GDPR vs Google: Privacy Sandbox Under Fire #1747

Privacy campaigner noyb has filed a GDPR complaint against Google’s Privacy Sandbox, alleging it results in unwanted tracking. Despite being introduced to eliminate third-party cookies, the Privacy Sandbox tracks users within the browser. Noyb claims Google’s implementation lacks informed consent and misleads users into enabling first-party tracking under the guise of privacy protection. Google’s stance is that their Privacy Sandbox APIs offer significant privacy improvements, but the issue has drawn regulatory attention and criticism.

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WhatsApp Adds New Features To The Calling Experience

WhatsApp updated the video calling experience across devices on Thursday by introducing screen sharing with audio support and a new speaker spotlight feature.  It’s also increasing the limit for video call participants to up to 32 people, TechCrunch reported.

In August last year, WhatsApp introduced screen sharing for video calls. The instant messaging app has now enhanced that experience by enabling support to share audio alongside your screen. This will let you watch videos with your contacts on a WhatsApp call.

The other significant update that WhatsApp has made to its video calling is the expanded limit, which allows users to have up to 32 people on a single video call across devices. Before this update, WhatsApp had a 32-participant limit on mobile devices, while users on Windows and macOS could add up to 16 and 8 participants, respectively.

WhatsApp posted the following on its blog:

Since we brought Calling to WhatsApp back in 2015, we’ve continued to improve it with the introduction of group calls, video calls, and multi-platform support.

Today, we have several updates that will make calls across your devices even bigger and better, rolling out over the next few weeks:

Screen sharing with audio: Ideal for watching videos together, now when you share your screen, you can share your audio too.

More participants: Now you can have up to 32 people on a video call across all your devices.

Speaker spotlight: Easily see who’s talking with the speaker automatically highlighted and appearing first on the screen.

We also remain relentlessly focused on audio and video quality, for clearer calls no matter where you are. We recently launched Low codec which improves call reliability. Calls made on mobile devices benefit from improved noise and echo cancellation, making it easier to have calls in noisy environments, and video calls have higher resolution for those with faster connections. 

Engadget reported WhatsApp is upgrading its video-calling chops. The Meta-owned platform is enhancing its calls with a new screen-sharing feature, a higher participant count and a speaker spotlight to try and make the platform a more viable competitor to Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet.

Screen sharing could be handy for watching videos together, sharing content that isn’t easily sharable or troubleshooting your parents’ devices. It also allows for audio sharing, so you can easily chat with others while looking at their screen.

WhatsApp also expanded its participant count to 32 people on video calls. The new cap applies to all platforms. It’s a significant boost from the previous limit of eight people, first rolled out in 2020 as pandemic lockdowns kicked into full gear.

In my opinion, the WhatsApp update that can include 32 people might be good for those who want to speak with family members or close friends. That said, having 32 people to talk with at the same time might be chaotic for some.


X Is Making Likes Private For Everyone

Thanks to X showing what its users “like” on its platform, politicians and public personalities have been caught looking at salacious and unsavory tweets in the past. Now, the platform formerly known as Twitter is making likes mostly private, and according to company chief Elon Musk, it’s an important change so that people can “like posts without getting attacked for doing so.” Engadget reported.

The company originally launched the ability to hide the likes tab as a perk for X Premium subscribers last year. “[K]eep spicy likes private,” X said when it announced the feature.

In a new tweet, X’s Engineering account has revealed that the social network is making likes private for everyone this week. Users will no longer be able to see who liked someone else’s post, which means likes on the platform will no longer cause PR crises for public figures who like sexual, hateful, and other unpalatable posts in general.

They can still see who liked their tweets, however, along with their like count and other metrics for their own posts.

NBC News reported X is now hiding what posts users like from other users. The news rolled out in a post Wednesday morning from Elon Musk as the site update was being rolled out.

“Important change: your likes are now private,” Musk said, quoting an explanation posted by the company’s engineering account on Tuesday.

According to the post, users will still be able to see which posts they have liked themselves, and who liked their own posts, but not who liked someone else’s posts.

On Wednesday, the tab on most users’ profiles showing what posts they had liked had disappeared.

According to NBC News, Haofei Wang, X’s director of engineering, had teased the update in a post on May 21.
“Public likes are incentivizing the wrong behavior,” Wang wrote. “For example, many people feel discouraged from liking content that might be ‘edgy’ in fear of retaliation from trolls, or to protect their public image. Soon, you’ll be able to like without worrying who might see it.”

