Google’s G Suite, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts, Meet and other apps, quietly passed a major milestone at the end of last year: It now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, G Suite boss Javier Soltero told Axios Wednesday.
Another consequence of Brexit.
The shift, prompted by Britain’s exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement.
The change was described to Reuters by three people familiar with its plans. Google intends to require its British users to acknowledge new terms of service including the new jurisdiction.
Ireland, where Google and other U.S. tech companies have their European headquarters, is staying in the EU, which has one of the world’s most aggressive data protection rules, the General Data Protection Regulation.
More » The Register
The EU is putting together a consortium to build a new, non-US, based cloud platform. It’s called Gaia-X.
Will Bedingfield, Wired »
The project is a collaboration between the European Commission, Germany, France, and according to an email from a spokesperson for Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy “some 100 companies and organisations”. (Firms confirmed include SAP SE, Deutsche Telekom AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Siemens and Bosch.) The first proofs of concept for the European cloud are set to be ready towards the end of this year.
The driving motivation behind the project is “data sovereignty”, or, more accurately “data governance” – an ambition to bring the flow and storage and data under greater European control. “Data sovereignty is the key to GAIA-X,” says Harald Summa, the CEO of DE-CIX Group AG, a group involved in the project. “Especially given that our society is relying more and more heavily on digital services, it is in the interest of a state or a region to enable a certain level of independence from external service providers.”
The project is a direct response to the dominance of American and Chinese service providers. The European Commission has already locked horns with Google, fining the company €4.34 billion for antitrust violations back in 2018. The US Cloud Act requires American firms to provide law enforcement with customers’ personal data on request, even when the servers containing the information are abroad.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation found the Ring app was “packed” with third-party tracking, sending out customers’ personally identifiable information.
Five companies were receiving a range of information, including names, IP addresses and mobile networks, it said.
Ring said it limited the amount of data it shared.
The company told Gizmodo: “Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimise the customer experience and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing.”
In recent months I too have been moving away from Google. I ditched evil Facebook a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back. But I had been holding out for Google to follow through on their promises. They haven’t and it now feels like the Antarctic will melt before Google will change their business practices.
So, searches are now with DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, and StartPage. And recently, I’ve been switching from Gmail to ProntoMail. I no longer use Chrome, except on rare occasions when I need to access Google services. WhatsApp is an extension of Facebook, and so I’ve never used it. I use the much safer Signal and Telegram instead.
If Google knows everything you have ever searched for, it has a detailed catalogue of your interests, hopes and fears. Facebook knows who your friends are, what you like and what you talk about online.
Online data scandals have raised concerns about the power that information brings. Facebook is facing a fine of $5bn for its part in the notorious misuse of data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
Concern is growing. A survey by the Washington-based digital agency Rad Campaign and analytics firm Lincoln Park Strategies last year, for example, found three out of five responders in the US distrust social media when it comes to protecting their privacy.
I think as more and more people recognize that Facebook, Google, and others are simply using them, they too will look for alternatives.
UPDATE » Here’s a similar take the subject from TechAltar »
NY Times »
None of us really has a choice to participate in tracking or not — the system just serves up location data, usually without us noticing. So for people who do want a bit of privacy — worshipers, young people visiting Planned Parenthood, those visiting a queer space, survivors hiding from an abuser — they no longer have a real choice about their privacy. Because the tracking touches everyone, can we really give up after concluding it’s fine for us? When we participate in this system, we’re tacitly endorsing it.
Your imagination can run wild with possibilities. It runs from tracking kids to tracking the nation’s top security officials and using the intelligence for some kind of blackmail.
For us, it was talking to one group that was so concerned they didn’t want to be named. We expected them to be worried, but in conversations with them, they were downright scared. When we showed them all the device pings collected in the center of their building during a gathering, they were horrified that people could know exactly who and how many people were in the building and when. The idea that their community members were followed in the data and we could figure out where they all lived — it wasn’t an abstract threat anymore. It was real and personal for them, especially since they felt like a target already.
If you have messaging app ToTok on your smartphone, you will probably want to delete it. It is actually a repressive government’s spying tool.
Apple and Google have removed the app from their app stores.
But the service, ToTok, is actually a spying tool, according to American officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment and a New York Times investigation into the app and its developers. It is used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones.
ToTok, introduced only months ago, was downloaded millions of times from the Apple and Google app stores by users throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. While the majority of its users are in the Emirates, ToTok surged to become one of the most downloaded social apps in the United States last week, according to app rankings and App Annie, a research firm.
There are similar concerns with other apps »
Updated Saturday December 28
They’ve come a long way from the early days of “Don’t be evil”
With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure. We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President. Going forward, Sundar will be the CEO of both Google and Alphabet. He will be the executive responsible and accountable for leading Google, and managing Alphabet’s investment in our portfolio of Other Bets. We are deeply committed to Google and Alphabet for the long term, and will remain actively involved as Board members, shareholders and co-founders. In addition, we plan to continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we’re passionate about!
All versions of Android are at risk and all of the top 500 most popular Android apps are vulnerable.
Hackers are actively exploiting StrandHogg, a newly revealed Android vulnerability, to steal users’ mobile banking credentials and empty their accounts, a Norwegian app security company has warned.
“StrandHogg is unique because it enables sophisticated attacks without the need for the device to be rooted. To carry out attacks, the attacker doesn’t need any special permissions on the device. The vulnerability also allows an attacker to masquerade as nearly any app in a highly believable manner,” they noted.
StrandHogg allows attackers to show to users fake login screens and ask for all types of permissions that may ultimately allow them to:
- Read and send SMS messages (including those delivering second authentication factors)
- Phish login credentials
- Make and record phone conversations
- Listen to the user through the microphone
- Take photos through the device’s camera
- Get access to photos, files on the device, location and GPS information,the contacts list, phone logs, etc.
Antitrust regulators in the European Union are investigating Google’s data collection practices, according to “exclusive” reporting at Reuters.
Over the last couple of years, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has handed down fines totalling more than €8 billion (~ C$11 billion) to Google and ordered it to change its business ways.
“The Commission has sent out questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google’s practices relating to Google’s collection and use of data. The preliminary investigation is ongoing,” the EU regulator told Reuters in an email.