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Monday, August 01, 2016

Teen Pokemon Go players robbed at gunpoint in London park

The teenagers were playing the game in Whittington Park in Islington on Tuesday night

A group of teenagers playing Pokemon Go in a north London park were robbed of their phones at gunpoint, police have said.
Three young people were playing the popular mobile phone game in Whittington Park near Upper Holloway station on Tuesday evening when they were approached by three men who demanded them to hand over their smartphones.
One of the suspects drew what appeared to be a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the victims.

The teenagers, aged 15, 16 and 18, handed over their phones and were left shaken but unharmed after the incident, which took place at around 10:30pm.
Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” game which allows users to catch the cute fictional characters in real life, launched in the UK two weeks ago.
Politicians concerned about phone thefts urged Scotland Yard last week to deploy community officers, dubbed “Pokemon plod”, to locations where players gather to collect items and battle each other.

Three students were robbed of their phones as they played the game in Manchester just days after its release.
In America it was reported that armed robbers in Missouri were using the game to target victims in secluded areas.
And a player in Glouestershire was criticised for wasting police time after they called 999 to report someone had “stolen their Pokemon”.
Half an hour before the incident, police believe the same three suspects robbed a 24-year-old man as he entered the park on foot.

 Katie Forster

Google Offers Webform To Comply With Europe’s ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Ruling

Live in the European Union and want some old, irrelevant info about you deleted from search results? Google has now implemented a search removal request mechanism for people living in Europe who believe it has indexed information about them that they have a right to remove.
The arrival of the webform — which was put online earlier this morning — for users to request data be removed follows a European Court Of Justice ruling earlier this month which said that Google must respect a “right to be forgotten” and, at the request of private individuals, remove “irrelevant” and outdated information that contravenes an EU privacy directive concerning the way personal data is processed.
The ruling was triggered by a complaint by a Spanish man who was seeking to have results related to his name and a property closure removed from the search engine.
Earlier this month, following the Court of Justice ruling, it emerged that Google was already receiving requests for search content removal — albeit, the listed examples were from a convenient trio of what sounded like unsavory types: an ex-politician looking to be re-elected and wanting links detailing bad behavior in office removed; a doctor wanting to erase negative reviews from patients; and a convicted paedophile wanting details of his court conviction for possession of child abuse images taken down.
Which does rather smell like a controlled leak on Google’s part, in an effort to generate negative publicity about the Court of Justice ruling.
The ruling is certainly controversial, though — with outspoken critics including freedom of speech rights groups such as the Open Rights Group, and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, to name a few.
Wales dubbed it “ridiculous” and “very bizarre”, pointing out that it could lead to a scenario where a newspaper can publish information but a search engine can’t link to it. Or that a smaller search engine with no business footprint in Europe is able to display information that a larger search engine such as Google can’t. Censorship of information is the specter that critics of the ruling are invoking.
On the other side of the argument are the privacy rights of individuals, which have often been trampled over by companies in the rush to build increasingly lucrative digital businesses by amassing and storing mountains of data about users.
The sophistication of the technology tools that automatically sift data means that personal information that might have naturally faded into the background in previous eras, when, for instance, old copies of a newspaper became harder to come by, ends up hanging around in the public domain for far longer than it perhaps should. Hence the ‘right to be forgotten’.
For now, the Court ruling has sided with the latter argument — and its judgement is immediately enforceable, explaining why Google has needed to act quickly to put a process in place to deal with requests made under the ruling.
There is also evidently an appetite among Europeans to edit their Google search history, with the company telling TechCrunch it has already received “a few thousand” requests.
Google’s compliance mechanism for the ruling is a webform where users in the European Union can provide details about the information they believe they have a right to remove under European Data Protection Law.
The form notes that Google will then make a judgement on whether a request meets the specification of the law.
In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.
Google’s wording suggests it is continuing to kick against the judgement — as it flags up the “public interest” argument, by giving examples where “outdated information” may still be pertinent in the eyes of the general public (fraud, malpractice, misconduct in public office and so on).
The difficulty of making such assessments also suggests the process could become extremely unwieldy for Google if the number of information take-down requests grows further — since, by nature, the process requires a case-by-case approach and can’t be automated.
Those requesting information removal are required to verify their identity by submitting a copy of an identity document such as a driver’s licence, national ID card or other photo ID.
Google’s process allows for acting authorized agents to submit requests on behalf of others provided they are in possession of the requisite identity and authorization documents — which does open up the possibility that a cottage industry of search removal request businesses could spring up offering to comb through your search history and submit requests on your behalf.
In an emailed statement provided to TechCrunch, Google revealed that as well as working with local data  protection authorities in European countries, it is creating an “expert advisory committee” to help it navigate the judgement process. Which probably means more lucrative work for privacy lawyers.
Google’s statement follows below:
“To comply with the recent European court ruling, we’ve made a webform available for Europeans to request the removal of results from our search engine. The court’s ruling requires Google to make difficult judgments about an individual’s right to be forgotten and the public’s right to know. We’re creating an expert advisory committee to take a thorough look at these issues. We’ll also be working with data protection authorities and others as we implement this ruling.”
Update: Google has named the following as confirmed members of its expert advisory committee so far:
  • Frank La Rue (UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression)
  • Peggy Valcke (Director, University of Leuven law school)
  • Jose Luis Piñar (former Spanish DPA, now an academic)
  • Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia)
  • Luciano Floridi (information ethics philosopher at Oxford Internet Institute
It’s worth emphasizing that Google’s expert committee is entirely self selected, so while advisors are being drawn from outside Mountain View, their views are likely to align with Mountain View’s.
Or, to put it another way:
Update 2: Commenting on Google’s move to comply with the Court of Justice ruling, European Commission VP Viviane Reding noted that it was long overdue, given that the core data protection law dates back to 1995.
“It is a good development that Google has announced that it will finally take the necessary measures to respect European law. It was about time since European data protection laws exist since 1995. It took the European Court of Justice to say so. The right to be forgotten and the right to free information are not foes but friends,” she said in a statement.
“The move demonstrates that fears of practical impossibility raised before were unfounded,” Reding added.
Data protection is the business model of the future.
— Viviane Reding
She went on to emphasize that the law is about striking “the right balance” between freedom of expression and data protection.
“It’s not about protecting one at the expense of the other but striking the right balance in order to protect both. The European Court made it clear that two rights do not make a wrong and has given clear directions on how this balance can be found and where the limits of the right to be forgotten lie. The Court also made clear that journalistic work must not be touched; it is to be protected,” she said.
Reding also talked up the opportunity for startups to “build strong and innovative businesses on the basis of offering true data protection”.
“Legal certainty and empowering consumers to manage their data can yield steady revenues and profits. Data protection is the business model of the future. There is a whole world of business waiting for companies wishing to seize this opportunity,” she said.

