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This is How Facebook Tracks and Collects Your Data

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Browser maker Mozilla has teamed up with non-profit The Markup to expose Facebook on how it collects data of its users.

The pair are recruiting for the Facebook Pixel Hunt study, asking users to download Rally – Mozilla’s privacy-first data-sharing platform, launched last year – and share their own browsing behavior.

Tools provided by Rally allow monitoring of the Facebook pixel, a piece of Javascript that tracks the actions of users in response to ads.

They should allow the companies to examine what data is collected, which sites it’s shared with, what data it reveals about users and how widespread Facebook’s tracking network actually is.

“A tool like Rally can bring the full force of communities of people joining together to provide insights into one of the most opaque parts of the internet that have such a dramatic impact on our individual lives and on society,” says Ted Han, Rally product lead at Mozilla.

“This is a rare opportunity to lift the veil over Facebook’s tracking and data collection practices outside of the Facebook platforms.”

The project aims to build on a previous collaboration with Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy about news and misinformation about politics and COVID-19 across online services, as well as another ongoing study with the Stanford University Graduate School of Business on news consumption and the impact of ads.

“The internet and the world cannot wait on platforms to do the right thing, especially when so much depends on it,” comments Han.

However, previous projects with similar aims have foundered. Last summer, for example, Facebook banned the accounts of New York University (NYU) researchers studying the microtargeting of political ads on users through a project called Ad Observer, in a move condemned by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The company shut down also CrowdTangle, the social media monitoring tool that provided access to trending topics, public accounts and communities and viral posts on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, and blocked ProPublica’s Ad Transparency tools.

It also apparently modified its website code to prevent the automated data collection of user-volunteered news feed posts, significantly hampering the work of researchers such as The Markup’s Citizen Browser project. SoCal VC Grows, TMV Raises $64 Million For Fund II And $30 Million For Healthcare AI It remains to be seen whether the Pixel Hunt project will fare any better.

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How to Avoid Dangers With Mobile Money Transfers- Worldremit

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Crucially, we have seen a marked acceleration in the global adoption of online and digital platforms in a variety of sectors ranging from education to work collaboration tools to financial services, all of which brings about new sets of cyber security challenges.

Online and digital business platforms are, of course, nothing new, and they certainly predate the advent of the pandemic.

However, the global crisis has given impetus to trends that were already becoming an integral part of life in the 21st century even in countries traditionally less reliant on technology.

Africa is now one of the fastest growing regions taking part in the digital economy where people across the continent have become quick and enthusiastic adopters of global innovation trends.

But this rapid change comes with significant risks, not least of which is the potential for cybercrime, as greater numbers of the African population move online and become increasingly reliant on digital platforms to conduct business, access product and services, and transact financially.

According to a recently released document from the global police agency Interpol, the African Cyberthreat Assessment Report, there are five types of cybercrimes that have become more prevalent than ever before on the continent: online scams, digital extortion, business email compromise, ransomware and botnets.

Africa has more than 500 million internet users, placing the continent ahead of regions such as North America, South America, and the Middle East in terms of the absolute number of people online.

This volume equates to 38% of Africa’s population, which implies there is room for growth in the continent’s use of internet services in the coming years, as levels of connectivity and uptake trend upwards. These will be driven by lower connection costs, greater innovation and rising digital literacy.

According to the report, the leading countries are Kenya with 83% of its population online, Nigeria with 60% and South Africa with 56%.

Mobile banking in particular is noted to be used widely within these three countries, contributing to Africa’s active role in digital financial services, the report finds.People who use online banking, cross-border money transfers, and other financial services, must remain vigilant in order to remain safe online.

WorldRemit, a leading global payments company, advises that users adopt a few basic safety protocols to avoid falling victim to any of the various forms of cybercrime.

Confirm receipt of identity and method: Whether it is cash pickup, mobile money, or bank transfer, it is important that customers ensure they include the recipient’s full legal name, as the bank in the receiving country will match their identification with the transfer information.

Speed is of the essence: Pick a service that ensures your money reaches its intended destination quickly and safely.

Also check if the platform you are using has a 24-hour customer care service that is operational.

There is a simple 3-step process to help avoid online fraud:

Stop: take a moment to think before sending money or providing any information.

Challenge: it’s okay to ignore or refuse requests for funds. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve wired money to a scammer and report it to the relevant authorities.

