Today, Germany surprisingly changed course over which type of smartphone technology it wanted to use to trace coronavirus infections, backing an approach supported by Apple and Google along with a growing number of other European countries.
Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Berlin would adopt a ‘decentralized’ approach to digital contact tracing, in so doing abandoning a home-grown alternative.
Germany as recently as Friday backed an initiative called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), whose centralized approach was criticized by hundreds of scientists in an open letter last Monday as opening the way to state surveillance.
Braun told ARD public television in an interview: “We will back a decentralized architecture that will only store contacts on devices. That is good for trust.”
One of the motivators for Germany’s sudden switch my be due to “One of the members of PEPP-PT, Germany’s Fraunhofer HHI research institute, was told on Saturday that it was being taken off the project, correspondence seen by Reuters showed.
Germany’s change of tack would bring its approach into line with that taken by Apple and Alphabet’s Google, which said this month they would develop new tools to support decentralized contact tracing.
Importantly, Apple’s iPhone would under the proposed setup only work properly with decentralized protocols such as DP-3T, which has been developed by a Swiss-led team and has been backed by Switzerland, Austria and Estonia.
DP-3T said in a statement that it is was “very happy to see that Germany is adopting a decentralized approach to contact tracing and we look forward to its next steps implementing such a technique in a privacy-preserving manner.”
PEPP-PT said it planned to issue a statement in due course. For more on this, read the full Reuters report.
On Friday, Patently Apple posted a report titled “Apple & Google have made a series of requested tweaks to their COVID-19 Contract Tracing System ahead its May Launch.” It’s very possible that the changes that Apple and Google made public on Friday became another major factor in Germany’s decision to make the switch.
Lawsuit accuses Google have tracking people in Chrome's Incognito mode – MobileSyrup
A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against Google for tracking users while they browse in Chrome’s Incognito mode.
Specifically, the lawsuit accuses Google of violating U.S. federal wiretapping laws by tracking users’ online activity, even in Incognito mode. Further, the complaint cites Google tools like Analytics, Ad Manager, smartphone and PC applications and website plugins, saying Google leverages them to monitor uses, even if they don’t click on any Google ads.
The lawsuit also says that “millions” of users who went online using Incognito mode since June 1st, 2016 have likely been affected.
The plaintiffs say that Google tracks and collects browsing data “no matter what safeguards” people use to protect themselves. Additionally, they argue that by tracking users in Incognito mode, Google intentionally deceives users into thinking they have control over the information they share with the company.
The lawsuit seeks $5 billion USD (roughly $6.76 billion CAD) in damages or at least $5,000 USD (about $6,758 CAD) per affected user for violations of the U.S. wiretap and California privacy laws.
In a statement to The New York Times, Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, disputed the claims. You can read the statement in full below:
“Incognito mode in Chrome gives you the choice to browse the internet without your activity being saved to your browser or device. As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity during your session.”
Is Incognito really that private?
It’s worth noting that Chrome does, in fact, warn users when they open an Incognito session in Chrome. When you open an Incognito tab, Chrome lists what it won’t save while you’re using Incognito and what websites can still see. That includes:
Chrome won’t save the following:
- Your browsing history
- Cookies and site data
- Information entered in forms
Your activity might still be visible to:
- Websites that you visit
- Your employer or school
- Your internet service provider
You can also read more about how Incognito mode works on Google’s support site.
Further, Chrome’s Incognito mode has long been the subject of privacy concern. In 2018, a report detailed how Google could de-anonymize collected data from Incognito browsing if users signed into their Google accounts after visiting a site with a Google tool like DoubleClick.
At the time, a Google spokesperson said that the company doesn’t de-anonymize data like that. However, the possibility for Google to do so remains a concern, even if it doesn’t.
More recently, Google had to fix a loophole in Chrome’s Incognito mode that allowed websites to determine if a user was browsing in Incognito mode. Web pages that use a paywall feature, such as a free article limit, tended to use it to prevent Incognito users from bypassing the cap.
However, in fixing the loophole, Google created more ways for websites to determine if someone was in Incognito.
