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Facebook posts can now be exported to Google Docs, WordPress

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Depending on how you look at it, Facebook may have surpassed Google in being the poster child for harvesting personal data on the Internet. Considering how much of people’s online lives and information it has in its possession, the social media giant regularly gets pushed, mostly through laws and regulations, to take certain steps to secure and unlock users’ information. Part of that is allowing users to move their data outside of Facebook and a new export tool will let them do just that to transfer their posts to other online services.

The ability to export Facebook data has actually been around for a few years now. It’s part of the Data Transfer Project, an agreement among some of the Big Tech companies to allow users to move some of their data across different and competing services. Last year, Facebook made it possible to transfer photos to Google Photos and now it’s doing something similar for posts themselves.

According to the blog post, Facebook users can go to their account’s “Your Facebook Information” Settings to select Transfer Your Information. You can select either Photos or Notes (but not both at the same time) and have them copied over to Google Docs or WordPress. You will then be asked to log into those external accounts before the transfer begins.

Facebook promises that the tool is secure and private and that data is encrypted as it moves between services. Comments to posts are not exported, however, since they’re associated with someone else’s Facebook account.

It’s a small but important step for Facebook users to have their data unshackled from the social network’s walls, at least when they need to. Facebook is, of course, simply complying with regional laws and probably doesn’t expect most users to utilize them, anyway.

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Damning report says broadband industry behind huge Net Neutrality astroturfing

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Around 1 in 5 of the 22 million comments submitted to the FTC about ending Net Neutrality were real, a multi-year investigation has concluded, intended to give the false impression that the public supported the idea. A newly-published report by the New York Attorney General’s Office blames the broadband industry for funding fake letters and impersonating real – and sometimes dead – Americans, in the hope of faking a wave of popular support.

Net neutrality effectively prevented broadband providers from prioritizing content that passed through their systems. The rules meant that ISPs could not charge more to deliver some company’s data faster, or conversely slow the data of others who didn’t pay for the best service.

In the US, the arguments for and against net neutrality laws have been underway since the 1990s. In 2017, however, renewed attacks from the FCC under then-chairman Ajit Pai saw the agency push toward removing the restrictions of ISPs when considered Title II “common carrier services”; instead, Pai’s FCC aimed to reclassify them as Title I “information services” and, in the process, potentially open up a lucrative new income stream for broadband providers.

It’s a complex issue, but the investigation led by the Office of the Attorney General found that “the nation’s largest broadband companies funded a secret campaign to generate millions of comments to the FCC,” it announced today. “Many of these comments provided “cover” for the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules.”

“The broadband industry could not, in fact, rely on grassroots support for its campaign because the public overwhelmingly supported robust net neutrality rules” the report claims. “So the broadband industry tried to manufacture support for repeal by hiring companies to generate comments for a fee.”

The lure for participants was one familiar to anybody who has spent much time on the internet recently without an ad-blocker active. Commercial lead generators relied on the promise of sweepstakes entries, gift cards, and more to encourage members of the public to join the campaign. However, “nearly every lead generator that was hired to enroll consumers in the campaign, instead, simply fabricated consumers’ responses.”

Other lead generators merely used previously-collected contact details to submit fake comments. One copied information that had been exposed in a data breach and published online. At the point the comments were submitted, some of the people whose names were attached to them had already died, and in some cases been dead for several years.

It resulted in more than 8.5 million fake comments submitted to the FCC, and more than 500,000 fake letters sent to congress. A further 9.3 million fake comments to the FCC were generated through the use of automated software by a single person.

In total, the investigation found, though the FCC received more than 22 million comments during its 2017 proceedings to repeal net neutrality, nearly 18 million were fake.

Three companies were found to be responsible for millions of the fakes, with Fluent, Inc., Opt-Intelligence, Inc., and React2Media, Inc. collectively facing more than $4.4 million in penalties. Meanwhile, broadband industry group Broadband for America – made up of trade groups and broadband company senior executives – funded at least some of the process, apparently spending $4.2 million, or more than half of its total campaign budget, on the ruse.

