Apple yanks Alex Jones’ InfoWars app

After Alex Jones and InfoWars drew bans from Facebook, YouTube and Apple Podcasts over repeated violations of their conduct policies, fans of the network downloaded its apps to continue accessing the same content. Tonight Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed…

Dozens of iPhone Apps ‘Constantly’ Sending Location Data to Data Monetization Firms

Dozens of popular iPhone apps are sharing the location data of millions of mobile devices with third-party data monetization firms, according to a group of security researchers called GuardianApp (via TechCrunch).

The apps in question are mostly news, weather, and fitness apps that require access to location data to work properly, but then share that data to earn money.



According to security researchers, the apps send both precise location and other sensitive customer data to data monetization companies “at all times, constantly” sometimes without customers being aware of the location data collection. The information is used for purposes like creating databases for ad targeting.

Researchers used tools to monitor network traffic to discover apps collecting Bluetooth LE data, GPS longitude and latitude, WiFi SSIDs, accelerometer information, battery charge percentage, location arrival/departure timestamps, and more.

While the apps say that personally identifiable information is not included in the data collection, one of the researchers, Will Strafach, told TechCrunch that latitude and longitude coordinates can provide information on a person’s home or work. Many customers who agree to provide apps with location data may not be aware of the extent of the information being collected and shared.

Apps that were found to be collecting location info and sending it to data monetization firms include ASKfm, NOAA Weather Radar, Homes.com, Perfect365, C25K 5K Trainer, Classifieds 2.0 Marketplace, GasBuddy, Photobucket, Roadtrippers, Tapatalk, and more, with a full list available on the site.

The data is being sent to companies that include Reveal, Sense360, Cuebiq, Teemo, Mobiquity, and Fysical. These companies denied wrongdoing, suggested customers were able to opt out at any time, and said that developers are required to inform customers about the data collection.

Some of the apps in question do indeed have clear data collection notices when opening them up for the first time, but data monetization firms do not make sure apps are following disclosure policies and not all do.

“None of these companies appear to be legally accountable for their claims and practices, instead there is some sort of self-regulation they claim to enforce,” said Strafach.

iPhone users who want to avoid having their location data shared with data monetization firms should be wary of the third-party apps they install that are using location services. Limiting ad tracking in Privacy settings by going to Privacy > Advertising is recommended.

GuardianApp also suggests users use a generic name for router SSIDs and turn off Bluetooth functionality when Bluetooth is not in use.
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Proposed Tariffs Will Impact Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, Mac Mini and More

A proposed $200 billion tariff on Chinese goods would affect the Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, Beats headphones, AirPort routers, Apple Pencil, Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard, MacBooks, Mac mini, and a selection of cables, chargers, and adapters, Apple said today in a letter sent to the U.S. government.

Apple’s letter urges the Trump administration not to apply the tariffs that will affect Apple products and to find “other, more effective” solutions instead. According to the company, the U.S. will be the hardest hit by the proposed tariffs, leading to lower U.S. growth and competitiveness and higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Apple CEO Tim Cook with Donald Trump at the Executive Tech Summit at Trump Tower in December 2016

The proposed tariff list covers a wide range of Apple products and the products used in our U.S. operations: Apple digital health and wireless connectivity products, including Apple Watch, Apple Pencil and Air Pods; Apple computing tools such as MacMini; Apple adapters, cables and chargers engineered for efficiency and safety; Apple-designed components and made-to-specification tooling for Apple’s U.S. manufacturing and product repair facilities; specialty testing equipment for Apple’s U.S. product development labs; and servers, hard drives and cables for Apple’s U.S. data centers that support our global services such as the App Store.

According to Apple, the tariffs will increase the cost of its U.S. operations, divert resources, and disadvantage Apple compared to foreign competitors, leading to more expensive Apple products for customers.

Second, because all tariffs ultimately show up as a tax on U.S. consumers, they will increase the cost of Apple products that our customers have come to rely on in their daily lives. For example, the proposed tariffs cover Apple Watch, which has become the top-selling smart-watch in the U.S. and globally.

