Apple Responded to macOS Privacy Concerns



It is clear that Apple’s macOS Big Sur installation had problems. The Verge reported that many Mac users had trouble opening apps after installing the update. You may have read an extremely detailed blog post by Jeffrey Paul titled “Your Computer Isn’t Yours”, in which he discussed a security problem involving the macOS.

It appears that iPhone in Canada was the first to report that Apple updated its support document titled: “Safely open apps on your Mac”. The update is under the Privacy protections header, which is the last header on the document.

Gatekeeper performs online checks to verify if an app contains known malware and whether the developer’s signing certificate is revoked. We have never combined data from these checks with information about Apple users or their devices. We do not use data from these checks to learn what individual users are launching or running on their devices.

Apple continued by stating: “These security checks have never included the user’s Apple ID or the identity of their device. To further protect privacy, we have stopped logging IP addresses associated with Developer ID certificate checks, and we will ensure that any collected IP addresses are removed from logs.”

In addition, Apple is making changes to their security checks over the next year. Specifically:

  • A new encrypted protocol for Developer ID certificate revocation checks
  • Strong protections against server failure
  • A new preference for users to opt out of these security protections

It is not entirely clear if Apple’s update is in response to Jeffrey Paul’s blog post, but I suspect it may have influenced Apple to provide more clarification. I think the issue became a controversy because Apple’s developers understood how the security in the macOS functioned – but failed to realize that consumers might need more context in order to understand what was happening.


Qualcomm Received License to Sell Chips to Huawei



Qualcomm Inc. has received a license from the U.S. government to sell 4G mobile phone chips to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd., Reuters reported. This decision means that Qualcomm has complied with a rule that the U.S. Department of Commerce unveiled in May of 2020 that requires licenses for sales to Huawei Technologies of semiconductors made abroad with U.S. technology.

In August of 2020, Qualcomm asked the Trump administration to roll back its restrictions on the sale of advanced components to Huawei Technologies so that Qualcomm could sell chips for 5G phones to Huawei. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported that Qualcomm was telling U.S. policy makers that their export ban won’t stop Huawei from obtaining necessary components. The company also said the export ban risked handing billions of dollars of Huawei sales to its overseas competitors.

The request by Qualcomm came after a patent-rights dispute with Huawei was resolved. The settlement gave Qualcomm a $1.8 billion lump-sum payment from Huawei to cover previously unpaid fees. It also included a multiyear deal to license Qualcomm’s patented technologies for Huawei use.

Obviously, that part of the settlement would not have worked out for Qualcomm unless it obtained a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce. A Qualcomm spokeswoman told Reuters, “We received a license for a number of products, which includes some 4G products.”

Engadget reported, in August of 2020, that after September 15, 2020, Huawei would no longer have access to the manufacturing it needs to continue making the Mate 40’s Kirin 9000 processor. The result was that Huawei was running out of smartphone chips.


TikTok Won’t Be Shut Down Due to Ongoing Lawsuit



The U.S. Department of Commerce said that it wouldn’t enforce its order that would have forced the Chinese-owned TikTok video sharing app to shut down, The Wall Street Journal reported. The reason is due to the result of a lawsuit.

In September of 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a prohibition on transactions relating to mobile apps WeChat and TikTok. It would have barred companies from providing internet hosting or content-delivery services to TikTok. This would have resulted in making TikTok inoperable in the United States.

In October of 2020, three popular TikTok creators, Douglas Marland, Cosette Rinab, and Alec Chambers filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce. TechCrunch reported that each have millions of followers on TikTok. Their argument was that banning the app would make them lose access to their followers, and impact their ability to earn a living.

U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Wendy Beetlestone granted the three TikTok creators the preliminary injunction hey asked for. According to NBC News, Judge Beetlestone also found that the government had gone beyond the authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the preliminary injunction enjoined it from enforcing the prohibition on TikTok. It appears that the U.S. government intends to appeal this ruling.


CISA Says November 3rd Election was Most Secure in American History



The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) posted a joint statement in which they declared: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history”. This should be a big relief to those who were concerned about potential security issues, or who have become convinced that the election was “rigged”.

