3 ways to block annoying calls and messages in iOS 13

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It's even simpler to block email, messages and unknown callers in iOS 13.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The trouble with modern technology is that anyone can try to reach you, at any time. Your boss can leave a passive aggressive email at the top of your inbox overnight, so you see it when you want to check personal mail. Anyone can send you an SMS or iMessage. And anyone with your phone number can spam you, any time.

Currently in iOS, you can block iMessage senders. But in iOS 13, you gain two new ways to keep stalkers, weird friends and over-sharing co-workers out of your digital life. Now you can block unknown phone callers and email senders.

Facebook reveals how its iOS apps track user location

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Facebook may be trying to get on top of potential negative publicity.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Facebook has clarified how its apps collect and uses location data, ahead of the release of iOS 13.

While this data gathering is nothing new, iOS 13 will make it more obvious to users by calling out apps which behave in this way. It therefore looks like Facebook is trying to get out ahead of any potential negative publicity.

Apple could be fined $22 million for eavesdropping on Siri requests

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Siri Lights
Apple admitted to listening in on Siri requests.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission wants answers from Apple about why it let contractors listen to private Siri recordings. The data protection watchdog is looking into whether Apple’s GDPR privacy obligations.

Should Apple be found guilty, it could be fined up to 20 million euros ($22 million) or 4% of its annual global turnover, whichever is higher.

All your private data is being sold. Here’s how to opt out.

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simple opt out
If you don't worry about your data being sold, here's a nice spot of sand where you can bury your head.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you know that Home Depot shares your “name, address and transactional information … with third party companies”? Or that Marriott Hotels discloses “Personal Data and Other Data with select Strategic Business Partners”?

What about this snippet from The New York Times’ privacy policy: “If you are a U.S. print subscriber, we may exchange or rent your name and postal mailing address.”

The bad news is, pretty much anytime you share your data with a U.S. company, it will sell that data to somebody else. The good news is that you can opt out. And the even better news is that there’s one place to get all the information you need to do it.

Apple terminates contracts of people hired to listen to Siri recordings

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Contractors listened to around 1,000 Siri recordings each shift.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple has laid off the contractors whose job it was to listen to Siri recordings to improve the quality of Apple’s voice assistant.

Contractors in Ireland had their fixed term contracts “abruptly terminated” this week. This followed Apple suspending the practice last month. During each shift, employees supposedly listened to 1,000 Siri recordings.

Tim Cook ‘heartbroken’ over the death of European privacy regulator

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Giovanni Buttarelli
Tim Cook with his friend Giovanni Buttarelli.
Photo: Tim Cook/Twitter

Tim Cook has tweeted his condolences following the death of EU data protection regulator Giovanni Buttarelli. Buttarelli passed away on August 20 at the age of 62.

In a recent tweet, Cook described himself as “heartbroken by the loss of my friend.” He credited Buttarelli with advancing “the cause of privacy in Europe and around the world.”

How to decline and mute calls with iPhone

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Sweet, sweet silence is just a couple button-taps away when you know how to decline iPhone calls.
Sweet, sweet silence.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Phone calls are so 20th century. Apart from a knock at the door, when else can another person decide to bug you, and then bug you right away, at their own convenience, without getting your permission first?

In the 21st century, we have a name for these people: entitled. Fortunately, it’s easy to bump their presumptuous invasions, and let them know who’s the boss1.

Here’s how to decline iPhone calls (or mute them if you’re feeling particularly passive-aggressive).

Apple forces popular VoIP apps to be rewritten to protect user privacy

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Facebook Messenger on an iPad
Facebook Messenger is fun, chatty... and always running in the background whether you’re using it or not. Always.
Photo: Facebook

A change in iOS 13 that limits what applications can do when running in the background will force a rewrite of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other apps that offer voice calls.

While these developers will be inconvenienced, the goal is to increase the battery lives and performance of all iOS devices. The change will also make iPhones and iPads more secure.

Siri eavesdropping controversy underlines why Apple must be more transparent [Opinion]

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Siri
Apple backed down after a privacy backlash this week.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple wants you to know that, at least for now, it has stopped listening to Siri queries made by users. It’s the right move to make. But it’s the unnecessary result of a backlash Apple brought upon itself.

The Siri eavesdropping controversy perfectly illustrates why Apple needs to be more transparent with users — even if that means sacrificing some ease of use.