Samsung is replacing Opera Max with its own privacy and data savings app called Samsung Max. Samsung says the new Max has an “enhanced design and user experience” compared to Opera’s discontinued version, with two key Data Saving features that help users monitor data usage and manage privacy, while allowing users to access the internet securely.
The new app is particularly aimed at those in India, and builds on the company’s “Make for India” program, which Samsung says is designed to provide locally relevant and beneficial software and hardware.
The app works by scanning users’ phones and identifying which apps are using the most data. It’s also able to actively compress images, videos, music…
Messaging is the heart of Snapchat, so after cloning and augmenting Stories, Instagram is hoping to boost intimate usage of Direct with privacy controls not found elsewhere. Now when you send an ephemeral photo or video from the Instagram Direct camera, you can decide whether recipients can only view it once, replay it temporarily, or will see a permanent thumbnail of it in the chat… Read More Mobile – TechCrunch
Apple’s newly launched HomePod is about as close as the market is to a truly private smart home speaker. The Cupertino tech giant is a big believer in protecting consumer privacy, and its devices show that — particularly when you compare Apple’s policies to its rivals.
Despite that, for the especially privacy-conscious, there are times when even Apple’s secure devices fall a bit short. Luckily, in the case of HomePod, there are a few things you can do to make the smart speaker even more private than it already is. Use the Right Arrow to Browse 3 Ways You Can Make HomePod More Private.
3Learn How to Mute the Microphones
HomePod differs from other smart home speakers in a couple of key ways when it comes to privacy.
For one, HomePod keeps any voice information local to the device — it doesn’t transmit data via the internet until a user says “Hey, Siri.” The query that comes after is then encrypted and anonymized.
But if that isn’t enough, you can actually completely disable whether HomePod is actively listening for “Hey Siri.” This is handy in lieu of a physical mute button (which other smart speakers have). Here’s how.
Launch the Home app on your connected iOS device.
Tap Rooms and find the Room where your HomePod is located.
Long-press or press firmly on your HomePod device.
You’ll see Listen for Hey Siri. Toggle this Off.
Alternatively, you can just say: “Hey Siri, stop listening.”
To turn “Hey Siri” listening back on, just follow the above steps in reverse. Or tap the top of HomePod and say “Hey Siri, start listening.”
Apple doesn’t explicitly state whether this mutes the microphone entirely, but since voice command data is only ever transferred after “Hey Siri” is said, we can assume that any ambient noise is kept local to HomePod, anyway.
2Make Sure No One Else Streams via AirPlay
HomePod owners who subscribe to third-party streaming services have one option to play their music: AirPlay.
The functionality is a bit more limited, but it is a working solution. Unfortunately, because of the way AirPlay works, it can provide opportunities to intrude on your privacy.
Basically, by default, anyone can stream audio to your HomePod using AirPlay. This is problematic if you live in an apartment, a dorm, or close generally in close proximity to others. Luckily, you can tighten up HomePod’s AirPlay settings fairly easily.
Launch the Home app on your connected iOS device.
Tap on the arrow icon in the upper-left corner.
Tap Home Settings, and then your own Home.
Under Speakers > Allow Speaker Access, you can tweak the security settings to stop drive-by streamers.
By default, it’s set to Everyone — but you can change that to one of the following.
Selecting Anyone On the Same Network restricts HomePod use to devices on your own Wi-Fi network.
Only People Sharing This Home restricts use to users who you’ve explicitly invited to have access to your Home.
Lastly, you can simply select Require Password. Input a password and users will need to enter it to stream via AirPlay.
1Keep People from Snooping on Your Messages
HomePod, once it’s set up, is an all-access platform. Anyone in your home can just say “Hey Siri” and use the device.
That’s because HomePod currently lacks any sort of voice-recognition for individual users. That’s okay for ease of use, but it does present a privacy issue for primary users with connected iOS devices.
If you’re the primary user with a connected iOS device, anyone in your home can currently just ask Siri on HomePod to add or edit your reminders and notes, or even read and reply to your private text messages. Here’s how to stop it.
Launch the Home app on your connected iOS device.
Tap the arrow icon in the upper-left corner.
Tap your own profile under People.
Toggle Personal Requests off.
Just follow the steps in reverse to toggle Personal Requests back on.
It’s worth noting that this will limit some Siri-based functionality and hamper some of HomePod’s usefulness as a smart home hub. But if you’re in a shared home or you simply don’t want people snooping, it’s worth disabling until Apple fields another solution.
Internet privacy is a big concern for many, but it’s not just governments and spy agencies that are snooping on the things you’re doing online.
Technology companies are also tracking website users in a bid to improve their products and services. And they’re constantly becoming more powerful.
Social media giant Facebook is just one example of a company that keeps tabs on your internet activities. And it’s just released its own virtual private network (VPN) service, which is called Protect.
