San Francisco, Oct 9 (AP/UNB) — Google is shutting down its long-shunned Plus social network for consumers, following its disclosure of a flaw discovered in March that could have exposed some personal information of up to 500,000 people.
The announcement came in a Monday blog post , which marked Google's first public description of the privacy bug.
Google deliberately avoided disclosing the problem at the time, in part to avoid drawing regulatory scrutiny and damaging its reputation, according to a Wall Street Journal story that cited anonymous individuals and documents.
The Mountain View, California, company declined to comment on the Journal's report, and didn't fully explain in its blog post why it held off on revealing the bug until Monday.
The Google Plus flaw could have allowed up to 438 external apps to scoop up user names, email addresses, occupations, genders and ages without authorization. The company didn't find any evidence that any of the personal information affected by the Plus breach was misused.
The timeline laid out by Google indicates the company discovered the privacy lapse around the same time that Facebook was under fire for a leak in its far more popular social network. Facebooks' breakdown exposed the personal information of as many as 87 million of its users to Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm affiliated with President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
Congress summoned CEO Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be grilled about his company's privacy issues in April.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently declined to an invitation to travel to Washington to testify before the Senate about foreign governments' manipulation of online services to sway U.S. political elections. His absence incensed some lawmakers, who left an empty chair for Google alongside the Twitter and Facebook executives who appeared before the Senate committee in September.
"With this breach announcement, the empty seat bearing Google's name just became a lot hotter," said Mike Chapple, an associate professor of information technology, analytics and operations at the University of Notre Dame.
Pichai went to Washington to mend political fences with lawmakers in late September and agreed to participate in a White House roundtable on technology that President Trump intends to attend. He also will appear in House hearings after the midterm elections in November.
Google has a strong incentive to position itself as a trustworthy guardian of personal information because, like Facebook, its financial success hinges on its success to learn about the interests, habits and location of its users in order to sell targeted ads.
The desire to peer into people's lives is one of the reasons that Google launched Plus in 2011. It was supposed to be a challenger to Facebook's social network, which now has more than 2 billion users. But Plus flopped and quickly turned into a digital ghost town, prompting Google to start de-emphasizing it several years ago.
But the company kept it open long enough to cause an embarrassing privacy gaffe that could give Congress an excuse to enact tighter controls on data collection.
"Every data mishap strengthens the bipartisan case for Congress to take action on data protection," said Jonathan Mayer, an assistant professor at Princeton University who formerly worked in the Federal Communications Commission's enforcement bureau.
Europe began to impose tougher online privacy regulations in May. Those rules also include disclosure requirements for data breaches. Those rules don't apply to the Plus problem because Google discovered it before they took effect.
New York, Oct 9 (AP/UNB) — Google is expected to introduce two new smartphones Tuesday, part of its continuing push to embed its digital services and Android software more deeply into peoples' lives.
The new Pixel-branded phones will anchor a product event Tuesday in New York. Google launched its line of high-end phones two years ago to better compete against Apple, Samsung and other device makers. That includes many that rely on free software and apps such as the free Android operating system, which powers most of the world's mobile devices, as well as Google's search engine, Google Maps and YouTube.
Google is also likely to roll out several other gadgets, including new version of its "smart" Home speaker, a rumored tablet with a detachable keyboard and an update to its Chromecast streaming device, based on media leaks.
The latest Pixel phones are likely to attract the most attention, even though the first two generations have so far barely made a dent in the market. Google has sold an estimated 7 million Pixels over the past two years, almost imperceptible next to the 3.6 billion phones shipped during that time, according to the research firm International Data Corp.
Google doesn't disclose its phone shipments, unlike Apple, which has sold about 388 million iPhones since the first Pixel came out in October 2016.
"If you have a Google tattoo on you, then these are the phones for you," IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said of the Pixel's limited appeal so far.
Google has been somewhat restrained in its distribution and marketing the Pixel phone, Llamas said, because it doesn't want to alienate Samsung and hundreds of other device makers who feature Android in their own phones. Because Android highlights Google services, it's key to Google's business of selling ads through its search engine and other mobile apps.
The iPhone also features Google's search engine, but Google may be paying Apple as much as $9 billion annually for that privilege, based on the estimates of Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall.
The new Pixel phones are expected to follow the trend of expanding the phone screen nearly to the edges of the device. Apple, for instance, just released its biggest iPhone yet, the XS Max, which sells for as much as $1,450. Google hasn't yet discussed prices for its Pixel phones.
Analysts are also expecting Google to add higher resolution and more cameras to the Pixel, whose first two generations attracted rave reviews for its high-quality pictures.
Dhaka, Oct 7 (UNB) - As a part of Grameenphone’s Hello GP programme, CEO Michael Foley personally welcomed customers at Motijheel Grameenphone Centre on Sunday and spoke to them about their experience and expectations from the best network in the country.
