Hands off my data! 15 default privacy settings you should change right now

Say no to defaults. A clickable guide to fixing the complicated privacy settings from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

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Don’t use default privacy settings on sites and devices

The Post’s Geoffrey A. Fowler explains all the things companies can get if you use their default privacy settings. How to change them: wapo.st/SayNoToDefaults

On the Internet, the devil’s in the defaults.

You’re not reading all those updated data policies flooding your inbox. You probably haven’t even looked for your privacy settings. And that’s exactly what Facebook, Google and other tech giants are counting on.

They tout we’re “in control” of our personal data, but know most of us won’t change the settings that let them grab it like cash in a game show wind machine. Call it the Rule of Defaults: 95 percent of people are too busy, or too confused, to change a darn thing.

Give me 15 minutes, and I can help you join the 5 percent who are actually in control. I dug through the privacy settings for the five biggest consumer tech companies and picked a few of the most egregious defaults you should consider changing. These links will take you directly to what to tap, click and toggle for FacebookGoogleAmazonMicrosoft and Apple.

Some of their defaults are just bonkers. Google has been saving a map of everywhere you go, if you turned on its Assistant when you set up an Android phone. Amazon makes your wish list public — and keeps recordings of all your conversations with Alexa. Facebook exposes to the public your friends list and all the pages you follow, and it lets marketers use your name in their Facebook ads. By default, Microsoft’s Cortana in Windows 10 gobbles up … pretty much your entire digital life.

My inspiration for poring over the fine print was the European General Data Protection Act, or GDPR, that recently went into effect and prompted all those privacy policy emails. I asked the largest tech companies what they’d changed — other than their legalese — about default settings or the amount of data they collect on us. The shocking answer: almost nothing. (Facebook is also rolling out new privacy controls, but not actually changing your options … or even taking away many clicks.)

My suggestions are small acts of resistance — there are further settings, privacy-minded apps and Web browser add-ons that could take you on a deeper dive. (I’d love to hear what else has worked well for you.) Changing the defaults I list here mean you’ll get less personalization from some services, and might see some repeated ads. But these changes can curtail some of the creepy advertising fueled by your data, and, in some cases, stop these giant companies from collecting so much data about you in the first place. And that’s a good place to start.


In the weeks ahead, Facebook will pop up in your News Feed with a call to review some settings. It won’t change your defaults — but it’s a good reminder you should change them by tapping manage data settings. (Facebook)

Facebook

Like skinny jeans, Facebook makes you share more than perhaps you ought to. It’s time to hard look at what you’re putting out there.

(Note: Facebook is rolling out new privacy settings on its mobile apps — but you may have not gotten them yet. They change the location of some controls on your phone, but don’t change your choices.)

  • Anyone can see all your Facebook friends and all the weird pages you follow. That includes employers, stalkers, identity thieves and quite possibly your mother.
    • On your phone’s Facebook app, tap the button with three lines, then scroll to Settings & Privacy, then tap Settings, and then Privacy Settings. Or use this link on the Web. Then switch Who can see your friends list from Public to Friends — or, even better, Only me.
    • Do the same on that same page with a separate setting for Who can see the people, Pages and lists you follow.
    • What you give up: Strangers being able to hunt you down or discover your interests.
  • I know what you did last summer … because when people tag you in a photo or post, it automatically shows up on your timeline.
    • In the Facebook app under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Timeline and Tagging (or at this link on the Web) switch On the option Review posts you’re tagged in before the post appears on your timeline.
    • What you give up: Letting others post on your behalf — at least until you approve each post.
  • Your face belongs to Facebook. By default, it scans all the photos and video you share to create digital face IDs — unless you tell them hands off your mug.

Turn off these three settings that let Facebook advertisers use even more data to target you. (Facebook)

Don’t give it all away to Facebook advertisers, either. Reminder: Each member in North America was worth $82 in advertising to Facebook in 2017.

