Apple Privacy Features Touted On Consumer Electronics Show Adjacent Billboard

Read on: Deadline.

Apple is using an old-fashioned way to capture hearts and minds – it’s put up a large billboard near the Consumer Electronics Show convention center to emphasize its privacy features.

Tech giant Apple isn’t attending the show, but…

Facebook, Google Hit With Lawsuits for ‘Secret’ Location Tracking

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Facebook and Google have both been hit with lawsuits claiming that the Silicon Valley giants secretly track their users’ locations against their will and use the information to pad its advertising business.

The class action complaint against Facebook, which was filed by Brett Heeger last Friday in San Francisco federal court, said the social network tracks its users even after they’ve opted out of its “Location History” feature.

“Facebook secretly tracks, logs, and stores location data for all of its users–including those who have sought to limit the information about their locations that Facebook may store in its servers by choosing to turn Location History off,” the suit said. “Because Facebook misleads users and engages in this deceptive practice, collecting and storing private location data against users’ expressed choice, Plaintiff brings this class action on behalf of himself and similarly situated Facebook users.”

Also Read: Facebook Adds More Choices for Video Ad Buyers on its Platform

Heeger said users aren’t aware of Facebook’s “secret tracking” unless they download their data from the company and search “multiple levels of obscure folders.” He claimed he set up his privacy settings to stop Facebook from tracking his location, but the company continued to do so. Facebook used “estimated locations,” using his IP address and WiFi data, to continue tracking his location, Heeger claimed. The action violated federal and state wiretapping laws, according to the suit.

Facebook benefited from tracking Heeger, the suit claimed, because the company makes money off location-based advertisements. The complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Facebook, in a statement to TheWrap, pushed back against the lawsuit, saying its location tracking policy has always been transparent.

“Our Data Policy and related disclosures explain our practices relating to location data and provide information about the privacy settings we make available,” a Facebook spokesperson told TheWrap. “This lawsuit is without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

Also Read: New Google Feature Will Tell Users ‘Something Good’

The lawsuit follows a similar complaint against Google, which was filed on Oct. 12. in San Francisco federal court. The suit claims that Google “intentionally provided inaccurate instructions” for its users to turn off its own “Location History” feature.

“Google explicitly represented that its users could prevent Google from tracking their location data by disabling a feature called ‘Location History’ on their devices. Google stated: ‘With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.’ This statement is false,” the lawsuit claimed. “Turning off the ‘Location History’ setting merely stops Google from adding new locations to the ‘timeline’ accessible by users. In secret, Google was still tracking, storing, and monetizing all the same information.”

Instead, users have to navigate a labyrinth to reach the correct “Web & Activity” page to turn off location tracking — a page “Google’s instructions intentionally omit all references to,” according to the class action complaint. The suit points to an Aug. 13 report from the Associated Press that brought Google’s tracking policies into question.

Also Read: Google Unveils ‘More Inclusive Vegan Salad’ Emoji

Google’s “secret trick,” allowing the company to continue monitoring its billions of users, violated California privacy law and the state’s right to privacy, according to the suit.

The suit is seeking monetary damages and an injunction against Google continuing the practices.

Google did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

Also Read: Google Admits Third-Party Apps Scan Your Emails

Following the AP’s report, Google updated its location tracking policy to “make it more consistent and clear,” the company told TheWrap in August.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Oculus Co-Founder Brendan Iribe to Exit Facebook

Did Nick Clegg Audition for Top Facebook Job With 2017 Essay Defending Company Against Rupert Murdoch?

Facebook Removes Louis Farrakhan Video Comparing Jews to Termites: ‘Tier 1 Hate Speech’

Google Admits It Tracks Users Even When They Don’t Want Them To

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Google has updated its Location History help page to concede that it still tracks its users — even if they disable the feature — through a series of other settings, including their search history.

The revamped policy now explains users “can turn off Location History at the account level at any time,” but that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”

The admission comes after the Associated Press reported earlier in the week that Google was still tracing and storing the places where its users went, despite turning off Location History. Google had originally said “with Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored,” as the AP noted on Friday, but failed to disclose it continued to track users through its array of services. Archived web pages showed Google updated its help page on Thursday.

