New York, Sep 16 (AP/UNB) — Facebook and other companies routinely track your online surfing habits to better target ads at you. Two web browsers now want to help you fight back in what's becoming an escalating privacy arms race.
New protections in Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox browsers aim to prevent companies from turning "cookie" data files used to store sign-in details and preferences into broader trackers that take note of what you read, watch and research on other sites.
Lance Cottrell, creator of the privacy service Anonymizer, said Apple's effort was particularly significant, as it takes aim at a technique developed by tracking companies to override users' attempts to delete their cookies.
Safari makes these protections automatic in updates coming Tuesday to iPhones and iPads and a week later to Mac computers. Firefox has similar protections on Apple mobile devices and is rolling out them out to personal computers in the coming months.
To get the protections, you'll have to break your habit of using Google's Chrome browser, which by some estimates has more than half of the worldwide browser usage. Safari and Firefox have less than 20 percent combined.
Even then, Safari and Firefox can't entirely stop tracking. For starters, they won't block tracking when you're using Facebook or Google itself. Nor can they help much when you use phone or tablet apps, unless the app happens to embed Safari, as Twitter's iPhone app does.
But Will Strafach, a mobile security expert who is designing data security tools for phones, said imperfect protection is better than no protection. He notes that burglars can still break down a door, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bother locking it.
Cookies and other trackers can be used by companies to keep track of who you are as you move from website to website. The companies can build a digital profile as you, say, read about Democratic or Republican viewpoints, buy a particular brand of pet food or indulge in the entire season of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."
News, video and other third-party sites use Google and Facebook cookies to customize ads to your hobbies and interests, rather than hawking products you might never buy. That's why you might see an ad for shoes soon after searching for them elsewhere.
Apple says its tests show that some popular websites are embedded with more than 70 such trackers. Many of these are from Facebook and Google, which are expected to command a combined 57 percent of the $107 billion U.S. digital advertising market this year, according to the research group eMarketer.
Though general awareness of data collection has grown in the wake of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal , how trackers work behind the scenes remains a mystery to many people.
Ghostery and other products have long offered tracking protection. The browsers are now trying to incorporate that directly so you don't have to go looking for browser add-ons.
Safari will try to automatically distinguish cookies that are useful from ones that are there just to track you. Apple notes that cookies can appear in unexpected places, such as sites that embed "like" and "share" buttons. Now, those cookies will be blocked until you click on one of those buttons, in which case you'll be prompted for permission to allow the tracking. If you don't, your "like" won't register.
Safari is also attacking a technique developed to circumvent cookie deletions. Through "fingerprinting," a company can identify you through your computer's characteristics, such as browser type and fonts installed. Your new cookie can then be tied to your old profile. Safari will now limit the technical details it sends.
Firefox has an anti-tracking feature that also tries to distinguish tracking cookies from useful ones. It's on by default only on Apple's mobile devices. Mozilla is testing a broader rollout for personal computers, though its plans for Android are not yet known. For now, you need to turn it on or use a private-browsing mode, which gets more aggressive at killing cookies, including useful ones.
For PCs, Firefox also has an optional add-on, called Facebook Container, to segregate your Facebook activity from everything else. Think of it as a wall that prevents Facebook from accessing its data cookie as you surf elsewhere. A version is available for other trackers, too, but requires configuration on your part.
None of the Firefox tools, though, address fingerprinting.
Unsurprisingly, advertisers aren't happy.
In a statement, Interactive Advertising Bureau executive Dennis Buchheim said that even as browsers makers feel pressured to deliver privacy-centric features, they should consider the importance of advertising in enabling free services.
The new Safari and Firefox tools don't block ads. But without cookies, websites might get paid a lot less for them, said Jed Williams, chief innovation officer at the Local Media Association, an industry group for news publishers.
Apple and Mozilla are able to push the boundaries on privacy because neither depends on advertising. Google makes most of its money from selling ads.
Facebook and Google declined comment on the Safari and Firefox tools. But Google said its Chrome browser offers tools to control and delete cookies and set preferences for certain websites. Google says users can also decline personalization and get generic ads instead, though tracking continues in the background while using the company's services.
San Francisco, Sep 16 (AP/UNB) — Drivers for the ride-hailing company Uber are frustrated over a glitch that is keeping them from being paid immediately.
The Mercury News of San Jose reports San Francisco-based Uber was still working on Saturday to fix a problem that was reported Friday.
An Uber spokesperson said the company has identified an issue with its "Instant Pay" feature and that drivers will be paid. Instant Pay allows drivers to be paid immediately for rides.
The news organization reports the Uber spokesperson declined further comment. It's not known what caused the issue, when it began or how many drivers were affected.
Meanwhile, frustrated and angry drivers are taking to social media, saying that they don't like working for free or that they need the instant payouts for gas.
Cape Canaveral, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — A Japanese supply run to the International Space Station has been delayed again.
The countdown was halted Saturday local time in Japan, with only a few hours remaining before liftoff. Earlier in the week, a typhoon delayed the launch.
The Japanese space agency said there was an issue with the propulsion system. No new launch date has been set.
The cargo ship — the seventh to be launched by Japan — contains new batteries needed for a pair of NASA spacewalks.
NASA says the delay will cause the spacewalks — which had been scheduled over the next two weeks — to slip even further. The lithium-ion batteries will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries in the space station's solar-generating electrical system.
