Categories
Game

Nintendo Direct on June 28th is all about third-party Switch games

Nintendo has announced when its next games showcase will take place. A Nintendo Direct Mini is scheduled for June 28th at 9AM ET. It most likely won’t feature news on Mario, Zelda, Pokémon or any of Nintendo’s other franchises, though. The company said the stream will focus on third-party titles that are on the way to Switch.

Right now, it’s unclear what to expect from Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase (to give the broadcast its full title). However, it could a be fairly meaty affair, since it clocks in at 25 minutes and Nintendo usually zips through announcements during Directs.

This isn’t pegged as an Indie World Showcase, so it may center more around titles from major publishers and larger studios. One of the more notable third-party games slated for a Switch debut, No Man’s Sky, already has a release date of October 7th, so that may not get a heavy focus. There’s always the chance of more details on Hollow Knight: Silksong, which is slated to arrive sometime within the next year.

The Nintendo Direct Mini will air a week after a Direct focused on Xenoblade Chronicles 3, though it’s not the full-on first-party showcase fans have been waiting for and expecting. You’ll be able to watch Tuesday’s event on Nintendo’s YouTube channel.

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Categories
Computing

How to Block Third-Party Trackers in Your Browser

Cookies are data artifacts saved by web browsers on our internet-connected devices. They keep a record of the websites you visit, and in the case of first-party cookies, they’re important for certain essential website features.

Third-party cookies, on the other hand, raise privacy, security, and ethical concerns. Privacy is critical for most people today due to the increase in data breaches, leading many users to look for extra layers of security when browsing.

How do I stop browser tracking?

Third-party cookies represent another easy opportunity for internet users to block some efforts to track and capitalize on their internet traffic and web searches. Here’s how you can block this third-party tracking to stay safe.

Block cookies with a VPN

One way to block browser tracking is using a virtual private network (VPN) to decouple your IP address from your online activity. Mullvad and ProtonVPN are typically spoken of favorably among the privacy-literate, but you’re encouraged to do your own research.

VPNs don’t technically block cookies, but they provide a way around them. Since these programs reroute your internet traffic through servers in other locations, they’ll mislead some tracking cookies. Some VPNs also come with a feature you can turn on to block cookies. Look for a switch saying something along the lines of “block third-party tracking” to enable this.

Block cookies in incognito mode

A frequently asked question is: Should I block third-party cookies in incognito? If incognito keeps your website activity hidden, then what’s the meaning of blocking third-party cookies in incognito?

Unless you’re using a niche browser, entering incognito mode almost certainly disables third-party cookies. Using a browser with any appreciable market share should be fine where third-party cookies are concerned. While your browser will store cookies in incognito mode while you have the window open, it’ll delete them as soon as you close it, stopping third parties from tracking you.

Some modern web browsers also provide a “Do Not Track” option that you can toggle, which has the same effect as disabling third-party cookies, even when you’re not in incognito. Here’s how to block tracking cookies in Chrome and other major web browsers and operating systems.

How to block tracking cookies in Google Chrome

Here’s how to block tracking cookies in Chrome and other major web browsers and operating systems.

If you have Chrome, here are some ways to block tracking cookies in your browser:

Step 1: First, tap or click the menu icon in the upper-right corner of your open Chrome Window.

Step 2: In the menu that drops down, select Settings.

Step 3: Within Settings, find the Privacy and Security section.

Step 4: Select Cookies and other site data.

Step 5: The resulting menu gives you granular control over third-party cookies in windows, incognito windows, and more — including blocking them entirely.

Why are cookies a problem for privacy?

This is a problem for the privacy-minded. There are ethical and possibly legal ramifications for what that website or online service is doing. However, users can receive a detailed summary of any browser fingerprinting or user profiling going on behind the scenes. If so, they must select “yes” in an accompanying opt-in form. States and territories like California and the U.K. are trying to open the “black box” of web-user data-gathering practices using privacy-focused legislation.