“When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes and errors. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised”.

The statement also pointed out: “Other security measures like pre-election testing, state certification of voting equipment, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) certification of voting equipment help to build additional confidence in the voting systems used in 2020.”

CISA is the nation’s risk advisor, working with partners against today’s threats and collaborating to build more secure and resilient infrastructure for the future.

The Joint Statement included people from the CISA, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) executive committee, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Election Directors (NASEED), and members of the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council (SCC).

In short, this group includes people who have the job of making sure our election infrastructure is secure. Together, they have more data about this election than anyone else. Personally, I think this statement should be viewed as a major debunking of the misinformation that has been spread about this election.


Google to End Free Photo Storage #1487



Google is ending free photo storage and pushing everyone to Google One. This part of ongoing bait and switch techniques companies do over the years, get you hooked on a free product, and then say ok you now have to pay. It’s not surprising as we all continue to rack up micropayments like crazy.

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Some Conservatives are Leaving Twitter and Facebook for Parler



Are you unhappy with Twitter and/or Facebook? Do you consider yourself to be conservative? It might be time for you to stop using the big social media companies and switch over to one that appears to be very popular with people who are conservative. The New York Times reported that Parler was at the top of Apple’s App Store in downloads last weekend. It is a Twitter-like social media app that doesn’t seem to have as many rules as Twitter (or Facebook) do.

Despite the conservative ire, Facebook and Twitter have long taken a mostly hands-off approach to digital speech. In recent months, however, the companies ramped up their efforts to prevent election misinformation. Facebook and Twitter said they would label false posts and slow down how quickly they could be shared, among other moves. They said many of the changes would be temporary.

The main idea I got from reading The New York Times article is there are people who are angry with Twitter and Facebook. That, by itself, is not unusual.

This group, however, considers themselves to be conservative. A number of them seem to think that Twitter’s labeling of tweets that contain misinformation is equal to censorship. One could assume that this group is also displeased when Facebook removes groups that have broken their rules. Parler offers conservatives a social media app where nothing will be labeled or fact-checked.

Slate reported that there already are some well known conservatives who are on Parler (but have not entirely left Twitter or Facebook). This includes Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Eric Trump. Houston Chronicle reported that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Devin Nunes, and Tucker Carlson are on Parler.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Parler says that all are welcome. That could mean that it is not specifically intending to be a “bubble” for conservative-minded people. Personally, I don’t think it will interest very many people who do not happen to be conservative.


Google Photos is Updating its Storage Policy



Google announced changes to Google Photos’ storage policy. This may affect people who have posted a lot of photos there. The change will not take place immediately.

Starting on June 1, 2021, any new photos and videos you upload will count toward the free 15 GB storage that comes with every Google Account or the additional storage you’ve purchased as a Google One member. “We know this is a big shift and may come as a surprise, so we wanted to let you know well in advance and give you resources to make this easier,” Google stated.

In the same blog post, Google clarified:

Any photos or videos you’ve uploaded in High quality before June 1, 2021 will not count toward your 15GB of free storage. This means that photos and videos backed up before June 1, 2021 will still be considered free and exempt from the storage limit. You can verify your backup quality at any time in the Photos app by going to back up & sync in Settings.

Also starting on June 1, any new Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms or Jamboard file will begin counting toward your free 15 GB of allotted storage or any additional storage provided through Google One.

The Verge reported that Pixel owners will still be able to upload high-quality (not original) photos for free after June 1st without those images going against their cap.

The Verge also noted that it appears that Google hopes to influence people to switch from Google Photos to Google One. The price starts at $1.99/month for 100GB and has tiers going through 200GB ($2.99/month), 2TB ($9.99/month) and up to 30TB ($149.00/month).

It is always a good idea to have a copy of your photos and videos somewhere that you have control over, such as on your computer or on an external hard drive. There will always be some people who feel that their photos and videos are safe on Google Photos (and other services similar to it), and who fail to keep copies for themselves. Never assume that Google, or any other photo hosting service, will be around forever.