly different for VR and AR, and while I agree that AR likely is the better bet from a commercial standpoint, I don’t underestimate VR for one second. I’ve had way too many fun game sessions using the tech already, and it’s early days. Beyond that, serious movie makers are starting to leverage the great potential of the medium. Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book), for example, is working on a VR film called Gnomes and Goblins and he’s even brought on veteran game designer Doug Church (System Shock, Thief) to fine tune the VR interactions.

The fact is VR has enormous storytelling potential and can immerse its users in ways that we’ve never experienced before. “As I work in film, so much has been done,” Favreau commented. “There are technological breakthroughs but there is less and less up in the air.  You’re really writing a song in the same format that has been going on for at least a hundred years. And what’s interesting about VR is that, although I really don’t know where it’s going or if it’s going to catch on in a significant way culturally, I do know that there is a lot of unexplored territory and a lot of fun things as a storyteller for me to experiment with. It’s exciting to have so much fresh snow that nobody has walked through yet. There’s been no medium that I’ve felt that way since I’ve come into the business, where it feels like you can really be a pioneer.”

AR will be tremendously exciting in its own right, and I can’t wait for Magic Leap, HoloLens and castAR, but to think that VR will be cast aside to make way for AR’s ascendancy is totally off base.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Renault-Nissan Alliance Turns To Microsoft’s Azure Cloud For Connected Cars

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

microsoft-and-renaultnissan-150x150Microsoft has inked a deal to aid the Renault-Nissan Alliance in developing next-generation connected services for self-driving cars that will be enabled through Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure.

Azure cloud services, the companies said, will be the foundation for more advanced navigation features, vehicle monitoring and predictive vehicle maintenance and for mobile connectivity and over-the-air updates.

Renault-Nissan plans to develop connectivity technologies and features to support the launch of more than 10 vehicles with autonomous driving technology by 2020 “with services to maximize better use of newly found in-car free time.”

While still separate companies, Renault and Nissan in 1999 created an alliance to develop and sell vehicles under their namesake brands as well as seven others, including Dacia, Infiniti and Mitsubishi Motors. The partnership between the two automakers also established them as the world’s largest plug-in electric vehicle manufacturers.

Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior vice president of Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services, said that as cars become “increasingly connected, intelligent and personal,” partnering with Microsoft will allow the companies to accelerate services customers want and build new “ones they haven’t even imagined.

“We aim to become the provider of connected mobility for everyone with one single global platform,” Redzic said in a statement.

Renault-Nissan said it selected Azure in part because of its enterprise-grade security and Microsoft’s “rigorous commitment to compliance.”

Azure also supports multiple operating systems and programming languages, which will provide flexibility in building a common platform for Renault-Nissan to deploy services to both Alliance brands, the companies said.

 

Samsung Says Over 60% Of Defective Samsung Note 7 Phones Have Been Recovered

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co announced it has received back more than 60 percent of recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in South Korea and the United States, suggesting it is making progress in its attempts to recover from the crisis.

In a statement, Samsung said it was focused on replacing all affected devices “as quickly and efficiently” as possible and reiterated its request that customers affected by the current recall should power off their device and turn them in.

The world’s top smartphone maker announced on Sept. 2 a global recall of at least 2.5 million Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets due to faulty batteries causing some phones to catch fire. The company says replacement devices it began issuing in mid-September use safe batteries.

Samsung hopes to take the faulty products off the market as soon as possible in order to limit further damage to its reputation and resume sales of the flagship device ahead of the key holiday shopping season in major markets such as the United States.

But the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm. Reports of Note 7 fires and damages have continued after the recall announcement, while aviation authorities around the world issued warnings or outright bans on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft.

Samsung was also forced to push back the start of Note 7 sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1 due to relatively slow progress in the recall in its home market.

Some analysts say the cost of the recall and lost sales could wipe off nearly $5 billion in revenues for Samsung this year. Samsung said around 90 percent of customers who turned in their device through the exchange program have opted for a replacement Note 7, but it remains unclear how strong demand from new customers would be when sales resume.

Microsoft Acknowledges Windows 10 Adoption Rate Has Cooled

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

windows-10-150x150Microsoft has acknowledged that the Windows 10 adoption rate has slowed when it claimed the new operating system was running on approximately 400 million devices.

The company reset the Windows 10 uptake status on the same day it kicked off the 2016 edition of its Ignite conference in Atlanta.

Microsoft’s last Windows 10 update was at the end of June, a month before it halted the free upgrade for consumers and small businesses running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Then Microsoft pegged the number of “active devices” — a metric of those machines that ran the OS at least once in the past four weeks — at 350 million.

The increase of 50 million over more than 12 weeks — or about 17 million every four weeks — was lower than during the free upgrade offer period. For example, in the eight weeks from May 5 to June 29, Microsoft claimed 50 million active users were added to the Windows 10 rolls, or 25 million every four weeks.

Other measurements of Windows 10 have agreed with Microsoft’s assessment: Windows 10’s growth has slowed in the last month and more.

