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Google to destroy browsing data to settle consumer privacy lawsuit



Google to destroy browsing data to settle consumer privacy lawsuit

Google agreed to destroy billions of data records to settle a lawsuit claiming it secretly tracked the internet use of people who thought they were browsing privately.
Terms of the settlement were filed on Monday in the Oakland, California federal court, and require approval by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs valued the accord at more than $5 billion, and as high as $7.8 billion. Google is paying no damages, but users may sue the company individually for damages.

The class action began in 2020, covering millions of Google users who used private browsing since June 1, 2016.
Users alleged that Google’s analytics, cookies and apps let the Alphabet (GOOGL.O), opens new tab unit improperly track people who set Google’s Chrome browser to “Incognito” mode and other browsers to “private” browsing mode.
They said this turned Google into an “unaccountable trove of information” by letting it learn about their friends, favorite foods, hobbies, shopping habits, and the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they hunt for online.

Under the settlement, Google will update disclosures about what it collects in “private” browsing, a process it has already begun. It will also let Incognito users block third-party cookies for five years.
“The result is that Google will collect less data from users’ private browsing sessions, and that Google will make less money from the data,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote.
Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said the company was pleased to settle the lawsuit, which it always considered meritless.

“We never associate data with users when they use Incognito mode,” Castaneda said. “We are happy to delete old technical data that was never associated with an individual and was never used for any form of personalization.”
David Boies, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in a statement called the settlement “a historic step in requiring honesty and accountability from dominant technology companies.”
A preliminary settlement had been reached in December, averting a scheduled Feb. 5, 2024 trial. Terms were not disclosed at the time. The plaintiffs’ lawyers plan to later seek unspecified legal fees payable by Google.



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Rack Centre delegation pays courtesy visit to NCC to strengthen partnership



The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rack Centre, Lars Johannisson, led his management team on a courtesy visit to the Headquarters of

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rack Centre, Lars Johannisson, led his management team on a courtesy visit to the Headquarters of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja on Tuesday.

Johannisson, who assumed duty as the CEO at Rack Centre in January this year, was at the NCC to see how his company and the telecommunication regulatory body in the country can build on the existing relationship and collaboration.

Executive Commissioner Technical Services of the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) Engr Abraham Oshadami represented the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Dr Aminu Maida to receive the delegation from Rack Centre at the Headquarters on Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, Rack Centre is the only carrier neutral Tier III Constructed Facility Certified data centre in Africa and focuses solely on providing best in class data centre colocation services and unrestricted interconnect between carriers and customers.

Rack Centre is host to the leading IXP on the African continent, the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN).

With 73+ ASNs and a wide range of local and global networks, enterprise, CDNs, and cloud and content providers, the exchange unlocks access to a population of over 380 million people on the west coast of Africa.


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Tesla to sack over 6000 employees, cut global workforce by 10%



Tesla Inc. is set to enact significant job cuts, affecting more than 6,000 employees across its operations in Texas and California, aligning

Tesla Inc. is set to enact significant job cuts, affecting more than 6,000 employees across its operations in Texas and California, aligning with CEO Elon Musk’s directive to reduce the global workforce by over 10%.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the cuts will impact 2,688 workers in Austin, Tesla’s headquarters city and a crucial site housing a major factory. Based on a WARN notice filed with the Texas Workforce Commission, these reductions will commence over a 14-day period starting June 14.

Concurrently, Tesla plans to lay off 3,332 employees across various locations in California, as indicated by separate WARN notices filed in the state.

Before the implementation of these layoffs, Tesla had boasted a workforce of over 140,000 globally. However, the company’s recent announcement of layoffs exceeding 10% suggests that the actual number of affected individuals may surpass 20,000, according to insiders familiar with the situation.

At the close of last year, Tesla employed more than 22,000 individuals in Austin alone. The production facility in Austin primarily focuses on manufacturing the Model Y and Cybertruck, though of the specific breakdown of impacted roles, including factory positions, remains unclear.

Despite these workforce reductions, Tesla’s shares saw a 2% increase in New York trading at 3:18 p.m. However, the stock’s performance throughout the year has been less favorable, with a 42% decline marking it as the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 Index.

The move to cut jobs comes amidst a broader context of transformation and challenges within Tesla. As the company navigates its shift towards Elon Musk’s vision of a robotaxi future, internal reorganization and strategic realignment are underway, reflecting Tesla’s ongoing evolution in the automotive industry landscape.