  • Advertisers can use very personal data to target you, making Facebook ads even creepier than they have to be.
    • In the Facebook app’s Settings & Privacy menu, tap Settings, then Ad Preferences (or use this link on the Web). Then tap open the section called Your information. There, switch Off ads based on your relationship statusemployerjob title and education.
    • While you’re in Ad Preferences, head down to Ad settings and switch to Not allowed for Ads based on data from partners and Ads based on your activity on Facebook Company Products that you see elsewhere.
    • What you give up: More “relevant” ads, which is more of a problem for advertisers than for you
  • Surprise, you’re starring in Facebook ads! Did your check not arrive in the mail? Oh right: Just by “liking” a page, you give Facebook advertisers permission to use your name in ads they show your friends — and you don’t get a dime.
    • On your phone under Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Ad Preferences (or at this link on the Web) tap open Ads Settings and switch to No One the setting for Ads that include your social actions.
    • What you give up: Use of your name by a company you might not actually care very much about.

Google


By default, Google’s keeping a list of everything you search for — and every website you visit. Turn that off under Activity controls. (Google)

Google is the giant black hole of the tech world, sucking up as much personal data as it can get away with.

  • Google is keeping track of every phrase you ever search for, every site you’ve visited and every YouTube video you’ve watched … including the embarrassing ones.
    • On the Web, use this link to Google’s activity controls to turn off Web and App Activity.
    • While you’re there, scroll down and also turn off YouTube Search History and YouTube Watch History.
    • What you give up: You won’t be able to dig back up websites and videos you once visited, and Google’s systems won’t get to know you as well.
  • Google makes a map of everywhere you go that would make the CIA envious.
    • On the Web, at the same link for Google’s activity controls to turn offLocation History.
    • There are several ways you might have turned on Location History. Google tells me that in the future, it will stop asking to turn on this function when you initially set up its Assistant an Android phone. (Imagine that: a tech giant actually scaling back some data collection.)
    • What you give up: You won’t be able to walk down memory lane, and Google’s recommendations based on your travels won’t be as good.

While you’re at it, you can stop oversharing with Google’s advertisers.

  • Google helps marketers target you on Google-owned sites such as YouTube and Gmail.
    • On the Web, use this link for Ads Settings to turn off Ads personalization.
    • What you give up: You may see less “useful” ads, a concern for nobody anywhere ever.

Amazon

Amazon has grown from a bookstore to an everything store — to the maker of devices that listen and watch what’s happening around the house. (Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye.)


Inside the Alexa mobile app, you can see, and delete, recordings of your conversations. Tap Settings, then History, then pick a conversation and tap Delete Voice Recordings. (Amazon)
  • Amazon keeps a recording of everything you’ve ever said to its talking artificial intelligence Alexa — and also, we’ve learned recently, some things you didn’t intend to say to Alexa.
    • You can listen to what Amazon recorded by going to the Alexa app, then tapping Settings, then History. There you can delete individual entries.
    • You can delete whole bunch of recordings at once by logging in to your Amazon account on the Web, then looking under Account and Lists settings and finding at finding manage your content and devices (or, just use this link). Find your Echo or other Alexa device in the list, then click manage voice recordings.
    • Amazon’s settings don’t offer as much as you might want: there’s no setting to stop Alexa from saving recordings in the future.
    • What you give up: An audio history of all your goofy questions for Alexa … or your children asking her to help with homework.
  • Here’s a fun idea next time you’re at a house party: Go up to an Echo speaker, and order its owner a 10-pound bucket of sea salt. Surprise! Anyone with access to your Echo speaker can order products on Amazon.
    • In the Alexa app on your phone, under Settings, scroll to Voice Purchasing and turn it off — or at least put a voice code in place that your kids (or terrible friends) won’t guess.
    • What you give up: Super quick product ordering to feed your Prime addiction.