Also Read: Google Unveils ‘More Inclusive Vegan Salad’ Emoji

“We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers,” Google told TheWrap in a statement.

Google, the dominant player in online advertising, said on its help page location data helps users “get better results and recommendations.” Turning off Location History limits the precision it can market to its users.

The Mountain View, California-based company is operating under a 20-year agreement with the FTC, barring Google from “future privacy misrepresentations.” The FTC has not said if it’s looking into Google’s updated policy and did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

While Google clarified its tracking policy, its amended page fails to mention there is one way for users to turn off all location storage. Turning off the “Web and App Activity” setting, which is turned on by default, prevents Google from using Maps and Search to track its users.

Related stories from TheWrap:

President Trump Is Spending the Most Money on Google Political Ads – by Far

Can We Count on Facebook and Google to Police the ‘Modern-Day Town Square’?

Google Plots China Return With Censored Search App (Report)

‘Walking Dead’ Star Jeffrey Dean Morgan Tweets to Fans to Stop Showing Up at His House

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

It’s cool to be a fan, even a super fan of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” but Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan, wishes people would stop descending on his home like a horde of zombies all the time.

The “Watchmen” and “Supernatural” actor took to Twitter on Tuesday to discourage fans from coming to his house, taking pictures and knock on his door.

“It’s rude and creepy,” Morgan tweeted. He also issued a warning: “And… you’re being recorded.”

Dear people that think it’s a solid plan to come to our house, take pictures, drive up to house, knock on door… it’s not a good plan. It’s rude and creepy. Respect our privacy please. And… you’re being recorded.

– Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgan) July 3, 2018

Yeah nerds, sometimes you really do take this stuff a bit too far. We’re guessing Morgan will soon be adding a little more security to keep people from cruising up his driveway and knocking on the door.

Also Read: Yvette Nicole Brown to Replace Chris Hardwick as ‘Walking Dead’ Panel Moderator at Comic-Con

“The Walking Dead” returns for its ninth season in this fall, while its sister AMC show “Fear the Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 pm Eastern and will return for the second half of its fourth season August 12. Both shows will be getting big panels later this month at San Diego Comic-Con 2018.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Robert Kirkman, AMC Sued Over ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

New ‘Walking Dead’ Showrunner Says Season 9 Will Focus on ‘Great Stories for the Women’

‘The Walking Dead’: Jon Bernthal Set to Appear in Season 9

State of AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’ Franchise: Zombie or Still a Hero?

California Enacts Nation’s Strictest Data Privacy Law

Read on: Deadline.

In a move that will have broad ramifications for any company that does business in the US, the California legislature has passed the nation’s strongest data privacy law.
The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which takes full effect in 2020…

Apple Doubles Down On Privacy Protections With Latest Version of Mac OS, So Take That Facebook

Read on: Deadline.

UPDATED with added analysis
Apple, which has used its commitment to consumer privacy to distance itself from its Silicon Valley rivals, doubled down on privacy and security with the latest version of its Mac desktop operating system, dubbed “Moja…

New European Privacy Law Set, Flooding Inboxes With Mailing List Updates

Read on: Deadline.

Companies that market themselves through email – practically every company in the world, that is – are scrambling to become compliant with a new European law that could cause major legal actions.
The General Data Protection Regulation (know…

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Says Company’s Model Inoculates It From Tech’s Privacy Woes

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In the wake of Facebook’s data scandal with Cambridge Analytica, people have gotten even more paranoid about who has access to their personal data and what they’re using it for.

During Netflix’s quarterly earnings interview on Monday, Netflix chief Reed Hastings was asked by Morgan Stanley analyst Ben Swinburne how the new focus by regulators and consumers might impact the streaming giant.

Hastings is pretty confident it won’t.

Also Read: Netflix Exec Bonuses Were a Sham to Capitalize on Tax Deductions, Shareholder Lawsuit Says

“Well I’m very glad that we’ve built a business not to be ad supported but to be subscription. We’re very different from the ad supported businesses and we’ve always been very big on protecting all of our members’ viewing,” Hastings said, reiterating that Netflix doesn’t sell ad space on the platform. “I think we’re substantially inoculated from the other issues that are happening in the industry, and that’s great.

