Apple CEO Says Requested Zero Personal Data From Facebook

Apple CEO Says Requested Zero Personal Data From Facebook

Apple neither requested any personal data from Facebook nor did it receive any, Apple CEO Tim Cooksaid while responding to a New York Times report that claimed that the social networking giant allowed about 60 device makers, including Apple and Samsung, to access personal information of users and their friends.

“We’ve never been in the data business,” Cook told National Public Radio (NPR) on Monday during the company’s annual conference for developers in San Jose, California.

“The things mentioned in the Times article about relationship statuses and all these kinds of stuff, this is so foreign to us, and not data that we have ever received at all or requested – zero,” Cook was quoted as saying.

Even before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, Facebook had data-sharing partnerships with the device makers, The New York Times report said citing company officials, adding that most of the deals remain in effect.

The deals raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it added.

“What we did was we integrated the ability to share in the operating system, make it simple to share a photo and that sort of thing,” Cook added.

“So it’s a convenience for the user. We weren’t in the data business. We’ve never been in the data business,” he said.

Facebook is already under scrutiny after the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal revealed in March how the political consultancy firm had misused data of millions of Facebook users.

The social network, however, defended on Sunday the pacts with the device makers saying that these partnerships do not raise privacy concerns.

Facebook said that contrary to claims by The New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends.

“We are not aware of any abuse by these companies,” Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Partnerships, said in a statement.

The social network added that the device partnerships are very different from the public APIs used by third-party developers who used the Facebook information people shared with them to build completely new experiences.

Facebook said that it had already ended 22 of the device partnerships.

A CNET report on Monday said that Senator John Thune, head of the US Senate Commerce Committee, said his committee “will be sending Facebook a letter seeking additional information” about issues including transparency and privacy risks.

“We look forward to addressing any questions the Commerce Committee may have,” a Facebook spokesman was quoted as saying.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Legislators Are Missing the Point on Facebook

Legislators Are Missing the Point on Facebook

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The real issue: How our data get used
  • Facebook has been quite open and obvious about their skeevy practices
  • America needs a smarter conversation about data usage

I’m getting increasingly baffled and disappointed by the scandal-cum-congressional-ragefest surrounding Facebook. Instead of piling on Mark Zuckerberg or worrying about who has our personal data, legislators should focus on the real issue: How our data get used.

Let’s start with some ground truths that seem to be getting lost:

– Cambridge Analytica, the company the hoovered up a bunch of data on Facebook users, isn’t actually much of a threat. Yes, it’s super sleazy, but it mostly sucked at manipulating voters.

– Lots of other companies – maybe hundreds! – and “malicious actors” also collect our data. They’re much more likely to be selling our personal information to fraudsters.

– We should not expect Zuckerberg to follow through on any promises. He’s tried to make nice before to little actual effect. He has a lot of conflicts and he’s kind of a naive robot.

– Even if Zuckerberg was a saint and didn’t care a whit about profit, chances are social media is still just plain bad for democracy.

Politicians don’t want to admit that they don’t understand technology well enough to come up with reasonable regulations. Now that democracy itself might be at stake, they need someone to blame. Enter Zuckerberg, the perfect punching bag. Problem is, he likely did nothing illegal, and Facebook has been relatively open and obvious about their skeevy business practices. For the most part, nobody really cared until now. (If that sounds cynical, I’ll add: Democrats didn’t care until it looked like Republican campaigns were catching up to or even surpassing them with big data techniques.)

What America really needs is a smarter conversation about data usage. It starts with a recognition: Our data are already out there. Even if we haven’t spilled our own personal information, someone has. We’re all exposed. Companies have the data and techniques they need to predict all sorts of things about us: our voting behaviour, our consumer behaviour, our health, our financial futures. That’s a lot of power being wielded by people who shouldn’t be trusted.

If politicians want to create rules, they should start by narrowly addressing the worst possible uses for our personal information – the ways it can be used to deny people job opportunities, limit access to health insurance, set interest rates on loans and decide who gets out of jail. Essentially any bureaucratic decision can now be made by algorithm, and those algorithms need interrogating way more than Zuckerberg does.

To that end, I propose a Data Bill of Rights. It should have two components: The first would specify how much control we may exert over how our individual information is used for important decisions, and the second would introduce federally enforced rules on how algorithms should be monitored more generally.

The individual rights could be loosely based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows us to access the data employed to generate our credit scores. Most scoring algorithms work in a similar way, so this would be a reasonable model. As regards aggregate data, we should have the right to know what information algorithms are using to make decisions about us. We should be able to correct the record if it’s wrong, and to appeal scores if we think they’re unfair. We should be entitled to know how the algorithms work: How, for example, will my score change if I miss an electricity bill? This is a bit more than FCRA now provides.

Further, Congress should create a new regulator – along the lines of the Food and Drug Administration – to ensure that every important, large-scale algorithm can pass three basic tests (Disclosure: I have a company that offers such algorithm-auditing services.):

– It’s at least as good as the human process it replaces (this will force companies to admit how they define “success” for an algorithm, which far too often simply translates into profit),

– It doesn’t disproportionately fail when dealing with protected classes (as facial recognition software is known to do);

– It doesn’t cause crazy negative externalities, such as destroying people’s trust in facts or sense of self-worth. Companies wielding algorithms that could have such long-term negative effects would be monitored by third parties who aren’t beholden to shareholders.

