Category: Daily Digest

Daily Digest (7/7)

House Antitrust Panel Says Tech Chiefs to Testify July 27

The CEOs of Amazon.com, Apple, Alphabet’s Google and Facebook will appear before a U.S. House of Representatives panel on July 27, the committee said Monday.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook of Apple will appear before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee as part of its investigation into the companies, the panel said in a statement.

The CEOs can appear virtually.

“As we have said from the start, their testimony is essential for us to complete this investigation,” New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the House judiciary panel chairman, and Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, R.I., the House antitrust subcommittee chairman, said in the statement.

Lawmakers are expected to release a report on their antitrust investigation in the coming weeks.

The U.S. Justice Department is also probing the four tech platforms. Facebook and Amazon also are facing inquiries by the Federal Trade Commission, while U.S. states attorneys general are looking at Facebook and Google. 

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No Jail Time for Yahoo Engineer for Hacking 6,000 Accounts to Find Porn

A former Yahoo engineer was sentenced to five years of probation and home confinement for hacking into the personal accounts of more than 6,000 Yahoo Mail users to search for sexually explicit images and videos.

Reyes Daniel Ruiz, 34, of Tracy, Calif., can only leave his home for work, religious activities, medical appointments or court-related obligations.

The judge also ordered Ruiz to pay a $5,000 fine and $118,456 in restitution to Yahoo, according to court documents obtained by ZDNet.

Ruiz committed his crimes while working at Yahoo as a reliability engineer and in other roles between 2009 and July 2019.

According to court documents, Reyes used his access to the Yahoo backend to obtain access to hashed passwords. He then proceeded to crack the password strings to access Yahoo Mail accounts of younger women, including personal friends and work colleagues.

Once he gained access to the accounts, Ruiz searched for sexually explicit images and videos, which he then downloaded and stored on a personal hard drive at home.

Investigators also said that Ruiz also used the hacked Yahoo email accounts to compromise victim profiles at other third-party services, where victims used their Yahoo email addresses to register accounts and store personal files.

He is believed to have hacked an additional 100 accounts at services like Apple iCloud, Gmail, Hotmail, Dropbox and Photobucket, according to the report.

Other Yahoo engineers detected Ruiz’s scheme in June 2018 and later reported it to authorities. He became aware that his intrusions were discovered by Yahoo staff that same day — and Ruiz destroyed his personal hard drive, according to court documents.

Ruiz stopped working at Yahoo in July 2018, and the FBI searched his home a month later. Ruiz admitted to agents that he destroyed the hard drive, ZDNet reports.

He was formally charged a year later, in April 2019, pleaded guilty in September and was scheduled for sentencing in February, but the hearing was delayed because of COVID-19.

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In Israel, Chaotic Start to Shin Bet Coronavirus Surveillance

The reinstatement of Shin Bet’s (Israel Security Agency) surveillance of coronavirus-infected citizens since Thursday has been chaotic, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Reports contain stories of tens of thousands of citizens receiving text messages warning them to quarantine because of their alleged close contact with someone with coronavirus, but many of the messages seem to be demonstrable mistakes.

In addition, the Israeli Health Ministry not only has been inadequately staffed to field the calls from citizens to verify or dispute the text they received.

Rather, critics say the Health Ministry did not plan to have staffing to receive calls during night hours or weekends, with the weekend being when almost all of the messages went out.

Many citizens have complained that they spent hours waiting on hold to try to clarify their situations, but to no avail, the Post reports.

The Shin Bet directed The Jerusalem Post’s questions to the Health Ministry.

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Google’s $2.1B Fitbit Deal Needs Closer Scrutiny, Privacy Groups Warn

The takeover of fitness tracker Fitbit Inc. by Alphabet Inc.’s Google should get closer scrutiny from global regulators because it would allow Google to strengthen its already dominant position in digital markets and privacy, consumer groups said.

Twenty organizations raised their concerns last Thursday in a statement sent to antitrust authorities in seven jurisdictions, including the U.S. and the European Union, which is to set a rule later this month or extend its review.

“This will be a test case for how regulators address the immense power the tech giants exert over the digital economy and their ability to expand their ecosystems unchecked,” the groups said in the statement.

The EU has a July 20 deadline to rule on the $2.1 billion deal, which it can extend by four months if it sees antitrust issues that need more scrutiny.

The Justice Department also is investigating, while Australia’s merger authority flagged preliminary concerns last month over Google’s access to health data.

Google said in a statement last Wednesday that “this deal is about devices, not data.

“The wearables space is highly crowded, and we believe the combination of Google and Fitbit’s hardware efforts will increase competition in the sector, benefiting consumers and making the next generation of devices better and more affordable,” the company said.

In their statement Thursday, the consumer groups warned that Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, which has about 30 million users, could allow it to extend its existing power in digital markets to health care and potentially undermine new competition.

The groups joining the statement included the Omidyar Network, the Open Society European Policy Institute, Privacy International, and the Australian Privacy Foundation.

They also sent the statement to regulators in the U.K., Canada, Australia, Mexico and Brazil.

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By DPN Staff