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The iPad Mini: Power and portability for when you shouldn’t phone it in



Five reasons why the new iPad Pro can replace your laptop
Ahead of the holidays, Apple makes its case for the iPad Pro to be your next computer, even though it’s not one. Read more:

Comparing how the iPad was positioned at its introduction to how it is positioned now, it is tempting to say that Microsoft won the war for the soul of the tablet as something that is not a standalone category but a laptop variant. Rather than the iPad being a “post-PC” device, Apple in effect has two PC lines in iPad and Mac. They are so close in functionality that apps for them will soon spring forth from the same application programming interfaces and they will soon likely run on the same processor architecture. Those who cast their lot with an iPad as their main computer suffer few compromises.

Also: Review: iPad Mini is back and Apple’s 2019 update offers new mojo for small tablets CNET

The iPad had to climb the value ladder up to the size and functionality of a laptop because it was most pliable barrier between the rock of the growing smartphone and the hard place of the 2-in-1. But that doesn’t make the iPad’s original scenario — a device that lives in between the smartphone and notebook — less valid. Apple now has a lineup of five different iPads. The nearly 13-inch iPad Pro may be Apple’s most powerful alternative to the laptop, while the baseline iPad may most closely resemble the original. However, the iPad Mini best carries on the idea of a tweener product in the current device landscape.

One couldn’t be faulted for thinking Apple would never release another iPad Mini. Its last iteration was released back in 2015. It used Apple’s A9, a chip three generations behind the one in the new iPad Mini. So Apple has addressed at least some of modern tech gaps of the Mini. However, like all non-Pro iPads, the new Mini features large bezels {a minus}. In part used for a Touch ID-enabled home button (a plus). Also like the other non-Pro iPads, the Mini uses Lightning ports. That’s a disadvantage from the point of pure functionality. However, the Mini is unlikely to appeal to those who don’t already have some investment in Lightning cables.

Indeed, the reason many thought the Mini had faded into the sunset was that it was outrageously priced compared to, say, small Amazon Fire tablets. The few companies still making Android tablets have tended to focus on larger screen sizes. That doesn’t include Google, which threw Android out of its latest tablet altogether. And even within its own product line, the Mini costs the same as the baseline iPad, which offers a much larger work area.

But that iPad and everything further up the line start running up to the space requirements for a notebook while falling short of some of a notebook’s functionality. In contrast, particularly among Apple products, the iPad Mini offers an advantage over phone in the other end of the device spectrum. Despite the Mini’s LTE capability, it’s unlikely to substitute as a smartphone for anyone and is effectively a two-handed device.

But it is Apple’s best minimalist computing product, packing in almost all of the niceties of Apple’s iPad iOS extensions in a small form factor with a wide aspect ratio, with significantly more screen real estate than even Apple’s iPhone XS Max at a fraction of the price. Particularly with the new Apple Pencil support, that makes it a strong option for field applications. Cramped in coach? Nettled by notches? The iPad Mini grants you reprieve.

Also: A Best Buy salesman told me it’s iPad or don’t bother 

Competitively, the iPad Mini costs a lot more than similarly sized tablets, but there really isn’t anything else in its class. Compatibility with the Apple Pencil has opened up a new world of note-taking and sketching applications such as a new offering from Moleskine. And while there’s no smart keyboard cover connector, one can scrape by typing on the iPad Mini with a number of Bluetooth keyboard cases and add-ons.

Alas, Apple’s long neglect in updating the iPad Mini seems to have dampened accessory makers’ excitement of the new device. The launch — featured but still crunched among a host of Apple hardware announcements prior to a portfolio of media services that complement the iPad line — attracted no major third-party case announcements that might accommodate the Apple Pencil. That said, the product matches the dimensions of the iPad Mini 4 so cases for that device — should you be able to find them at retail — should work. (Of course, you can also make your own.)

Also: Apple unveils new 10.5-inch iPad Air and iPad Mini with Apple Pencil support 

Apple was slow to embrace the idea of a tablet with smaller dimensions than the original iPad; it was persuaded to pursue the Mini in part after reading coverage of the first small Galaxy Tab tablets by former ZDNet contributor Kevin Tofel. The combination of consumer tablet softness, growing smartphones and the better value of the baseline iPad conspire to keep it a fringe product for Apple. It is not the iPad for everyone. Its appeal would be even further enhanced if it adopted the slim bezels and modern connectivity of the Pro line. But, even today, the iPad Mini’s charms justify its share of supporters. To prevent their ranks from shrinking further, Apple needs to update it in cycles shorter than leap-year intervals.

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Facebook’s decision-review body to take “weeks” longer over Trump ban call – TechCrunch



Facebook’s self-styled and handpicked ‘Oversight Board’ will make a decision on whether or not to overturn an indefinite suspension of the account of former president Donald Trump within “weeks”, it said in a brief update statement on the matter today.

The high profile case appears to have attracted major public interest, with the FOB tweeting that it’s received more than 9,000 responses so far to its earlier request for public feedback.

It added that its commitment to “carefully reviewing all comments” after an earlier extension of the deadline for feedback is responsible for the extension of the case timeline.

The Board’s statement adds that it will provide more information “soon”.

Trump’s indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram was announced by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on January 7, after the then-president of the U.S. incited his followers to riot at the nation’s Capitol — an insurrection that led to chaotic and violent scenes and a number of deaths as his supporters clashed with police.

However Facebook quickly referred the decision to the FOB for review — opening up the possibility that the ban could be overturned in short order as Facebook has said it will be bound by the case review decisions issued by the Board.

After the FOB accepted the case for review it initially said it would issue a decision within 90 days of January 21 — a deadline that would have fallen next Wednesday.

However it now looks like the high profile, high stakes call on Trump’s social media fate could be pushed into next month.