WorldRemit operates in 44 African countries through partnerships with local mobile network operators (MNOs)

While these partnerships offer an extra layer of protection to mobile money transfers and other online transactions, WorldRemit advises users to confirm the identity of the person they are transacting with and to take advantage of the mobile service’s security protocols to protect their identities and online accounts.

The rise in cybercrime and online scams is the corollary to the rapid digital growth fueled and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In African countries where, notably, mobile banking and mobile money transfer have leapfrogged to unprecedented levels, it is incumbent on all of us to stay vigilant and beware of fraud by following the safety protocols in place and reporting suspicious activities through the proper channel.

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Four Attorneys General Sue Google For ‘Deceptive’ Location Tracking

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A bipartisan group of attorneys general sued Google on Monday, alleging that the technology giant has used “dark patterns” and deceptive practices to track users’ physical location even when those users have made efforts to block Google from doing so.

The parallel lawsuits by the District of Columbia, Texas, Indiana and Washington state zero in on Google’s collection of location data, which can be used to target advertising and build profiles on internet users.

The DC Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges that since 2014, Google (GOOG) has made misleading public statements about how users can opt out of location tracking.

Despite offering settings in users’ Google accounts that promised to restrict location data tracking, Google allegedly failed to mention how certain other settings — such as in individual apps or in other areas of Google’s settings panel — might continue to allow the tech giant to keep collecting location data unbeknownst to the user.

According to the complaint, Google also allegedly tried to circumvent users’ expressed preferences with workarounds, such as using IP addresses to determine a user’s location or collecting location data via Google’s apps installed on mobile devices. The allegedly illegal behavior affects virtually all mobile users who interact with Google, according to the complaint, whether they own an Android device, an iPhone, a PC or a tablet.

To facilitate its data collection, Google allegedly relied on “dark patterns” — subtle design choices intended to guide users toward adopting behavior favorable to Google.

“Google makes extensive use of dark patterns,” the complaint reads, “including repeated nudging, misleading pressure tactics, and evasive and deceptive descriptions of location features and settings, to cause users to provide more and more location data (inadvertently or out of frustration).

In a statement Monday, Google spokesman José Castañeda said the lawsuits were based on “inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings.”

“We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data,” Castañeda said. “We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight.”

In 2019, Google launched a feature that would, if enabled, automatically delete account activity data after a certain period of time.

The following year, Google said it would expand that feature by enabling it by default for all new accounts created on its platform. Monday’s lawsuits, however, target Google conduct that predates those changes.

Earlier this year, a state judge in Arizona declined to issue summary judgement in a similar case brought by Arizona officials against Google, saying that it was not an “obvious and straightforward” conclusion that Google misled or deceived consumers.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction blocking Google’s allegedly illegal conduct and disgorgement of profits linked to the allegedly misleading practices.

CNN

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Understanding Physics of Hot air Balloon

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Rwanda has cultivated herself as a country of interesting surprises keeping her as a destination of interest from media, researchers, first time visitors and various fans.

From aligning with Arsenal football club, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club to introducing drones to facilitate the country’s health sector and many more others, this week Rwanda introduced hot air balloons onto offers for tourists at Akagera National Park.

“We are pleased to partner with Royal Balloon Rwanda to add yet another exciting product to Rwanda’s adventure tourism experiences,” said Clare Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board.

For most Rwandans and other visitors, the hot air balloon may trigger so many questions on how they can really embrace it while visiting  Akagera National Park.

Phyisics of hot air balloon

In simplistic terms, a hot air balloon is a lighter-than-air aircraft consisting of a bag, called an envelope, which contains heated air. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant, since it has a lower density than the colder air outside the envelope. As with all aircraft, hot air balloons cannot fly beyond the atmosphere.

The principle behind hot air balloon physics is the Archimedes Principle which states that the buoyant force on a submerged object is equal to the weight of the fluid that is displaced by the object.

For a hot air balloon, the upward buoyant force acting on it is equal to the weight of air displaced. The density of air is 1.2 kg per cubic meter; therefore to lift a balloon is going to be necessary to displace a great volume of air so its weight exceeds the weight of the envelope, plus the weight of passengers, and the upward force is greater than the downward force of gravity.

Also an object floating in water stays buoyant using the same principle as a hot air balloon.

As shown in the figure above, the center of buoyancy acts through point C, which is the centroid of the volume V of the object. This volume is equal to the displaced volume of the fluid. The upward buoyant force FB is equal to the weight of the displaced volume of fluid V.

