A good VPN adds an essential layer of security to your Mac.
A good VPN adds an essential layer of security to your Mac.
Photo: John Sting/Unsplash CC

Google makes it way easier to delete your search history


With just a couple of taps you can erase your Google search history.
With just a couple of taps, you can erase everything Google has stored about your search history.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Your iPhone does everything it can to protect your privacy, but using Google’s services punches a gaping hole in that protection. Google took a small step toward increasing user privacy by making it much easier to delete your search history.

Google doesn’t just save the terms your looked for, but also the pages you visited as part of the search. Both collections can be erased.

Trump administration takes a first step toward regulating Facebook, Google


Facebook employees
The US government may soon be looking over Facebook's shoulder to better protect your privacy. Unless Facebook and Google can prevent it, of course.
Photo: Facebook

The Commerce Dept. is reportedly talking to social networking companies and consumer advocates about rules to protect online privacy. Also included are possible protections for companies that have data breeches.

This is supposedly laying the groundwork for legislation that might be proposed this fall.

What happened to Facebook today won’t happen to Apple


Facebook owns 4 of the top 10 apps of the past decade
Wall Street hammered Facebook today. But the privacy concerns that pushed the company's share price down almost 20 percent aren't an issue for Apple.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Facebook lost more value today than any other company in history: $120 billion. The massive selloff came after CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the growing privacy concerns of the public, and the likely response of lawmakers and regulators, will hit the company where it hurts: in the pocketbook.

On the same day Facebook lost 19 percent of its value, Apple’s share price was unaffected. This is because the two companies have diametrically opposing views on the privacy rights of the public. What hurt Facebook so much is actually one of Apple’s strengths.

Venmo privacy flaw reveals users’ sensitive info


The website Public by Default highlights the weak privacy of Venmo.
The website Public by Default highlights the weak privacy of Venmo.
Photo: Hang Do Thi Duc

Companies don’t always succeed at keeping user data private, but Venmo doesn’t even seem to be trying. This service that allows users to make payments to individuals or merchants has the privacy for transactions set to public by default. 

A researcher found that with very little effort she could track the purchases made by most of the 7 million active Venmo users. That includes everyone who installed Venmo from the App Store.

Google admits third-party developers can read your emails


Real human developers can read your Gmail messages. But only if you let them.
Photo: Google

Privacy is a hot-button issue in 2018, and the latest target is Google after it was revealed that developers of third-party apps can read your Gmail messages. 

The thing is, you gave the application permission to do that. You just don’t remember. Or weren’t paying attention.

Supreme Court rules police need a search warrant to track your iPhone


Your wireless service provider always knows where your iPhone is, but police can no longer access that data without a search warrant.

The U.S. Supreme Court just handed down a victory for privacy advocates: police can no longer access mobile phone tracking data without a warrant.  

Wireless providers know which of its cell towers each of their customers is connected to, giving it a basic idea of where all of them are. Law enforcement agencies used to be able to obtain this data without permission from a judge.

Say goodbye to free Opera VPN


Opera VPN
Olaf, the friendly Viking mascot of Opera VPN, is sad.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The end is nigh for a free VPN service for iOS and Android. Opera VPN will close at the end of this month. No reason has been given.

A Virtual Private Network protects users by hiding their IP address, making it much harder to be tracked. Opera Software’s version would even let you appear to be in another country.

You can soon see (and delete) everything Apple knows about you


Apple takes privacy seriously
A pop-up in iOS 11.3 gives Apple's commitment to privacy.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple will soon let you download all the information it has stored about you, modify it, or even delete it. The privacy change is required by a new European law, but is also in-line with Apple’s policy to not spy on its customers. This sets it apart from rivals like Google and Facebook.