There are reasons why this technology exists and reasons a user may wish to opt-in. One way or another, people see advertisement at various points in their day. Some internet users might not mind the prospect of more relevant ads.

Whether or not the methods used to target those ads are ethical is a question best left to individuals. If you want to know more about cookie privacy, check out Digital Trends’ piece here: Are cookies crumbling our privacy? We asked an expert to find out.

How to disable third-party cookies in Safari

Here’s how to disable cookies in Safari’s browser:

Step 1: Click Safari > Preferences in the menu bar for your open Safari window.

Step 2: Navigate to the Privacy panel in the menu that opens.

Step 3: Beside Cookies and Website Data, click the button for Block All Cookies.

Step 4: If you’re using iOS or iPadOS, open the Settings app and navigate to the Safari settings. Under Privacy & Security, toggle the Block All Cookies switch to on.

How to disable third-party cookies in Firefox

If you have Firefox, here’s how to disable third-party cookies in your browser:

Step 1: Select the main menu from the upper-right corner.

Step 2: Select Options > Privacy & Security in the drop-down menu.

Step 3: You’ll see a Browser Privacy section. To block cookies, move the toggle from Standard protection to Custom protection.

Step 4: Custom protection provides options to block all third-party cookies, third-party cookies from sites you didn’t visit, and other options.

mozilla firefox chrome review comparison 2020 mozillafirefoxcomentillustration

Mozilla

How to disable third-party cookies on Android and iOS

Disable third-party cookies on Android if you’re using Chrome. You can do so easily using the above steps. If you’re using an alternative browser, that product may have its own settings for manipulating or disabling cookies. Chrome on Android has the benefit of offering third-party cookie-blocking functionality even for websites you’ve otherwise whitelisted.
If you’re looking for a similar system-level cookie-disabling setting for iOS, you’ll only find it for Safari (as described in the steps above). Alternate browsers will have individual settings.

Why you might want to block third-party cookies

You may want to know a little more about cookies. You may ask: What is a browser tracker, and is a cookie the same thing? For our purposes, the answer is “yes.”
Whereas first-party cookies help provide a smooth user experience and ensure all elements display as intended, third-party cookies track user and device metrics for a range of possibly questionable purposes.

What do third-party cookies do?

The most common reason for implementing third-party cookie functionality is for ad revenue. Using cookies, ad services can target certain demographics and user groups based on their cookie “bread crumbs.”
From web searches to site-specific browsing history, it’s all up for grabs. It’s even possible for advertisers to track users across websites if those websites are members of the same ad services network.

Why are third-party cookies a problem for privacy?

This is a problem for the privacy-minded. There are ethical and possibly legal ramifications for what that website or online service is doing. However, users can receive a detailed summary of any browser fingerprinting or user profiling going on behind the scenes. If so, they must select “yes” in an accompanying opt-in form. States and territories like California and the U.K. are trying to open the “black box” of web-user data-gathering practices using privacy-focused legislation.

There are reasons why this technology exists and reasons a user may wish to opt in. One way or another, people see advertisements at various points in their day. Some internet users might not mind the prospect of more relevant ads.

Whether or not the methods used to target those ads are ethical is a question best left to individuals.

What are some examples of third-party cookies?

Some of the most prolific third-party cookies originate from just two companies: Google and Facebook. The most common third-party trackers from these two technology multinationals include:
* Google Analytics —
Used by marketers and webmasters to analyze web traffic and user behaviors in order to tailor content and marketing efforts.
* Google Doubleclick and AdSense —
Marketers and webmasters use these ad services to target relevant ads to users based on their behavior on the website and potentially across other websites.
* Facebook —
Even something as innocuous as a Like button, embedded content, or a Log In With Facebook option may be enough for companies to form a user profile using Facebook cookies.