It’s okay for Pikachu to watch you — as long as you want it to

Millions who downloaded the new Pokémon Go app are living in a brave, new, augmented reality world. For the early adopters (meaning apparently everyone you know) on iOS devices, it meant unknowingly granting Pokémon Go the permission to fully access their Google accounts.

You’ve got to risk it all to catch ‘em all, right?
Wrong. Thankfully Niantic, the company that developed Pokémon Go, acknowledged the mistake and issued a fix. Pokémon Go modified its implementation to request only “basic profile data” — user ID and email address — from Google accounts.
This brings me some peace of mind as my 15-year-old roams the park, my office, the supermarket and the park again in search of furry creatures. Yet, although the company’s privacy policy is thorough, I am left with the lingering sense of unease I feel with almost every other app. I am okay with their treatment of my son’s data today, but it’s up to the company if they want to change the way they use or share his data tomorrow.
Developers need to collect data from users to create apps and experiences like Pokémon Go, but we often feel resigned to choose between Pikachu or privacy. A University of Pennsylvania study published last year found that 58 percent of Americans have come to accept that they have little control over what companies can learn about them, even though they would like to be in control.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Businesses must be intentional, responsible and clear about the data they collect, and provide their customers with real choices. Powerlessness breeds mistrust, and a system based on mistrust benefits no one. On the other hand, earned trust drives adoption and lasting success.
There are three simple steps companies can take to earn trust:
  • Stay lean. Do you need to know when someone is scheduled for a doctor’s visit? Do you need access to their 27 selfies in front of a national monument? Focus on the data you need and leave the rest alone.
  • Build in security. There is no one-size-fits-all security solution. The volume and type of data to which your company has access will determine the appropriate security measures.
  • Engage your consumers. Help people see the value you’re bringing to them by using their data. Chances are they will be happy to trade in their data for a customized experience.
This doesn’t mean consumers are off the hook. We shouldn’t just shrug and breeze through privacy notices accepting whatever permission levels are required. We don’t realize just how powerful we can be if we take full ownership of our data. Replace “data” with the word “dollars” and the value exchange becomes a lot more tangible. Indifference and inaction toward data collection become a lot more absurd. Information is currency.
As the lifeblood of any business, consumers have a unique opportunity to leverage their trust as a way to regain control of their data. Opting out is the most direct path, but not necessarily the right one for you (or the most fun).
Here are a few other things people can do to take back control of their data:

  • Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on your computer and phone and help others to understand how they work.
  • Take it to social media and spread the word about the companies that do great things, as well as those that do “bad things” around data.
  • Support organizations that advocate for better privacy, and use products built with a focus on privacy.
Today I am choosing to trust Pokémon Go with my son’s data, because I have read and understood the terms. But I am just one person, and I happen to be a lawyer. In the long term, we need a commitment from both companies and consumers to make conscious choices about data.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Facebook begins tracking non-users around the internet