“Second, I’d point out that we’ll spend over $10 billion on content and marketing and $1.3 billion on tech so just objectively we’re much more of a media company in that way than pure tech, ” he continued. “Now, of course, we want to be great at both, but again, we’re really pretty different from the pure tech companies.”

In a March interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Apple boss Tim Cook said: “I wouldn’t be in this situation,” referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Also Read: Mark Zuckerberg Hit Back at ‘Extremely Glib’ Apple Boss Tim Cook

He also noted that Apple’s business is fundamentally different from the ad-driven juggernaut Zuckerberg built. “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product,” Cook added. “We’ve elected not to do that.”

During Netflix’s 2018 first quarter ending on March 31, it reported revenue of $3.7 billion and earnings of 64 cents a share, just edging analyst estimates of 63 cents a share and $3.69 billion in revenue. The Los Gatos, California-based company increased revenue 43 percent year-over-year.

Also Read: Netflix Stock Surges on Huge Q1 Subscriber Growth

The key for investors was the 1.96 million U.S. subscribers and 5.46 million internationally that Netflix added during the quarter. Those additions pushed the company past 124 million overall members. Analysts had anticipated 1.45 million domestic subs and 4.9 million internationally.

Netflix’s international subscriber base now accounts for 50 percent of the company’s revenue, Netflix said in a statement.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ian Somerhalder to Lead Netflix Vampire Drama Series ‘V-Wars’

Top 25 Best Netflix Original Series, Ranked From Great to Phenomenal (Photos)

Marvel’s ‘Jessica Jones’ Gets Third Season at Netflix

Susan Sarandon Joins #DeleteFacebook Campaign

Read on: Deadline.

Actress and activist Susan Sarandon has joined the growing list of celebrities and public figures abandoning Facebook in the wake of its privacy scandal.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress this week that there has been no “dramatic fall-off” of users after the Cambridge Analytica revelations. But there certainly have been prominent defections, including Cher, Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey and Rosie O’Donnell.
Sarandon tweeted her discontent today, which she attributed to…

Mark Zuckerberg Resumes Congressional Testimony, Legislators Say: “I Think It Is Time To Ask Whether Facebook Moved Too Fast”

Read on: Deadline.

After a marathon five hours of testimony yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to Congress today to address another round of questions about privacy and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, opened the hearing calling Facebook an American success story — a company that embodies the nation’s principles of freedom of speech and association. But reports that data about millions of users had been…

Mark Zuckerberg Tells Congress: “I Started Facebook. I Run It. I’m Responsible For What Happens Here”

Read on: Deadline.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed regret for allowing an app to harvest the personal data of millions of its users and for reacting too slowly to respond to Russian interference during the 2016 election in formal remarks submitted to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Zuckerberg described Facebook as an idealistic company that is focused on connecting people. The social network has given 2 billion people around the globe powerful new tools to stay connected…

Mark Zuckerberg Hits Back At Tim Cook’s “Extremely Glib” Criticism Of Facebook

Read on: Deadline.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg defended his company’s business model in an interview published today by Vox, saying criticisms from his counterpart at Apple were “extremely glib.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook didn’t pull any punches when asked about Facebook’s privacy issues and what he would do in Zuckerberg’s position: “What would I do? I wouldn’t be in this situation.” Cook took the opportunity to emphasize Apple’s message about user privacy, noting the company sells…

Mark Zuckerberg Decides To Testify Before Congress: CNN

Read on: Deadline.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided he will testify before Congress, acceding to demands from Capital Hill that he answer questions about the Cambridge Analytical scandal.
CNN cited sources as saying Facebook’s co-founder would testify — and hopes to drag Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with him into the public spotlight. A Facebook spokesperson declined to confirm the report.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley yesterday called on…

Bill Baird Birth-Control Rights Movie ‘Privacy’ in Development (EXCLUSIVE)

Read on: Variety.

A movie about activist Bill Baird, a pioneer in the birth-control rights movement in the United States, is in the works at Branded Pictures Entertainment and Corstoria, Variety has learned exclusively. The project, tentatively titled “Privacy,” will focus on the 1972 Eisenstadt v. Baird U.S. Supreme Court case legalizing birth control for single people nationwide […]

Justice Department Sued Over Reputed FBI-Trained Best Buy Geek Squad Spies

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Justice Department was sued Wednesday by a privacy group seeking information on the FBI’s alleged recruitment of Best Buy employees to search consumer computers for child pornography during repairs.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Trump administration’s Justice Department, demanding access to records about any FBI training and payment to Geek Squad workers to search customer computers without a court warrant.