Third-Party Cookies Aren’t for Everyone
All of this is probably enough to leave you wondering: With all of the problems associated with web tracking, which browser does not track me and my internet searches?
Avast Browser, Brave, and Safari often receive shout-outs for obfuscating certain browser fingerprinting clues by default. Firefox and Microsoft Edge receive their own accolades for implementing more security-focused DNS protocols.
For most people, third-party cookies are mostly benign, even if they’re somewhat intrusive and a little creepy. If you want to take internet security more seriously than most, however, and remove one more tool bad actors can use to track your online activity, consider blocking third-party cookies using this guide.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Tech News

Google FLoC delay means third-party cookies will stick around longer

Google’s Privacy Sandbox, particularly its Federated Learning of Cohorts or FLoC, had the grand ambition of making third-party cookies unnecessary for target advertising, thereby protecting people’s privacy even while making money from them. Like many of Google’s grand ambitions, FLoC was met with no small amount of criticism and pushback. The company still maintains its position on the benefits of FLoC and its innocence from alleged ulterior motives. To give time to address those concerns, it is taking a small step back and delaying FLoC’s implementation to 2023.

When Google announced it would be phasing out third-party cookies by removing support for them on Chrome, it also promised it wouldn’t create technology to replace third-party cookies. Instead, it developed its Privacy Sandbox and FLoC to replace third-party cookies by promising a more privacy-respecting way while still giving businesses and advertisers a way to earn money. Not everyone bought the spiel, though, and Google faced intense scrutiny over its plans.

To give it more time to communicate with the Web’s many denizens, and potentially convince them of the validity of its FLoC, Google says it is delaying its implementation by about a year. It will start in late 2022 to give publishers and advertisers to prepare their services for the big change. That change will start in mid-2023, and Google estimates it will take only three months to phase out support for these third-party cookies.

Of course, the consequence of this delay is that third-party will be around for a little while longer. Web browsers now have systems to protect users from tracking, but Google believes that making these cookies totally obsolete is the only way to be free of them once and for all.

FLoC’s critics probably agree on that point but don’t see eye to eye with how Google is going about it. Points of contention include Google’s monopoly in the browser and advertising businesses, making FLoC a sure-fire way to keep its lead. There are also those that point out how its cohort idea itself is flawed and doesn’t exactly protect users from getting tracked, especially by Google.

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Categories
Tech News

PayPal and Venmo are getting third-party crypto wallet support

PayPal and Venmo, two popular financial apps, will soon allow users to send their cryptocurrency assets to a third-party wallet, eliminating the need to hold the digital coins on either platform. This is a more secure option for people who may have a considerable amount of cryptocurrencies, though others who prefer the convenience can leave the coins on their PayPal or Venmo accounts.

PayPal’s Jose Fernandez da Ponte revealed the news during the recent Consensus 2021 event held by CoinDesk. Both PayPal and Venmo only recently added support for cryptocurrencies, but it has been limited to buying, selling, holding, and Checkout with Crypto — meaning that if you purchase crypto with either platform, the digital coins can’t be sent to your third-party wallet.

Though keeping a certain amount of cryptocurrency in your PayPal or Venmo accounts is convenient for those who use them often, it is inadvisable to keep a large sum of crypto anywhere but a wallet you fully control, such as a hardware wallet or one set up on your private computer.

PayPal launched with support for only a few of the big cryptocurrencies, but they’re the same ones you’re likely to use when making a purchase — bitcoin, etherium, and litecoin. Exchanges like Kraken and Coinbase enable users to acquire, sell, trade, and hold a greater variety of coins, but may be more intimidating for those new to the world of digital money.

The ability to easily purchase one of these major coins using your existing PayPal account is far easier than making a wire transfer to a big crypto exchange. Now that third-party wallet support is inbound, it’ll make PayPal and Venmo two major options for the average consumer who wants to acquire some crypto and for enthusiasts who want the ease of buying things with it.

