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Samsung Edits Orwellian Clause Out Of TV Privacy Policy

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Following a storm of criticism relating to a creepy-sounding privacy policy covering its smart TVs, Samsung has today published a rebuttal and a more detailed explanation of the workings of its under-fire voice recognition feature. It has also edited the wording of its privacy policy to avoid sounding quite so eerily similar to George Orwell’s 1984 dystopia.

The original policy, which has been in place for some months, warned users of Samsung’s Internet-connected TVs:

Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.

Which sounded very much as if Samsung was asking its customers to self-censor their conversation when sitting in front of their own TV in their own home. An impression that was compounded by the lack of clarity about how exactly Samsung’s voice recognition feature worked — in terms of when and how it is switched into ‘listening’ mode (so when it’s sending your spoken words to the cloud for other companies to process).

In today’s blog, Samsung stresses that its SmartTVs “do not monitor living room conversations”, and has edited the wording of the policy to excise the offending Orwellian paragraph about sensitive info being snooped upon. Instead it now stresses that user agency is required to trigger the listening feature.

The policy includes the following section explaining the workings of the voice recognition, and also specifying that the third party processing user voice data is, in this instance, Nuance Communications. (Samsung’s policy changes are highlighted below by me in bold.)

If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Samsung will collect your interactive voice commands only when you make a specific search request to the Smart TV by clicking the activation button either on the remote control or on your screen and speaking into the microphone on the remote control.

It’s certainly welcome that Samsung has made it plainer its TVs do not in fact squat in the corner recording your every utterance. And provided clarity that the full-fat voice recognition feature does not remain on by default but requires a specific user trigger each time it’s used — by the pressing of an activation button.

However the policy is still rather circumspect, referring somewhat vaguely to “some interactive voice commands” that “may be transmitted”. This vagueness is compounded by the fact the TV can also process basic “voice commands” without having to resort to a third party cloud service provider — yet the policy is still fuzzy on the distinction between basic voice commands and more complex speech commands.

The difference between plain old “voice commands” and “interactive voice commands” — in the Samsung SmartTV universe — is in fact clarified by the company in its blog. Here it notes voice recognition takes place in two ways: one being local to the device, with no cloud-processing (and so no third party data privacy concerns), and with support for only “simple predetermined TV commands such as changing the channel and increasing the volume” ; while the second type of voice recognition supports more complex voice commands, such as the ability to ask the TV to recommend a movie, and does involve data being sent off-site to a third party (Nuance) for processing.

There are also two microphones involved — one in the TV does the basic voice commands (which Samsung says does not record, track or store what it hears, listening only for commands to be spoken to trigger set TV actions); while a second mic, located in the remote control, opens the recording gateway to the cloud.

Its blog notes:

Voice recognition takes place in two ways:

The first is through an embedded microphone inside the TV set that responds to simple predetermined TV commands such as changing the channel and increasing the volume. Voice data is neither stored nor transmitted in using these predetermined commands.

The second microphone, which is inside the remote control, requires interaction with a server because it is used for searching content. A user, for example, can speak into the remote control requesting the search of particular TV programs (ex: “Recommend a good Sci-Fi movie”). This interaction works like most any other voice recognition service available on other products including smartphones and tablets.

As I wrote earlier, the bottom line here is that companies building ‘smart’ services need to be thinking about privacy by design — at the very front and centre of the devices and services they are building — not tacking on auxiliary clauses to catch-all privacy policies which are designed to fly under users’ radars anyway.

Relying on vague wording to obfuscate function and keep users in the dark as to how their technology really operates does no one any favors. It breeds mistrust, and triggers overblown concerns. If the privacy policy sounds creepy, the implication is the service provider is also doing something creepy — or at very least trying to hide its activity from plain sight. Which makes people naturally suspicious.

A further problem here, which Samsung has still not addressed in today’s updates, is that users of its voice recognition feature also — presumably — become subject to a third party (Nuance’s) privacy policy. That is not made clear in Samsung’s amended privacy policy. Nor is there a link to Nuance’s privacy policy (which notes, for instance, that Nuance may use information gathered by use of its services for “advertising and marketing”). We’ve asked Samsung about this omission and will update this post with any response.

As the smart home takes shape, consumers are going to be asking increasingly probing questions about what previously innocuous but-now-connected-to-the-cloud home gizmos are actually doing with the data they’re sniffing. To keep buyers on side, device makers will not only need great services; they’ll need sparkling privacy and spectacular security too.

A core part of the solution will be privacy by design, and privacy policies written in plain language that are displayed proudly, as an asset, held up in plain sight.

