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Apple’s handling of Siri snippets back in the frame after letter of complaint to EU privacy regulators – News Brig

Erin Fox

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Apple’s handling of Siri snippets back in the frame after letter of complaint to EU privacy regulators – TechCrunch

Apple is facing fresh questions from its lead data protection regulator in Europe following a public complaint by a former contractor who revealed last year that workers doing quality grading for Siri were routinely overhearing sensitive user data.

Earlier this week the former Apple contractor, Thomas le Bonniec, sent a letter to European regulators laying out his concern at the lack of enforcement on the issue — in which he wrote: “I am extremely concerned that big tech companies are basically wiretapping entire populations despite European citizens being told the EU has one of the strongest data protection laws in the world. Passing a law is not good enough: it needs to be enforced upon privacy offenders.”

The timing of the letter comes as Europe’s updated data protection framework, the GDPR, reaches its two-year anniversary — facing ongoing questions around the lack of enforcement related to a string of cross-border complaints.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has been taking the brunt of criticism over whether the General Data Protection Regulation is functioning as intended — as a result of how many tech giants locate their regional headquarters on its soil (Apple included).

Responding to the latest Apple complaint from le Bonniec, the DPC’s deputy commissioner, Graham Doyle, told News Brig: “The DPC engaged with Apple on this issue when it first arose last summer and Apple has since made some changes. However, we have followed up again with Apple following the release of this public statement and await responses.”

At the time of writing Apple had not responded to a request for comment.

The Irish DPC is currently handling more than 20 major cross-border cases, as lead data protection agency — probing the data processing activities of companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. So le Bonniec’s letter adds to the pile of pressure on commissioner Helen Dixon to begin issuing decisions vis-à-vis cross-border GDPR complaints. (Some of which are now a full two years old.)

Last year Dixon said the first decisions for these cross-border cases would be coming “early” in 2020.

At issue is that if Europe’s recently updated flagship data protection regime isn’t seen to be functioning well two years in — and is still saddled with a bottleneck of high-profile cases, rather than having a string of major decisions to its name — it will be increasingly difficult for the region’s lawmakers to sell it as a success.

At the same time the existence of a pan-EU data protection regime — and the attention paid to contravention, by both media and regulators — has had a tangible impact on certain practices.

Apple suspended human review of Siri snippets globally last August, after The Guardian had reported that contractors it employed to review audio recordings of users of its voice assistant tech — for quality grading purposes — regularly listened in to sensitive content such as medical information and even recordings of couples having sex.

Later the same month it made changes to the grading program, switching audio review to an explicitly opt-in process. It also brought the work in house — meaning only Apple employees have since been reviewing Siri users’ opt-in audio.

The tech giant also apologized, but did not appear to face any specific regulatory sanction for practices that do look to have been incompatible with Europe’s laws — owing to the lack of transparency and explicit consent around the human review program. Hence le Bonniec’s letter of complaint now.

A number of other tech giants also made changes to their own human grading programs around the same time.

Doyle also pointed out that guidance for EU regulators on voice AI tech is in the works, saying: “It should be noted that the European Data Protection Board is working on the production of guidance in the area of voice assistant technologies.”

We’ve reached out to the European Data Protection Board for comment.

From television to the internet platform, Erin switched her journey in digital media with News Brig. She served as a journalist for popular news channels and currently contributes his experience for News Brig by writing about the tech domain.

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Bosch’s motorcycle crash detection automatically alerts emergency services

Erin Fox

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Bosch's motorcycle crash detection automatically alerts emergency services

The service also relies on the sensor’s integrated crash algorithm to determine whether a motorcycle truly got into an accident or whether it just fell over, for instance. If Help Connect decides that a vehicle got into an accident, it will transmit information about the scene and the rider to the Bosch Service Center. In severe accidents, the service could use the rider’s phone to find their location and direct emergency responders to the scene.

Help Connect will initially be available in Germany, Bosch’s home country, only. According to Autoblog, though, the company plans to expand its availability to other markets at a later time.

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Call of Duty adds screen that says Black Lives Matter

Erin Fox

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Call of Duty adds screen that says Black Lives Matter

Infinity Ward just released an update for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that adds a splash screen message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Players are being told they need to update their client upon finishing multiplayer games, and once they do, the message appears on screen.

“Our community is hurting,” the statement reads. “The systemic inequalities our community experiences are once again center stage. Call of Duty and Infinity Ward stand for equality and inclusion. We stand against the racism and injustice our Black community endures. Until change happens and Black Lives Matter, we will never truly be the community we strive to be.”

The News Brig has confirmed that the message subsequently appears every time you launch Modern Warfare on a PS4. It also appears on loading screens and when switching to a separate mode like Warzone.

Several video game companies have issued statements of support for black communities this week following protests against police brutality in the US and the killing of George Floyd. Placing the message in front of everyone playing a hugely popular first-person shooter, however, could help it reach a wider group of people.

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Toshiba expects drop of 15.7% in annual profit, limited coronavirus impact

Erin Fox

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Toshiba expects drop of 15.7% in annual profit, limited coronavirus impact

FILE PHOTO – The logo of Toshiba Corp is seen behind cherry blossoms at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toshiba Corp expects annual operating profit to drop 15.7%, it said on Friday, as a recent portfolio overhaul helps the industrial conglomerate limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

It forecast profit of 110 billion yen ($1 billion) for the year through March 2021, down from 130.46 billion yen a year earlier.

The outlook compared with the 136.71 billion yen average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

($1=109.2000 yen)

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki

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