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Categories
AI

Sinequa: Third-party marketplaces boost hyperscale cloud growth

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Cloud enterprise professionals are drawn to the “big three” hyperscale clouds — Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure — because of the third-party products and services available. In a survey of cloud professionals in France, United Kingdom, and United States, 93% of respondents reported the strength and breadth of third-party marketplaces make hyperscale clouds “more attractive as a platform,” according to research from Sinequa, an intelligent search and analytics platform provider.

Above: Respondents expect to increase their use of blockchain, search and analytics, and AI and machine learning.

Image Credit: Sinequa

This new research highlights the importance of third-party marketplaces and demonstrates the competitive advantage that third-party offerings bring to the “big three” hyperscale clouds: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud. On average, the survey found enterprise organisations are running eight different services bought from a hyperscale marketplace, and 90% of respondents plan to purchase more products and services from these marketplaces in the future.

When asked about the main benefits of using a hyperscale marketplace, 70% of cloud professionals reported that convenience was a key advantage. The ability to easily try new products and services was also an important feature for 50% of respondents, while 39% reported that the choice of products available was a top reason for using a marketplace. These findings point to the advantage hyperscale cloud providers have in being able to offer more products and services than smaller competitors.

As well as highlighting the benefits of hyperscale marketplaces, the research revealed which product or service categories are seeing the greatest increase in demand. Blockchain tops the list, with companies expecting to increase their use of blockchain by 112% in the future. Search and Information Gathering or Insights solutions are also in demand, with companies expected to increase their use of these tools by 43% going forwards. This trend reflects the need for high performance solutions that integrate and improve the accessibility of information across multiple applications, as companies shift towards a hybrid working model.

Sinequa ran a survey of 250 UK, US, and French cloud professionals who reported they worked at enterprises or large businesses. The survey, which consisted of 10 questions, ran on the 19th April 2021.

Read more about Sinequa’s research.

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Categories
AI

Third-party ransomware risk is real, but Black Kite’s latest tool can help

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A new assessment service from cybersecurity ratings provider Black Kite will let enterprise defenders know which of their third-party partners and vendors could be vulnerable to a ransomware attack.

Ransomware was the scourge of information security in 2020, as the malware brought all kinds of organizations — financial services, health care facilities, educational systems, municipalities, and enterprises — to a screeching halt. Ransoms are getting larger and tactics have evolved as attackers shift away from just encrypting data to actually stealing the data.

The Ransomware Susceptibility Index analyzes technical data from open source intelligence sources to calculate the probability that a company will suffer a ransomware attack within 12 months, Bob Maley, Black Kite’s chief security officer, told VentureBeat. The Index developed a machine learning model that considers 26 controls to calculate a score between 0 and 1. The higher value means the company has a greater likelihood of being hit by a successful ransomware attack.

The goal is to give enterprises reliable data about their ransomware risk so they can make informed decisions about how they work with third-party partners, Maley said.

Third-party risk assessment

Many ransomware attacks now target third-party suppliers and partners instead of going straight for a single company. This is in part because the partners may have weaker security defenses. They may be behind on security updates or their employees may be more likely to fall for phishing schemes. Another reason is that attacking a supplier would net the gang more victims because a supply chain attack would affect all of the supplier’s customers.

In August 2019, 22 towns in Texas were hit by a ransomware attack when the gang targeted the managed service provider used by the towns. When cloud services provider Blackbaud was hit by ransomware, dozens of its customers had to disclose the breach.

Enterprises have to look beyond their own environment when assessing their ransomware risk, Maley said. If the third-party providers are hit, the malware may be able to cascade into their networks. Or the gang will steal data from the provider that actually belongs to the client organizations. Enterprise defenders can use the Index to gauge the risks of a ransomware attack for each of their partners.

The Index isn’t just a score. It also displays a detailed report showing which of the 26 controls were missing. If a partner has a high score, the security team can call the partner and demand the issues be fixed, Maley said.

Verifying the math

Black Kite’s team of researchers needed a way to check the Index’s accuracy, so they turned to the dark web. Many ransomware gangs now sell the stolen data on criminal marketplaces if the victim doesn’t pay the ransom. The team looked for data dumps that were the result of ransomware attacks and checked the Index to see the victim organization’s score.

