TikTok, the social media app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is facing a UK lawsuit that could see it forced to pay damages of billions of pounds if it is successful. The lawsuit, brought by legal firm Scott and Scott and backed by a former British children's commissioner, claims that the company collects a huge range of children's personal information when they use the app. As well as harvesting their pictures and videos, it is claimed the app also collects children's phone numbers, specific location details and biometric data which it then sells to third parties for profit.
British Children Data Harvested
Parents and children are likely to be shocked by the revelations, as well as privacy regulators, since the app is used by a huge number of teenagers. According to the UKs media regulator OfCom, it is estimated that almost 45% of children aged between 8 and 12 use the app which represents about 3.5 million children in the UK alone and is likely to be potentially millions more across Europe as a whole.
The lawsuit claims that children's personal information was harvested without explicit consent being gained (which, in the case of children under the age of 18, would need to come from an adult) and constitutes a serious breach of both UK and EU privacy provisions, according to one of the lawyers acting for the plaintiffs in the case.
This is not the first time that the ByteDance's data protection policies have been challenged and Tiktok sued. In 2019 the US Federal Trade Commission levied a record fine of $5.7 million against the company for similar offences of illegally gathering children's personal information. It has also come under scrutiny in India where it was temporarily banned and finally blocked completely from the country. TikTok is also under investigation by the UK Information Commissioner's Office for whether it complies with the UK's data protection rules and whether it protects children's right to data privacy with a report expected later in the year.
TikTok claims that it is only intended for users over the age of 13 but it is claimed that the app is being used by much younger children since all they need to do is enter an older age as there is no additional checking performed by the app. Lawyers are seeking thousands of pounds of compensation for each child, seeking that the app meet its user age requirements as well as demanding that the company provide full transparency about the data it collects and the purposes it is used for.
Police in Lake Mary in Florida have taken the unusual step of asking TikTok users to stop stealing campaign signs in response to a challenge issued on the social media site. While sign stealing and removal (on both sides of politics) is not unusual in an election year, this time the police are sheeting the blame for an increase in sign stealing to the social media app TikTok.
An officer with the Florida police has said that over 6.8 million people have viewed TikTok videos online that challenge viewers to remove campaign signs and pointed out that this is in fact a crime. They discovered the trend after interviewing a suspect who told them that there was a challenge encouraging people to steal Trump campaign signs in their local neighborhood. They were also encouraged to steal as many signs as possible and to record a video of the activity according to the suspect.
Apparently at least 24 Trump campaign signs and a Trump flag have been stolen to date in the Lake Mary area and police are appealing to teenagers not to participate in this type of activity since it is a crime to take other people's property and could result in a maximum 6 month jail term for serious offenders. While theft and vandalism laws vary between states, most states treat stealing political signs as a misdemeanor which will only result in a fine rather than jail time. Similar to a speeding ticket, such fines are likely to range from $50 to $500 dollars.
While a specific name for the challenge hasn't been found, videos of people poking fun at the activity of stealing the signs are readily available on the app and no videos actually identify a person committing the act of stealing campaign material from someone else's property. Some posts contain videos showing the signs they have stolen and include captions that threaten to steal the neighbor's signs again if they replace them. Others state that the contents of posts are in jest or 'just a metaphor'.
Did you hear that the WannaCry cyber attack all came from North Korea?
Last week the U.S. Government officially put the blame on North Korea for the WannaCry cyber attack, the one that used ransomware techniques across the globe and reportedly disrupted more than 200K businesses from over 35 countries in May of 2017.
This was a great win for the United States, with counterterrorism experts in the U.S. government, primarily Homeland Security, putting the ownership of this horrendous globally perpetuated attack squarely into North Korea. Multiple sources across the globe have confirmed with their own findings the same results, and all fingers now point at North Korea.
The attack was so devastating that it crippled many sectors of the global economy, including the UK's National Health Service. Reports from the UK noted that the attack worked to encrypt and render useless many hundreds of thousands of hospital-based computers but also those in schools, businesses and also homes. During this attack, victims received demands for ransom payments, but as it turned out these payments did not unlock their computers. The WannaCry attack was widespread across the globe and and cost billions of dollars in lost revenues and incomes.