He added that if users now more freely like posts they’re interested in, X’s algorithm will become more tailored to them.

The Verge reported X is rolling out private likes as soon as today, according to a source at the company. That means what users like on the platform will be hidden by default, which is already an option for X’s Premium subscribers. Following the publication of this story, X owner Elon Musk reshared a screenshot of it, saying it’s “important to allow people to like posts without getting attacked for doing so!”

According to The Verge, late last year, Musk told the platform’s engineers that he wanted to get rid of the tweet action buttons altogether and instead place a stronger emphasis on post views (also called “impressions”). Musk’s goal was to remove the section that contained the like and repost buttons entirely because Musk believed likes weren’t important.

In my opinion, it is possible that by removing the ability to publicly “like” someone else’s post on X might make the platform easier to navigate. That said, the platform itself is going to still know what you chose to “like”.

Apple Unveils macOS 15 Sequoia with AI Features #1746

Apple announced the macOS 15 Sequoia at WWDC 2024, featuring the Apple Intelligence AI suite, iPhone mirroring, and Continuity updates. The new OS introduces automatic window tiling, a cross-platform Passwords app, and enhanced Safari features. macOS Sequoia is compatible with Apple Silicon and select Intel-based Macs

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Apple Intelligence Is The Company’s New Generative AI Offering

On Monday, at WWDC 2024, Apple unveiled Apple Intelligence, its long-awaited, ecosystem-wide push into generative AI. As earlier rumors suggested, the new feature is called Apple Intelligence (AI, get it?). The company promised the feature will be built with safety at its core, along with highly personalized experiences, TechCrunch reported.

According to TechCrunch, the company has been pushing the feature as integral to all of its various operating system offerings, including iOS, macOS, and the latest, visionOS.

The system is built on large language and intelligence models. Much of that processing is done locally according to the company, utilizes the latest version of Apple silicon. “Many of these models run entirely on device,” SVP Craig Federighi claimed during the event.

That said, these consumer systems still have limitations. As such, some of the heavy lifting needs to be done off device in the cloud. Apple is adding Private Cloud Compute to the offering. The back end uses services that run Apple chips, in a bid to increase privacy for this highly personal data.

Apple introduced Apple Intelligence. Here is part of the press release:

Apple today introduced Apple Intelligence, the personal intelligence system for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that combines the power of generative models with personal context to deliver intelligence that’s incredibly useful and relevant. 

Apple Intelligence is deeply integrated into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. It harnesses the power of Apple silicon to understand and create language and images, take action across apps, and draw from personal context to simplify and accelerate everyday tasks. With Private Cloud Compute, Apple sets a new standard of privacy in AI, with the ability to flex and scale computational capacity between on-device processing and larger, server-based models that run on dedicated Apple silicon servers.

“We’re thrilled to introduce a new chapter in Apple innovation. Apple Intelligence will transform what users can do with our products — and what our products can do for our users,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Our unique approach combines generative AI with a user’s personal context to deliver truly helpful intelligence. And it can access that information in a completely private and secure way to help users do the things that matter most to them. This is AI as only Apple can deliver it, and we can’t wait for users to experience what it can do.”

Engadget reported Apple Intelligence will be powered by both Apple’s homegrown tech as well as a partnership with OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, Apple announced.

One of Apple’s biggest AI upgrades is coming to Siri. The company’s built-in voice assistant will now be powered by large language models, the tech that underlies all modern-day generative AI. Siri, which has languished over the years, may become more useful now that it can interact more closely with Apple’s operation systems and apps. 

Apple Intelligence will also use AI to record, transcribe, and summarize your phone calls, rivaling third-party transcription services like Otter. All participants are automatically notified when you start recording, and a transcript if the conversation’s main points is automatically generated at the end.

In my opinion, I’m not thrilled about any of the AI-Generated additions that have suddenly popped up. I’m hoping that Apple will allow me to turn off the AI-Generated stuff.

New York Times Source Code Stolen From Exposed GitHub Token

Internal source code and data belonging to The New York Times was leaked on the 4chan message board after being stolen from the company’s GitHub repositories in January 2024, The Times confirmed to BleepingComputer.

As first seen by VX-Underground, the internal data was leaked on Thursday by an anonymous user who posted a torrent to a 273GB archive containing the stolen data.

“Basically all source code belonging to The New York Times Company, 270GB,” reads the 4chan forum post. “There are around 5 thousand repos (out of them less than 30 are additionally encrypted I think), 3.6 million files total, uncompressed tar.”

