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Google targets stalkerware in updated ad policy – CNET



It might get harder to advertise apps known as spyware or stalkerware on Google’s platform starting in August.

Angela Lang/CNET

Google will name stalkerware apps on its list of services banned from advertising on its platform, starting in August, the company said in an update this month. The move is designed to make it even harder to reach potential customers for the apps, which are also banned from Google’s and Apple’s stores. 

Stalkerware or spyware apps are disturbingly common. Tens of thousands of the services are available by some estimates, and they let someone who has access to your phone or cloud passwords intercept your texts, call logs and location while having access to your microphone and camera. They’re associated with domestic violence, and often are used for illegal activity. 

Google’s ad policies are one of many ways the tech sector and advocates have tried to limit the app-makers’ reach. Google and Apple have also removed many of the apps from their platforms. Additionally, a group of advocates, antivirus companies and legal experts, have formed the Coalition Against Stalkerware. Antivirus firms have researched the best ways to identify the apps and warn users when stalkerware might be on their phones. (CNET wrote a series of stories on these apps and their dangers earlier this year. They’re listed in the curated links box below.)

The apps have thrived in to a legal gray area. The law lets app makers advertise the products as family safety apps, meant to keep track of kids’ phone use and locations. But because they often run completely in the background, with no icon or notifications to let the user know they’re there, the apps are useful for people who want to spy on partners or exes without their consent.

In a Harris poll conducted with NortonLifeLock, 1 in 10 people in the US said they’ve used the apps to track an ex or partner.

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Google’s new policy does allow app makers to advertise services “designed for parents to track or monitor their underage children.” This could prompt apps with secret spy abilities to use deceptive, family-friendly messaging when they try to advertise with Google. Under the hood, they may still act like stalkerware apps, as security writer Graham Cluley pointed out in a blog post Friday. 

According to Google, the company takes enforcement action against companies that hide the true purpose of their apps with deceptive practices. The update will add spyware to the list of specific examples of services that can’t advertise with Google because they “enable a user to gain unauthorized access (or make unauthorized changes) to systems, devices, or property.” Other services currently listed by Google include “hacking services, stealing cable, radar jammers, changing traffic signals, phone or wire-tapping.”

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said the company makes frequent updates to its ad policies to make sure users are protected.

“We routinely updated our language with examples to help clarify what we consider policy violating,” the spokesperson said. “Spyware technology for partner surveillance was always in scope of our policies against dishonest behavior.”

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New Apple Leak Reveals iPhone 12 Design Shock – Forbes



08/09 Update below. This post was originally published on August 6

iPhone 12 surprises keep coming (both good news, bad news and unexpected twists), but now we know perhaps the biggest problem with Apple’s new iPhones. 

MORE FROM FORBESiPhone 12 Prices Rise As Apple’s Expensive New Range Leaks

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Mysterious industry insider ‘Mr White’ has continued his impressive track record leaking Apple hardware, by revealing the chassis for the coming iPhone 12. While this confirms the range’s move to a more angular new design, he also confirms Face ID will be the same size and, as a consequence, the large notch introduced with the iPhone X in 2017 will not be getting any smaller in 2020. 

08/08 Update: a further image of an iPhone 12 Pro screen panel prototype has now leaked and, unfortunately, it also looks like Apple is sticking with the larger notch on its Pro models as well. The chassis again confirms the angular design Apple will introduce for the range, which takes influence from both the iPhone 4 and the current iPad Pro line-up. That said, with Apple also now all but certain to ditch fast refresh rates on all iPhone 12 models, the iPhone 12 Pro editions, in particular, are losing their shine. Especially considering their significantly higher asking prices. Given this new leaked image is a prototype, there may be some hope that Apple has made a late, more ambitious, change for the final iPhone 12 designs but the signs are not looking good.

08/09 Update: further iPhone 12 components are now leaking as the models enter mass production. Consequently, Apple reseller JinStore has now attained images of Apple’s A14 chipset, which is tipped to deliver a multi-generational leap in performance. The A14 will also be Apple’s first 5nm chip, which will bring greater power efficiency (needed with those smaller batteries), particularly when multitasking. With other iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro features falling by the wayside as we approach release, a lot of weight is going to be placed on the A14 to dazzle and it looks set to do just that. The A14 isn’t the kind of eye-catching feature Apple usually likes to sell its iPhones on, especially with the A13 in the iPhone 11 range and iPhone SE already far ahead of the competition, but expect the company to break with tradition in 2020.

Apple had been widely expected to shrink the notch for the iPhone 12 line-up and almost every render showed this would result in a significantly better design. Moreover, with recent leaks also revealing Apple will increase prices while also shrinking battery capacities, the company’s decision to stick with the same notch for the fourth successive generation may be a deal breaker for some potential upgraders.  

