Saturday, November 17, 2018

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner investigating Twitter over data privacy concern.

Irish privacy regulators are launching an investigation into precisely how much data Twitter collects from t.co, its URL-shortening system.

Investigation taking place under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
An earlier Verge article describes the GDPR: "The General Data Protection Regulation is a rule passed by the European Union in 2016, setting new rules for how companies manage and share personal data. In theory, the GDPR only applies to EU citizens’ data, but the global nature of the internet means that nearly every online service is affected, and the regulation has already resulted in significant changes for US users as companies scramble to adapt." Complete information about the GDPR can be found here.
The investigation results from a request by Michael Veale a UK professor. The GDPR allows citizens to request any data that a specific company collects about them. When Veale made the request to Twitter concerning its link-shortening service, the company replied that the service collected no data about him. Veale was sceptical and asked the Irish Data Commissioner to investigate to see if the Twitter claim were true.
The Commissioner's letter to Veale
The letter from the office of the Irish Data Privacy Commissioner said: “The DPC has initiated a formal statutory inquiry in respect of your complaint. The inquiry will examine whether or not Twitter has discharged its obligations in connection with the subject matter of your complaint and determine whether or not any provisions of the GDPR or the [Data Protection] Act have been contravened by Twitter in this respect.”
Link-shortening
Wikipedia describes link-shortening as follows:
"URL shortening is a technique on the World Wide Web in which a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) may be made substantially shorter and still direct to the required page. This is achieved by using a redirect which links to the web page that has a long URL. For example, the URL "http://example.com/assets/category_B/subcategory_C/Foo/" can be shortened to "https://example.com/Foo",... Often the redirect domain name is shorter than the original one. A friendly URL may be desired for messaging technologies that limit the number of characters in a message (for example SMS), for reducing the amount of typing required if the reader is copying a URL from a print source, for making it easier for a person to remember, or for the intention of a permalink. In November 2009, the shortened links of the URL shortening service Bitly were accessed 2.1 billion times.[1]Other uses of URL shortening are to "beautify" a link, track clicks, or disguise the underlying address. Although disguising of the underlying address may be desired for legitimate business or personal reasons, it is open to abuse.[2] Some URL shortening service providers have found themselves on spam blacklists, because of the use of their redirect services by sites trying to bypass those very same blacklists. Some websites prevent short, redirected URLs from being posted."
Link-shortening has not only saved spaces within the limited space of a tweet, but it has also proved to be effective at fighting malware, and also gathering some rudimentary analytics. It is these analytics that can provide a privacy risk when used in private messages. Not only Twitter but Facebook also has faced lawsuits for collecting data on links shared in private messages even though no wrong doing was conclusively established in either case. Twitter has declined to comment on the investigation saying only that they wer


Previously published in Digital Journal

Friday, November 16, 2018

Chinese firm Huawei to partner with German auto maker Audi to develop self-driving trechnology

The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will partner with the German auto maker Audi to develop self-driving technology for cars that will be made in China.

The nature of the deal
The agreement will focus on creating what is called Level 4 technology. The Society of Automotive Engineers defines this as a car that completely drives itself within a specific area. This new deal is just the latest in a long line of similar partnerships between car companies and tech companies in the move toward creating truly autonomous vehicles. Details of the agreement were not announced. However the deal should help Audi to do tests on autonomous vehicles in China.
Huawei did show off an Audi Q7 outfitted with the technology company's Mobile Data Center(MDC) rig at its Connect 2018 conference just this week. The MDC is reported to consist of a number of AI chips, a central CPU, cameras, and LIDAR. It sits on the car roof. Huawei is also to work with Audi on vehicle-to-vehicle communication and connected car solutions. See the appended video.
China has relaxed its rules on foreign ownership
For many years China has required foreign automakers to partner in joint ventures with local companies if they want to manufacture cars in the country. However, earlier this year the government announced plans to relax the rules so the automotive manufacturing landscape in China is changing.
Tesla to open wholly owned factory in Shanghai
In an earlier article the Verge announced: "Tesla has signed a “cooperative agreement” with the Shanghai Municipal Government to build its third Gigafactory and the first in China, the company announced today. Tesla says it aims to be able to make 500,000 cars per year there in what is the biggest market for electric vehicles in the world, though the company says it will be a while before the factory is up and running."
However, the Chinese government is still strictly guiding Western car companies. It strictly controls permits required to test self-driving vehicles, as well as licences that allow companies to make digital maps of the country's roads. This restriction has led major car companies such as Daimler, Ford, and BMW to partner with Baidu which has the ability to do both.
The Chinese government regards a free market approach to be a security risk. It does not want detailed maps of China's roads and other data in the hands of foreign countries. Similar fears abound in the west as well. Earlier this year the US in effect banned government employees and contractors from using Huawei handsets or components.
Audi's work on self-driving cars
Since September Audi has reportedly been testing cars with Huawei and is planning to open an autonomous vehicle development center in China next year. Audi has developed its own Level 3 system it calls Traffic Jam Pilot, which allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road while the car handles all the driving in most situations.
Volkswagen, the owner of Audi, is developing level 4 and 5 complete autonomous driving with Aurora a new startup founded by the former head of Google's self-driving program.
Huawei
According to Wikipedia: "Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (/ˈhwɑːˌweɪ/; Chinese: 华为; pinyin: About this sound Huáwéi) is a Chinese multinational networking, telecommunications equipment, and services company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong.[3] It is the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, having overtaken Ericsson in 2012.[4] In 2018, Huawei became 72nd of Fortune Global 500 in Fortune Magazine.[5] As of 2018, Huawei is the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world behind Samsung.[6]"
Huawei, as of September 2015, had over 170,000 employees. About 76,000 of them are engaged in research and development.
It has over 21 research and development institutes in many different countries. In 2017 the company invested $13.8 billion in research and development.


Previously published in Digital Journal

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner investigating Twitter over data privacy concern.

Irish privacy regulators are launching an investigation into precisely how much data Twitter collects from t.co, its URL-shortening system....