Facebook hasn’t been hugely vocal about the service, but according to TechCrunch, it’s now available as a free download iOS users.
Essentially, Facebook uses the service to gather data from its users. It will then analyse this information in a bid to “improve Facebook products and services”.
In 2013, Facebook acquired Onavo, which developed the popular VPN and data security service. However, it’s now available as part of the Facebook app.
You’re able to access the feature by clicking onto the navigation menu and choosing “Protect”. When you do this, you’re sent sent to the Onavo app.
As well as using the app to improve its products and user interface, Facebook has also implemented it to give users peace of mind when it comes to security.
Currently, it’s unknown how many users have actually come across the feature within the Facebook iOS app, or if the company plans to unveil other security features.
This isn’t the first time that the feature has popped up, though. In 2016, UK-based users discovered Protect in the Facebook app, although it’s unclear if the app will be launched overseas officially.
Another reason why Facebook may be doing this is to market the service. Users are being encouraged to download it from the App Store.
In the App Store description of the app, the company writes: Onavo Protect helps keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web.
“This powerful app helps keep you safe by understanding when you visit potentially malicious or harmful websites and giving you a warning.”
“It also helps keep your details secure when you login to websites or enter personal information such as bank accounts and credit card numbers.”
Onavo has since confirmed that the service has come to iOS users in America. Speaking to TechCrunch, product manager Erez Naveh said: “We recently began letting people in the U.S. access Onavo Protect from the Facebook app on their iOS devices.”
“Like other VPNs, it acts as a secure connection to protect people from potentially harmful sites. The app may collect your mobile data traffic to help us recognize tactics that bad actors use.”
“Over time, this helps the tool work better for you and others. We let people know about this activity and other ways that Onavo uses and analyses data before they download it.”
Did you know your television is watching you? Specifically, that most smart TVs are sending data off to their makers and in certain cases, to marketers. Consumer Reports showcased the security flaws and the lack of privacy inherent in connected TV in a report last week, while over at GizmodoKashmir Hill has a new article out about privacy in the smart home that puts a big focus on televisions.
It’s no secret that internet-connected TVs share data with others, nor is it remarkable that most TVs available today are smart. That’s what allows you to watch Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime shows. But the rest of our appliances are also going the way of TV. Samsung and Kenmore both say that, going forward, all of their appliances will have some kind of connectivity built into them.
And for many, the features enabled by connected devices will mostly outweigh the fears of data surveillance. I’m not talking about connected light bulbs and home automation here, but about adding truly innovative and helpful features to once-dumb appliances, letting them become truly smart.
An example of this is a washing machine that can tell how dirty your clothes are and select the proper cycle. Or a fridge that can offer you a remote camera feed to the inside so you can see what’s on the shelf. Maybe the fridge could reorder your water filter when it’s getting old. Even better, maybe that same filter could report back on the purity of the water to environmental agencies and consumers as a way to ensure public health.
Smarter products will have to be connected in order to create information exchanges that benefit the consumer, the manufacturer, and maybe even society. However, the industry so far is screwing this up with an ineptitude driven by greed, short-term thinking, and a desire to act first and beg forgiveness later.
This is emblematic of the culture built up over the last two decades in technology, where we took the internet and used it to turn users into the product. The current backlash against Silicon Valley companies is a reaction to this exchange of personal data for services. Especially as the services became more about keeping the person engaged to the exclusion of their well-being or the well-being of society.
This may sound like hippie dippie stuff, but there is a direct link from Google and Facebook’s behavior to the privacy concerns that people have with regard to connected devices. That those concerns are completely justified only makes it worse.
I’ve spent years trying to tell the industry and the government that privacy matters. Not just because it’s a basic right, but because if you respect people’s privacy and offer them agency over controlling their data, they are more likely to buy the product. And if you offer them a compelling reason to share their data while still offering them some control, you actually build a model where the data you collect has to benefit the user or the larger society.
We are starting to see some momentum on this front, and I am hopeful that 2018 will be a turning point in the U.S. The General Data Protection Regulation in the EU has already established a framework for how to establish data privacy as a human right. What’s even more promising is that many of the regulations in the GDPR are impossible or difficult to implement today, and the EU realizes that.
The hope is that the EU will guide technologists in developing tools that match the regulatory framework while the regulatory stick offer will offer an incentive for companies to make a market to develop the tools required to meet the law. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., technologists are increasingly asking themselves how to get and use data responsibly.
While this entire essay is focused on the importance of managing user privacy and the intentional gathering and sharing of consumer data, security is also related to the topic. Specifically, what happens to consumer data when security is breached. As it stands, consumers are worried both about a loss of their privacy to companies, but also to hackers as part of the all-too-often security breaches.
Until the tech companies get their priorities in order and the government steps up with rules that give consumers some control over their information, I believe the promise of the smart home will never take off, because consumers won’t trust it.