Fake News Sites Banned from Buying Ads on Facebook
Fake news sites have grown in number due to the the rapid pace of advances in technology and the increase in social media sites allowing instant updates on breaking news and trending stories. Everyday, we are swamped with news stories whenever use a smart phone or log onto Facebook or email. It is also easy to pass these news stories on to other people by simply clicking on the share button. With a single click, a fake news site story can be sent to thousands of people around the world. The 2016 U.S. election shows us just how fast a fake news site story can reach millions.
Patent trolls were dealt a hard blow recently with a US court ruling that a company can only be sued for unlawful infringement on patent rights in the country where the business resides and is incorporated. For thirty odd years, patent trolls have been making a killing by trolling after enterprises that they deem guilty of the patent infringement sin. They're a special breed of entrepreneurs cum opportunists who thrive on suing alleged errant companies in order to earn hefty rewards.
For patent trolls, the days are gone when they can run after the big fish in the pond. The new challenge that the court just added meant chasing perceived Dirty Harries in their bailiwicks where they have full access to an unlimited legal arsenal. Unless the new law were repealed, patent trolls could soon become a dying breed.
As people logged in to their computers, the worldwide ransomware cyber attack known as the WannaCry virus spread to even more devices on Monday, bringing a halt to school operations, hospitals and businesses. Aside from this new expansion, no new significant outbreaks of the WannaCry virus have been reported thus far and British officials say that the second round of these infections they once feared have yet to come to fruition.
British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt noted that the criminal activity that has occurred so far with the virus was not quite up to par with what they had once thought possible.
Britain's health service, among the higher profile victims, was targeted in the online extortion scheme that has taken over both local and worldwide news. To date, however, the new infections of the WannaCry virus have been mostly detained to portions of Asia.
There's another lawsuit underway for the folks over at Uber. Apparently started a program they named "Hell". This program allegedly used some black-ops Uber internal software and tracked Lyft drivers, providing information to Uber execs on various statistics about Lyft drivers. Some of these statistics included how many Lyft drivers were out and about at any given time in certain local areas and a gauge as to how much the drivers were charging for rides. The software also allegedly could determine whether drivers worked for both Lyft and Uber (at the same time).
The lawsuit comes from a man named Michael Gonzales, the plaintiff, who drove for Lyft during this period of the "Hell" software usage. He's seeking $5 million in a class action lawsuit, which was filed in Northern California's U.S. District Court. The lawsuit goes directly at Uber, charging them with invasion of privacy of Lyft drivers. The California Invasion of Privacy Act as well as the Federal Wiretap Act were both cited for references in the lawsuit.
Reddit CEO confesses that he changed comments made by supporters of Donald Trump
Steve Huffman, American entrepreneur, web-developer, and the CEO of Reddit, has confessed that he edited comments made about him on the website from Donald Trump supporters. Born in Lansing Michigan, Huffman also co-founded the now defunct airfare search site Hipmunk.
Huffman claimed that he altered references to him in several of the comments inside the website's biggest forum for the next President, however not the comments themselves. Nonetheless, by doing this, he brings up previous worries that Reddit can not work with its' users.
"Yes. I changed the 'screw ups' remarks, editing them for roughly sixty minutes" wrote Huffman, who founded Reddit in 2005 with Alexis Ohanian.
A hacker with the screen handle Guccifer 2.0 has claimed to have hacked the Clinton Foundation's website and leaked various emails tied to the Democratic National Committee. A number of files that could be potentially damaging to Hillary Clinton's reputation have been uncovered. The Clinton Foundation has issued a statement of denial about this claim. The hacker has reportedly posted screenshots and copies of spreadsheets that he claims to have found on the DNC's servers.
The hacker was posted that the Clinton campaign hasn't even bothered to secure their information against intrusions, and breaking in was a relatively quick and easy process. There has also been media attention devoted to the political motivation behind the breach. The hacker even mentioned a shout-out to Julian Assange. The two of these hackers have been tied to the publication of condemning information about private citizens and about members of the DNC.
Cyber-security investigators are continuing to assess the damage in the aftermath of the massive Yahoo password breach that occurred in 2014, in which scores of Yahoo users had their password data stolen. The concern of investigators now is that the data could potentially be used to hack other websites, such as banks and email accounts.
According to Shuman Ghosemajumder, Shape Security's chief technology officer in California, cybercriminals often use this data for "credential stuffing". This is a process in which they use stolen usernames and passwords on various websites to access confidential information. Today's software makes this process almost instantaneous for cybercriminals, although it is only successful approximately 2 percent or less of the time.