EMPIST Tech News Roundup: Friday, June 22, 2018

Big news! Microsoft is receiving backlash from many about their cloud contract with ICE amid the controversy surrounding the separation of families at the border. Verizon is becoming the first major U.S. wireless provider to step up and take action against unknown data sharing. You’ll find these and other top tech and business headlines from this week in the latest EMPIST roundup!

Microsoft, Under Fire for ICE Deal, Says It’s ‘Dismayed’ by Family Separations at Border

USA Today | Mon June 18, 2018 — So far, the general public has largely not been on board with technology meshing with government agencies. That trend is not dissipating. In a previous roundup, we shared news of negative reactions to the facial ID technology from Amazon, Rekognition, being shared with law enforcement organizations. This week Microsoft is under fire on social media for having a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, due to the family border separation controversy.

Microsoft’s contract with ICE for it’s cloud-based software Azure is reportedly worth $19.14 million. While they do not support the new zero-tolerance immigration policy enacted under the Trump administration, they are not currently backing away from their ICE association. Former and current Microsoft employees have taken to social urging Microsoft to reevaluate their stance.

Verizon pledges to Stop Some Selling of Phone-Location Data

CNBC | Tue June 19, 2018 — Verizon is the first major U.S. wireless carrier to step up and take action against unauthorized data sharing. They have announced the news that they are committing to stop selling data to outsiders, data which can pinpoint the location of mobile phones. This data has previously allowed third parties to track wireless devices without obtaining owner consent or notifying them of the business practice.

This practice has drawn criticism from many as a violation of privacy and an endangerment to sensitive data. Popular uses for the data tracking have been roadside assistance, tracking packages and tracking employees, among others. Verizon reported that about 75 third parties have accessed customer data from two California-based brokers, LocationSmart and Zumigo. Speculation said that this move by Verizon may have been prompted by a previous $1.4 million fine from the FCC for tracking customers’ online travels.

iPhones Will Share Your Exact Location With 911

CNN | Mon June 18, 2018 — Smartphones seem to be following in the footsteps of Uber and adding a new safety feature. In the past, mobile phones could not be tracked by 911 to pinpoint an exact address, but now they can. Apple is rolling out a new feature with its upcoming iOS12 update later this year that will calculate a caller’s location using data collected from WiFi access points. Data will also be drawn from GPS and nearby cellular towers. Apple is working with a startup called RapidSOS to integrate the software.

Android User? Beware of New Scam that could Trick You Into Downloading Bad Apps

TechRepublic | Mon June 18, 2018 — If you’re an Android user, you may want to take an extra close look at the next app you want to download. The latest news about cyber attacks show malicious app developers are taking advantage of the Google Play search app to manipulate apps to appear in search results with falsified information. In addition to inaccurate download counts, the developers implement key phrases to try and boost their credibility. Some even include the verified blue check mark to gain more trust. Little do these developers know, there is no legitimate verification symbol within Google Play, so these marks are just one of several indicators for a fake app. Hundreds of fake apps have been discovered, but many of them have no functionality or only contain advertisements.

Elon Musk is Accusing a Tesla Employee of Trying to Sabotage the Company

Business Insider | Mon June 18, 2018 — Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that a Tesla employee has engaged in activity meant to sabotage the company. Via an email sent by Musk Sunday night, it’s reported that the employee changed parts of the company’s manufacturing operating system code. Following this, highly sensitive company data was sent to outside parties. Musk claims that the employee was driven to this sabotage by not getting a promotion that he wanted. Thus far, there is nothing to indicate that there were more people involved.

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