But Microsoft’s claim was in the same ballpark as Computerworld‘s latest calculation, which was based on Net Applications’ measurement of Windows 10’s user share and Microsoft’s oft-cited contention that 1.5 billion machines run Windows. At the end of last month, Computerworld‘s estimate of in-place Windows 10 stood at 380 million systems.

Microsoft has pledged to continue updating its Windows 10 “devices served” number, even though it back-pedaled two months ago from its previous 1-billion-by-mid-2018 goal. The timetable, the company said then, was unrealistic after it bailed out of virtually all the smartphone hardware market.

Google Fiber Wins Installation Battle In Nashville

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

google-fiber-logo-150x150Google Fiber won a victory in Nashville as the city’s Metro Council approved an ordinance called “One Touch Make Ready,” that would speed up the company’s fiber-optic cable installations.

The ordinance, passed by a voice vote, gives Google Fiber and other ISPs quicker access to utility poles for deploying fast broadband with fiber-optic cable.

Without the measure, each ISP has had to send out a separate crew to a utility pole to move its own line to make room for a new one. The ordinance would permit a single company to make the wire adjustments on a pole instead of waiting for existing providers — competitors like Comcast or AT&T– to make the changes, which could take months.

Mayor Megan Barry is expected to sign the measure into law, but is also expecting a legal challenge. AT&T is reportedly the most likely to file a lawsuit, and Barry said protracted litigation could delay implementation of the law and, therefore, fiber access for citizens, according to The Tennessean.

AT&T could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, Google Fiber posted an upbeat update to a previous blog. “It’s a great day for Nashville,” the blog said of the council’s vote. “This will allow new entrants like Google Fiber to bring broadband to more Nashvillians efficiently, safely and quickly.”

Google Fiber said it launched in Nashville in April,  although progress on the rollout has been sidetracked by the work on the ordinance.

Deploying fiber-optic cable on utility poles and underground is a costly and time-consuming process even when competition from other providers doesn’t pose disruptions. In August, a Wall Street Journal report said Google Fiber was hoping to rely on wireless technology instead of fiber in about 12 major cities to reduce its costs. Google Fiber officials did not comment to Computerworld on that report.

Samsung Delays Re-start Of Galaxy Note 7 Sales

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that it will be delaying the start of new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1, a move it says is needed for speedy completion of the ongoing recall in the country.

Samsung announced on Sept. 2 a recall of at least 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets, including South Korea, due to a faulty battery causing the phones to catch fire, offering refunds or replacement devices using safe batteries.

The firm hopes to complete the recall quickly and restart sales in the fourth quarter to salvage earnings, but the latest hitch in South Korea underscore continuing challenges in those efforts.

Though product exchanges in South Korea began on Monday, only about 200,000 affected customers have turned in their devices – which Samsung says represents half of affected customers and a recall pace that is much slower than other markets such as Singapore and the United States.

“The recall rate will likely fall sharply should new sales have resumed on Sept. 28,” the company said. Affected customers would no longer be able to exchange their devices through domestic carriers starting on Oct. 1, making the process more difficult.

Samsung hopes to restart new sales in affected markets once it makes enough progress with the recalls, having announced plans to restart sales in Australia and Singapore in October, but the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm.

Continued reports of Note 7 fires and damages after the recall announcement, along with warnings or outright bans from aviation authorities on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft, forced Samsung to ask affected customers to immediately turn off their phones to prevent further damage.

Samsung issued an apology for the confusion caused by the delay and said it would do its best to resolve the current Note 7 situation quickly.

Digital Map Company HERE Partners With Automakers To Share Traffic Data

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

here-maps-150x150German digital map maker HERE plans to roll out a new set of traffic services this week that allows drivers to see for themselves what live road conditions are like miles ahead using data from competing automakers, an industry first.

The Berlin-based company, owned by Germany’s three premium automakers, will provide four services in which drivers share detailed video views of traffic jams or accidents, potential road hazards like fog or slippery streets, traffic signs including temporary speed limits and on-street parking.

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen will all contribute data to the service, making their first big collaboration since they bought HERE for 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) late last year from mobile equipment maker Nokia of Finland.

Other automakers are expected to join the project later and contribute data from their vehicles, HERE said.

The new live traffic services are set to hit the road in the first half of 2017, HERE said on Monday before the opening of this week’s Paris Motor Show.

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles from the three German automakers are set to begin feeding visual data into the HERE system supplying these services, with millions of vehicles expected to contribute live traffic feeds by the end of 2018, HERE said.

“You have competing brands which are putting their data together to create very unique services which were not possible before,” Bruno Bourguet, HERE’s global head of sales, said in an interview.

Data collected from vehicles participating in the network, drawn from brakes, windshield wipers, headlights, location systems, cameras and other sensors, are translated into alerts on driver dashboards using the HERE services.

Collecting sophisticated data from millions of cars on the road promises to give HERE a substantial lead over technology rivals such as Google , Apple, Tesla and TomTom , which have access to data from far fewer vehicles to collect so-called crowd-sourced data, analysts say.