Your Amazon wish list is public by default. Open your list, then under share list, find the manage list setting and change it to private. (Amazon)
  • Your Amazon “wish list” is open to the public by default. Yes, it’s nice to buy someone a gift — but I’m doubtful everyone understands it’s open to everyone. You can search people by name at the link here.
    • Set your list to private by using this link clicking on your wish list, then clicking on the three dots next to share list, then tapping manage list, then changing Privacy to Private.
    • What you give up: Surprise presents you actually want from people who don’t really know you well enough to just ask.
  • Amazon knows more than Santa about what you’d like for Christmas. It keeps a log of every Amazon product you look at — not just the ones you buy.
    • Stop Amazon from tracking you by going clicking Browsing History on Amazon’s homepage and clicking View and Edit (or just use this link), then clicking on Manage history, and turning it Off.
    • What you give up: Personalized recommendations for product categories you may or may not want your family members to know you were looking at.

Microsoft

Windows 10 isn’t just an operating system used by 700 million devices: It’s a training school for Microsoft’s less-well-known A.I., Cortana.

  • When you set up Windows 10, it suggests turning on Cortana — which means letting Microsoft collect your location, contacts, voice, speech patterns, search queries, calendar and messaging content.
    • If you don’t plan to use Cortana, decline it when you first set up your computer. Turning it off after the fact is much more complicated. There’s no single button, and some PCs put settings in different places. On most, open Cortana and click on her settings, then Permissions & History, and then individually turn off everything. Also turn off what’s listed under Manage the information Cortana can access from this device. Then go to Cortana, click on the Notebook icon, then click on your Microsoft account and log out.
    • That stops Cortana from collecting future data, but to delete what it already knows, point your Web browser to your Microsoft Privacy settings page and click view and clear on various types of data it has collected. Also go to the Cortana tab and tap Clear Cortana data.
    • What you give up: another talking virtual assistant.
  • Windows helps advertisers track your PC using an anonymous ID.
    • Go to Settings, then Privacy, then General, and turn off Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app usage.
    • What you give up: “More interesting” ads that probably weren’t going to be very interesting in the first place

(Apple)

Apple

Apple has a carefully-honed reputation for respecting privacy. But it still makes accommodations for online ad targeting — and you have to know where to look to stop it.

  • The iPhone shares an anonymous ID for advertisers to target you.
    • To stop it, go to your iPhone’s Settings, then Privacy then Advertising and switch on Limit Ad Tracking.
    • This will impact Apple-made apps, ads served via Apple’s advertising system, and apps that use the iPhone’s Advertising Identifier.
    • What you give up: You might get less “relevant” ads, and possibly some repeated ones.

Tech’s Titans Tiptoe Toward Monopoly

Amazon, Facebook and Google may be repeating the history of steel, utility, rail and telegraph empires past—while Apple appears vulnerable

Today’s titans of industry. Photo illustration of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet’s Larry Page, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook. ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN MCCABE; BEZOS: ZUMA PRESS; PAGE, ZUCKERBERG, COOK: BLOOMBERG NEWS; SUITS: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

  • Link copied…
  • Imagine a not-too-distant future in which trustbusters force Facebook FB 1.15%to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp. Imagine a time when Amazon’s cloud and delivery services are so dominant the company is broken up like AT&T . Imagine Google’s search or YouTube becoming regulated monopolies, like electricity and water.

    Facebook Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL 3.18% and Amazon.com Inc.AMZN 0.73% are enjoying profit marginsmarket dominance and clout that, according to economists and historians, suggest they’re developing into a new category of monopolists. They may not yet be ripe for such extreme regulatory action, but as they consolidate control of their markets, negative consequences for innovation and competition are becoming evident.

    For example, some who study the past compare Amazon and Facebook to Standard Oil, for their similar quests to vanquish competitors and even their own suppliers through vertical integration.

    Google, Facebook and Amazon also bear resemblance to another monopolist of yore, the telegraph heavyweight Western Union , says Richard du Boff, emeritus professor of economic history at Bryn Mawr.