Tesla’s decision to reduce its workforce is not an isolated occurrence in the corporate landscape. In a trend mirrored by other industry giants, several companies have recently announced plans for significant job cuts.

Sports brand Nike, for instance, disclosed intentions to terminate approximately 700 employees’ jobs, as reported by Nairametrics. Similarly, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing division of Amazon, unveiled plans to slash hundreds of jobs as part of broader cost-saving initiatives.

Joining this wave of downsizing efforts, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, declared its intention to reduce its workforce by 12,000 employees globally, constituting 6% of its total employee base. Concurrently, Microsoft also announced its plans to lay off 10,000 workers within the same timeframe.

These announcements point to a broader trend within the corporate sector, as companies navigate evolving market dynamics and seek to streamline operations in response to various challenges and strategic imperatives.


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‘How TikTok changed us’



In the coming days, Congress may advance a bill to ban TikTok or force its sale to an American company. Politicians in both parties call the

In the coming days, Congress may advance a bill to ban TikTok or force its sale to an American company. Politicians in both parties call the app a threat to national security. But its reach is felt most acutely in our culture.

Since it first arrived in the United States in 2018 (after merging with another app), its 15-second gulps of entertainment have become a fixture in the lives of tens of millions of Americans — including those who’ve never opened the app.

The engine that powers this juggernaut is TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, which figures out what users like and populates a customized feed of addictive videos. It’s called the For You Page, or FYP. It was not built to connect people with friends, the way Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were. It was built to entertain.

As the app fights the most serious threat yet to its autonomy, my colleagues and I explored the ways that its innovation has reshaped American lives. In today’s newsletter, I’ll spotlight a few of them.


The film industry at first ignored and feared TikTok. But it eventually embraced the platform as a marketing tool for a new generation of moviegoers. The Sony romantic comedy “Anyone But You” drew a weak $8 million in ticket sales over Christmas weekend, my colleague Brooks Barnes, who covers Hollywood companies, writes. But “the movie turned into a full-fledged hit ($219 million) after TikTok users (at the urging of Sony) began making videos of themselves re-enacting the credit sequence.” The app is virtually a “ticket-selling machine,” he writes.


A few schools have removed bathroom mirrors because so many students were leaving class to film TikTok videos there. These clips constitute “a TikTok genre, dating back at least five years, in which students use school bathrooms as film sets for dance routines, lip-syncing clips or critiques of unclean lavatories,” my colleague Natasha Singer, who covers tech use in schools, writes. School bathrooms have also become “arenas to stage, film and post videos of bullying, physical assaults on schoolmates and acts of vandalism.”


For 14 percent of American adults, TikTok is a regular news source, up from 3 percent in 2020. People who don’t have traditional backgrounds in journalism, akin to bloggers for the TikTok era, aggregate and share information in snappy videos. Traditional news outlets are scrambling to catch up — and fretting about accuracy and context. Organizations including The New York Times are also making short-form videos in which reporters talk to the camera about their stories, the TikTok way.


Recipes got a makeover on TikTok, as creators depart from static images and step-by-step instructions. My colleague Becky Hughes, NYT Cooking’s social media editor, writes that traditional recipes have given way to looser concepts. That has helped create trends like eggs fried in a puddle of pesto, sandwich fillings chopped into a homogenous mixture and mini pancakes served like cereal, she says. “The most shareable recipes are the ones that you can watch once, then turn around and make — no measurements, bake times or reading needed,” she writes. “Just dump, stir, like, follow, repeat.”

Our story also chronicles how TikTok has prompted self-diagnoses of ADHD and replaced window shopping at the mall. My colleagues looked at the app’s knack for spreading conspiracy theories, its fight with Taylor Swift’s record label and the secrecy around its algorithm.

We hope you’ll spend some time on these articles, even if it’s only to check how many TikTok “microtrends,” such as glazed-donut skin and sleepy-girl mocktails, you’ve heard of.

By Sapna Maheshwari, The New York Times 


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Finally, Meta rolls out WhatsApp AI feature



Meta has begun rolling out its AI assistant across all its platforms in seven countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meta has begun rolling out its AI assistant across all its platforms in seven countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The AI assistant is available on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger and can access real-time information from across the web without leaving the app.

It said users will be able to create images from text using its AI imagine feature. The rollout is in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Meta said its AI assistant in English will enhance connections and provide people with tools to be more creative, expressive and productive.

The company also launched its feature in countries outside the US, such as Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Singapore, and announced the launch of its AI website.

“We want Meta AI to be available when you’re trying to get things done at your computer too, so we’re rolling out (the website) today,” it stated.