“Crowd-sourced data is crucial for live traffic/maps and the size of the user base will be key to differentiation,” UBS said in a recent report.

As other automakers contribute data for these services, an increasingly comprehensive view of road conditions around the world will be built to aid human drivers and, eventually, computer systems for autonomous cars, for which real-time road data is a pre-condition for replacing human drivers.

Can Qualcomm Win The 5G Race?

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf has been telling the world how it is going to win the 5G war which will bring about a bold new world based around the Internet of Things.

Writing in his bog, Mollenkopf claimed that Qualcomm was leading the way to 5G for the next 10 years and beyond.

He said that there will be 3G and 4G connected people, but 5G is going to connect everything.

“It’s a unifying, more capable communications fabric that will take on a much bigger role than previous generations of mobile technology. It’s a layer of connectivity that will become fundamental to our cities, jobs and ourselves. It’s the foundation of the next technological revolution.”

Lately 5G has been a bit of a buzz word lately, although there are no common standards issued yet. However if Mollenkopf is right, it will transform our daily lives once and for all by revolutionizing the way people interact with the world and with each other.

Hard to see how it can be any different. It might be faster, it might have different ways of connecting, but we will still have to talk to people. Mollenkopf said that 5G will expand mobile networks and technologies into a much wider range of industries.

“It will enable smart cities that can sustain tomorrow’s urban growth, automobiles that communicate with each other and traffic lights to save lives, VR headsets that allow us to experience the world in new ways, body sensors that monitor our health and make dietary recommendations, and so much more.”

Mollenkopf added that making this 5G connected world a reality is incredibly complex.

“ You need a new kind of mobile network to meet an expanding and radically diverse set of connectivity requirements – high throughput and low latency, high security and low power, high reliability and deep coverage. This will require new technology innovations that build upon the foundation that we have already created … Qualcomm is an invention company. We’ve been developing these 5G building blocks for years just as we pioneered many of the building blocks for 3G and 4G. Making one cutting-edge technology work well is difficult; making many of them work together is even harder. But that’s what Qualcomm does,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Yahoo Hacking Takes Top Spot As Biggest Breach

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

yahoo-hacking-150x150When Yahoo confirmed that data from at least 500 million user accounts had been hacked, it wasn’t just admitting to a huge failing in data security — it was admitting to the biggest hack the world has ever seen.

Until  last Thursday, the previous largest known hack was the 2008 breach that hit almost 360 million MySpace accounts, according to a ranking by the “Have I been pwned” website. Like the Yahoo breach, the hack was only publicly disclosed this year after data was offered on a hacker forum.

And only three breaches had ranked above the 100 million level:

LinkedIn reported a loss of 167 million email addresses and passwords. They were originally stolen in 2012 but not publicly disclosed until 2016, again after the data was offered on an underground “dark market” site.

A 2013 hack of Adobe saw 153 million account details lost. They included user names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords, but the encryption was poorly implemented and reversed on some accounts.

And there’s been a reported but unverified hack of dating website Badoo. Data including email addresses, names, and passwords for about 112 million members was found online.

The LinkedIn and MySpace data sets, along with 200 million Yahoo records, were put up for sale by the same hacker, peace_of_mind.

Major hacks can turn out to be a headache for users, even if the data is old and the account in question is no longer used. That’s because many people use the same password or a similar password across services, so a successful hack of Yahoo could expose an email address and password that would work on other sites.

Privacy Groups Urge Probe Of WhatsApp Data Sharing Practices

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

whatsapp-logo-150x150The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should prohibit mobile messaging service WhatsApp from sharing user data with parent company Facebook in violation of earlier privacy promises, several privacy groups said.

The FTC should step in to stop WhatsApp from violating “commitments the company previously made to subscribers,” the 17 groups said in a letter sent to the agency Thursday. WhatsApp has long billed itself as a secure and private messaging service.

WhatsApp’s recently released plan to share user data with Facebook as a way to target advertising could amount to an “unfair and deceptive” trade practice, said the groups, including the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, and Demand Progress.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact this proposed change in data practices will have on the privacy and security of WhatsApp users in the U.S. and across the world,” the letter added. When Facebook acquired the messaging service in 2014, both companies “made numerous promises” that WhatsApp’s privacy policies wouldn’t change, the letter added.

WhatsApp complies with “applicable” laws, a spokeswoman said in response to the letter. “As always, we consider our obligations when designing updates like this,” she added by email.

WhatsApp has collected personal information from more than 1 billion users, “with the promise that this information would not be used or disclosed for marketing purposes,” the letter to the FTC said. “WhatsApp’s reversal on this promise is a material, retroactive change that will apply to previously collected data.”

The proposed changes in WhatsApp’s privacy policy have raised concerns outside the U.S. as well. On Friday, India’s Delhi High Court ordered the company to delete user data for people who opt out of the changes before Sunday, according to news reports. The court also told WhatsApp to avoid sharing data collected before then with Facebook, even for users who do not opt out of the new policy.

 

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