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Google At it Again

If you’re tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties,

It appears the omnipresent tech titan Google is turning to its users’ browsing history to accentuate its ad strategies. With the successive deployment of “Enhanced Ad Privacy” across its Chrome user base, Google’s professed aim of tailoring advertisements to individual users’ interests and online interactions may well be masking profound implications for users’ privacy.

The modest notification box announcing this transformative functionality has been rearing its head since the July release of Chrome 115, signaling the incorporation of Google’s Topics API. The discerning user, Sowever, may perceive this as just another turn of the screw on privacy. But the caveat here lies not so much in the announcement as in the fine print that stipulates agreement acceptance and targeting based on regional regulations.  To read more click Hhere

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The UK Government - End-to-End Encrypted Messages

The government is pretending it’s possible to do both – all while it moves to expand spying power.

As the United Kingdom nears the final stages of ratifying its controversial online censorship bill, known as the “Online Safety Bill,” the government faces an uphill battle in the move to curb end-to-end encryption.

The government has long pushed the idea of curbing child abuse as the guise through which to complete eradicate digital privacy.

Recently, Culture Minister Stephen Parkinson addressed the House of Lords to articulate that the enforcement arm, Ofcom, would only force companies to use proactive technology to detect illegal content like child sexual abuse if it were “technically feasible.”

Of course, it’s technically impossible to do when communications are end-to-end encrypted.

Parkinson’s remarks come amid the backdrop of tech giants, such as WhatsApp, voicing concerns that the bill could threaten to compromise encryption standards.

The UK’s positioning appears to be a tactical retreat in the face of immense pressure from technology companies and the public that argue the initial expectations of the bill could endanger user data and offer loopholes for cybercriminals.

Earlier this year, WhatsApp took the dramatic step of threatening to exit the UK market altogether, signaling the depth of the rift between policymakers and the tech sector.

The bill has been under development for six years and is supported by advocacy groups like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Despite the prolonged gestation period, however, there is no consensus on a “technically feasible” method to monitor and remove harmful content while preserving end-to-end encryption.

Stephen Parkinson emphasized that Ofcom would be working closely with tech companies to explore new solutions, while Meredith Whittaker, president of encrypted messaging app Signal, cited a Financial Times report indicating a softening government stance on encrypted services.

Yet, the government insists its policy has not shifted, clarifying that Ofcom’s powers will be enacted on a “case-by-case basis” and with “stringent privacy safeguards.”

Although the bill’s language leaves the government latitude to determine what is technically feasible, the absence of any accredited technology for this purpose leaves the door wide open for interpretation. This vague terrain raises critical concerns for privacy advocates who caution that the bill leaves too much to governmental discretion.

Previous attempts to address these challenges have proved controversial. Apple’s plan to implement device-side scanning was postponed in 2021 following fervent opposition from privacy groups.

The critics argued that while well-intentioned, such a move could inadvertently create a blueprint for intrusive surveillance.

As it stands, the UK government appears to be caught in a precarious equilibrium, acknowledging the technical limitations of enforcing online safety measures without compromising encryption.

For privacy advocates, however, the devil lies in the lack of specific safeguards in the Online Safety Bill. As Andy Yen sagely remarked, without these safeguards, it only takes one policy pivot for the government to undermine privacy, returning us to square one.  For more information click Here

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