Mark Wycislik-Wilson

German court says Facebook's privacy settings and use of personal data are illegal

Facebook and people logos

Facebook is no stranger to privacy-related controversy, and now a German court has ruled that the social networks' use of personal data is illegal. The court in Berlin also said that Facebook's default privacy settings violate German consumer law.

The case was brought by the federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV) which said Facebook failed to provide its users with sufficient information, and also that people were automatically opted into features.

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Low-cost Nokia 2 comes to the UK with two-day battery life

Nokia 2

Nokia is a name -- for more seasoned mobile users, at least -- that's synonymous with phones that seem to last forever between charges. Now HMD Global is bringing the Nokia 2 to the UK, complete with impressive two-day battery life.

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 Quad-core processor, the Nokia 2 boasts a 5-inch screen and 8GB of memory -- which can be increased by up to 128GB with a MicroSD card. The phone ships with Android Nougat 7.1.1 (it's described as being "Oreo ready" although there's no word on when an upgrade might appear), and it will be available in two weeks for just £99.

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Tests show how much Meltdown fixes will hit Linux system performance

Now that the initial shock about the Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities has died down, the focus is very much on getting the problems sorted. As has been noted already, there has been concern about the impact on performance that the bug fixes will bring.

Intel has been eager to downplay any suggestion of major slowdown, but the exact performance hit will vary from system to system depending on the tasks being performed. Brendan Gregg -- a Netflix engineer whose work involves large scale cloud computing performance -- has conducted some tests into the impact patches will have on Linux systems, concluding that "patches that workaround Meltdown introduce the largest kernel performance regressions I've ever seen."

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Government websites in US, UK and Australia hacked to run secret cryptocurrency miner

Monero logo

Thousands of government websites around the world have been hijacked to mine the cryptocurrency Monero. A commonly-used accessibility script was hacked to inject the Coinhive miner into official sites in the US, UK and Australia. One security researcher described it as the biggest attack of its type that he'd seen.

In the UK, websites for the NHS and Information Commissioner's Office were affected; in the US, the United States Courts' site was hit; in Australia, government sites including that of the Victorian parliament were hit by the cryptojacking code. What all of the sites had in common was the fact that they included the text-to-speech accessibility script Browsealoud from Texthelp.

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Apple videos show how to get the most from its HomePod speaker

Apple HomePod touch controls

The launch of the Apple HomePod was delayed last year, but the iPhone-maker's smart speaker was finally released a couple of days ago. Reviews are -- generally speaking -- positive, but early adopters have a few quibbles.

Whether you're thinking about jumping on the bandwagon, you already have a HomePod, or you just want to know more about them, Apple has released a series of videos that serve as a handy combination of tutorials and an introduction to its latest hardware.

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Xiaomi deletes MIUI vs Android One Twitter poll after the voting didn't go its way

Xiaomi logo

Which is better -- the MIUI skin, or Android One? This is what Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi decided to ask on Twitter, and the results were... interesting.

Presumably the company was rather hoping that Twitter users would vote for its own MIUI which it could then rub in Google's face -- but the poll actually went against Xiaomi. Rather than leave the results of the vote up for anyone to see, the company decided to simply delete it and pretend it never happened.

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Hate the Snapchat redesign? Here's how to get back the old look

Snapchat on iPhone

Change is great, but it is not always well-received. Take the latest redesign of Snapchat, for instance -- the outpouring of hatred for the new look has been incredible.

Users are pleading Snapchat to revert to the old design, complaining that the algorithm-powered interface makes things impossible to find. Of course, the company is extremely unlikely to change back to the old look, but if you're an iPhone user, there are steps you can take to get the old app back. Wondering how to get old Snapchat back? Read on!

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VLC 3.0 'Vetinari' arrives, bringing HDR, 8K and Chromecast support


In the world of media playing software, VLC is a perennial favorite -- and with good reason. This open source tool is one of the most feature-packed players out there, and it has just received a huge and long-awaited upgrade with the release of VLC 3.0 'Vetinari'.

Many software releases are described as being major or significant, but VLC 3.0 really is a huge release -- it's a truly massive update from its predecessor. Available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromebooks and Windows Phone, just about everyone can take advantage of the power of this incredible player.

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Uber and Waymo make surprise settlement over claims of stolen trade secrets

Uber on a phone sitting on a map

Uber has agreed to a settlement with Google's self-driving technology unit, Waymo, over claims that that the company stole trade secrets during the acquisition of Otto. Google's parent company, Alphabet, sued Uber a year ago, and now a payment of $245 million has been agreed.

The financial settlement to be received by Waymo includes 0.34 percent of Uber's equity based on a valuation of $72 billion. Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, expressed "regret" about the matter, and said he wanted to correct "mistakes of the past."

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India hits Google with $21 million fine for search bias

Indian flag and Google

Google is certainly no stranger to accusations of abusing its position to its own advantage, and the company has now been fined 1.36 billion rupees ($21.17 million) by India's antitrust watchdog.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google was guilty of "search bias" and had been abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising. Particular criticism was leveled at Google's promotion of its own flight search page.

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Apple confirms but downplays iOS source code leak

Silver iPhone 8 on box

Apple may have just released iOS 11.3 beta 2, but the attention of world turned to the iOS source code that leaked to GitHub. The iPhone maker has confirmed that code for iOS 9's iBoot had leaked, but stressed its age.

The company said that the leak does not pose a security threat to users, insisting that "the security of our products doesn't depend on the secrecy of our source code." But while Apple tries to play down the leak, there's no denying that it is highly significant and an unprecedented embarrassment.

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Facebook is testing a 'downvote' option -- just don't call it a dislike button

Thumbs up and thumbs down

Facebook has confirmed that it is currently testing what it describes as a "downvote" button. But the social network is at pains to stress that this is absolutely not the "dislike" button people have been asking for.

The idea behind the feature is to give users the chance to downvote comments -- it does not appear to give the same option to posts. In currents tests, downvoting only appears on public Pages, and it's something that’s unlikely to spread to profiles.

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Apple issues takedown notice after iBoot source code leaks to GitHub

Silver iPhone 8 on box

The source code for the iOS bootloader iBoot has been leaked to GitHub, prompting Apple to issue a DMCA takedown notice.

Although the source code is for iOS 9.3 and a couple of years old, it appears to be the real deal and would still cause something of a headache for Apple. Copies of the code have been circulating online despite the takedown notice, and the concern is that it could be used to exploit iOS with malware.

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157 new emojis to hit iOS and Android with the launch of Emoji 11.0

Emoji 11.0

Going under the banner of Emoji 11.0, a raft of new emojis are due to hit the screen of iOS and Android devices later this year.

After being previewed late last year, the full list of emojis has now been published by the Unicode Consortium, and they're due to be launched in the second half of 2018 -- August or September. What can you look forward to? New red-haired and bald men and women feature, as do a female superhero, a pirate flag and a microbe.

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Intel releases updated Spectre and Meltdown patches for Skylake systems

Meltdown and Spectre

It may have been a while since there was major news about the Spectre and Meltdown bugs, but the problems have not gone away. After previously releasing unstable patches, Intel has now launched a microcode update for Skylake systems.

Despite the problems with both stability and performance with Spectre and Meltdown patches, Intel uses an announcement about the latest updates to stress the importance of installing patches in a timely fashion. There's more than a hint of irony in the fact that Intel had to tell users to stop using an earlier update because of the problems it was causing.

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