Since we introduced Apple Watch a few years ago, we have heard from users about how it has changed, and in some cases saved, their lives. Apple Watch is also being used in conjunction with American universities to help individuals to manage health conditions such as epilepsy and post-heart attack recovery.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in July that Apple was evaluating the fourth tariff the United States plans to implement and would comment on its impact on Apple at a later date, which is what today’s letter pertains to. Cook called the examination of the tariff “a tedious process” because of the need to consider not only revenue, but also purchases being made through other companies unrelated to revenue, such as data centers.

The United States has already put three sets of tariffs in place affecting steel, aluminum, and $50 billion worth of other goods from China, but none of these tariffs have impacted Apple products and devices.

When commenting on tariffs in July, Cook said that while Apple believes the trade agreements the U.S. has with other major economies are in need of modernization, tariffs are not the right approach. Cook said Apple is, however, “optimistic” the tariff issue will be sorted out, and that the company is hoping “calm heads prevail.”

Apple shares dropped following the tariff news.

Apple's Comments Regard… by on Scribd

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Apple to Launch a Global Law Enforcement Web Portal to Streamline Data Requests by End of 2018 [Updated]

Apple this week announced it will be launching a dedicated web portal by the end of 2018 for authenticated law enforcement officers to submit lawful requests for data, track requests, and obtain responsive data from the company.

Photo: Alejandro Mejía Greene via Flickr/Creative Commons


Apple also said it is building a team of professionals dedicated to training law enforcement officers, which the company believes will improve its ability to reach smaller police forces and agencies around the world. This will include the development of an online training module for officers.

The web portal will be available globally as part of Apple’s new Law Enforcement Support Program, which the company detailed on the Government Information Requests page of its privacy website this week.

Apple says the program will allow it to uphold its fundamental commitment to protect the security and privacy of its users:

We believe that law enforcement agencies play a critical role in keeping our society safe and we’ve always maintained that if we have information we will make it available when presented with valid legal process. In recognizing the ongoing digital evidence needs of law enforcement agencies, we have a team of dedicated professionals within our legal department who manage and respond to all legal requests received from law enforcement agencies globally. Our team also responds to emergency requests globally on a 24/7 basis.

We publish legal process guidelines for government and law enforcement agencies globally and we publish transparency reports twice a year detailing the types of requests we receive and how we respond. In addition, we regularly provide training to law enforcement officers on the types of data available from Apple and how to obtain it consistent with our legal process guidelines.

By the end of 2018 we will begin the launch of an online portal for authenticated law enforcement officers globally to submit lawful requests for data, track requests, and obtain responsive data from Apple.

We are building a team of professionals dedicated to training law enforcement officers globally, which will significantly increase our ability to reach smaller police forces and agencies. This will include the development of an online training module for officers. This will assist Apple in training a larger number of law enforcement agencies and officers globally, and ensure that our company’s information and guidance can be updated to reflect the rapidly changing data landscape.

Apple is committed to protecting the security and privacy of our users. The above developments and the work we do to assist investigations uphold this fundamental commitment.

Apple requires law enforcement and government officials to follow applicable laws when requesting customer information and data. If they do, Apple complies by providing the narrowest possible set of data relevant to the request.

That information can include device identifiers, customer service records, and iCloud content such as emails, stored photos, documents, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, Safari browsing history, Apple Maps search history, iMessages backups, and iOS device backups, according to Apple’s guidelines.

Where and when legally required, Apple may also provide basic customer information such as name, physical address, email address, phone number, and IP address, along with customer service records and Find My iPhone logs.

Apple ensures that it has never created a backdoor or master key to any of its products or services, and never will. Perhaps the biggest example of this was Apple’s refusal to create a loophole for the FBI to brute force their way into the passcode-locked iPhone owned by the shooter in the 2015 San Bernardino attack.

Twice per year, Apple publishes a transparency report that outlines how many data-related requests it has received from law enforcement, government, and private party officials, both in the United States and abroad.

In the United States, during the second half of 2017, for example, Apple received 4,450 requests for 15,168 devices. Apple provided data in 3,548 cases, or approximately 80 percent of the time. Worldwide, Apple received a total of 29,718 requests covering 309,362 devices, providing data 79 percent of the time.

Update: Apple is launching these initiatives in response to a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the cybersecurity challenges and digital evidence needs of U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Apple has adopted all of the recommendations in the CSIS report and, on Tuesday, Apple’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Katherine Adams sent a letter to U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) announcing the launch of several new programs meant to help law enforcement agencies.

