DuckDuckGo is building its own privacy-protecting web browser for Mac

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DuckDuckGo coming to Mac
All its privacy features will be enabled by default.
Image: DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo, the search engine that prides itself on protecting your privacy, is building its very own web browser for Mac. It promises to be simple and fast, with robust privacy features enabled by default.

The browser will feature DuckDuckGo’s popular “Fire Button,” which quickly wipes all your private data in just one click. It also will be built to use native browser technologies, rather than relying on third-party engines.

Apple deletes all mentions of controversial CSAM plan from its website [Update]

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Apple CSAM photo scanning
What's going on with CSAM scanning?
Photo: Apple

UPDATE 12/16: Apple has told The Verge that its CSAM photo-scanning plan is still on hold, and that plans to roll it out later haven’t changed.

Apple has quietly removed all references to its controversial plan to scan iCloud Photos libraries for child sexual abuse material from its website. Back in August, Cupertino announced its intention to trawl through users’ pictures to detect CSAM material.

However, after encountering significant criticism from experts, rights groups and even its own employees, Apple shelved the feature. The company said in September that it had “decided to take additional time” to collect input and make improvements to the feature. But it’s now unclear whether it will go ahead with CSAM photo scanning at all.

iOS 15.2 brings new privacy features, Apple Music Voice Plan

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Apple tests Legacy Contacts to allow loved ones access your data after you pass on
Legacy Contacts are among the features debuting in iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2.
Photo: Cult of Mac

iPhone users can now upgrade to iOS 15.2. The update adds a cheaper Apple Music option, plus there’s a new App Privacy Report, and parents will be alerted if their children send or receive nudes.

iPadOS 15.2 is also available with these same updates. And there’s overlap with the just-released watchOS 8.3 and macOS Monterey 12.1.

Verizon tracks almost everything you do on iPhone. Here’s how to stop it.

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Stop Verizon tracking iPhone
Don't let Verizon keep tabs on everything you do.
Image: Verizon/Cult of Mac

If you use an iPhone on Verizon, there’s a good chance your carrier has been tracking everything you do when you’re connected to its cellular network. This includes the websites you visit, the apps you use, your location and more.

It’s all part Verizon’s “Custom Experience” and “Custom Experience Plus” programs, which are designed to “personalize” the carrier’s communications with its customers. In other words, it’s to build a profile about you so Verizon can better serve you targeted ads. (According to Verizon’s typo-riddled website, “The Custom Experience programs help us personalize communications, recommandations [sic] and offers to make them more relevant to you.”

There’s nothing Apple can do to stop this — despite its new privacy protections baked into iOS — because its tracking does not require an app installed on your iPhone. But there is something you can do to prevent it. We’ll show you how.

New iPhone security features are almost here

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New iPhone security features are almost here in iOS 15.2
Devs can start testing iOS 15.2. The full release is expected by mid-December.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the iOS 15.2 release candidate to developers on Tuesday, along with the iPad equivalent. When released to the public, iPhones will alert parents if their children send or receive nudes, there’s a new App Privacy Report, and users will be able to look for AirTags that might be tracking them.

The macOS 12.1 RC and watchOS 8.3 RC also went to devs on Tuesday.

iOS 15.2 beta brings App Privacy Report to track activity of third-party apps

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Apple begins testing iOS 15.2 with new App Privacy Report
Developers can start testing iOS 15.2 beta 1, iPadOS 15.2 beta 1 and watchOS 8.3 beta 1 on Wednesday.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iOS 15.2 beta 1 and iPadOS 15.2 beta 1 have been seeded to developers. When available to everyone, the updates will bring an App Privacy Report for tracking what third-party application are doing. It’ll show users, each app’s sensor, data and internet usage in a simple chart.

These beta releases come only two days after iOS 15.2 and the iPad equivalent were released to the general public.

Scrub your name off spammers’ call lists for just $49

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Get your name, email, and more off the internet.
This service will get your private info off the internet.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Whether you like it or not, your personal information is somewhere on the internet. If you’ve signed up for a subscription on a website, entered your birthday into a streaming service, or given your email to a grocery store, then someone has your information. Not to mention what’s on social media.

There’s also a good chance they’re selling your data. It’s almost impossible to scrub yourself from the internet, but as privacy concerns grow, so does the technology available to protect yourself. Optery Data Broker Removal is the best way you’re going to find to remove your sensitive personal information from the internet. Right now you can get one year of Optery’s Core Plan for $49, or an Ultimate Plan for $199.

Apple TV+ is the only streaming service that takes your privacy seriously

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Spatial audio for Apple TV in tvOS 15
Most streaming services are watching you while you watch them.
Photo: Apple

Almost every video streaming service except Apple TV+ is selling your data to third-party companies and tracking your viewing habits for targeted ads. A new report from Common Sense Media exposes the loose privacy policies employed by most streaming providers, including Amazon and Netflix.

“Many viewers know that free streaming apps are most likely selling their personal information, but most viewers may not know that most paid sub‐ scription streaming apps are also selling users’ data,” warns the report.

WhatsApp’s promise of end-to-end encryption may be a complete lie

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WhatsApp encryption message
WhatsApp says no one — not even WhatsApp — can read your messages.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

WhatsApp promises to protect every one of its 2 billion users with end-to-end encryption that ensures their messages cannot be seen by anyone outside of the original conversation. But does it live up to that promise?

A new report alleges that the Facebook-owned messaging platform uses artificial intelligence and more than 1,000 contract workers to examine “millions of pieces of users’ content” using “special Facebook software.”

That’s despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg telling the U.S. Senate in 2018 that “we don’t see any of the content in WhatsApp.”

How to hard-lock your iPhone in a hurry

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Know how to hard-lock your iPhone in a hurry.
Know how to hard-lock your iPhone in a hurry.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Should you find yourself in a situation where a police officer or federal agent — like a TSA person at the airport — requests or demands your iPhone, should you hand it over? Many folks say no, never. But if you do, at least know how to hard-lock it in a hurry before it leaves your hand. That will help protect your data on the device.