It’s a familiar development in Facebook-land. Delay has been a long time feature of the tech giant’s crisis PR response in the face of a long history of scandals and bad publicity attached to how it operates its platform. So the tech giant is unlikely to be uncomfortable that the FOB is taking its time to make a call on Trump’s suspension.

After all, devising and configuring the bespoke case review body — as its proprietary parody of genuine civic oversight — is a process that has taken Facebook years already.

In related FOB news this week, Facebook announced that users can now request the board review its decisions not to remove content — expanding the Board’s potential cases to include reviews of ‘keep ups’ (not just content takedowns).

This report was updated with a correction: The FOB previously extended the deadline for case submissions; it has not done so again as we originally stated

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Facebook faces ‘mass action’ lawsuit in Europe over 2019 breach – TechCrunch



Facebook is to be sued in Europe over the major leak of user data that dates back to 2019 but which only came to light recently after information on 533M+ accounts was found posted for free download on a hacker forum.

Today Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) announced it’s commencing a “mass action” to sue Facebook, citing the right to monetary compensation for breaches of personal data that’s set out in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Article 82 of the GDPR provides for a ‘right to compensation and liability’ for those affected by violations of the law. Since the regulation came into force, in May 2018, related civil litigation has been on the rise in the region.

The Ireland-based digital rights group is urging Facebook users who live in the European Union or European Economic Area to check whether their data was breach — via the haveibeenpwned website (which lets you check by email address or mobile number) — and sign up to join the case if so.

Information leaked via the breach includes Facebook IDs, location, mobile phone numbers, email address, relationship status and employer.

Facebook has been contacted for comment on the litigation.

The tech giant’s European headquarters is located in Ireland — and earlier this week the national data watchdog opened an investigation, under EU and Irish data protection laws.

A mechanism in the GDPR for simplifying investigation of cross-border cases means Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) is Facebook’s lead data regulator in the EU. However it has been criticized over its handling of and approach to GDPR complaints and investigations — including the length of time it’s taking to issue decisions on major cross-border cases. And this is particularly true for Facebook.

With the three-year anniversary of the GDPR fast approaching, the DPC has multiple open investigations into various aspects of Facebook’s business but has yet to issue a single decision against the company.

(The closest it’s come is a preliminary suspension order issued last year, in relation to Facebook’s EU to US data transfers. However that complaint long predates GDPR; and Facebook immediately filed to block the order via the courts. A resolution is expected later this year after the litigant filed his own judicial review of the DPC’s processes).

Since May 2018 the EU’s data protection regime has — at least on paper — baked in fines of up to 4% of a company’s global annual turnover for the most serious violations.

Again, though, the sole GDPR fine issued to date by the DPC against a tech giant (Twitter) is very far off that theoretical maximum. Last December the regulator announced a €450k (~$547k) sanction against Twitter — which works out to around just 0.1% of the company’s full-year revenue.

That penalty was also for a data breach — but one which, unlike the Facebook leak, had been publicly disclosed when Twitter found it in 2019. So Facebook’s failure to disclose the vulnerability it discovered and claims it fixed by September 2019, which led to the leak of 533M accounts now, suggests it should face a higher sanction from the DPC than Twitter received.

However even if Facebook ends up with a more substantial GDPR penalty for this breach the watchdog’s caseload backlog and plodding procedural pace makes it hard to envisage a swift resolution to an investigation that’s only a few days old.

Judging by past performance it’ll be years before the DPC decides on this 2019 Facebook leak — which likely explains why the DRI sees value in instigating class-action style litigation in parallel to the regulatory investigation.

“Compensation is not the only thing that makes this mass action worth joining. It is important to send a message to large data controllers that they must comply with the law and that there is a cost to them if they do not,” DRI writes on its website.

It also submitted a complaint about the Facebook breach to the DPC earlier this month, writing then that it was “also consulting with its legal advisors on other options including a mass action for damages in the Irish Courts”.

It’s clear that the GDPR enforcement gap is creating a growing opportunity for litigation funders to step in in Europe and take a punt on suing for data-related compensation damages — with a number of other mass actions announced last year.

In the case of DRI its focus is evidently on seeking to ensure that digital rights are upheld. But it told RTE that it believes compensation claims which force tech giants to pay money to users whose privacy rights have been violated is the best way to make them legally compliant.

Facebook, meanwhile, has sought to play down the breach it failed to disclose in 2019 — claiming it’s ‘old data’ — a deflection that ignores the fact that people’s dates of birth don’t change (nor do most people routinely change their mobile number or email address).

Plenty of the ‘old’ data exposed in this latest massive Facebook leak will be very handy for spammers and fraudsters to target Facebook users — and also now for litigators to target Facebook for data-related damages.

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Pakistan temporarily blocks social media – TechCrunch



Pakistan has temporarily blocked several social media services in the South Asian nation, according to users and a government-issued notice reviewed by TechCrunch.

In an order titled “Complete Blocking of Social Media Platforms,” the Pakistani government ordered Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Telegram from 11am to 3pm local time (06.00am to 10.00am GMT) Friday.

The move comes as Pakistan looks to crackdown against a violent terrorist group and prevent troublemakers from disrupting Friday prayers congregations following days of violent protests.

Earlier this week Pakistan banned the Islamist group Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan after arresting its leader, which prompted protests, according to local media reports.

An entrepreneur based in Pakistan told TechCrunch that even though the order is supposed to expire at 3pm local time, similar past moves by the government suggests that the disruption will likely last for longer.

Though Pakistan, like its neighbor India, has temporarily cut phone calls access in the nation in the past, this is the first time Islamabad has issued a blanket ban on social media in the country.

Pakistan has explored ways to assume more control over content on digital services operating in the country in recent years. Some activists said the country was taking extreme measures without much explanations.

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