The full letter was obtained by MacRumors:

Apple Letter to Sen. Whitehouse on Working With Law Enforcement by MacRumors on Scribd



Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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Apple’s AirPort Utility App Finally Gains Support for iPhone X Display

Just ahead of when Apple plans to release new 2018 iPhones, the company has quietly updated its AirPort Utility app to introduce support for the longer display of the iPhone X.

AirPort Utility is one of the last remaining Apple apps that have gone for months without an iPhone X update.



For those unfamiliar with the app, it is designed to allow AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule owners to manage their devices.

Apple has discontinued development on all of these products, but has pledged to continue to support them for the next several years. Today’s app update follows a major firmware update for the AirPort Express that introduced support for AirPlay 2.
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Skype drops Snapchat-like feature since people weren’t using it

Microsoft's about-face on Skype now extends to one of its not-so-subtle attempts to ride the social media bandwagon. As part of a broader app update, Microsoft has revealed that it's axing its Snapchat-like Highlights feature for mobile users in a b…

Philips Hue to Implement Support for Siri Shortcuts Later This Year

Philips is planning to introduce support for Apple’s Shortcuts feature in its Hue app in iOS 12, Philips announced today at the IFA electronics trade show in Berlin (via iCulture).

With the integration, Hue owners will be able to add lighting recipes to various Siri Shortcuts, such as shifting the lights in the dining room to a certain color with a Siri voice command like “Dinner Time,” as demoed by Philips.



Siri Shortcuts is a Siri feature designed to allow users to create multi-step shortcuts using first and third-party apps that can be activated by Siri voice command.

Shortcuts are deeply customizable, and third party apps like the Hue app are able to develop quick actions for Siri that can be incorporated into Shortcuts recipes. When Hue integration launches, Hue options will be available in the dedicated Shortcuts app.

The Hue shortcuts will be compatible with other shortcuts, so you can have a whole “Dinner Time” setup that not only changes the lights, but also does things like turn on music and text family members that the food is ready.

Siri is able to suggest frequently used Shortcuts right on the iPhone’s lock screen and Apple Watch, so if there are Hue-related lighting shortcuts that are often used, these options will be able to be implemented with a simple tap.

Right now, the Shortcuts app, which is what’s used to create these Siri Shortcuts, is available to developers in a beta capacity, but it will be released when iOS 12 is released. Sometime after that, Philips will presumably implement Shortcuts support.

Philips today also announced a new power feature that’s designed to allow Hue lights to retain their color and brightness settings after a power outage or after a lamp has been manually turned off, and the company is partnering with new lighting companies that include Makris, Kichler, Busch-Jaegar, Illumra, Koizumi, and John Lewis for its Friends of Hue program.
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Mophie Unveils New Wireless Charging Options

Mophie today announced the launch of four new wireless charging products designed for the iPhone and other Qi-based smartphones, debuting the Charge Stream Vent Mount, the Charge Stream Desk Stand, and the Charge Stream Powerstation Wireless in standard and XL configurations.



The Charge Stream Vent Mount ($69.95) is designed to fit in most vehicles with a four-prong mount that slips over the air vent. It’s meant to accommodate one-handed smartphone insertion and removal, and should work with most smartphones regardless of size. Rubberized arms hold a device in place while charging, and for iPhones, it supports faster 7.5W charging speeds.



Mophie’s new Charge Stream Desk Stand ($69.95) , which is coming this fall, looks similar to its existing charging pad for iPhones. It offers 7.5W charging speeds while holding an iPhone or other smartphone upright in portrait or landscape mode. The charging pad can be removed from its steel frame and used as a traditional wireless charging pad if desired.



The Charge Stream Powerstation Wireless ($79.95) and the Charge Stream Powerstation Wireless XL ($99.95) work as a traditional wireless charging pad when near a wall outlet and as a 5W wireless charging battery pack when on the go. The Powerstation Wireless features a 6,040mAh capacity, while the Powerstation Wireless XL features a 10,000mAh capacity. An included USB-A port can also charge a second device.



With the exception of the Desk Stand, which is not yet available, all of the new wireless charging options can be purchased from the Mophie website starting today.
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