    “What [Western Union] was always engaged in was clearing the field, getting rid of anybody who was in their way, either by takeover or other means. The main motive, as I see it, was market domination.”

    Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was called to Congress in 1998 to discuss whether his company had a monopoly on the software business.
    Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was called to Congress in 1998 to discuss whether his company had a monopoly on the software business. PHOTO: JESSICA PERSSON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

    Experts aren’t, however, lumping in Apple Inc. AAPL 1.80% with the new monopolists. Like Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. before it, Apple is considered more vulnerable to competitive disruption, despite the fact that it tops the tech world in revenue, profit and market capitalization.

    One way today’s monopolists are different from the robber barons of old is that they’re not exactly ​behaving like, for example, Andrew Carnegie, who turned armed guards on striking workers. And regulators don’t particularly care if a company is a monopoly unless it harms the public or hampers innovation. But on those counts, many argue we’re close. Take the way both Google and Facebook dominate the harvesting of user data, or Facebook’s ethically dubious decision to release vast quantities of personal information to developers.

    Facebook and Google

    The reason your electricity comes from a regulated monopoly is that building a grid is expensive, but pushing more electrons to new customers is not. One condition for judging monopolies is how difficult it is for upstarts to challenge them.

    Together, Google and Facebook take in 73% of U.S. digital advertising. It may not be something you think about often, but that success rests largely on the fact that both have spent so much money building data centers and filling them with hardware and software designed by an elite, in-demand set of engineers. In this way they resemble the telegraph giants, with investments in physical infrastructure so large no upstart could match them.

    They also benefit from something historically unprecedented: the ability to get users to subsidize them with enormous quantities of free labor. Their systems are fueled by personal information, but instead of them hunting for it, people willingly provide it.

    In addition, social media is a land grab, and Facebook is its most successful grabber, says Glen Weyl, a senior research scholar at Yale and a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, the company’s R&D lab. In basic function, it’s hardly changed in a decade, yet it’s made enough money to buy (Instagram, WhatsApp) or copy ( Twitter and Snapchat) its biggest competitors.

    There is preliminary evidence that the size of the digital advertising pie could grow faster than Google’s and Facebook’s share of it. Research company eMarketer projected in March that their combined share of the ad market will fall for the first time ever.

    “We face fierce competition as new technologies change the way people connect,” says a spokeswoman for Facebook. “Facebook is just one part of an ecosystem that includes dozens of messaging products, photo and video sharing apps, and many other services. Popularity does not equal dominance, and size is not a guarantee of future success.”

    Amazon

    Amazon, in its sprawl and ambition, illustrates what monopolies look like in their early days, says Kim Wang, an assistant professor of strategy and international business at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School. Amazon seems determined to translate its dominance in cloud computing and online retail into dominance in physical retail, delivery of goods, voice-based computing and a half dozen other industries.

    Amazon already accounts for 44% of U.S. e-commerce sales, and is showing rapid growth in categories where it previously foundered, like luxury goods and food. It’s convinced former competitors to get on board as partners, is vertically integrating everything from ordering to delivery—and could someday add manufacturing to the mix.

    If Amazon’s rapid growth continues across all these lines of business, it’s hard to imagine it not eventually becoming a target for breakup.

    Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s chief of worldwide consumer business, has said that in all the businesses it is in, Amazon has “incredible competition.”

    “In world-wide retail, we’re less than 1%,” he recently told the Journal. “I don’t think any one of these areas is a football game where there’s only one winner.”

    Apple

    While Apple may be hoovering up the lion’s share of the mobile industry’s profits, the company is hardly a monopoly by measure of overall market share, say experts.

    A “network effect” is when a product becomes more useful as more and more people use it—be it a fax machine or Facebook. For Apple, the size of its customer base attracts developers who in turn make the iPhone and iPad more valuable.