That said, for notch haters, there is still some cause for optimism. While Mr White did not reveal which iPhone 12 model the chassis is from, it appears to be the new 5.4-inch entry level phone. So it is possible Apple does have plans to introduce a smaller notch with the more expensive iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. 

Beyond this, however, there remain compelling reasons to upgrade. Most notably, all iPhone 12 models will come with 5G (albeit different versions), a multi-generational performance leap, a wider range of screen sizes and faster (potentially magnetic) charging. Pro models will also add some radical new camera tech

All of which leaves users at a crossroads. At least with Apple officially delaying the iPhone 12 release and the possibility of a split launch increasing, you will have longer to make your mind up. 


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For people with disabilities, mannequins can hurt — not help — the shopping experience –



For Abigayle Quigley, mannequins can amplify difficulties in shopping, as they often depict how clothing would look only on an able-bodied individual. (Submitted by Abigayle Quigley)

In Canada, the average household spends close to $3,500 annually on clothing and accessories, with a key part of the shopping experience tied to stores displaying their clothes on mannequins.

But for people with disabilities, the mannequins can be bitter reminders of exclusion.

Sheldon Crocker’s first memory of shopping for clothes includes asking his mother why the mannequins didn’t look like him. Experiences like that continue to affect his self-esteem, he said.

“I used to feel excluded [and] feel out of place. It played a big part [in] my growing up and even a little today,” said Crocker, who has arthrogryposis, which is characterized by joint contracture, causing muscle shortening.

As someone living with spina bifida and using a wheelchair, Abigayle Quigley says clothes on mannequins pose a practical problem. 

“Say if there’s, like, a knee-length skirt or, like, a dress or just a regular skirt. On a mannequin it could be knee-length. On me, it could be ankle-length,” said Quigley. 

Both Crocker and Quigley said they want to see representation in mannequins not only for different types of physical disabilities but also for a variety of genders, colours and body types. 

Unrealistic body expectations

As a woman, Quigley said, she is aware of the unrealistic beauty standards the industry pushes on her gender. Tall and skinny mannequins depict an image of how a person should look as opposed to actual reality, she said. In the 1960s, the stick-thin mannequin — inspired by the fashions of the day — began to sweep aside rounder figures, often only found in plus-size stores. 

Several N.L. stores contacted by CBC declined to comment on the matter although some store representatives said they keep mannequins until they need to be fixed or replaced. “Until they’re broken,” was how a representative from one store put it.

Quigley said she finds that upsetting.

“If a mannequin is broken, keep it on. So what if it doesn’t have an arm or doesn’t have a leg? Keep it on display because they’re not broken. They’re beautiful in their own way and I think that should be displayed.”

Crocker said stores’ attitudes are close-minded to different ideas of beauty and reality.

“Just because a mannequin has a broken finger — to throw it away, then that’s to represent or signify that persons with disabilities are thrown to the side and that they don’t matter.”

Moving from performative gestures to action

Diversity is often used by big brands to promote their core values, said Crocker and Quigley, but despite the fact they pay the same amount of money for the same clothes, they still don’t see representation in their shopping experience.

Brands should move away from performative demonstrations of diversity and engage a range of voices from a plethora of communities in decision-making, said Crocker

His demand is simple: “Start not just talking the talk but walking the walk — or rolling the roll in the chair.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Microsoft’s new Xbox Series S console confirmed in leaked controller packaging – The Verge



Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling its second, cheaper next-gen Xbox console this month, and it looks like it will definitely be called Xbox Series S. The Verge has obtained photos of Microsoft’s new next-gen Xbox controller in white, complete with packaging that mentions the Xbox Series S. Twitter user Zak S was able to purchase the controller today, and we’ve confirmed it’s genuine.

The new controller was sold on a resale site today, and the side of the packaging notes that the controller works with both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. Microsoft has not officially unveiled an Xbox Series S yet, nor has the company even confirmed a white Xbox Series X controller.

Xbox Series S on the packaging.

A mysterious white Xbox Series X controller also appeared online last month, complete with the new D-pad, textured triggers, and new share button. This new leak matches the previous controller leak, and retail packaging suggests that these could be appearing in stores soon.

The Xbox Series S will likely be Microsoft’s second cheaper next-gen Xbox, that’s been codenamed Lockhart. A Microsoft document, leaked back in June, shed some further light on the company’s plans for two next-gen consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox Series X devkit, codenamed “Dante,” allows game developers to enable a special Lockhart mode that has a profile of the performance that Microsoft wants to hit with this second console.

The Lockhart console is expected to include 7.5GB of usable RAM, around 4 teraflops of GPU performance, and ship with the same CPU found on the Xbox Series X. Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling the Xbox Series S some time in August, and it will likely play a big part of the company’s Xbox All Access subscription plans that bundle an Xbox console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass) for a monthly fee.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to comment on the next-gen Xbox controller leak, and we’ll update you accordingly.

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