Five tons of supplies are loaded into the capsule named Kounotori, Japanese for white stork.
Cupertino, Sep 13 (AP/UNB) — Apple is trying to turn its smartwatch from a niche gadget into a lifeline to better health by slowly evolving it into a medical device.
In its fourth incarnation, called Series 4 and due out later this month, the Apple Watch will add features that allow it to take high-quality heart readings and detect falls. It's part of Apple's long-in-the-making strategy to give people a distinct reason to buy a wrist gadget that largely does things smartphones already do.
Since the Apple Watch launched in April 2015 , most people haven't figured out why they need to buy one. Apple doesn't release sales figures, but estimates from two analysts suggest the company shipped roughly 18 million of the gadgets in 2017. Apple sold almost 12 times as many iPhones — 216 million — that year. Apple shipped another 7.3 million Apple Watches during the first half of this year, according to Canalys Research, compared with more than 93 million iPhones.
Worldwide, about 48 million smartwatches are expected to be sold this year, compared with nearly 1.9 billion phones, according to the research firm Gartner.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has long aimed to emphasize the health- and fitness-tracking abilities of the smartwatch. The original version featured a heart-rate sensor that fed data into fitness and workout apps so they could suggest new goals and offer digital "rewards" for fitness accomplishments.
Two years later, Apple called its watch "the ultimate device for a healthy life," emphasizing water resistance for swimmers and built-in GPS for tracking runs or cycling workouts. In February, the company announced that the watch would track skiing and snowboarding runs , including data on speed and vertical descent.
The latest version, unveiled Wednesday, is pushing the health envelope even further — in particular by taking electrocardiograms, or EKGs, on the device, a feature given clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Apple said. The watch will also monitor for irregular heartbeats and can detect when the wearer has fallen, the company said.
EKGs are important tests of heart health and typically require a visit to the doctor. The feature gained an onstage endorsement from Ivor Benjamin, a cardiologist who is president of the American Heart Association. He said such real-time data would change the way doctors work.
"This is enormous," Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said of the EKG feature. He said it could turn smartwatches "from something people buy for prestige into something they buy for more practical reasons."
It could also lead some health insurance plans to subsidize the cost of an Apple Watch, Nguyen said. That would help defray the $400 starting price for a device that still requires a companion iPhone, which can now cost more than $1,000.
The watch will use new sensors on the back and on the watch dial. A new app will say whether each reading is normal or shows signs of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rate that increases the risk of heart complications, such as stroke and heart failure.
Apple says the heart data can be shared with doctors through a PDF file, though it's not yet clear how ready doctors are to receive a possible flood of new EKG data from patients — nor how useful they will find the electronic files.
This new features will be available to U.S. customers later this year, Apple said — an indication that it may not be ready for launch.
Fall detection could also be significant, especially for elderly users. The new Apple Watch claims to be able to tell the difference between a trip and a fall — and when the latter occurs, it will suggest calling 911 (or the equivalent outside the U.S.). If it receives no response within a minute, the watch will automatically place an emergency call and message friends and family designated as emergency contacts.
Only certain Apple Watch models support cellular calls, but those that don't can still make emergency calls when near a paired iPhone or Wi-Fi service.
Apple says it monitored some 2,500 people — measuring how they fell off ladders, missed a step while walking or got their legs caught in their pants while getting dressed. It used that data to separate real falls from other heavy wrist movements, such as clapping and hammering.
The feature will turn on automatically for users 65 and over; younger people can activate it in the settings. "I can see kids buying one for their parents and grandparents," said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights.
But the Apple Watch still lacks one feature found in rival wrist gadgets: the ability to analyze sleep quality. Battery life in the new watch remains at 18 hours, meaning it needs a nightly recharge.
Dhaka, Sep 13 (UNB) - Robi- Drishty Debate Championship-2018 began in Chattogram on Thursday. This is the 26th year of this premiere debating competition, said a press release today.
Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) Mayor A. J. M. Nasir Uddin inaugurated the debate competition at the Chattogram Zila Shilpakala Academy, as the chief guest.
Robi’s Managing Director and CEO, Mahtab Uddin Ahmed and the ex-debater and CEO, Nagorik television, Abdun Nur Tushar, Robi’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Shahed Alam, Vice President, Media, Communications and Sustainability, Ekram Kabir and Cluster Market Director, A. S. M. Enayetur Rahim were also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, CCC Mayor A. J. M. Nasir Uddin said: “We need to remove narrow-mindedness, in order to achieve the vision of making Bangladesh a developed nation. Constructive debate is essential to bring about positive changes in the society. We need to apply reasoning in every aspect of our life to enrich our society.”
Commenting on the occasion, Robi’s Managing Director and CEO, Mahtab Uddin Ahmed said: “Debating is the key enabler to the creation of a knowledge-based society. It is, in that circumstance, very important that we introduce our young generation to this art at an early age. I would like to thank the organizers of Drishty Chattogram for championing the cause for debate in our society.”
Ex-debater and CEO, Nagorik television, Abdun Nur Tushar said, “We can build a meritorious and genious Bangladesh through debate. Debaters are creative, imaginative, courageous and thinking people, all these qualities are essential to become an ideal human being.”
Drishty Chattogram’s President, Masud Bokul presided over the inauguration programme. The Vice President of the organization, Saif Chowdhury and General Secretary, Saber Shah, also spoke on the occasion.