    Apple iPhone X samples are displayed during a product launch event in Cupertino, Calif., last year.
    Apple iPhone X samples are displayed during a product launch event in Cupertino, Calif., last year. PHOTO: STEPHEN LAM/REUTERS

    Microsoft once had a platform with similar dominance, and it was thought that the network effects of its large customer base and attractiveness to developers would help it stay dominant, says Catherine Tucker, a professor of management and marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management.

    But we’ve got network effects all wrong, argues Dr. Tucker, and we failed to realize that they’re just as likely to empower upstarts to disrupt incumbents like Microsoft. Network effects helped smartphones like the iPhone quickly gain popularity, which marginalized Microsoft’s Office and Windows platforms.

    Even Apple’s own iTunes takeover of the music industry proved to be a passing trend, as Spotify and other streaming services moved in.

    Early Days

    Not everyone agrees that Facebook, Google or Amazon, as powerful as they are now, will need to be reined in.

    “Today’s Amazon is tomorrow’s Macy’s , ” says Dr. Wang. “Very few companies will be able to position themselves for the new, next technology every time.” The technology that gives firms an edge eventually comes within reach of their competitors, she says.

    In every monopoly-dominated industry in history, whether it was oil, railroads, steel or utilities, even the most avaricious competitors took decades to consolidate their hold on markets. Even at today’s faster pace, it’s probably still early days for tech giants.

    “Companies go one of two ways—some are in areas where declining returns to scale set in and they get tamed by market processes,” says Dr. Weyl. “And other companies get tamed by getting turned into a public utility. And until they are, they reap extortionate profits.”

    Write to Christopher Mims at christopher.mims@wsj.com

    COURTESY: WSJ

    Dow closes down more than 700 points on fear of U.S.-China trade war

     12:52
    Trump signs measure hitting China with $60 billion in annual tariffs

    President Trump imposed $60 billion in annual tariffs against Chinese products, following through on his longtime threat. 

     March 22 at 1:34 PM 
    Markets plunged Thursday amid fears President Trump’s new tariffs would start a global trade war, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing 724 points down as the Nasdaq Composite and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index also nose-dived.

    Markets have been shaky for several weeks since the president announced a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. Trump on Thursday announced about $50 billion in annual tariffs on a variety of goods from China. The Chinese are preparing a tit-for-tat response by placing tariffs on U.S. agricultural products such as soybeans that have big markets in China.

    Investors are fearful that the trade policies and their fallout could upset a robust global economy and hamper the nine-year bull market.

    “Trade tariffs are starting to emerge as a bigger market head wind than originally thought,” said Ivan Feinseth, director of research at Tigress Financial Partners. “The strong U.S. and global economic and fiscal policy tail winds are starting to be overtaken by the proposed tariffs, the Fed’s softer-than-expected economic outlook for 2018 and the fallout from the Facebook issue.”

    Traders Peter Tuchman, left, and Patrick Casey work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP file photo)

    The bellwether Dow, encompassing 30 large publicly traded companies, plunged nearly 3 percent and is now in negative territory for 2018, closing at 23,957 Thursday. Caterpillar, Boeing, 3M and JP Morgan Chase were among the big drags on the Dow as trade worries deepened.

    The broader S&P 500 dropped 2.52 percent Thursday and is now more than 1 percent in negative territory for 2018. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.43 percent Thursday but is still up nearly 4 percent on the year.

    Investors cautioned that this week’s volatility is not a signal that the nearly decade-long stock boom has come to a close.

    “It’s not the end of the bull market,” said Jeff Schulze, Investment Strategist at ClearBridge Investments. “The U.S. economy is still strong. Global growth is accelerating. The earnings picture is still healthy. This is just part of the correction that started in early February. A longer-term investor would be wise to buy the dip.”

    The Federal Reserve on Wednesday gave markets more bad news when it announced it would hike a key interest rate, as the central bank continues to move away from the extraordinary efforts it has taken in the past decade to stimulate economic growth. The stimulus moves have greatly boosted stocks since the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession.

