Mark Wilson

Meitu pleads complete innocence against spyware claims

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You may have seen our story earlier today about the worrying permissions used by photo app Meitu -- and you have almost certainly seen the disturbing images created in the app and shared on Facebook. The company behind the app -- also called Meitu -- has jumped to defend itself, insisting there is nothing sinister going on.

The company insists that there is a very good reason for asking for so many permissions on iOS and Android. It insists there is a very good reason for gathering so much information about users. It insists this data is stored securely and is not shared with or sold to third parties. The defense is worth reading, but whether users are happy to accept what the company says about transmitting collected data back to a Chinese server remains to be seen.

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Privacy warning: Meitu photo app is spyware sharing your phone's data

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There has been a sudden craze for freaky-looking photos created using the Chinese app Meitu. The images the app creates are either cutesy or horrific, depending on your point of view, but it's what's going on in the background that has people concerned.

While Meitu has been popular in China for several years --amassing a huge following -- it has only just caught on over here. What many users are unaware of is that while they are busy applying virtual makeup to their face in the app, data such as a phone's IMEI, Mac address, users' precise location and much more is being gathered and shared. The advice? Ditch the app if you're concerned about your privacy.

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Leaked Windows 10 build shows Creators Update is getting an ebook store

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Google has one, Apple has one, Amazon has one, so Microsoft seems to feel that it should have one too. We're talking ebook stores, and a leaked version of Windows Mobile reveals that this is something that is due to be added to the Windows Store.

While Microsoft has been slowly but surely building up its store ecosystem, the focus has been mainly on apps so far, with music and video thrown in for good measure. With the company having fairly recently added EPUB support to Microsoft Edge, the arrival of ebooks is perhaps not entirely surprising, but Microsoft is very late to the party.

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Now you can perform offline Google searches... sort of

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There must have been times when you're in an area with no Wi-Fi and terrible phone reception. It's almost certainly when you find yourself in this situation that you think of something you want to look up. With no signal to perform a Google search, you may mentally log your query and pledge to run it later -- but of course you will forget.

Google has a solution. The latest version of the Google app heralds the arrival of pseudo offline searching, so you can perform searches with no signal, or if your phone is in airplane mode.

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EFF sets out privacy and security plans for the first 100 days under President Trump

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has set out its plans for the first 100 days under Trump, during which time it says it will continue to fight for the rights of internet and technology users.

The digital rights group has already drawn up a wishlist for covering its privacy and security dreams for 2017, but the 100-day plan sees the EFF setting out its agenda for the first few months under Trump. Having claimed that "our civil liberties need an independent defense force" and that "free speech and the rights to privacy, transparency, and innovation won’t survive on their own", EFF is prepared to go to court -- again -- to hold the new administration to account when necessary.

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Google has not given up on Google+ -- requested changes are incoming, and the 'classic' site will go!

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Despite the competition from other social networks, and widespread ridicule, Google is determined not to pull the plug on Google+. Instead, the company today announces that a trio of changes are coming to the service based on user feedback.

Google is keen for users to experience its services on any device they may have, so it's little surprise that one of the changes sees the addition of a zoom function so Google+ users on smartphones can get a closer look at photos. There are also key changes to the commenting system and the welcome arrival of a much-requested feature.

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Apple hikes UK App Store prices by 25 percent post-Brexit

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The financial turbulence that followed the UK's vote to leave the European Union has seen the value of the pound tumbling. With the pound and the dollar almost reaching parity, Apple has again been forced to increase prices.

While the US and UK currencies may not quite have reached parity, the price of apps in the two regions will very soon do just that. Apps that cost $0.99 in the US would have cost £0.79 in the UK pre-Brexit -- now this will jump to £0.99. Information about the price hike came in an email to developers, and it will take effect over the next seven days.

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Latest macOS Sierra beta suggests lowering screen brightness to increase battery life

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Apple is eager for MacBook Pro users to squeeze the best possible battery life out of their machines, so it's understandable that the company was taken aback by Consumer Reports' original, and disappointing battery life results.

