What’s new in tech
Behind all the privacy updates
You’re probably wondering “why your inbox is getting flooded with updated privacy policies,” said Justin Jaffe and Laura Hautala in CNET.com. The reason is the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a “sweeping law” governing data privacy that came into effect across the European Union last week. The law “changes the rules for companies that collect, store, or process large amounts of information on residents of the EU.” Residents can now object to specific ways companies use their data or demand that their data be erased. Companies that fail to comply are susceptible to a fine of up to 4 percent of their global revenue or 20 million euros (whichever is higher). The law applies to any organization that collects or stores the data of European citizens, “essentially setting a new global standard for data protection.”
When the Echo is always listening
“What happens when digital assistants like Alexa go rogue?” asked Niraj Chokshi in The New York Times. Privacy advocates have warned for years that smart speakers might eavesdrop on private conversations and share them without the owner’s consent. Now it’s happened. Amazon has confirmed that an Oregon couple’s Echo recorded one of their conversations and then sent the audio file to one of the husband’s employees in Seattle. Amazon said in a statement that the Echo had “mistakenly heard a series of requests” that it interpreted as instructions to send the audio. The company added, “As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”
Apple partners with Volkswagen
Apple’s once ambitious self-driving car project has been “severely diminished,” said Nick Statt in TheVerge.com. The tech giant had aspirations to build its own electric self-driving car. But it has recently failed to secure a deal with either BMW or Mercedes, both of which rebuffed Apple’s demand for control of the car’s data and design. Now Apple is partnering with Volkswagen on a project with far smaller aims, turning “existing T6 Transporter vans into self-driving shuttles for Apple employees.” Although Apple expanded its driverless division to more than 1,000 employees and has registered more autonomous vehicles with the California Department of Motor Vehicles than either Uber or Waymo, “hundreds of people” have exited the department in the past several years.