    The Fed also increased its projections for economic growth on Wednesday, bumping them up from previous estimates done before Republicans passed their tax bill. But the projections fall short of the sharp growth Republicans promised the tax cuts would create.

     1:30
    Steel tariffs explained using Reddi-wip whipped cream

    Trump’s announcement of a 25 percent tariff on steel imports could greatly affect products that you may not know depend on it, like Reddi-wip. 

    Tech stocks have contributed to the recent market slide, with Facebook, reeling from a data privacy leak, helping drag the sector down.

    The F in the vaunted FAANG stocks — Facebook, Apple, Amazon.com, Netflix, Google — dropped 2.7 percent Thursday, and its losses are bleeding across the technology sector. Apple was down 1.42 percent Thursday, Amazon.com (whose chairman, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post) was down 2.39 percent, and Google parent Alphabet dove 3.73 percent.

    Facebook, with over 2 billion monthly active users, has seen 10  percent of its market capitalization, about $50 billion, vaporized this week on reports that its vast trove of personal data had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, a data mining and political communications firm that was used by the Trump presidential campaign.

    Facebook shares have been a key driver of the recent boom in technology, but it and other technology stocks have dropped on fears that regulators could impose rules that hinder their business models.

    The social media giant came under heavy fire from lawmakers in the United States and Britain over the weekend after news reports raised questions about whether it allowed third-party developers to access the data of users without their permission — a potential violation of its privacy agreement with the U.S. government.

    On Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested that Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testify at an upcoming hearing in response to the reports that Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed the names, “likes” and other personal information of about 50 million Facebook users.

    Democratic Sens. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) said this week that they want Zuckerberg to testify to Congress under oath about his company. Zuckerberg told CNN on Wednesday that he would be “happy” to address Congress.

    China takes a bite out of Apple privacy claims

    What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We may be witnessing the answer with Apple, a long-time privacy advocate, acceding to Chinese demands on access to its iCloud services in the country.

    Iphone X (Reuters/T. Peter)

    China is not big on privacy. The Communist Party government in the People’s Republic is currently in the process of developing a so-called “social credit system” for its citizens, which will use various forms of data, much of it personal and obtained through mass surveillance, to establish a national “reputation” database.

    That might sound like something from a dystopian TV drama, but bit by bit, Xi Jinping’s government has been legislating to bring about such a reality. One example is the new cybersecurity law introduced last summer, one of the provisions of which requires companies that hold the data of Chinese citizens to store that data on Chinese servers and effectively make it available to the Chinese government.

    Apple, the world’s largest IT company by revenue, is big on privacy. The California-based tech superpower has doggedly refused various FBI and US government requests to extract data from locked iPhones, most notably in 2016 when the FBI wanted to extract data from the iPhone of one of the terrorists from the 2015 San Bernardino attack.

    The pioneering company regularly promotes its own privacy and encryption standards — in 2016, CEO Tim Cook sent a public letter talking about the intrinsic importance of privacy to Apple.

    Watch video01:30

    Countries most lacking in internet freedom

    “Here’s the situation,” said Cook, in an interview around the same time. “On your iPhone today, there is likely health information, financial information, there are intimate conversations with family and co-workers and there are probably business secrets and you should have the ability to protect it.”

    Except, it seems, in China, where the company earns tens of billions of dollars a year. From today (February 28), Apple is transferring the operation of its iCloud service for Chinese users to a local, state-owned firm called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD).

    Read more: China’s Xi Jinping urges respect for ‘cyberspace sovereignty’ at internet summit

    That means that the Chinese government will now have far easier access to whatever Chinese users store on Apple’s cloud services within the country. Privacy advocates and human rights activists are appalled but Apple claims that not agreeing to the move would have actually led to less privacy and security for its Chinese users.

    The Apple of China’s omnipresent eye

    The move has been in the offing since last year, when Apple and GCBD announced a partnership agreement. Apple wrote in an email to its users in mainland China that the move “enables us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations.”