Just two weeks ago, notorious ransomware gang REvil said it had stolen schematics of unreleased Apple products from an Apple supplier. The group demanded $50 million from Apple or said it would sell the data to the highest bidder. The RSI score for that Apple supplier was 0.729, Maley said.

A prominent health care provider whose data was put up for sale after a ransomware attack (which has not been publicly discussed at this time) had an RSI score of 0.928, Maley said.

Black Kite was able to validate the Index’s accuracy by checking multiple victims across different industries, Maley said.

Attacker perspectives

Many defenders are beginning to feel there is no way to avoid an attack so the focus should be on making sure recovery is possible, Maley said. But while recovery planning is important, defenders shouldn’t give up trying to block the attack.

Attackers research their targets before launching attacks. This research includes identifying potential phishing victims, searching for user credentials, scanning for unpatched vulnerabilities and outdated software, uncovering fraudulent domains, and looking for exposed ports. With this information in hand, the attackers craft a campaign to get a foothold onto the network in order to deploy the ransomware. RSI relies on the same data sources to calculate ransomware risk.

“You can either be fatalistic or you can look at what the attackers look at,” Maley said.

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Categories
AI

Viso Trust assesses third-party cybersecurity risk with AI, raises $3M

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Viso Trust, a  platform that uses AI to perform cyber risk assessments, today announced it has raised $3 million. The company plans to use the funds to support expansion and hiring efforts, as well as sales, marketing, and R&D.

It’s estimated that over 65% of security breaches are attributable to third-party failures. The pandemic has heightened the concern among legal and compliance leaders, 52% of whom worry about the risks posed by remote work. While the need for faster vendor security reviews has prompted some companies to use abbreviated questionnaires or outside-in assessments to conduct shorter reviews, security analysts can spend hours every day sending and processing documents.

Big picture

Viso Trust aims to lighten the workload by offering a holistic view of risk, leveraging a “social due diligence” network and AI to deliver continuous reports about third parties. The platform automatically extracts data from source documents and audits to surface key information about third-party relationships.

“The goal of third-party risk management ranges from reducing the likelihood of data breaches and costly operational failures to meeting regulatory requirements,” cofounder Paul Valente told VentureBeat via email. “Unfortunately, the tools available for us to manage third-party risk, such as GRC platforms, security ratings, and audit exchanges, were too clunky, overly time-consuming, inaccurate, and most of all, expensive. Adding to the mix was the scale of our operations as a global fintech. We knew there needed to be a better way to run the vendor due diligence process.”

One early customer, Ilumio, claims Viso Trust has enabled it to bring the security staff time per third-party relationship down from more than eight hours to 30 minutes.

“Leveraging our prior experience and vast networks, we built a solution that solved the problem and validated the core concepts and value proposition with over 300 chief information security officers and security professionals,” Valente said. “Going forward, we believe we can reduce time spent in covering additional major areas of risk, such as business continuity and privacy, to nearly instantaneous.”

Market demand

Kelley Mak, principal at Work-Bench, a Viso Trust investor, says he saw a need in the market due to the proliferation of software-as-a-service tools in the enterprise. While cumbersome processes hamstring security teams attempting to evaluate tools at the speed of business, they face rising security threats and the hidden risk of third parties. Just 35% of organizations rate their third-party risk management program as highly effective, and only 34% have an inventory of their vendors, a 2018 study from Opus and Ponemon Institute found.

“Viso Trust [is] building a cyber due diligence platform that leverages intelligence and automation to eliminate all questionnaire-based interactions and deliver continuous automated due diligence accurately across any number of vendors,” Mak told VentureBeat via email. “The founders felt this pain firsthand when they led security at LendingClub and ASAPP and had to onboard and evaluate the risk of hundreds of third parties.”

Work-Bench led San Francisco-based Viso Trust’s seed round, with participation from Sierra Ventures and Lytical Ventures.

