Tag: Google

Google: Advanced Protection Program released

30. October 2017

Google released its Advanced Protection Program. The program is meant to make stealing passwords pointless. With help of two inexpensive physical keys it is possible to log in into the Google account on computer and smartphone.
Because of this two-factor authentication the account is secured. Even if the password is stolen in a data breach or successfully phished, the hackers cannot login, because they don’t have the keys as well. The minimal and cost effective effort has a big impact.
Google’s development of a two-factor authentication relies on a Chinese hacker attack in 2010. Since then Google’s motto is “Never ever”.
Addressees of the Program are according to Google people who have a high risk of online attacks, like journalists, victims of stalking and dissidents inside authoritarian countries. The idea of the program is to provide people with a physical device that is harder to steal than a text message or other two-factor authentication tools.
Except these people with a high risk, anyone with a Google account can sign up for the security program. Google has an Advanced Protection webpage for the sign up. In addition to the Advanced Protection Program to be able to use two physical keys are necessary. Each one costs about $20.

UK government to meet tech giants after Westminster attack

28. March 2017

In consequence of the Westminster Bridge attack in London, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that she wants to meet several tech giants in order to make sure law enforcement is able to access encrypted data for terrorism investigation.

The topic came up as the attacker reportedly used the messaging application WhatsApp shortly before his attack began. As WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption, neither law enforcement nor WhatsApp itself can read messages. The same applies to Apple’s iMessage. While Rudd did not want to make public which tech companies she will meet in detail, Google confirmed that it will be meeting the UK government.

“We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,“ Rudd said. Labour leader Jeremy Corbin, however, stated that law enforcement already had enough powers and that there needed to be a balance between the right to know and the right to privacy.

In the meantime, Microsoft confirmed that it had provided email information relating to the Westminster Bridge attack to the British authorities after it had received lawful orders.

Google – “sharing location” option

24. March 2017

On the 22nd of March 2017 Google Maps, came up with a real time sharing location (the newest “share location” option), which now gives its users an opportunity of sharing their whereabouts with each other. It`s range is said to be from 15 minutes till around three days.

Since now on your friends can follow your location (if you will make it visible for them), for example when you attempt to navigate the city’s bus system or while you are stuck in traffic. Its aim is to make the social life like meetings and hang-outs easier by giving your friend an updated information on your localization.

Furthermore, via this new option, it is also possible to create itineraries, see the most popular local businesses hours, track parking spots or special traffic-destroying events around the area.

All of these facilities have their price to be paid though. Namely, if you will activate this option Google is going to get all the information about your daily habits and rituals (on what you are doing, when, where and which is your favorite coffee shop), which could later be sold for instance to advertisers.

However, Erik Gordon, a student of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business´ (entrepreneurship and strategy) says: “If you can couch it in social, it’s your friends that can track you—not that Big Brother can track you, not that an ad server can track you, not that Travis Kalanick can track you”.

Google itself stresses the interface makes it clear that the option to share will be entirely and only in the hands of the individual users when it comes to sharing locations.

Category: Personal Data · USA

Google may remove millions of apps from its Play Store

14. February 2017

Last week Google contacted millions of app developers informing them about their apps’ violation of Google’s User Data policy.

According to this policy, apps which handle personal or sensitive user data must post a privacy policy in the designated field in the Play Developer Console, as well as within the app itself and handle the user data securely, for example by using cryptography for transmitting them.

Millions of apps handling with personal data do not have a privacy policy and thus do not contribute to providing a clear and transparent experience for Play Store users. Google set a time limit of 5 weeks, until March 15 this year for the apps to comply with the User Data policy. Either the developers shall include a link to a valid privacy policy or remove any requests for sensitive permissions or user data. Otherwise Google might limit the visibility of those apps or even remove them from its Google Play Store.

US court: Google must give foreign e-mails to FBI

9. February 2017

Lately, Google has lost a court case (in Philadelphia) on e-mail data storage on foreign server, so that, according to the judgement, from now on the data should be sent to the US FBI security service.

The Court diverges from the existing case-law since, in a recent case, Microsoft has successfully denied the publication of data stored on servers in the European Union, and referred to the legal requirements in the EU.
As a reason for Google’s publishing obligation, the judge argued that Google is constantly copying data between its data centers, so that it should be only needed a further transfer of the data requested by the FBI to the US, in order for the FBI to access it. Although this could be a violation of the rights of the user, this violation would take place in the USA and because of that again covered by the law. According to the court, the data transfer therefore does not represent any access to foreign data anyway.

Following the proclamation of the judgment, Google has already commented on the procedure and announced to appeal against the decision, and continue to oppose to all official demands that go too far. Google has also explained that data is distributed on the servers around the world for technical reasons and in some cases it is not at all clear where the data is being stored. The verdict shows that each year Google receives from the US investigators somewhat 25,000 information requests.

