Smartphones might not listen to the user’s conversations, but they send screenshots and video recordings to third-party apps, reveals a study by computer science academics at Northeastern University. The scientists did not seem to find any evidence of an app unexpectedly activating microphone on smartphones or sending out audio when not prompted. The experiment to find out whether apps secretly use phones’ mic to record audio, involved more than 17,000 of the most popular apps on Android.
While the study concluded that there was no proof that users’ conversations were recorded, over 9,000 apps had the potential to do so thanks to access granted to the camera and microphone. However, in what remains one of the major privacy threats, apps shared image and video data with other third parties, without users’ knowledge. “We also identified a previously unreported privacy risk that arises from third-party libraries that record and upload screenshots and videos of the screen without informing the user. This can occur without needing any permissions from the user,” the study reads.
Notably, concerns regarding smartphone microphones listening and sharing private conversations by users have been raised in the past. The issue has been denied by companies including Facebook. In 2016, a mass communication professor at the University of South Florida Kelli Burns alleged that the service might be listening to users’ conversations to show related ads in their News Feed. However, the social media giant has repeatedly dismissed the allegations of what CEO Mark Zuckerberg called “conspiracy theory that gets passed around”.
Baby’s First Smart Diaper: Pampers Takes ‘Wearables’ to a Whole New Level
Pampers is the latest company to jump into trendy, wearable devices with a new “connected care system” called Lumi that tracks babies’ activity through a sensor that attaches to diapers.
The sensor sends an alert to an app notification when a diaper is wet. It also sends information on the baby’s sleep and wake times and allows parents to manually track additional info, like dirty diapers and feeding times. A video monitor is included with the system and is integrated into the app. Pampers didn’t say how much the system, which is launching in the US this fall, will cost.
The announcement Thursday from Pampers, which is part of Procter & Gamble, is a sign of the growth in the “baby tech” industry. The Internet of things, or IoT, has invaded homes, promising to make routines and tasks more efficient. Companies have launched connected bassinets, smart night lights and pacifiers, bottles that track feedings and even apps to replicate the sound of a parent saying, “Shush.” Research and Market report predicts the interactive baby monitor market alone will reach more than $2.5 billion by 2024.
But with the increase in “smart” options for babies and younger children, too, parents must make decisions about how much tech to use as they seek to raise them in an increasingly connected world.
“Even an infant or a toddler deserves a little privacy,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of bestselling book “How to Raise an Adult.”
From smart diapers to social media, today’s parents are grappling with an ever-expanding crop of privacy concerns triggered by widespread connectivity of devices.
Posting photos, tracking their development in an app or even searching for information on their health conditions can help big tech develop digital profiles that could follow those children for the rest of their lives.
In many cases, it’s still unclear how data for children’s connected devices are used and how secure it is. Take baby monitors and security cameras: There are dozens of examples of baby or child monitors being hacked or otherwise compromised, including an incident reported by The Washington Post earlier this year in which a Nest Cam installed in a child’s room began playing pornography.
Lythcott-Haims said that parents should proceed carefully when evaluating data-collecting mechanisms for use on their children, even in the earliest stages of life. Tracking a baby too closely could also quickly morph into helicopter parenting.
“When does tracking every move become inappropriate surveillance?” Lythcott-Haims asked. “If we can track their diapers, we can track their Pull-Ups, then we can put trackers on their clothing. Pretty soon we don’t have to worry because we’ll know everything from before birth to end of their lives.”
The Lumi system encrypts all data and uses “the same standard of security as the financial services industry,” said Pampers spokeswoman Mandy Treeby. The system does not currently include two-factor authentication, something security experts consider key to avoiding unauthorised access to systems.
The goal of the system is to alleviate stress for new parents, and feedback from those testing the system has so far been positive, Treeby added.
Lumi isn’t the first jaunt into high-tech diapers. In 2016, Google’s parent company Alphabet filed a patent for “a diaper sensor for detecting and differentiating feces and urine.” Last year, Huggies partnered with Korean company Monit to launch a smart diaper sensor in Korea and Japan.
The risk with so many ordinary objects becoming “smart” is that it makes them dependent on software updates and malfunctions – or a product losing its connectivity if a company goes out of business or discontinues the line. Nike’s $350 self-lacing shoes for instance stopped lacing earlier this year because of a software update.
FaceApp is fun but dubious terms of service raises serious privacy questions
AI photo editing app, FaceApp resurrected in the past week. Everyone’s social media feed is now filled with people posting photos of how they would look when they turn old. While FaceApp is all the rage right now you may be giving the company access to a lot more than you think.
FaceApp had a surge in downloads starting slowly on July 12 and getting a big push from July 13 according to Sensor Tower. In India, FaceApp was down for a few hours late last night but the app is now accessible. To use FaceApp, one needs to give permission access to their photos. While this seems understandable, FaceApp can do much more with your photos then just edit them.
First spotted by Forbes, FaceApp has some dubious terms of service which is detailed on the company’s website. The most striking thing about FaceApp’s terms of service is that the company has rights to use “user content” for commercial purposes.
“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you,” reads FaceApp’s terms.
FaceApp clearly states that it can use your photos and information shared on the app for commercial purposes without any royalties. While it’s totally up to the user to do as they like with their FaceApp photos, it also raises security questions, especially since FaceApp is storing user data.
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, there has been continuous scrutiny over sharing user data with services. Facebook’s 10 year challenge which became viral globally was also suspected to be a major data collecting scheme. Nothing has been proved as yet, but it’s definite that users are still not aware about how companies have access to data. FaceApp has now been downloaded by over 100 million users on Android, and it also became the top-ranked app on iOS.
Rape case: Aditya Pancholi gets interim protection till Aug 3
A sessions court extended till August 3 the interim protection from arrest granted to actor Aditya Pancholi in a case of rape filed against him by a Bollywood actress.
Pancholi had approached the court seeking anticipatory bail after the suburban Versova police lodged an FIR against him on June 28.
The actor was then granted interim protection from arrest till July 19.
“The court on Friday adjourned the hearing on the plea till August 3. The interim protection granted to Pancholi from arrest shall continue till then,” Pancholi’s advocate Prashant Patil said.
The 54-year-old actor has been charged under sections 376 (rape), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison), 384 (extortion), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The actress alleged that between 2004-2006, Pancholi kept her at different locations and forcibly tried to establish a relationship with her by spiking her drinks.
Pancholi claimed that he has been falsely implicated in the case.