But even those are only partial fixes if the transparency peters out at the gateway to the cloud. It’s not good enough for device makers to pass the baton and the buck to any third party entities they have looped into processing user data off-site. The parameters of associated third party operations also need to be made clear to the user. Or that’s just a whole new layer of transparency failure inviting censure.

source:http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/10/smarttv-privacy/?ncid=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29#XiR3Jj:bCd

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Business

KATY PERRY AND OBAMA LOST MORE THAN 2 MILLION FOLLOWERS OVERNIGHT THANKS TO A NEW TWITTER RULE

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Celebrity accounts on Twitter have seen a big drop in numbers overnight, thanks to a rule change by the company.

Twitter announced on Wednesday that it would no longer include “locked” accounts in follower numbers in an effort to boost user trust in the service. Twitter locks accounts when they display a sudden change of behaviour, like sending lots of unsolicited replies.

According to social media analytics service Socialblade, the nine biggest Twitter accounts — Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ellen Degeneres, Christiano Ronaldo and YouTube — all saw drops of more than 2 million followers each.

Here’s Katy Perry’s follow count — check out the sudden drop at the end:

Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s followers dropped by 2,816,619 on Friday.
 Social Blade

The size of the drops were not directly correlated to the amount of initial followers. Justin Timberlake rounds out the top 10 accounts with the biggest followings, but he’s lost around 1.8 million overnight.

Meanwhile Britney Spears (14th in terms of followers) did lose more than 2 million, and Twitter’s own corporate Twitter account (16th) lost more than 7 million.

Here’s Twitter’s follower count according to SocialBlade:

Twitter
Twitter saw the largest drop of all with 7,731,910.
 Social Blade

The most popular accounts have more than 100 million followers, and Donald Trump is far down the list with 53.1 million. His follow count remains relatively unscathed. He lost just 326,118 followers on Thursday, the day before most accounts saw a drop, and on Friday he regained 5,339 followers.

Here’s Donald Trump’s follow count:

Trump Twitter stats
Trump had a small loss on Thursday, but started regaining followers on Friday.
 Social Blade

Although losing 2 million followers is undoubtedly a significant drop, proportionally speaking it’s not necessarily huge. Katy Perry started off with 109 million followers, and a 2.8 million drop represents a decline of approximately 2.6%. Twitter initially warned that its culling of fake followers would affect about 6% of all follows, so Perry actually may have got off lightly.

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Finance

SAPIEN NETWORK’S VISION TO BUILD WEB 3.0: A LOOK AT THEIR ROADMAP

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Much has been said about blockchain potential to revolutionize the internet and usher in a new age of interconnectedness — one characterized by fairness, equality, privacy and security, popularly termed as “Web 3.0”. Several projects are building the infrastructure to enable this transition, of which the social media experience is an integral part.

Sapien Network, which has been building a decentralized social platform that gives power back to end-users, is one of those projects. Social platforms have enormous influence in shaping the opinions of the masses, and are unfairly designed in favor of the tech companies behind it.

With its utility token SPN, Sapien hopes to let users define the value of content, advertising influence and their overall social experience.

It’s no small task overhauling the web, however, and Sapien has been focused on developing the many underlying features that make up a radically new way of interacting online.

In Its Vision to Build Web 3.0, How Does Sapien Differ from Reddit and Steemit?

As is the case with other projects attempting to build Web 3.0, Sapien’s long-term goal is to build a tokenized version of a social platform that gives power to the users, which in turn allows them to combat misinformation, protect their data and secure their privacy through the use of tokens and decentralized governance mechanisms.

To that end, they are building an ecosystem of products in partnership with several other projects and third parties that will uphold the principles of the internet’s true intent: a platform for communication that cherishes free speech, privacy and democracy.

The current internet offers this to a degree, with platforms like Reddit and Steemit allowing users to share their opinions anonymously.

However, Sapien triumphs over Reddit by monetarily rewarding users for their content and curators for their moderation efforts, while also highlighting experts and their knowledge in certain fields. Additionally, there is a greater emphasis on users putting forth their ideas, rather than companies pushing their agenda.

With respect to Steemit, the advantage Sapien has is its Proof-of-Value consensus mechanism, which runs on the quantifiable value of content and reputation of communities. This is bolstered by the fact that it is also easier to create communities on Sapien’s platform.

Users are incentivized to act honestly through a reputation system, which also plays a part in platform governance, which we talk about later.

What users like best are tools that let them operate in the way they want and, knowing this, Sapien is also planning to implement public and private modes, and community tools, which lets them customize their social experience to their liking.

Indeed, customization is one of Sapien’s most salient features. These modes will allow users to choose either their real identity or a anonymous one, and this can be set according to the groups or subscriptions that one wishes to join.

When one switches between these groups, the private/public mode automatically toggles. In other words: one account, two different identities.

This is an important aspect in upholding a user’s privacy, which is an essential characteristic of Web 3.0. Of course, this privacy also extends to the chat systems, which are encrypted from end to end.

