Ireland’s data protection boss questions Apple over Siri privacy

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Siri Lights
How private are your conversations with Siri?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is questioning Apple over privacy concerns raised by an ex-contractor who transcribed users’ Siri requests in an effort to improve the voice assistant’s functionality.

Former Apple contractor Thomas le Bonniec this week said Apple should be “urgently investigated” over Siri data collection. It seems that the EU’s data protection authorities are listening.

Apple Store’s temperature checks may violate German privacy rules

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Apple Store Hamburg line iPhone 6s
Apple Stores, like this one in Hamburg, Germany, are digitally checking the temperatures of customers as they enter.
Photo: Thomas Knoop (via Twitter)

As Apple reopens its retail stores throughout Germany, regulators are considering investigating whether temperature checks of customers to ensure the safety of visitors and employees is a violation of European Union privacy laws.

Apple TV+ cuts streaming quality in Europe to lower stress on internet

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Apple TV app Samsung
Apple appears to have heeded the E.U. request to lower quality of its Apple TV+ service to reduce the strain on the internet.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Following a request to streaming services to switch from high definition to standard in an effort to reduce the strain on the internet, indications were Friday that Apple has followed suit of other major services and slowed down its Apple TV+ streaming service.

Cult of Mac has confirmed through two Apple TV users – one in Great Britain and one in southern France – that the quality of content on Apple TV+ has been lowered. Subscribers described the differences as primarily fast-moving content that is slower to refresh, heavily compressed and more pixelated.

YouTube, Amazon Prime Video follow Netflix in throttling video quality throughout Europe [Update]

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YouTube and Amazon Prime Video cut streaming bitrates in Europe.
YouTube and Amazon Prime Video cut streaming bitrates in Europe.
Image: Brad Gibson/Cult of Mac

YouTube and Amazon Prime Video confirmed Friday they will will start throttling video quality in Europe in an effort to reduce the strain on network infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary measure will see all YouTube videos displayed in standard definition by default, though, it is still be possible for viewers to select a higher resolution.

Netflix reduces streaming bit rates in Europe to fight internet congestion

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netflix.logo
Netflix is making some big changes to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on networks.
Photo: Brad Gibson / Cult of Mac

Quarantine and chill is about to get a noticeable quality drop for Netflix users in Europe.

Netflix announced Thursday it would begin to reduce bit rates on all streams in Europe starting today. The move came shortly Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called a European Union official to discuss how to stop the internet from getting congested as more people are being told to work from home.

European Commission is only just getting started with tech giants

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European Commission is only just getting started with tech giants
Margrethe Vestager is tough on tech.
Photo: European Parliament/Wikipedia CC

Margrethe Vestager, head of the European Commission’s Competition department, has handed out giant fines to tech companies — such as Apple’s massive $14.5 billion bill in 2016.

But a new report suggests that Vestager isn’t done with tech companies by a long shot. In fact, the next several years could make the previous five look uneventful for Silicon Valley companies.

EU eyes Apple Pay and its competitive edge

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Apple Pay on iPhone and Apple Watch
Apple Pay is the only NFC payment system allowed on iPhone. Is that anticompetitive, or Apple just being safe?
Screenshot: Apple

In August, EU antitrust investigators sent a questionnaire to banks and developers of rival payment systems about Apple Pay. They’ve gotten an earful, according to Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner.

EU antitrust regulators start Apple Pay inquiry

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Norwegian Apple Pay
Apple Pay is available in many European countries, including Norway.
Photo: Apple

Apple Pay, the iPhone’s built-in payment system, is reportedly in the sights of EU investigators. They are looking into whether Apple is giving its system an unfair advantage over competitors.

Apple will get an early indication of its EU tax case outcome this week

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International governments plan to rethink tax rules for the ‘digital age’
Fiat and Starbucks cases will offer Apple advance warning (or good news) about its ongoing EU tax battle.
Photo: Pexels

Apple could get an early indication about the likely outcome of its giant European Union (EU) tax case early this week.

Apple was in court last week protesting its 13 billion ($14.4 billion) tax bill from the EU. Although the case is likely to drag on for months, two related cases will be ruled on this week. They may offer Apple some clues about its chances of success.