In a statement to BleepingComputer, The Times said the breach occurred in January 2024 after credentials for a cloud-based third-party code platform were exposed. A subsequent email confirmed this code platform was GitHub.

“The underlying event related to yesterday’s posting occurred in January 2024 when a credential to a cloud-based third-party code platform was inadvertently made available. The issue was quickly identified and we took appropriate measures in response at there time. There is no indication of unauthorized access to Times-owned systems nor impact to our operations related to this event. Our security measures include continuous monitoring for anomalous activity” – The New York Times

Mashable reported reported the controversial image board 4Chan is back in the news this week after two big data dumps were posted on the site.

Now, it appears that the New York Times Company is the largest establishment to have its data leaked on 4Chan over the past week. The data allegedly includes source code to its viral World game.

Mashable reported X user @vxunderground appears to be the first to notice that 270GB of internal data connected to the New York Times was posted online. The data contains the company’s internal source code and consists of more than 5,000+ source code repositories. The leak is made up of a total of roughly 3,600,000 files.

According to a text file shared by the hacker, 6,223 folders were stolen from the New York Times’ GitHub repository. This includes internal company IT documents and source code, which includes the popular word game that the Times acquired in 2022, Wordle.

The Register reported a 4chan user claims to have leaked 270GB of internal New York Times data, including source code and other web assets, via the notorious image board.

According to the unnamed netizen, the information includes, “basically all source code belonging to The New York Times Company,” amounting to roughly 5,000 repositories and 3.6 million files now available for download from peer-to-peer networks. Details on how to get the files where shared by the poster on 4chan.

Of the files listed – whose names indicate everything from blueprints to Wordle to email marketing campaigns and ad reports — “less than 30” repositories are “encrypted,” the 4channer claimed. Again, take this with a healthy does of salt considering the source — an unnamed 4chan user.

In my opinion, stealing files and data from a large company’s GitHub is not a good idea. It is entirely possible that the New York Times may have already hired someone to find the hacker who did this.

Microsoft Will Make Recall An Opt-In Feature

Microsoft says it’s making its new Recall feature in Windows 11 that screenshots everything you do on your PC an opt-in feature and addressing various security concerns, The Verge reported.

The software giant first unveiled the Recall feature as part of its upcoming Copilot Plus PCs last month, but since then, privacy advocates and security experts have been warning that Recall could be a “disaster” for cybersecurity without changes.

Thankfully, Microsoft has listened to the complaints and is making a number of changes before Copilot Plus PCs launch on June 18th. Microsoft had originally planned to turn on Recall by default, but the company now says it will offer the ability to disable the controversial AI-powered feature during the setup process of new Copilot Plus PCs.

“If you don’t proactively choose to turn it on, it will be off by default” says Windows chief Pavan Davuluri.

According to The Verge, Microsoft’s changes to the way the database is stored and accessed come after cybersecurity expert Kevin Beaumont discovered that Microsoft’s AI-powered feature currently stores data in a database in plain text. That could have made it easy for malware authors to create tools that extract the database and its contents. Several tools have appeared in recent days, promising to exfiltrate Recall data.

Microsoft posted an “Update on the Recall preview feature for Copilot+ PCs”

Today, we are sharing an update on the Recall (preview) feature for Copilot+ PCs, including more information on the set-up experience, privacy controls, and additional details on our approach to security…

Listening to and acting on customer feedback

Even before making Recall available to customers, we have heard a clear signal that we can make it easier for people to choose to enable Recall on their Copilot+ PC and improve privacy and security safeguards. With that in mind, we are announcing updates that will go into effect before Recall (preview) ships to customers on June 18.

* First, we are updating the set-up experience of Copilot+ PCs to give people a clearer choice to opt-in to saving snapshots using Recall. If you don’t proactively choose to turn it on, it will be off by default.

* Second, Windows Hello enrollment is required to enable Recall. In addition, proof of presence is also required to view your timeline and search in Recall.

* Third, we are adding additional layers of data protection including “just in time” decryption protected by Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-In Security (ESS) so Recall snapshots will only be decrypted and accessible when the user authenticates. In addition, we encrypted the search index database.

CNBC reported Microsoft has been trying to balance competing interests of late as it moves to incorporate new generative AI tools into its products and to keep up with the competition.
Microsoft is adding security protections to Recall in addition to requiring people to manually turn it on once Copilot+ PCs become available on June 18. The search index database will be encrypted, Microsoft said.

In my opinion, I am really happy that I don’t use a PC. Copilot+ appears to be really unpopular with a lot of people, especially when it comes to security.