At issue isn’t the criminality of child pornography or efforts to stop the exploitation of children by sexual predators. EFF is concerned that the FBI may be violating the constitutional requirement that law enforcement agencies obtain judge-approved search warrants, based on evidence there is probable cause of a crime, to search computers.

Also Read: James Comey Plans to Testify Publicly About Pressure From POTUS (Report)

“Informants who are trained, directed, and paid by the FBI to conduct searches for the agency are acting as government agents,” EFF civil liberties director David Greene said in a written statement. “The FBI cannot bypass the Constitution’s warrant requirement by having its informants search people’s computers at its direction and command.”

The San Francisco-based non-profit privacy group sued the Justice Department after it refused a request for documents about how the FBI recruits, trains, and pays Best Buy workers to find illegal child pornography on customer computers sent to Best Buy for repairs.

“The public has a right to know how the FBI uses computer repair technicians to carry out searches the agents themselves cannot do without a warrant,” EFF senior counsel David Sobel said in a statement. “People authorize Best Buy employees to fix their computers, not conduct unconstitutional searches on the FBI’s behalf.”

Also Read: Hollywood’s Notable Deaths of 2017 (Photos)

The FBI refused to provide records to EFF based on the agency’s policy of not confirming or denying ongoing investigations.

But court documents in federal court in Santa Ana, California, argue that the FBI has launched a program of training and paying Geek Squad employees to look for child pornography on customer computers sent in for repairs, and to report the porn to authorities.

The OC Weekly first reported in March that court documents revealed an “extensive secret relationship . . . between the FBI and Best Buy’s Geek Squad, including evidence the agency trained company technicians on law-enforcement operational tactics, shared lists of targeted citizens and, to covertly increase surveillance of the public, encouraged searches of computers even when unrelated to a customer’s request for repairs.”

Also Read: 10 Women Who Have Left Fox News Shows, From Megyn Kelly to Laurie Dhue (Photos)

The relationship between the FBI and Best Buy came to light in the criminal case of U.S. v. Rettenmaier.

Dr. Mark Rettenmaier, a Newport Beach, California obstetrics and gynecology specialist, is charged with knowingly possessing child pornography after Geek Squad employees reported to authorities that they allegedly found an illicit image during repairs of his computer in 2011. The criminal case was delayed after Rettenmair
challenged the search of his computer and his home.

Rettenmaier’s lawyers argue that sealed government documents reveal the FBI trained and paid Geek Squad employees, turning them into FBI agents, and therefore would have required a search warrant before Geek Squad employees could search the doctor’s computer, according court documents cited by the Washington Post. Best Buy admits that some employees were paid by the FBI.

Also Read: 11 Shows That Aren’t About Trump — But Totally Were (Photos)

Prosecutors disagree, noting that authorities obtained a search warrant for the doctor’s computer and home after Best Buy employees reported alleged evidence of child pornography to authorities. The warrant-enabled search led to the discovery of “thousands of images of child pornography,” according to a brief by assistant U.S. attorneys Anthony Brown and Gregory Scally.

“The Fourth Amendment is offended by none of this,” federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing. “Nothing unreasonable occurred here, and there was no arbitrary invasion of anyone’s privacy by governmental officials… and there’s not a shred of evidence that anyone at the FBI directed anyone at Geek Squad City to detect and locate child pornography.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Tim Allen Says He Is ‘Stunned and Blindsided’ by ‘Last Man Standing’ Cancellation

Every DC Comics Movie Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘Wonder Woman’ (Photos)

President Trump Signs Law Scrapping FCC Broadband Privacy Rule – Update

Read on: Deadline.

2ND UPDATE, 5:29 PM: President Donald Trump has signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 34, which “nullifies the Federal Communications Commission’s rule on privacy of customers of broadband and other telecommunications services.” The move was expected after the Senate and the House passed bills scrapping an Obama administration rule requiring ISPs to secure consumers’ permission before using or selling data about their Internet use.
Opponents for the most part complained…