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Categories
Tech News

Apple Find My network opens for third-party tracking ahead of AirTags launch

Apple is opening up Find My location services to third-party products, expanding what has until now been a way to track down iPhone and the company’s other devices. The newly-updated Find My app now includes support for the Find My network accessory program, with Belkin, Chipolo, and VanMoof first to join up.

It’s an expansion of the Made for iPhone (MFi) Program, Apple’s official program for third-party accessories. Any Find My network participants will have to comply by Apple’s existing privacy protections, too; there’ll be a new badge, “Works with Apple Find My,” for products and packaging.

It’ll mean that, for example, owners of VanMoof e-bikes will be able to register their electric bicycles with the Find My app, and see their locations show up in the Items tab. Initially, VanMoof says, it’ll be the S3 and X3 e-bikes that support the service. You’ll be able to remotely make the bike play a sound to help pinpoint it, or set it to Lost Mode and use the Find My network to track it down.

From Belkin, meanwhile, Find My support is being added to the company’s SOUNDFORM Freedom True Wireless Earbuds. Again, you’ll be able to use the Find My app to figure out whether you left them in the bottom of your workout bag, or if they’re buried under the pile of stuff on your desk.

Finally, the Chipolo ONE Spot item finder is a special edition of the company’s dongle. It’ll launch in June, and work exclusively with the Find My system. Keychain-sized, it can be attached keys, a bag, a camera, or other items.

Down the line, we should start to see even more precise positioning from third-party devices too. Apple is releasing a new, draft specification for chipset manufacturers wanting to use the Ultra Wideband tech in the U1 chipset; the full version will be released later in the spring. With it, there’ll be not only general location but directional awareness.

Apple says that other companies supporting Find My should be announcing products and accessories soon, now that it has opened the MFi Program up with the new specification. As for the updated Find My app itself, that’s available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac, and includes not only item location but friends & family location too. It’s based on crowdsourced Bluetooth, so that as long as one of the Find My compliant devices is near to another Apple device, it will be anonymously recorded on the map.

It’s hard not to see this as another step toward Apple’s own location trackers. Believed to be launching as Apple AirTags, the dongles are expected to have U1-compatible Ultra Wideband positioning for better pinpointing of items in 3D space. Although there were rumors that they’d be launched in late 2020, the current expectation is that they’ll be announced sometime in 2021.

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Categories
AI

AI could help advertisers recover from loss of third-party cookies

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Options for targeting digital advertising in a way that doesn’t rely on cookies are increasing, thanks to advances in predictive analytics and AI that will ultimately lessen the current dominance of Google, Facebook, and other large-scale content aggregators.

Google announced earlier this month that it will no longer allow third-party cookies to collect data via its Chrome browser. Many companies have historically relied on those cookies to better target their digital advertising, as the cookies enable digital ad networks and social media sites to create a profile of an end user without knowing specifically who that individual is. While that approach doesn’t necessarily breach anyone’s privacy, it does give many users the feeling that some entity is tracking the sites they visit in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

Providers of other browsers, such as Safari from Apple and the open source Firefox browser, have already abandoned third-party cookies. To be clear, Google isn’t walking away from tracking user behavior. Instead, the company has created a Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) mechanism to track user behavior that doesn’t depend on cookies to collect data. Instead of being able to target an ad to a specific anonymous user, advertisers are presented with an opportunity to target groups of end users that are now organized into cohorts based on data Google still collects.

It remains to be seen how these initiatives might substantially change the user experience. However, some advertisers are now looking to employ machine learning algorithms and other forms of advanced analytics being made available via digital advertising networks to reduce their dependency on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and other entities that control massive online communities.

For example, Equifax, a credit management bureau, is working with Quantcast to place advertising closer to where relevant content is being originally created and consumed, said Joella Duncan, director of media strategy for North America at Quantcast.

“We want our marketing teams to be able to pull more levers,” Duncan said. “Third-party cookies are stale.”

