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Author: Alex Hern

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Largest collection ever of breached data found



Store of 770m email addresses and passwords discovered after being put on hacking site

The largest collection of breached data in history has been discovered, comprising more than 770m email addresses and passwords posted to a popular hacking forum in mid-December.

The 87GB data dump was discovered by the security researcher Troy Hunt, who runs the Have I Been Pwned breach-notification service. Hunt, who called the upload Collection #1, said it was probably “made up of many different individual data breaches from literally thousands of different sources”, rather than representing a single hack of a very large service.

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Apple chief calls for laws to tackle ‘shadow economy’ of data firms



Tim Cook seeks competitive advantage over Google and Facebook with privacy push

Apple’s chief executive has called for regulation to tackle the “shadow economy” of data brokers – middlemen who trade in the personal data of largely unsuspecting consumers – as the company continues its push to be seen as privacy-positive.

Tim Cook, in an op-ed for Time Magazine published on Thursday, said: “one of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer – something most of us have done.

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YouTube bans dangerous pranks after Bird Box challenge



Platform acts after challenge leads to people walking through traffic and driving while blindfolded

YouTube has banned creators from depicting “dangerous challenges and pranks”, after a wave of incidents prompted by a viral challenge involving driving blindfolded pushed it to act.

The so-called Bird Box challenge, inspired by the Netflix film of the same name, saw YouTubers imitating scenes from the movie in which characters must perform common tasks while blindfolded. A culture of one-upmanship meant that rapidly progressed to online celebrities such as Jake Paul walking through traffic and driving their cars while unable to see, leading to a Utah teenager crashing her car into oncoming traffic repeating the stunt.

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Facebook staff discussed cashing in on user data, reports say



Proposals to charge firms for data said to have been revealed by badly redacted court papers

Facebook staff discussed charging companies for access to user data, before ultimately deciding against such a policy, according to reports.

The internal discussions were revealed due to improperly redacted court documents, released as part of Facebook’s lawsuit against American software developer Six4Three last year. According to Ars Technica and the Wall Street Journal, an 18-page court filing contains three pages that were supposed to be blacked out because they contain “sensitive discussion of Facebook’s internal strategic analysis of third-party applications”, Facebook said in other court filings.

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Facebook rolls out fact-checking operation to UK



Social network brings in independent charity in attempt to tackle misinformation

Facebook’s fact-checking operation is launching in the UK, with independent fact-checking charity Full Fact selected to be the first British publisher to review and rate the accuracy of content on the social network.

Posts, links and videos that have been flagged as false will be marked as such to users, and people will be warned if a post they are about to share has been found to be false – but they will not be stopped from sharing or reading any content, false or not.

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Older people more likely to share fake news on Facebook



Researchers speculate that older Americans lack digital media literacy to determine trustworthiness of online news

Older people are almost four times more likely to have shared “fake news” on Facebook than the younger generation, according to research published in the journal Science.

On average, American Facebook users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as those aged between 18 and 29, researchers from NYU and Princeton found in the study, which also concluded that actually sharing such false content was “a relatively rare activity”.

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Apple reportedly hires Facebook critic in privacy role



Sandy Parakilas, who worked at Facebook before opposing its use of personal data, ‘to work on data protection’

Apple has reportedly hired a former Facebook employee who blew the whistle on Facebook’s data-sharing policies exposed during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Sandy Parakilas, a product manager at Facebook in 2011 and 2012, once gave evidence to the Commons about privacy abuses at Facebook and has been outspoken about the reportedly lax approach to data protection he witnessed at the social network during his time there.

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Fall of the iCurtain: Apple brings iTunes to Samsung smart TVs



Surprise move signals wider opening up of Apple ecosystem as tech firm seeks new revenue

Apple has announced that iTunes films will be available on Samsung smart TVs, ending the company’s insistence that users buy an Apple TV to watch their purchases on a big screen.

Fifteen years after Steve Jobs launched iTunes for Windows, quipping that he was “giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell”, the move signals a wider opening up of the Apple ecosystem, with TV manufacturers including Sony, LG and Vizio announcing integration with Apple’s AirPlay 2 streaming technology, to allow users to broadcast from their phones or tablets directly to their televisions.

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Seven ways technology will change in 2019



App stores, Facebook, smartphone photography, even USB cables – they are all facing disruption this year

At the beginning of 2019, as at the start of 2018, Margrethe Vestager remains the most powerful woman in tech. The EU competition commissioner has the world’s biggest companies walking on tiptoe, afraid of her habit of enforcing competition law where the US authorities have refused to do so.

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The drone crackdown: if a trained eagle can’t stop them, what will?



Authorities scramble to find ways to tackle drones as Gatwick shutdown highlights lack of progress

From computer programming and guns that fire giant nets to well-trained birds of prey, previous attempts to stop the rogue use of consumer drones have been nothing if not original.

But for all that creativity, the authorities have been left behind. And on Thursday, as an unknown operator succeeded in shutting down Gatwick airport for at least 18 hours by flying drones around the airport’s protected airspace, the slow pace of progress was highlighted again.

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