Category: EU-U.S. Privacy Shield · USA
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The latest news concerning the dispute in terms of the “right-to-be-forgotten”

13. December 2016

Peter Fleischer, a global privacy counsel, raised the question: „Should the balance between the right to free expression and the right to privacy be struck by each country?“

In basic terms, the right-to-be-forgotten is a right of every European citizen to demand the erasure of certain links from the internet. However, this can also be seen as cencorship and rewriting history, which is why there is a neverending debate upon this topic.

The French Data Protection Authority, CNIL, has demanded an ultimate right-to-be-forgotten, which would mean that French data could be demanded to be removed, for example from Google search, from all over the world.

The problem which might occur is that also non-democratic countries have to follow this rule in theory. One might argue that the internet can be seen as as an independent source of infromation that is now being endangered.

Google disagrees with the idea that the right-to-be-forgotten should also be applied upon the countries outside the Europe.

Google’s only confirmation is that it is acting in accordance with the local laws as well as within the standards set by the European Court. What is more, Google makes a promise to remove the respective links from all European Google versions simultaneously.

Nevertheless, it has also beeen pointed out that one still could have found a link on the non-European version of Google.

As a feedback Google has delisted links as well on Google.com, Google.co.kr and Google.com.mx.

Reuters: U.S. companies ask Trump to support encryption

17. November 2016

This week, Reuters reported that U.S. internet companies, such as Facebook and Amazon have sent a detailied letter including a list of their policiy priorities to President-elect Donald Trump. Among the topics of these policies are encryption, immigration reform and maintaining liability protections from user’s content.

The mentioned letter was sent by the so called Internet Association, which is a group of 40 members, also including Alphabet’s Google, Uber and Twitter. The letter tries to repair the relationship between the internet giants and Trump due to the fact that he was almost universally disliked during the presidential campaign.

The president of the Internet Association, Michael Beckermann signed the letter talking about “The internet industry looks forward to engaging in an open and productive dialogue”. Furthermore, Beckerman issued a statement  syaing that the internet industry looked forward to working closely with Trump and lawmakers in Congress in order to “cement the internet’s role as a driver of economic and social progress for future generations.”

The letter describes some of the policies which go along with Trump’s prior statements, for example easing the regulation on the sharing economy and applying pressure on Europe to not erect too many barriers that restrict U.S. internet companies from growing in that market.

However, other topics are likely to be opposed with Trump’s campaign as he offered numerous broadsides against the tech sector.



“We need to have a wide discussion about data in Germany”

10. November 2016

Reuters online reported that Telefonica Deutschland’s chief executive, Thorsten Dirks, said in an interview “People are right to scrutinize any attempt to make money off their data. At the same time they are a handing over data voluntarily to companies such as Google and Facebook”. He concludes that there is a double standard among consumers.

At the moment Telefonica Deutschland holds anonymized data of 44 million mobile customers. These information could be used to track the movements of crowds and traffic, as well as “many other areas that we at the moment cannot think of”, according to Dirks.

Dirks explained that Telefonica aims to be a platform for all devices connected to the internet and therefore processing all sorts of data gathered from sensors in cars, electronic devices and household apparel.

The application of the right to be forgotten in France challenged by Wikimedia

24. October 2016

Since the ECJ established the right to be delisted from search engines (right to be forgotten) in 2014, Google has received numerous requests from individuals and organizations regarding the deletion of search results that contain their personal data which is not any more current, correct, relevant or which causes damages to the data subjects. The right to be forgotten refers to certain domains, such as co.uk; fr, de, es or nl.

However the French DPA requested Google to delete these results from all Google search domains (including .com). As Google did not fully comply with this request, the French DPA (CNIL) imposed Google a fine early this year.

As the French Highest Court has still to decide about this, Wikimedia, the parent company of Wikipedia, filed a petition in order to take part in the case and support Google France regarding the ongoing dispute about implementation of the “right to be forgotten”. Wikimedia’s legal counsel said in a statement that “no single nation should attempt to control what information the entire world may access”. Furthermore, she added that the application of the right to be forgotten involves the disappearance of several Wikimedia websites, which has an impact on the availability of knowledge.

Not only in France, but also in other jurisdictions is Google facing similar processes regarding the application of the right to be forgotten.

Google Analytics joins EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

31. August 2016

On its blog Google Analytics announced on the 29th of August that they have self-certified to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

The statement describes the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield as a new framework for transfers of personal data from Europe to the United States, which can be seen as a significant milestone for the protection of Europeans’ personal data, legal certainty of transatlantic businesses, and trust in the digital economy.

Therefore, Google has now committed that they comply with the Privacy Shield’s principles and furthermore that they will safeguard the transfers of personal data, whereas no action is required from their customers.

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