Company begins displaying cookie warnings for European users after expanding ad network

Facebook will now display ads to web users who are not members of its social network, the company announced Thursday, in a bid to significantly expand its online ad network. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Facebook will use cookies, "like" buttons, and other plug-ins embedded on third-party sites to track members and non-members alike. The company says it will be able to better target non-Facebook users and serve relevant ads to them, though its practices have come under criticism from regulators in Europe over privacy concerns. Facebook began displaying a banner notification at the top of its News Feed for users in Europe today, alerting them to its use of cookies as mandated under an EU directive.
"Publishers and app developers have some users who aren’t Facebook users," Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platform, tells the Journal. "We think we can do a better job powering those ads."
"we have a greater opportunity than other companies."
Targeted advertising has become commonplace across the internet, but Facebook believes it can more accurately target non-members using the vast amounts of data it already has on the nearly 1.7 billion people who use the site. The company says it can use that data to make inferences about the behavior of non-members, an approach known as "lookalike" targeting. "Because we have a core audience of over a billion people [on Facebook] who we do understand, we have a greater opportunity than other companies using the same type of mechanism," Bosworth tells the Journal.
Facebook and Google continue to dominate targeted online advertising, as a report from Princeton University showed last week, though Facebook's use of cookies has come under fire from European regulators who say it violates consumer privacy laws. An independent report from the Belgian Privacy Commission last year criticized Facebook for tracking users who had logged out, as well as those who didn't even have an account. (Facebook disputed the report's findings, and attributed the tracking to a bug.) Earlier this year, the French data protection agency ordered the company to allow users to opt-out of sharing their personal data with advertisers, and to better inform non-users that their behavior was being tracked when visiting Facebook pages.
Facebook updated its cookies policy page on Thursday to reflect the changes to its ad network. Users with a Facebook account can opt-out of the ad scheme by adjusting their settings, while non-Facebook members can opt-out through the Digital Advertising Alliance in the US, the Digital Advertising Alliance in Canada, and the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance in Europe.

Serpent-like malware targets your bank account

GozNym stays 'asleep' until you access your money.

If you think you can rely solely on your bank’s internet security to protect you, think again. Researchers at IBM Security have uncovered new malware that targets consumers in order to steal money from their accounts.
“We already know of $4 million that was stolen by this malware,” said Etay Maor, an executive advisor with IBM Security. The worst part: It's still out there.
Maor led the Israel-based team that discovered the malware, which has already been used against undisclosed banks in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
The virus, known as GozNym, is a combination of two pieces of malware — one that infects the computer and the other that waits silently like a serpent until the user visits the website of a financial institution.
“The criminal is sitting on the other end obtaining that info in real time,” Maor said.
What’s really different about this malware, according to Maor, is that it’s hard for researchers to even analyze because hackers doubled the encryption.
“When we first saw it, we were saying something bad is happening here but we’ve never seen this before … there are so many layers, we had to break in just to understand what it was,” said Maor.
It’s also much harder for anti-virus software and other solutions to detect it — leaving the end user completely in the dark.
Consumers' computers typically get infected with GozNym by clicking on links in emails. (Right now, the virus appears to be limited to PCs.) The email might be a message about a security solution or update. If you click the link — you might think nothing happened, but from that point on you are exposed.
Maor and his team believe the hackers behind the new virus are located somewhere in Eastern Europe.
“Don’t get this wrong, we are up against professional programmers … not kids," he said.
While GozNym represents a new level of sophistication, viruses targeting financial institutions are not new.
Just last year, 20 million financial records were stolen by malware, Maor said. While exact losses are hard to tally, by some estimates it could run into the billions of dollars.
Rafe Swan | Getty Images

How to protect yourself

To guard yourself from GozNym and other viruses, do not click on links in any suspicious emails.
Also, keep your operating system and anti-virus software up-to-date. Software providers are in the process of releasing updates that hopefully will disable GozNym.
Another best practice is to avoid reusing passwords as this can let hackers into multiple accounts.
You should also have two ways to check your account balances, such as using paper statements, ATM receipts or a mobile app in addition to online banking.
The criminals behind GozNym are so sophisticated they can change online banking websites to show full balances even after funds have been transferred out.

Catching the criminals

Meanwhile, banks are working to protect consumer accounts.
"The financial services industry takes this very seriously," said Bill Nelson, president and CEO of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a group set up by the industry to share threat information, and which has 7,000 members.
And while banks have tools in place to battle against GozNym, "cybersecurity is a shared responsibility between customers and the banks," according to Doug Johnson, senior vice president for payments and cybersecurity at the American Bankers Association.
Law enforcement would like to bring the criminals to justice.
"The FBI — along with our federal, international and private sector partners — will continue to combat cybercrimes, including those involving malware," a spokeswoman explained in an email.


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