Ultimately, this lawsuit is something to keep an eye on, but I’m not sure it has merit. It’s hard to claim that Google intentionally misled users when it clearly states the limits of the Incognito feature. However, that’s not to say that Google and Chrome’s privacy issues shouldn’t be investigated. The search giant has long used its apps, ad systems and more to track users’ browsing data. However, specifically targeting Incognito mode may not be the best way to go about it.
BMW Design Chief Defends New 4-Series’ Grille, Says It’ll Shape The Brand – CarScoops
The new BMW 4-Series Coupe was officially presented on Tuesday and one of the main topics of conversation was the polarizing vertical kidney grille. Like it or not, this feature is here to stay, and it’s part of the company’s strategic move to make each and every model stand out.
Defending the massive kidney grille was design chief Domagoj Dukec, who strongly believes that the automaker has taken the right decision to go ahead with this design, despite receiving a lot of negative input ever since they presented the Concept 4 last year.
“It should be in the core of BMW to have a product which makes a strong statement. It’s unmistakably BMW, unmistakably 4-Series. It’s not just logical, it has a very strong character that’s unique to our brand”, Dukec told Autocar. “The twin-kidney grille is the most prominent design icon we have. It’s the biggest difference we have from any other car out there. We’ve used the kidney in a variety of ways to give our cars a certain presence: the 3-Series has a very horizontal one because it’s a more rational, serious car. A coupe like the 4-Series should express the exotic part of BMW.”
Dukec explained that in this business, it’s important to know which voices to listen to. “You can’t listen to social media reactions. It won’t help you. Design is something that is so emotional, and everybody has an opinion and different states. There’s no right or wrong. When you do something like this, 50 percent of people might love it and 50 percent will hate it, and that won’t change. Anything you do, there will be people who like it and people who don’t – but this is not the criteria.”
So, what are the criteria for design? According to the BMW official, it is “to create something, unique, daring, to make a statement”. “Although it’s polarizing in the beginning, it’s at the heart of BMW and a brand-shaper for us.”
Leading the new 4-Series pack is the Coupe, which will go on sale globally in October, with the Convertible and four-door Gran Coupe to follow. All of them are based on the brand’s CLAR architecture, which translates into a bigger footprint and a more spacious interior.
Until the new M4 arrives, likely within the next six months, the M440i xDrive will sit at the top of the range, with a 369 HP 3.0-liter turbo-six, for a 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed limited to 155 mph (250 km/h). U.S. customers will be able to order it for $59,495, while the 430i and 430i xDrive, which pack a 258 HP 2.0-liter four-pot, will launch from $46,595 and $48,595 respectively.
In Europe, the new-gen 4-Series will become available in 420i and 420d specs as well, with their 2.0-liter petrol and diesel engine making 184 and 190 HP respectively, plus the 286 HP 3.0-liter 430d and M440d xDrive 340 HP diesels, which will launch next spring.
Google sued for secretly amassing vast trove of user data – Financial Post
Google surreptitiously amasses billions of bits of information — every day — about internet users even if they opt out of sharing their information, three consumers alleged in a proposed class action lawsuit.
“Google tracks and collects consumer browsing history and other web activity data no matter what safeguards consumers undertake to protect their data privacy,” according to the complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, California.
The lawsuit argues that while Google lets users turn off data collection when using its Chrome web browser, other Google tools used by websites themselves scoop up their data anyways. The suit includes claims for invasion of privacy and violations of federal wiretapping law.
Google is up front with consumers that whenever they opt for private browsing, other websites may still collect information, spokesman Jose Castaneda said.
“We strongly dispute these claims and we will defend ourselves vigorously against them,” Castaneda said in an email.
The case was filed by Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, a high-profile litigation firm that previously defended Uber Technologies Inc. when the ride-hailing firm was accused three years ago by Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving unit of stealing trade secrets.
According to the suit, the company collects information, including IP addresses and browsing histories, whenever users visit web pages or use an app tied to common Google services, such as Google Analytics and Google Ad Manager. This has helped Google amass a nearly unending trove of data that could be stolen or hacked by governments and criminals, the consumers allege.
A consumer suit accusing Google of illegally tracking and storing geolocation data with its mobile apps and operating system was thrown out by a California federal judge in December. Arizona’s attorney general filed a similar complaint last month. Google disputed the claim and said it’s looking forward to setting the record straight.
Tuesday’s case is Brown v. Google LLC, 20-3664, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).
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