That approach provides the added benefit of lessening an advertiser’s dependency on walled online gardens dominated by a handful of companies, Quantcast CEO Konrad Feldman said.

At the core of the Quantcast platform is an Ara engine that applies machine learning algorithms to data collected from 100 million online destinations in real time. That data is then analyzed using a set of predictive models that surface the behavioral patterns that make it possible to target ad campaigns. Those predictive models are scored a million times per second, in addition to being continuously updated to reflect recent events across the internet. “We’re not dependent on only one technique,” Feldman said.

That capability not only benefits clients such as Equifax, it also enables publishers of original content to retain a larger share of the advertising revenue generated. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are all now moving toward compensating publishers for content that appears on their sites, but the bulk of the advertising revenue will still wind up in their coffers.

Quantcast is making a case for an alternative approach to digital advertising that would make it more evenly distributed. Advertisers are not likely to walk away from walled online gardens that make it cost-efficient for them to target millions of users. However, many of those same advertisers are looking for a way to more efficiently target narrower audience segments that might have a greater affinity for their products and services based on the content they regularly consume.

The AI and advanced analytics capabilities being embedded within digital advertising platforms may not upend the business models used by Google, Facebook, and others and based on walled gardens that themselves were constructed using algorithms. But it’s becoming apparent that fissures in the walls of those gardens are starting to appear as other entities in the world of advertising apply their own AI countermeasures.

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Categories
Tech News

Apple is screwing you by making third-party repairs hard and expensive

If Apple and other tech companies have their way, it will only become harder to have our phones and other devices repaired by third-party businesses.

Smartphones and many other tech devices are increasingly being designed in ways that make it challenging to repair or replace individual components.

This might involve soldering the processor and flash memory to the motherboard, gluing components together unnecessarily, or using non-standard pentalobe screws which make replacements problematic.

Many submissions to an Australian “right to repair” inquiry have called on tech manufacturers to provide a fair and competitive market for repairs, and produce products that are easily repairable.

The right to repair refers to consumers’ ability to have their products repaired at a competitive price. This includes being able to choose a repairer, rather than being forced by default to use the device manufacturer’s services.

But it seems Apple doesn’t want its customers to fix their iPhones or Macbooks themselves. The company has lobbied against the right to repair in the United States and has been accused of deliberately slowing down iPhones with older batteries.

Opposition against the right to repair from tech companies is to be expected. Cornering consumers into using their service centers increases their revenue and extends their market domination.

In its defense, Apple has said third-party repairers could use lower quality parts and also make devices vulnerable to hackers.

It also defended its battery warning indication as a “safety” feature, wherein it started to alert users if their phone’s replacement battery hadn’t come from a certified Apple repairer.

In the US, Apple’s independent repair provider program grants certain providers access to the parts and resources needed to fix its devices. Independent repair shops in 32 countries can now apply, but the scheme has yet to extend outside the US.

[Read: How do you build a pet-friendly gadget? We asked experts and animal owners]

Impact on users

With the iPhone 12 — the latest iPhone offering — Apple has made it even harder for third-party repairers to fix the device, thereby increasing users’ reliance on its own services.

Apple has hiked its repair charges for iPhone 12 by more than 40%, compared with the iPhone 11. It is charging more than A$359 to fix an iPhone 12 screen outside of warranty and A$109 to replace the battery.

Historically, third-party repairers have been a cheaper option. But using a third-party repairer for an iPhone 12 could render some phone features, such as the camera, almost inoperable.

According to reports, fixing the iPhone 12’s camera requires Apple’s proprietary system configuration app, available only to the company’s own authorized technicians.

It’s not just Apple, either. Samsung’s flagship phones are also quite tricky for third-party repairers to fix.

Impact on environment

When certain parts for repairs aren’t available, manufacturers will produce new phones instead, consuming more energy and resources. In fact, manufacturing one smartphone consumes as much energy as using it for ten years.