With macOS, Apple helps users to be proactive in boosting battery performance by warning when a particular app is using a lot of power -- if it is not entirely necessary, users will hopefully feel compelled to kill it. In the latest beta version of macOS Sierra, screen brightness is also taken into account, and users are advised that lowering this setting will save power.

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Anonymous threatens Donald Trump with leaks about ties to mafia and child trafficking

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Donald Trump has not yet taken up office, but he has already managed to whip up tidal waves of opposition not only in the US, but around the world. Among the president-elect's opponents is Anonymous, the hacktivist collective.

The group took to Twitter -- Trump's favorite medium -- to issue a pre-inauguration warning: "This isn't the 80's any longer, information doesn't vanish, it is all out there. You are going to regret the next 4 years". The tirade came as Trump lashed out at reports about criticism from outgoing CIA Chief, John Brennan; Anonymous responded by threatening the billionaire with damaging leaks.

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How to run openSUSE Leap 42.2 or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 on Windows 10

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Linux and Windows living happily side-by-side is not something many people would have predicted, but Windows 10 Anniversary Update saw the arrival of Bash on Ubuntu thanks to the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Not everyone was happy with Microsoft's choice of Ubuntu, with many preferring a different flavour of Linux.

Senior Product Manager for SUSE Linux Enterprise, Hannes Kühnemund, is -- unsurprisingly -- one of those whose taste buds were not tantalized by Ubuntu. He would rather you ran SUSE on Windows 10. In fact he doesn't just want this to happen, he tells you how to do it -- specifically with openSUSE Leap 42.2 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2 -- so you too can run Linux binaries natively on Windows.

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Game Mode in Windows 10 Creators Update will boost gaming performance and quality

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Now that Windows 10 build 15007 is available for Windows Insiders on the Fast Ring, we're really starting to get a proper look at where Microsoft is going with the impending Creators Update release. We've already seen how the company is pushing 3D and augmented reality, but it has not forgotten about gamers.

Proclaiming that "2017 is going to be a monumental year for gaming at Microsoft", the Windows maker has taken the wraps off Game Mode. The promise that this special mode will increase the performance of PC games is something that will be welcomed by gamers the world over. But there's more to look forward to as well.

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The list of most common passwords of 2016 includes a few surprises

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Security breaches and data leaks are, obviously, a major concern, but they do have something of a silver lining. Leaks of passwords may open up the risk of individual accounts being targeted, but they also serve as a fascinating insight into the level of security people use for online services.

We all know someone who insists on using 'password' as their password, or something equally insecure such as '123456'. Keeper Security has published a list of the most common passwords used in 2016, and these old favorites remain firmly placed in the top 10. But there are a few surprises along the way, such as the weird popularity of '18atcskd2w'.

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Genealogy website FamilyTreeNow knows far too much about you -- remove your details to protect your privacy

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There was a craze that started a few years back for tracing one's family tree. Rather than fizzling out, the interest in genealogy continued, and there are still many websites out there that will help you to research your family history and build up a picture of the past.

While genealogists of the past may have scoured public records and libraries for information about their family, these days people want things handed to them on a plate. One website is taking full advantage of this -- as well as the fact that the internet can act as a huge database of personal information -- and there's a high chance it has vast amounts of data about you that can be accessed by anyone. The site is FamilyTreeNow.com, and we'll show you what you need to do to protect your privacy and security.

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BBC wants to tackle fake news with Reality Check team

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Fake news has become a serious problem recently, with Facebook blamed for helping the spread of stories that are factually incorrect. The social network has already announced that it wants to take steps to tackle the problem, and now the BBC is joining the fight.

The BBC already has a series known as Reality Check, and the plan is to expand this into a permanent feature that will be used to fact-check stories that appear on Facebook and other social media.

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FBI-helping phone-cracking firm Cellebrite hit by 900GB hack

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Cellebrite -- the Israeli security company famed for helping the FBI crack the iPhone at center of the San Bernardino case -- has been hit by hackers. The attack resulted in the theft of 900GB of data.

While the website Motherboard -- which was handed a copy of the data -- reports that "the cache includes customer information, databases, and a vast amount of technical data regarding Cellebrite's products", the company has downplayed the incident.

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