This week’s top stories: HomePod’s ‘ring’ problem, Apple Watch helps save a life, Facebook’s spyware on iOS, more

In this week’s top stories: Another pesky text bug on iOS and macOS, more thoughts on the HomePod, Apple Watch helps save yet another life, and more. Read on for all of this week’s top stories..

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9to5Mac

Facebook’s ‘Protect’ feature on iOS essentially installs spyware on iPhone and iPad

Facebook is rolling out a new security feature called Protect to many users of its iOS app. While the name might make unknowing users feel good about installing the associated free app, the Facebook owned VPN is designed to collect and analyze user data to “improve Facebook products and services.”

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9to5Mac

Google refuses comment on ‘aggressive deployment’ of Android spyware app in Play store

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Google has taken action to curb the spread of Android malware based on "SonicSpy" that besides just exfiltrating personal data from the phone, had the ability to silently record audio, take photos with the camera, make calls, and send text messages.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

Amazon suspends sales of BLU phones due to alleged spyware, BLU denies wrongdoing

BLU is one of many low-end phone manufacturers, known for its dirt-cheap unlocked Android phones. But back in November, a security firm discovered spyware on some BLU phones sold in the United States, prompting Amazon to stop selling the affected devices until the issue was resolved.

But it looks like BLU is, once again, in trouble with Amazon. The retailer is ceasing sales of some BLU devices (there are still some available for purchase, at the time of writing) following an announcement from security firm Kryptowire at the recent Black Hat security conference.

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Amazon suspends sales of BLU phones due to alleged spyware, BLU denies wrongdoing was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Android Police – Android News, Apps, Games, Phones, Tablets

Amazon suspends sales of Blu phones for including preloaded spyware, again

Blu, a Miami-based budget Android phone company, has been suspended from selling on Amazon after cybersecurity experts detailed how software preloaded onto its devices collects sensitive user data and sends it overseas, according to CNET. Kryptowire, a Virginia-based security firm, said last week during the BlackHat security conference in Las Vegas that spying software from Chinese company Shanghai Adups Technology was still present on certain Blu handsets. The software leaves users vulnerable to remote takeovers and having their text messages and call logs recorded, as well as other forms of discrete data collection.

“Because security and privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance, all Blu phone models have been made…

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The Verge – All Posts

China Is Forcing Minority Citizens to Install Spyware on Their Phones

Chinese authorities are reportedly forcing some of the country’s ethnic minorities to install intrusive government surveillance software onto their devices, according to a new report.

The intrusive surveillance efforts are taking place in Xinjiang, a region in western China that’s home to much of the country’s Muslim minority. Last week, local authorities in the area sent a notice to residents instructing them to install a “surveillance” app on their phones, and announced that they would be making spot checks to ensure that locals complied with the order, Radio Free Asia reported. Users who deleted or did not download the app could be detained for up to 10 days, according to local social media reports.

The instruction was sent via WeChat to residents in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. It was written both in Mandarin and Uyghur, a language spoken by the Uighur ethnic population in the region. The notice contained a QR code that would download an app called Jingwang, which authorities claimed would “automatically detect terrorist and illegal religious videos, images, e-books and electronic documents” stored on a device. If any banned content was detected, the app would urge residents to delete it.

Local analysis shows that Jinwang scans for the digital signatures of media files against a database of illegal “terrorist-related” media and content, Mashable reported. The app also records copies of Weibo and WeChat data, as well as a device’s IMEI number, SIM card data, and Wi-Fi login data. This data is apparently logged and sent to an unknown server. The app is similar to a previous “citizen safety” platform developed in-house by Urumqi police which allowed users to report suspicious activity.

The move is just the latest in a longer trend of surveillance ramp-up in the region. Xinjiang is home to about 8 million Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic minority who have long complained of being oppressed under the communist Chinese government, according to the BBC.

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