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Massive Facebook Leak, YouTube Fined, & Google Antitrust Concerns Round Out This Week's Headlines



New antitrust concerns over Google and a Facebook data leak round out this week's technology news stories.


"More than half of the nation’s state attorneys general are readying an investigation into Google for potential antitrust violations, scheduled to be announced next week, marking a major escalation in U.S. regulators’ efforts to probe Silicon Valley’s largest companies."


"Criminals used artificial intelligence-based software to impersonate a chief executive’s voice and demand a fraudulent transfer of €220,000 ($243,000) in March in what cybercrime experts described as an unusual case of artificial intelligence being used in hacking. The CEO of a U.K.-based energy firm thought he was speaking on the phone with his boss, the chief executive of the firm’s German parent company, who asked him to send the funds to a Hungarian supplier."


"The NSA is the U.S. government’s premier digital spying agency and it has a well-earned reputation for keeping secrets. But the agency needs to stop keeping so many things confidential and classified if it wants to protect the nation from cyberattacks. That’s the assessment from Anne Neuberger, director of NSA’s first Cybersecurity Directorate, which will launch Oct. 1 and essentially combine the work of many disparate NSA divisions dealing with cybersecurity, including its offensive and defensive operations."


"On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission voted to settle federal privacy charges against YouTube, as first reported by Politico. The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have corroborated the report, saying the official settlement will likely be made public next week. The exact terms of the settlement are unclear, but Google will reportedly pay fines between $150 and $200 million. The charges stem from data collection and targeting practices in YouTube, which consumer groups alleged violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Some details of the settlement had been reported in July by The Washington Post, but they were not finalized until today’s vote."


"It has been one week since U.S. border officials denied entry to a 17-year-old Harvard freshman just days before classes were set to begin. Ismail Ajjawi, a Palestinian student living in Lebanon, had his student visa canceled and was put on a flight home shortly after arriving at Boston Logan International Airport. Customs & Border Protection officers searched his phone and decided he was ineligible for entry because of his friends’ social media posts. Ajjawi told the officers he 'should not be held responsible' for others’ posts, but it was not enough for him to clear the border."


"One of the ways that connected fitness apps keep you exercising is by using accountability — the ability to share your workouts with friends so you can urge each other onward — but wanting to share with your pals is different than wanting to share with an app developer or some anonymous marketer."


"In more than 100 tweets over the last week, Ring told people that police only had videos with full consent from its millions of users. But while you might be giving permission to your local police department to see footage that could help solve a neighborhood crime, once police have it, your Ring video potentially echoes on forever."


"Unprotected databases are behind a leak that exposed information, including unique identifiers and phone numbers, on more than 419 million Facebook users – 133 million of those records belonging to users in the U.S. Security researcher Sanyam Jain, a GDI Foundation member, discovered the databases, which were not password-protected. The records were apparently scraped from the social media platform more than a year ago before the company “made changes last year to remove people’s ability to find others using their phone numbers,” a TechCrunch report cited a Facebook spokesman as saying."


"Is privacy over? That may not exactly be a new question, but the proficiency with which tech giants can profile you continues to increase steadily. The proliferation of smart speakers and other IoT gadgets along with our tendency to carry smartphones with us nearly everywhere we go gives those firms an ever-more-detailed window into your life. And if an individual tech firm has a fragmented view, they can fill in the gaps by partnering with other companies. For instance, Facebook has data-sharing arrangements with dozens of companies, according to an article from The New York Times."


"ZAO, a viral Chinese app that uses AI to face-swap users and famous actors, is now embroiled in a major privacy controversy. On Friday, a new app released by Momo, a social-media developer, instantly went viral on Chinese social media. It allows users to upload a single portrait and, within seconds, see their face superimposed onto actors in iconic movie scenes. By Sunday, it had become the most downloaded free entertainment app in China’s Apple Store."


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