Will contact-tracing apps do more harm than good?

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iPhone showing coronavirus that causes COVID-19
Can a tracing app protect your health and privacy.
Photo: Cult of Mac/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The world was starting to develop a healthy skepticism for tech companies and their claims of making data privacy a priority. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal seemed to get our attention and we began to understand how easy it is for groups to track our digital lives.

Then COVID-19 spread with bullet speed across the world and now surveillance of our movements to track the virus is sounding to many like a good idea.

US orders Apple to identify users of rifle scope app

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random riflescope
Justice officials have their sights set on a lot of private data.
Photo: Captaindan/Wikimedia CC

The Department of Justice has ordered Apple and Google to turn over names, phone numbers and IP addresses for users of a gun scope app that allows gun owners to calibrate scopes and capture video.

Data privacy activists say the government’s ask would set a “dangerous precedent,” giving officials access to data on thousands of innocent people.

Facebook throws shade on Apple’s ‘exclusive’ approach

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Facebook
Facebook and Apple have beef.
Photo: Thomas Ulrich/Pixabay

The clash of tech titans Apple and Facebook continued Monday when Mark Zuckerberg’s newest executive team hire called Apple an “exclusive club” serving only “aspirant consumers with the means to buy high-value hardware and services.”

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s new head of global affairs, didn’t mention Apple by name when he spoke to a group in Berlin today. He didn’t have to.

Google enabling auto-delete of search and location history

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Setting your Google account to automatically delete old information about you will soon be possible.
Setting your Google account to automatically delete old information about you will soon be possible.
Photo: Google/Cult of Mac

Everyone who uses Google services, whether on iPhone or Android, will soon be able to have some of the data being collected about them automatically erased after a span of time.

It’s already possible to order Google to erase everything it stores about your search history, but this new feature will allow for on-going deletion.

Guilty iCloud hacker sent to slammer

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Celebgate hack
Christopher Brannan gets a prison sentence for his part in the crime.
Illustration: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

A judge sentenced a former high school teacher to 34 months in prison Friday after the man pleaded guilty to his role in the “Celebgate” hack of iCloud and other accounts.

Of those convicted for the high-profile hack, Christopher Brannan, 31, received the harshest sentence for breaching accounts. The attack led to the circulation of nude photos and videos of model Kate Upton, actress Jennifer Lawrence and others.

Apple caves to Kremlin pressure to store iCloud data in Russia

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Apple in Russia
A new Russian law means President Vladimr Putin could take a peek at the iCloud data of his citizens.
Photo: Caviar

Apple will comply with a Russian law that could force them to decrypt data on Russian customers at the government’s request.

The law took effect last year and requires the tech giant to store data on servers in Russia for up to six months. Apple acquiesced to a similar law last year in China, a smartphone market in which it has invested heavily.

Facebook employees considered quitting after iOS apps shutdown

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Facebook employees
Facebook employees went through a tense 24 hours.
Photo: Facebook

Apple’s sudden shutdown of Facebook’s internal apps for iOS created enough chaos this week that some working for the social network company were openly talking about quitting, according to reports.

The Facebook employee apps show shuttle schedules, campus maps, and company calendars. Apple disabled all of them Wednesday after it learned Facebook ran a research app where iOS users could be rewarded for their data, a sideloaded app that violates Apple’s developer rules.

Take one easy step toward better data privacy [Deals]

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Happy Data Privacy Day! To celebrate, check out this pair of can't miss deals on data security tools.
Happy Data Privacy Day! To celebrate, check out this pair of can't miss deals on data security tools.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

When it comes to personal data, you can’t be too safe. So when you have the chance to easily boost your security, you should take it. That makes this VPN a great data security tool that shouldn’t be missed. It is already discounted, but Cult of Mac readers get an extra 15 percent off when they use the code DATAPRIVACY15 at checkout.

iPhone is tech reporter’s first line of defense against data vampires

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iPhone data privacy
Data privacy comes with the price.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The New York Times investigative reporter Nick Confessore has covered data privacy long enough to make the iPhone his smartphone of choice.

His take on data-hungry Android phones is damning enough to make anybody switch to an iPhone. He also offers other tips for keeping your data as safe as possible these days. Unfortunately, that’s not very safe at all, according to Confessore.