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Google responds to Apple App Tracking Transparency with new rules for Android

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Google released a notice today about the future of Android and user data transparency. While not a direct response to Apple’s update with iOS 14.5 – at least not explicitly – Google’s “pre-announcement” of an upcoming safety section in Google Play should effectively keep the two operating systems in-step on several privacy-centric fronts. The new section in Google Play for Android apps will “help people understand the data an app collects or shares, if that data is secured, and additional details that impact privacy and security.”

Suzanne Frey, VP, Product, Android Security and Privacy posted a note this week about how developers and users will be affected by the update to Google Play and Android. Android already has a system in place where apps alert users about what permissions they seek – location data, contacts, personal info, audio, storage files, and camera access. With this update, it’ll all be a bit more clear up front, listed in Google Play.

What will apps show?

Developers will be asked to share the following items with users in their app listing in Google Play: What type of data is collected and stored, and how the data is used. That should be simple.

• What type of data is collected and stored: Location, Photos & Videos, Audio files, Storage files, Contacts, and Personal Information.
• How the data is used by the app or the developer/group that makes the app. This could also include disclosure of data sharing with 3rd-party sources.

Google Play will also begin listing information as follows in a new Safety Section for each app. New elements will highlight whether:

1. Security practices are in play (data encryption, for example) for user data
2. Google’s Families policy is followed with user data
3. The app “needs this data to function or if users have choice in sharing it”
4. The app’s safety section “is verified by an independent third-party”
5. Data deletion is an option for the user upon uninstall of said app

When Safety Section will appear on Google Play

Here on May 6, 2021, Google first made their “pre-announcement” of this new policy. In Q3 of 2021, the policy will be “available” for the public and developers to read. In the fourth quarter of 2021, developers will be able to start declaring information in the Google Play Console as outlined above.

In the first quarter of 2022, users in the public will begin to see the new safety section in Google Play. At some point in the second quarter of the year 2022, Google will set a deadline for all new and existing apps to declare the information outlined above.

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This HP EliteOne 800 G8 AiO has video call talents every PC should steal

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HP has revealed its latest all-in-one PC, and we can’t help thinking it’s wasted in businesses. The HP EliteOne 800 G8 All-in-One comes with a choice of 23.8- or 27-inch displays, with a pop-up camera on top that includes video call-friendly face tracking.

In fact, the array that slides out of the top of the AiO PC has dual 5-megapixel cameras inside, plus an IR camera and a time-of-flight sensor that can track distance. With all that, and an extra-wide field of view compared to the average webcam, it means the EliteOne 800 G8 can use digital tracking to center you in the middle of the frame, cropping accordingly.

There’s also auto scene detection, to adjust the lighting automatically depending on ambient conditions in the room. HP has fitted its AI-powered noise reduction system as well, for the first time on a PC, with the ability to spot and filter out over 350 million types of voices and noises. The filters work on both outbound and inbound noise, so even if you’re talking with someone with a lesser microphone system you’ll still hear the benefit.

There’s HP Dynamic Audio for speech, music, and movie audio tuning to cut through background noise, along with Dynamic Voice Leveling to automatically adjust the volume of your voice so that it stays consistent even as you move closer to, or further away from, the microphone. Even the cooling system has been designed to lower the fan noise while you’re on calls.

It’s all wrapped up in a design that could be mistaken for just being a standalone monitor. Inside there’s a choice of Intel 11th Gen Core processors, up to a Core i9; they can be paired with up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and up to 6TB of M.2 PCIe storage. On the graphics side, there’s a choice of Intel UHD Graphics 730 or 750, with the display resolution offering up to 2560 x 1440 depending on panel.

As for connectivity, on the wireless side you can have WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. For ports, you get a lot more than a new iMac 24-inch offers: three USB-A, two USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort, and ethernet are all included.

Clearly these aren’t the machines if you’re looking for serious graphical grunt (or gaming, for that matter). Still, the video calling systems HP has fitted could make a big difference if your schedule is still filled with back-to-back Zoom appointments. Meanwhile the EliteOne 800 G8’s design manages to step away from the norm in enterprise hardware, and wouldn’t look out of place in a home office instead.

No word on pricing at this stage, but HP says that the new all-in-one will go on sale later this month.

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