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, Apple's Tim Cook (Getty Images/S. Ted S. Warren-Pool)Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Apple CEO Tim Cook

    Those Chinese regulations show scant regard for users’ rights to privacy, particularly if Chinese police or government officials argue that “national security” is at stake. For example, if Chinese authorities approach GCBD in the future about accessing the data of a Chinese-based iCloud user for a criminal investigation, the company has a legal obligation to provide access.

    Access is provided to iCloud accounts via cryptographic keys and until now, all such keys have been based on US servers, meaning any attempts — by China or anyone else — to access them had to go through the US legal system.

    However, Apple’s acquiescence to the Chinese means that for the first time, those keys will be stored on Chinese servers meaning access to them is subject to Chinese legal processes only.

    “While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful,” Apple said. It claims it will still maintain control over encryption keys for users, but it is hard to square that claim with the fact that access will now be a mere Chinese legal ruling away for whatever entity in China pursues it.

    Likewise, Apple’s claim that there will be no “backdoors” — ways for hackers to access iCloud accounts by copying or learning from how others were accessed — is largely irrelevant, given that users’ accounts will be easily accessed through legal means.

    Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have heavily criticized the move by Apple, while Jeremy Daum, an attorney and research fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center in Beijing, told Reuters that any attempts by Apple to block Chinese access will be easily overcome.

    Watch video00:28

    Apple removes ‘New York Times’ from China app store

    “Even very early in a criminal investigation, police have broad powers to collect evidence,” he said. “(They are) authorized by internal police procedures rather than independent court review, and the public has an obligation to cooperate.”

    Profit before privacy?

    To be fair to Apple, it has given its Chinese users plenty of notice of the change. It also says it will not switch customers’ accounts to the Chinese data center until they agree to new terms of service — something 99.9 percent of users have already done — and has reminded them that they can opt out of iCloud if not happy with the new arrangements.

    As well as that, Apple has until now been seemingly resilient in resisting attempts from the Chinese government to access user data, saying it turned down all 176 requests from the Chinese government from mid-2013 to mid-2017, before the new Chinese cybersecurity laws came into place.

    Iphone X (Reuters/T. Peter)Apple has returned to growth in China after a brief period of decline

    The softening since towards Chinese surveillance must be seen in the context of Apple’s increasing business presence in the world’s second largest economy. Apple recently returned to growth in China after a period of stagnation, taking in $9.8 billion (€8.02 billion) in revenue in the third quarter of 2017.

    China is a huge potential growth market for Apple and the latest bow to Chinese legislation follows last year’s move by the company to remove VPN apps from its app store in China, VPNs being devices used to hide an internet user’s information. Apple has also been criticized for blocking Chinese users’ access to the different news apps, a move reflective of China’s strict censorship culture.

    Other large US tech companies, such as Amazon and Microsoft, have made similar concessions to China recently, in an attempt to further access the market there.

    Apple often talks of its “values,” privacy high among them. Discarding some of those “values” appears to be the price that must be paid if a large international company wants to maximize its business in Xi Jinping’s China.

    COURTESY: DW

    Apple downgraded over ‘dramatically’ slowing iPhone X demand

    Apple downgraded over ‘dramatically’ slowing iPhone X demand
    Wall Street researchers KeyBanc Capital Markets and Bernstein have lowered their ratings for Apple shares due to slowing iPhone sales. This week, the firm reported weaker than expected iPhone sales for December.

    “Soft iPhone sell-through suggests a saturated market and the lack of gross margin upside reduces our view of potential profit growth,” KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Andy Hargreaves wrote in a note to clients, according to CNBC.

    “This reduces our view of potential upside in the stock and prompts the downgrade,” he said, adding that the stock’s “fair value” is $178 per share.

    Bernstein, which is Wall Street’s premier sell-side research and brokerage firm, has also reduced its rating for Apple shares to market perform from outperform.