I’m no policy wonk, and I recognise that it’s not easy to grasp the magnitude and complexity of the mess we’re in. A few simple rules, though, could go a long way toward limiting the damage.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Facebook, Google, Amazon’s Fixes for Kids’ Tech Seem Like Baby Steps

Facebook, Google, Amazon's Fixes for Kids' Tech Seem Like Baby Steps

Facebook is adding a Sleep Mode to its Messenger Kids service to let parents limit when their kids can use it. It’s the latest concession that tech companies are making as critics question whether they should be targeting kids at all. Among their chief concerns: The effects on kids are not yet known, and companies might not have children’s best interests at heart when tech for kids is such a lucrative market.
Rather than kill the services completely, as some critics want, Facebook, Amazon and Google are mostly tinkering at the edges. That leaves open the underlying questions of whether their products truly serve a need for the youngest set and if they are good for them.

Here’s a look at the changes announced this week:

Facebook Messenger Kids
In December, Facebook created a kids-friendly version of its Messenger app. It has no ads and gives parents plenty of controls over whom their children can chat with. The thinking was that while the regular apps are designed for people 13 or over, younger kids were on it anyway. Facebook saw Messenger Kids as a way to give the younger set a safer option.

The changes: Parents can now specify the times kids aren’t allowed on — either as a one-time restriction or something recurring, such as after 9 p.m. every school night. While the app is in Sleep Mode, kids will get a message when they open it telling them so, and they won’t be able to use it.

The shortcomings: Critics say that Messenger Kids isn’t responding to a need, but rather creating one. “It appeals primarily to children who otherwise would not have their own social media accounts,” states a letter signed by 100 child development experts and advocates. Merely offering time controls falls short of killing the app completely.

YouTube Kids
Since 2015, the Google-owned service has had a child-oriented app, YouTube Kids, described as a “safer” experience for finding “Peppa Pig” episodes or user-generated videos of people unboxing toys.
Nonetheless, the company has been under fire for not vetting out computer-generated, sometimes-disturbing video, such as your favorite cartoon characters having painful dental surgery — or worse.
The nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has also asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether YouTube’s data collection and advertising practices violate federal child privacy rules.

The changes: YouTube said this week that it is overhauling its kids app so parents can limit video to those vetted by humans, rather than computers. With this option, kids can watch only a selection of children’s programming such as “Sesame Street” and PBS Kids.

The shortcomings: The old automated system is on by default, meaning parents need to actively choose the human-only option. And YouTube is continuing to show ads on its kid-focused service.
It also doesn’t help that many kids (with or without their parents) use the main YouTube site for video, meaning they miss out on both human and automated controls for kids.

Amazon Alexa
Sure, it’s fun to ask Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to fart — as many kids have discovered after parents buy an Alexa-enabled Echo speaker. But parents and childhood experts have been wondering what effects smart speakers may have on young kids, who may not quite understand whether Alexa is human and maybe learn from barking orders at her that barking orders is OK.

The changes: Alexa will soon thank kids for shouting out questions “nicely” if they say “please,” the online retail giant announced Wednesday . The new response is part of a kid-friendly update that’s coming next month, giving parents more control over the voice assistant. Adults can also set Alexa to go silent at bedtime or block music with explicit lyrics.

The shortcoming: This may be appeasing parents just enough to buy more Amazon products. After all, the company did not get to where it is today by missing out on new business opportunities. Amazon said it will now sell an $80 Echo Dot aimed at children, complete with colorful cases and a two-year warranty (regular Echo Dots are $50).

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Facebook Announces a New Sleep Mode for Messenger Kids App

Facebook Announces a New Sleep Mode for Messenger Kids App

In an effort to give more control to parents, Facebookhas launched a Sleep Mode in its Messenger Kids that will allow parents to set predetermined “off times” for the app on a child’s device. When the app is in Sleep Mode, kids cannot send or receive messages or video calls, play with the creative camera or receive notifications. If they try to open the app, they’ll see a message telling them that it’s in sleep mode and to come back later.

“Parents told us they would like controls that make the app inaccessible at a certain time, like during dinner, homework time or bedtime. We took this feedback to heart and built a feature that gives that level of control to parents,” Tarunya Govindarajan, Product Manager at Facebook, said in a blog post.

With Sleep Mode, parents can set a designated off time and each day at the designated time, the app will “go to sleep” and not be accessible to kids during those hours. The mode is controlled from the Parent Control centre in the parent’s Facebook account and the “off times” can be changed at any time.

How Messenger Kids’ Sleep Mode works

Go to the Messenger Kids controls in the main Facebook app. Tap on the child’s name, and then on Sleep Mode in the App Controls’ section. Now, set the times you want the app to turn off for your child.

You can set different times for weekdays versus weekends. Once you set the limits, the child will not be able to use the app during those hours. Parents can access all of their controls from the Messenger Kids controls in the main Facebook app.

“In addition to Sleep Mode, parents can add and remove contacts, delete the child’s account, or create a new account right from the control panel,” the post added.

Since its launch in December 2017, Messenger Kids is facing widespread criticism for encouraging children to join social media. Child health experts the world over have written to Facebook to withdraw the app designed specifically for children under the age of 13.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in December warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.

“Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!” Hunt had posted on Twitter.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]