For the object to remain in an unconditionally stable orientation (i.e. not rotate) the center of mass of the object G must be directly below point C.

This means that if the object were to be rotated by any amount, it will automatically rotate back to the original position where point G lies directly below point C. This is what is meant by unconditional stability.

For a hot air balloon, the upward buoyant force acting on it is equal to the weight (or mass) of the cooler surrounding air displaced by the hot air balloon.

Since the air inside the envelope is heated it is less dense than the surrounding air, which means that the buoyant force due to the cooler surrounding air is greater than the weight of the heated air inside the envelope.

And for lift to be generated, this buoyant force must exceed the weight of the heated air, plus the weight of the envelope, plus the weight of the gondola, plus the weight of passengers and equipment on board.

As a result, the hot air balloon will experience sufficient buoyant force to completely lift off the ground.

As shown in the figure below, the weight of the hot air balloon is more concentrated near the bottom of the balloon (at the location of passengers and equipment), so the center of mass G of the hot air balloon is always below the center of buoyancy C.

Therefore, the balloon is always stable during flight (i.e. it will always remain in the upright position).

Hot Air Balloon Physics – Operation

If the balloon operator wishes to lower the hot air balloon, he can either stop firing the burner, which causes the hot air in the envelope to cool (decreasing the buoyant force), or he opens a small vent at the top of the balloon envelope (via a control line).

This releases some of the hot air, which decreases the buoyant force, which also causes the balloon to descend.

To maintain a steady altitude, the balloon operator intermittently fires and turns off the burner once he reaches the approximate altitude he wants. This causes the balloon to ascend and descend (respectively).

This is the only way he can maintain an approximately constant altitude, since maintaining a strictly constant altitude by way of maintaining a net zero buoyant force (on the balloon) is practically impossible.

If the balloon operator wishes to move the balloon sideways (in a horizontal direction) he must know, ahead of time, the wind direction, which varies with altitude. So he simply raises or lowers the hot air balloon to the altitude corresponding to the wind direction he wants, which is the direction he wants the balloon to go.

The balloon stays inflated because the heated air inside the envelope creates a pressure greater than the surrounding air.

However, since the envelope has an opening at the bottom (above the location of the burner), the expanding hot air is allowed to escape, preventing a large pressure differential from developing.

This means that the pressure of the heated air inside the balloon ends up being only slightly greater than the cooler surrounding air pressure.

An efficient hot air balloon is one that minimizes the weight of the balloon components, such as the envelope, and on board equipment (such as the burner and propane fuel tanks).

This in turn minimizes the required temperature of the air inside the envelope needed to generate sufficient buoyant force to generate lift. Minimizing the required air temperature means that you minimize the burner energy needed, thereby reducing fuel use.

Hot Air Balloon Physics – Analysis

Let’s examine the physics of a hot air balloon using a sample calculation.

The heated air inside the envelope is at roughly the same pressure as the outside air. With this in mind we can calculate the density of the heated air at a given temperature, using the Ideal gas law, as follows:

P = ρRT

Where:

P is the absolute pressure of the gas, in Pa

ρ is the density of the gas, in kg/m3

R is the gas constant, in Joules/kg.K

T is the absolute temperature of the gas, in Kelvins (K)

Now,

Normal atmospheric pressure is approximately 101,300 Pa

The gas constant for dry air is 287 Joules/kg.K

The air inside the envelope is typically heated to an average temperature of about 100 degrees Celsius, which is 373 K

Substituting the above three values into the Ideal gas law equation and solving for ρ we get ρ = 0.946 kg/m3. This is the density of the heated air inside the envelope. Compare this to normal (ambient) air density which is approximately 1.2 kg/m3.

Next, for an average size balloon with an envelope volume of 2800 m3 we wish to determine the net upward buoyant force generated by the envelope.

The net buoyant force is defined here as the difference in density between the surrounding air and the heated air, multiplied by the envelope volume. Thus,

FB,net = (1.2−0.946)×2800 = 711 kg (1565 lb)

This is the net buoyant force pushing upwards on the heated air inside the envelope. The hot air balloon components (such as envelope, gondola, burner, fuel tanks, and passengers) can at most weigh 711 kg in order for the buoyant force to be able to completely lift the hot air balloon off the ground.

 

compiled by Taarifa 

Royal Balloon Launches Rwanda First Hot Air Balloon

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