    “Relative to expectations, the cycle is weak, and total iPhones sold are likely to be flat for the third straight year,” said analyst Toni Sacconaghi. “We fear that unit growth could potentially decline by more than what we have seen over the last two years, largely due to the fact that iPhone X demand, in particular, appeared to slow dramatically since December.”

    The analyst reduced his price target for Apple shares to $170 from $195. The company’s shares were up 0.3 percent in Friday’s premarket session, at $168.25.

    Apple reported quarterly earnings on Thursday that beat expectations, while revenue which also topped estimates. However, the number of iPhone units sold fell from a year ago, despite expectations of modest growth, to 78 million iPhones.

    In an attempt to calm investor fears, Apple shareholder Ross Gerber said the company sold a “perfectly fine” number of phones during the quarter, but earnings were a bit less than he was hoping for.

    Apple has set a lower-than-expected revenue forecast for the current quarter of up to $62 billion, below the $65.73 billion that Wall Street was looking for.

    COURTESY: RT

    Apple facing trillion dollar lawsuit for reducing processing speed of aging iPhones

    Apple facing trillion dollar lawsuit for reducing processing speed of aging iPhones
    A US woman is suing Apple for nearly one trillion dollars after the company acknowledged it had deliberately slowed down iPhones as they get older. The US tech giant now faces nine suits over the issue.

    Violetta Mailyan is reportedly seeking compensation, demanding Apple pay her $999,999,999,000.

    At least eight other class action lawsuits have been filed in the US District Courts in California, New York, and Illinois over how Apple handles power management of batteries in older iPhones.

    The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages from Apple, in addition to reimbursement for the phone’s purchase with two of the plaintiffs asking the court to ban the company from reducing the speed of devices or, at least to oblige Apple to inform users before it does so.

    Last week, the corporation admitted it had slowed down older iPhones. Apple said it has algorithms in place to help keep an iPhone running at optimal performance if there is an older battery inside that can’t keep up with the required power. Apple said it aimed to stop unexpected shutdowns of older iPhone models and keep them running to the best possible standard.

    A similar case was filed in an Israeli court on Monday after Los Angeles residents Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas took Apple to court shortly after the company announcement.

    READ MORE: Israelis take Apple to court for slowing iPhones in $125mn lawsuit as number of cases snowball

    “If it turns out consumers would have replaced their battery instead of buying new iPhones had they known the true nature of Apple’s upgrades, you might start to have a better case for some sort of misrepresentation or fraud,” said Rory Van Loo, a Boston University professor specializing in consumer technology law, as quoted by Reuters.

    Courtesy: RT

    Apple sued for deliberately slowing down older iPhones

    Apple sued for deliberately slowing down older iPhones
    A lawsuit has been filed in California against US technology giant Apple after the company admitted to slowing down older iPhone models to keep them running longer.

    According to the plaintiffs, Los Angeles residents Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas, Apple never requested consent from them to “slow down their iPhones.” The owners of an iPhone 7 and several older iPhone models, both claim they “suffered interferences to their iPhone usage due to the intentional slowdowns.”

    The plaintiffs have noticed their “older iPhone models slow down when new models come out.” They are claiming damages from Apple because as they said the company’s actions caused them to suffer “economic damages and other harm for which they are entitled to compensation.”

    Bogdanovich and Speas are trying to get the case certified to cover all people in the United States who own Apple models older than the iPhone 8.

    On Wednesday, Apple acknowledged it had slowed down older phones. It said it has algorithms in place to help keep an iPhone running at optimal performance if there is an older battery inside that can’t keep up with the required power.

    The company said it aimed to stop unexpected shutdowns of older iPhone models and keep them running to the best possible standard.

    Above forecast: Apple could become world’s first trillion-dollar company https://on.rt.com/8rcl 

    It also explained why users could notice some older iPhone models slowing down, saying “Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices.”

    “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple told CNBC.

    For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

    Courtesy: RT

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