Apps

China slams tech companies for violating user’s privacy

Xiaomi and Tencent found guilty

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China forces tech companies to give up user data as part of its surveillance program. In an ironic twist, the Chinese government slammed tech companies that supposedly violated users’ privacy.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information recently found problematic issues in Tencent’s messaging service QQ and Xiaomi’s finance app stemming from privacy violations.

The ministry found that QQ forced its users to let it track device usage for showing targeted ads. If a user denies this permission, the app closes. The service’s owner is Tencent, which also owns the massive hit League of Legends.

As for Xiaomi, its financial app makes it hard to delete a user’s account. Apparently, the ministry wanted apps to have an easy way to control and delete a user’s account.

These two are just the tip of the iceberg, with 41 apps and services having privacy issues. This year alone, the ministry reprimanded more than 8,000 apps as part of “protecting” users’ digital privacy rights.

A warning of “punishment” will be given if Tencent fails to address this by December 31. It is unknown if Xiaomi also received a warning from the Chinese ministry.

Face scans remain controversial

The recent reprimand is an ironic twist in China, where mass surveillance is legal.

This December, Chinese lawmakers passed a bill requiring face scans of customers signing up for new mobile plans. The guidelines require telecom companies to deploy “artificial intelligence and other technical methods” to check people’s identities.

China also ranks the lowest on the annual Freedom of the Net report. The report zeroed in on the continuous censorship of the Chinese government. Combined with mass surveillance through facial recognition, the country just showed that it effectively controls its user’s digital lives and privacy.

SOURCE: Rappler/AFP

Apps

Top iOS 15 Features to look out for

FaceTime for Android, anyone?

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The next version of iOS rolls out this fall. There are new features such as FaceTime for Android, new Memojis, rebranded Safari and Messages app, personal identification card compatibility for Wallet, and more.

But in this video, we rounded up our Top 10 iOS 15 Features you should look out for.

Watch the whole video by clicking here.

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Apps

Voilà AI Artist turns your selfies into 3D cartoons, caricatures

And many more artistic renditions!

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Voilà AI Artist

From FaceApp to Zepeto, plenty of avatars from these apps proliferated social media platforms. Most recently, the Internet went crazy with cute avatars once more. You probably noticed how people have been posting a 3D cartoon version of themselves, akin to a Disney character. It’s all thanks to Voilà AI Artist — a photo-editing app using artificial intelligence to turn your photos into artistic renditions.

Get yourself painted as a Renaissance painting.

Voilà AI Artist

Have your selfies transformed into a 3D cartoon from an animated movie.

Turn your photos into a 2D cartoon…

Voilà AI Artist

… or even have your face drawn as a caricature.

Voilà AI Artist

Voilà AI Artist is developed by WeImagine.AI., a Canada-based team of creators and developers. The app is free to download on the App Store and Google Play Store. If you’re concerned about the app’s privacy policy, read it here.

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Apps

The US revokes Trump’s executive order that banned TikTok

A level-playing field for everyone

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President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that sets criteria for the government to evaluate the risk of apps connected to foreign adversaries. It’s specifically meant for apps like TikTok and WeChat, which President Trump banned.

It should use an “evidence-based approach” to see if they pose a risk to US national security, said Biden. If apps are found violating fundamental laws, a ban can be imposed. The task of identifying threats has been given to the US Commerce Department.

Trump’s executive order particularly targeted TikTok and WeChat. Instead, Biden is opting for a level-playing field for everyone. Biden shares the same concerns as Trump, but their approach is vastly different.

Under the previous administration, TikTok remained in a precarious position as Trump sought to ban the app unless it sold to an American company. A proposal was produced that would have seen Oracle and Walmart owning a US entity of the service and taking responsibility for handling TikTok’s US user data and content moderation.

But there were numerous legal challenges, and before they could be ironed out, Trump lost the election. The Biden administration’s new executive order does not affect those negotiations, which are a separate process. The order also calls upon federal agencies to develop recommendations – for future executive actions or legislation — on how to protect the data of US citizens.

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