While announcing this update, Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta, said: “Our goal is to build the world’s leading AI. We believe Meta AI is now the most intelligent AI assistant that you can freely use. To make Meta AI even smarter, we’ve also integrated real-time knowledge from Google and Bing right into the answers. We’re also making it much easier to use across our apps.”

He said the expansion of Meta AI to Nigeria and others will provide real-time information through its seamless search integration in the apps users know. He noted that new features of the AI include the ability to animate images, iterate on them in a new style, or even turn them into a GIF to share with friends.

Zuckerberg further stated that the AI assistant has been integrated into the search boxes at the top of WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.

“We also built some unique creation features, like the ability to animate photos. Meta AI now generates high-quality images so fast that it creates and updates them in real time as you’re typing. It’ll also generate a playback video of your creation process,” he added.

Meta first announced it would roll out Meta AI on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram in September 2023.


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NCC hosts South Korean delegation over implementations of Information Technology Centre



In a bid to further strengthen Nigeria’s role in the ICT field, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has received a delegation from

In a bid to further strengthen Nigeria’s role in the ICT field, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has received a delegation from South Korea.

The South Korean delegation was also visiting to explore joint efforts to implement the Information Access Centre (IAC).

The delegation is headed by prominent South Korean technology leaders who have held talks with NCC officials to share knowledge and expertise on establishing the IAC.

The Information Access Centre (IAC) will develop important knowledge and tools, especially in the field of communications, to promote innovation and development in Nigeria’s digital sector.

L- R; Executive Principal, Department of Global ICT Cooperation/ Global ICT Project Team, Mr Un Jong, JI, Executive Commissioner Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Engr Abraham Oshadami; Group Head Corporate Services DBI, Ms Viola Askia Usoro; Senior Manager Department of Global ICT Cooperation/Global Digital Transformation Team, South Korea, Mr Kim Dohum, during a Courtesy visit to the Commission Headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday 17 April 2024.

While at the NCC, the two sides exchanged views on strategies and best practices for the effective implementation of the Information Access Centre (IAC)

The delegation from South Korea praised the NCC’s efforts to promote transparency and access to the telecommunications industry and expressed its willingness to support the establishment of the IAC.

Through this collaboration, the partners expect significant improvements in the dissemination and access of information, which will ultimately contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector.


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Samsung awarded $6.4 billion in grants to boost Texas chip output



The Biden administration will award up to $6.4 billion in grants to South Korea's Samsung, to expand its chip production in central Texas

The Biden administration will award up to $6.4 billion in grants to South Korea’s Samsung, to expand its chip production in central Texas as part of a broader effort to boost U.S. chipmaking, the Department of Commerce said on Monday.

The funding from the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act will support two chip production facilities, a research center and a packaging facility, in Taylor, Texas, the agency said.

It will also enable Samsung to expand its Austin, Texas, semiconductor facility, Commerce Department Secretary Gina Raimondo added, while boosting chip output for the aerospace, defense and auto industries and bolstering national security, administration officials told reporters.

“(These investments) will allow the U.S. to once again lead the world, not just in semiconductor design, which is where we do now lead, but also in manufacturing, advanced packaging, and research and development,” Raimondo said.

Samsung Electronics Co-CEO Kyung Kye Hyun said: “To meet the expected surge in demand from U.S. customers, for future products like AI chips, our fabs will be equipped for cutting-edge process technologies and help bring security to the U.S. semiconductor supply chain.”

Samsung said it expects to begin production in 2026. Analysts have estimated Samsung is likely to begin making 4-nanometer chips at its pilot production line and eventually expand to 2-nanometer chips.

The announcement, which made Samsung the third-largest Chips Act award recipient, is the latest move by the U.S. Biden administration to build out the chipmaking industry in the United States.

The U.S. share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has fallen from 37 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2020, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

“By investing in leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing, we are helping secure this vulnerable supply chain, boosting our national security and global competitiveness, and creating new jobs for Texans,” said John Cornyn, a Republican senator from Texas who cosponsored the original legislation.

Samsung is expected to invest roughly $45 billion in building and expanding its Texas facilities through the end of the decade, said senior administration officials.

“We applaud Samsung for investing boldly in U.S.-based manufacturing and salute the U.S. Commerce Department for making significant headway in implementing the CHIPS Act’s manufacturing incentives and R&D programs,” SIA said in a statement.

Intel won $8.5 billion in grants last month while Taiwan’s TSMC clinched $6.6 billion in April to build out its American production.


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