Not to be left unmentioned, Sapien’s marketplace allows users to buy goods on a peer-to-peer basis using their native tokens.

Sapien’s unique staking system also deserves a brief mention as content value is at the heart of the staking system, which is divided into various “pillars.” Each of the 8 pillars demands varying amounts of staked tokens, and grant different levels of user actions.

For example, the first level called “Access” allows user to perform only read-only actions, whereas staking more tokens into the “rewards engine” lets the user receive a greater amount of revenue from advertisements.

The system lets users decide how much they want to contribute and rewards them proportionally. The more a user stakes, the more they earn.

The reward engines will go live this month, letting users stake SPN for each action they take on the platform, such as creating HQ content, leaving comments, and voting on posts.

It is worth reading Sapien’s documentation on their staking system to get all the details on how it works.

The Sapien Network Roadmap Describes the Path Towards their Decentralized Vision

Consistent updates to keep the community informed about progress is a hallmark of a good project, and those interested in Sapien will be pleased to know that the team does so frequently on their blog.

As those posts will indicate, Sapien’s 2018 roadmap revolves around designing a user-friendly platform with an intuitive UI/UX, which we talk about shortly, and getting the word out that a decentralized social platform does exist and is ready for use.

Their overall roadmap stretches to 2020, around which time they hope to consistently add users to their platform. First, however, they must create a platform that can actually be used and this has been their focus in early 2018.

Sapien spent 2017 working on a private beta, developing Sapien into a blockchain application and completing the project’s whitepaper. Having done this, they felt confident enough to move onto the actual token sale, which conducted its first phase in Q1 2018.

What’s Next for Sapien in 2018

Sapien is taking the majority of the year to build the fundamental infrastructure for their platform and growing the user base. The following is an outline of their agenda for 2018.

Marketing, Brand Awareness and the Sapien Mobile App

Social platforms are a finicky endeavor. There were many before Facebook came into being, but none clicked in quite the same way as Facebook. A large part of a platform’s success comes down to word of mouth and a welcoming UI; and up and until Facebook, nothing had the same effect as Facebook’s news feed and the inviting red notification contrasted against a blue background.

The Sapien team knows that growing a user base is at the heart of their project’s success and has thus put a lot of effort into marketing and brand awareness.

The first half of 2018 was focused on marketing and UI/UX, described below. The former included airdrops, the Sapien rewards programcompetitions and a ceaseless effort by the team to educate the public on all of the different ways decentralized social platforms are better than current platforms. The Sapien team also implemented a payout to content creators and curators.

Being aware of the fact that most people use social media on their phones, Sapien released a mobile app version of the Sapien platform on June 14, which is a key development in creating growth. Additionally, they are also working on porting the platform to a dapp.

Naturally, marketing will have to be a continual effort, at least until Sapien’s adoption reaches critical mass. It is not the only project in this space, which is further reason as to why publicizing its uniqueness will be important. The team hopes to acquire 10,000 users every month by Q4 2018, which is a reasonable ambition.

UI/UX

For any service in which people are expected to spend a lot of their time, the actual experience of using the platform must be intuitive and unobstructive. Think Facebook, and the ease with which you can view updates from your friends, as opposed to MySpace or Orkut, which was extremely cumbersome by comparison.

That’s why the team has been working hard on perfecting the UI/UX of the Sapien platform.

Pictured below is a preview of the proposed update to the UI that is expected with Sapien’s next platform update. The clean approach draws the attention to the content, with easy accessibility to categories, filters and user account options.

Sapien Network UI
Proposed UI wireframe

The UI will continue to remain a subject of development efforts throughout 2018 and beyond.

2019 and Beyond

2019 is a whole different ball game for the project, shifting their focus from marketing to platform development and general refinement.

Democratized Autonomous Platform

A key feature of the Sapien platform is the Democratized Autonomous Platform (DAP) which is a mechanism that allows users to have their say on the project’s roadmap through a proposal system. SPN stakeholders will have the power to influence organizational decisions, suggest new features for the platform, and modify marketplace rewards.

The DAP will function on a staking mechanism and random set of users will be selected as validators. Furthermore, a reputation system exists to ensure that malicious actors are penalized for dishonest behaviour.

The ultimate goal is to create a system that is self-moderating and fully autonomous, where users themselves can decide what is best for the platform.

The team will be building the infrastructure for the DAP in Q1 2019.

Bolstering the Marketplace and Other User-Centric Features

The marketplace goes beyond just goods, as the SPN token plays the most important role in deciding how valuable a content is, and the more charitable goal of fighting fake news and loq quality content.

Creators receive tokens for worthwhile content from other users, and this removes the dependance on advertisements for revenue.  As Sapien grows more popular, the team wants to add to the list of available items on the marketplace, which will become the economic hub that defines the value of content creators.

This is expected to happen in Q2 2019.