HelloGP is a specially designed program to improve the quality of service and customer experience through direct interaction and feedback from GP subscribers.
Speaking on the occasion the Grameenphone CEO said, “We have taken a lot of feedback from the earlier events of HelloGP. Our teams have dedicatedly worked to address some of those concerns and deliver the best quality service and network experience to customers. We have recently reached the milestone of 71 million customers, which is a testament of trust that customers have on our network.”
Michael Foley engaged with individual customers, talked to them about the challenges they faced and addressed solutions to their problems.
The HelloGP session was also broadcast live on Facebook, where customer queries were answered.
In response to a question on the GP Facebook page, the GP CEO said that all BTS of Grameenphone will either have 4G or 3G coverage by the end of the year.
Members from technology, commercial, customer service, communications, and several other cross-functional teams were present at the session.
HelloGP sessions have been arranged throughout the country with teams led by the CEO, Michael Foley, and Deputy CEO and CMO of Grameenphone, Yasir Azman.
Dhaka, Oct 4 (UNB) – The leading digital service provider of the country, Robi Axiata Ltd, and a fast growing global freelancing training academy, CodersTrust Bangladesh have recently signed a corporate agreement.
Robi’s Managing Director and CEO, Mahtab Uddin Ahmed and CodersTrust Bangladesh’s Country Director, Md. Ataul Goni Osmani signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. The signing ceremony took place at the Robi Corporate Office, said a press release on Thursday.
The agreement paves the way for the coding enthusiasts to get well-groomed and trained on different aspect of freelancing with the aim to help them to become professional freelancers in the global online marketplace. Robi Axiata Ltd will be providing 4.5G enabled modem with high speed 4.5G data connectivity to facilitate spreading of the freelancing training across the country.
CodersTrust Bangladesh plans to go beyond the major cities of Bangladesh and reach out to the potential freelancers even in the rural areas. Having Robi as the partner in this mission makes it easier for CodersTrust Bangladesh to achieve its vision.
It is expected that this partnership will help in creating a large pool of skilled human resources in the country who are able to compete at the global freelancing market, making the nation proud.
London, Oct 4 (AP/UNB) — Ireland's data regulator has launched an investigation of Facebook over a recent data breach that allowed hackers access to 50 million accounts. The probe could potentially cost Facebook more than $1.6 billion in fines.
The Irish Data Protection Commission said Wednesday that it will look into whether the U.S. social media company complied with European regulations that went into effect earlier this year covering data protection.
It's the latest headache for Facebook in Europe, where authorities are turning up the heat on dominant tech firms over data protection. Last month, European Union consumer protection chief Vera Jourova said that she was growing impatient with Facebook for being too slow in clarifying the fine print in its terms of service covering what happens to user data and warned that the company could face sanctions.
The commission said in a statement that it would examine whether Facebook put in place "appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security and safeguarding of the personal data it processes."
The commission said earlier this week the number of EU accounts potentially affected numbered less than 5 million.
Ireland, which is Facebook's lead privacy regulator for Europe, has moved swiftly to investigate the U.S. tech company since the breach became public on Friday.
Facebook said Friday attackers gained the ability to "seize control" of user accounts by stealing digital keys the company uses to keep users logged in. They could do so by exploiting three distinct bugs in Facebook's code.
Facebook also said the hackers could also have used those stolen digital keys to access outside services or apps that let people to log in with their Facebook usernames and passwords. The company said it hasn't found any evidence of this happening.
The company said it has fixed the bugs and logged out the 50 million breached users — plus another 40 million who were vulnerable to the attack — in order to reset those digital keys. Facebook said it doesn't know who was behind the attacks or where they're based. Neither passwords nor credit card data was stolen. At the time, the company said it alerted the FBI and regulators in the U.S. and Europe.
Facebook said in a statement Wednesday that it has been in close contact with the Irish agency since it became aware of the breach and will continue to cooperate with the investigation.
Facebook has faced a tumultuous year of security problems and privacy issues . News broke early this year that a data analytics firm once employed by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, had improperly gained access to personal data from millions of user profiles. Then a congressional investigation found that agents from Russia and other countries have been posting fake political ads since at least 2016. In April, Zuckerberg appeared at a congressional hearing focused on Facebook's privacy practices.
The European Union implemented stronger data and privacy rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, in May.
The case could prove to be the first major test of GDPR. Under the new rules, companies could be hit with fines equal to 4 percent of annual global turnover for the most serious violations. In Facebook's case, that could amount to more than $1.6 billion based on its 2017 revenues.
The new rules also require companies to disclose any breaches within 72 hours. The commission said Facebook informed it that its internal investigation is continuing and that it is taking actions to "mitigate the potential risk to users."