Scaling to a Million Users

Growth remains one of the biggest challenges and pulling in developers will be critical in overcoming that challenge. By Q3 2019, the team hopes to open up the developer platform to third-party applications and integrations, which would mean that many more services and products could be built on top of the Sapien Network.

In tandem with their marketing efforts, this could put them on track to achieve their goal of optimizing the platform to scale, and add a million new users every month from Q4 2019, as they have stated in their roadmap.

For a detailed description of roadmap and features, we recommend reading Sapien’s whitepaper.

Past Successes Will Instill Confidence for Their Ambitious Goals

Despite the relative newness of the Sapien platform, the project has already established multiple partnerships and completed major milestones.

Most recently, Sapien partnered with Civic, the digital identity project, and was listed on LAToken. The list of collaborations extends to UC Berkeley’s Blockchain Lab, Rocket.Chat, Onfido, ComplyAdvantage and many more. The full list of partnerships can be viewed here.

The common theme among these partnership appears to be growth and utility for its users. Each one of the varied list of partners serves different purposes and helps build a robust decentralized social platform, who in collaboration with Sapien, expand the advantages of the platform.

For instance, ComplyAdvantage offers Anti-Money Laundering services for businesses to safely conduct their operations, Onfido offers biometrics for token sale security and Rocket.Chat offers a feature rich chat system.

Sapien has also checked off some notable milestones since the project really began its development cycle at the beginning of the year.

Most significant of all was the launch of the beta version of the marketplace and merchandise store. The marketplace was the first project of its kind to accept payments in native tokens, via Metamask, and allows users to purchase virtual and physical goods, including premium content, clothing and accessories.The team expects to add more goods to the store in the months to come.

We also mentioned the launch of the mobile app, which is available on both Android and iPhone.

Lastly, Sapien’s beta program, launched on April 30, allowed its ardent followers to test the platform and publish content, which resulted in the creation of over 7,000 posts and 150 micro-communities.

If they can continue to consistently develop and meet their goals, Sapien can very well reach their ambitious goal of building Web 3.0.

Conclusion

The sheer scale of Sapien’s efforts to overhaul the online social experience is made clear in their roadmap.

There are 2 major sides to their development efforts: marketing and infrastructure. The former is rather straightforward, given that a use case such is directly dependent on the user base. While marketing efforts may be an obvious necessity, it is no means easy and this is why Sapien is spending so many resources in raising awareness.

Infrastructure development is far more interesting, and arguably more important than marketing. Sapien has the potential to get several third parties and partners to deliver useful and creative products on the platform, which are created with end-users in mind. These end-users in turn purchase and support these features, further emphasized by elements of the platform like the Democratized Autonomous Platform.

The Web 3.0 may not be around the next corner, but it is coming, and it is platforms like the Sapien Network that will be beating a path towards it. With the successful implementation of user-centric features that preserve security, privacy and free speech, the Sapien network could be the platform that brings in the age where we are in control of our social media experience, and where we can decide what information is worth viewing and disseminating.

 

 

Source: Investinblockchain.com

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Mobile Platforms

GOOGLE CHROME 69 ON ANDROID BRINGS NEW DOWNLOADS UI WITH RENAMING AND CHANGING DOWNLOADS FOLDER

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Google’s mobile web browser, Chrome, can do most of what everyone wants when it comes to navigating through a website. The engineers in Mountain View feel the application can be improved so much more and a lot of us within the community can agree. Last year, we found that Google was experimenting with a new “Chrome Home” feature that would redesign the new tab page, which has continued to evolve throughout this year. Still, the company has a long way to go before the Android version of Google Chrome reaches feature parity to its desktop counterpart. The latest activity in the Chromium Gerrit indicates that the application will soon let you rename files and choose a folder for downloads.

It was December of last year when our Editor-in-chief, Mishaal Rahman, revealed some pieces of information that he had uncovered with Google Chrome. First, we learned that Google was working on adding support for parallel downloading through their Google Chrome application. This was slated for release in version 64 of the application, but it was only being tested with the beta version of the application. The feature was to create 3 parallel jobs to speed up the download process, which has proven to increase download speeds from sources that support it.

” />google chrome download

That same month we also discovered that work was being done to enhance the standard download routine in Google Chrome. Currently, when you click a link for something that is downloaded automatically, it goes into the “Downloads” folder without any consent from you. Maybe you wanted to rename that file or maybe you wanted it to go into another folder altogether. At the time it required you to be on the nightly branch of Google Chrome and enable the hidden chrome://flags#enable-downloads-location-changeflag, but now the feature has progressed.

These new options for downloading via Google Chrome are currently available in the developer and canary version of the web browser and is it actually enabled by default. It can be disabled with the DownloadHomeModern flag. However, at this time it seems like the ability to change the download folder isn’t currently working. You can see the new option in the screenshots below.

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