Technology: Robocalls, selfies and privacy gone wrong: The worst of a decade in tech - PressFrom - US
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Technology Robocalls, selfies and privacy gone wrong: The worst of a decade in tech

15:50  09 october  2019
15:50  09 october  2019 Source:   cnet.com

AT&T and T-Mobile offer cross-network protection against robocalls

AT&T and T-Mobile offer cross-network protection against robocalls AT&T and T-Mobile announced today the carriers are offering robocall identification across networks in a first step toward SHAKEN/STIR implementation.

Gone are the robotic-sounding voice changers of yesterday. With machine learning, software can now understand and A decade of data breaches of personal information has led to a situation where scammers can easily learn your Scammers follow the money, so companies will be the worst hit.

YouMail does the first ever detailed robocall analysis of all of those annoying scam robocalls , telemarketing robocalls , payment reminder robocalls , and alert and reminder robocalls . The estimate for January 2018 shows that the robocall problem is getting worse .

The hardest part of listing the worst things in tech from the past decade is narrowing it down. This is by no means an exhaustive list, or even a comprehensive set of highlights. Security breaches and privacy lapses would take up a whole post on their own, and the worst products of the past 10 years would be a whole other list. Other developments, like nascent brain-computer interfaces or eerily lifelike robots, aren't far enough along yet to make a fair judgment. We'll have to wait to consider them for next decade's Big Bag of Creepy.

  Robocalls, selfies and privacy gone wrong: The worst of a decade in tech © CNET

Here are my picks, in no particular order -- because would you want to start or end with the most grim? And if you'd like a dose of good news, here's our list of the top tech trends of the decade.

U.S. state legal chiefs, telecom firms set to crack down on robocalls

U.S. state legal chiefs, telecom firms set to crack down on robocalls U.S. state legal chiefs, telecom firms set to crack down on robocalls

Spam robocalls are intensifying and pressure is mounting on various government agencies With the problem getting worse , pressure is mounting on various government agencies — mainly the The aggravation stemming from these calls goes past mere annoyance. Many of these robocalls aren’t

It’s not just you. Those pesky robocalls — at best annoying disturbances and at worst costly financial scams — are getting worse . In an age when cellphones have become extensions of our bodies, robocallers now follow people wherever they go , disrupting business meetings

a close up of a device: Jason Schneider© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Jason Schneider

Ring, ring, ring. It's 'Scam Likely' calling

a close up of a black background: decade-in-review-bug© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. decade-in-review-bug

Congress has passed laws to stop robocalls, carriers have tried to crack down with the support of the FCC and the FTC has slapped offenders with fines in the millions. But guess what? By the end of this decade, on average people will be getting more spam calls than wanted ones -- some of us already do. And they're costing the US billions.

Sure, you can take steps to limit them, but there's nothing on the horizon to stop them completely. That's because no matter the proposed solutions or advice everyone gives, spammers can always spoof a new phone number and you can't prevent robocalls from going to your voice mail and leaving a message. Robocalls are simply too cheap to operate. I Googled Robocalls and the top results were from people offering to make them for less than a penny per minute. (And with no mechanism for recipients to complain, by the way.) Too many people not only answer the robocalls, but also fall for whatever they're selling (or scamming), making the operation profitable for perpetrators.

Phone companies and state attorneys general join forces to fight robocalls

Phone companies and state attorneys general join forces to fight robocalls US consumers receive as many as 350,000 unwanted calls every three minutes, according to the FCC. Despite multiple efforts to end the onslaught, an estimated 4.7 billion robocalls hit American phones in July alone. Now, attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are teaming up with 12 carriers in a united effort to prevent and block the spam calls. Under the new agreement, the carriers will implement call-blocking technology, make anti-robocall tools free to consumers and deploy a system that labels calls as legitimate or spam, The Washington Post reports. The companies also agree to aid investigations by law enforcement.

Latest Reviews Science io9 Field Guide Earther Design Paleofuture What's Next in Tech by Best Buy. After realizing that the Trump prank had gone awry, Ownage Prank altered the automated message to say it comes from So the mystery of the Trump robocalls is solved, but there is still a problem with the Ownage Prank service: Calls placed via She writes about privacy and technology .

Let's be honest, you can't kill robocalls completely. Lily Hay Newman covers information security, digital privacy , and hacking for WIRED. But with the tools at your disposal, plus those coming soon from the FCC and carriers, the worst is hopefully behind you.

Our only defense is not to pick up the phone and block spoofed numbers in a game of Whack-a-Mole.

Susan Kare, creator of the icons on the original Macintosh, testifies for Apple at a trial to determine Samsung patent infringement damages. Sketch by Vicki Behringer© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Susan Kare, creator of the icons on the original Macintosh, testifies for Apple at a trial to determine Samsung patent infringement damages. Sketch by Vicki Behringer

Always in court

Though the Apple v. Samsung lawsuit may have barely registered in many people's consciousness, this was seven years of tech journalists' lives we'll never get back. And for what? After battling in courts for years, the two companies finally reached a settlement in June 2018. It's unclear exactly how much Samsung paid Apple, but it's likely around $1 billion. High as that total seems, it's barely a blip on either company's bottom line.

Ultimately, the battle and settlement had little impact on consumers. Phones are still largely rectangular slabs of glass like the first iPhone (though we're now seeing bigger screens and foldable designs), and because the two settled, the battle never actually resolved how to value design patents. The lawyers, on the other hand, are probably the only ones who now find $1,000 phones to be cheap.

T-Mobile and AT&T are actually working together to stop robocalls

T-Mobile and AT&T are actually working together to stop robocalls The scourge of robocalls and spoofed numbers is bad as now as it's ever been, but in recent weeks, the government and the private sector have both been taking the issue more seriously. In fact, US mobile carriers T-Mobile and AT&T revealed on Wednesday that they are teaming up to bring call cross-network call authentication protections to their subscribers. That's right -- two of the industry's biggest rivals are working together to help you. © Provided by Penske Media Corporation T-Mobile-Robocall © Provided by Penske Media Corporation t-mobile-sign-2 T-Mobile and AT&T will take advantage of the SHAKEN/STIR caller authentication technology to ensure that anyone who

On some days, it can feel as if robocallers are outnumbering calls from your own friends and family members. If your phone is being inundated with such calls, there are steps you can take to try to block them out.

Robocalls are the No. 1 complaint consumers make to the government. "I'd like to have the confidence and the trust that when my phone rings it's not going to be a robocaller and Robocalls can range from pesky telemarketers to threatening scammers. Last month alone, tech company

Keep your phone's battery from overheating. Josh Miller/CNET© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Keep your phone's battery from overheating. Josh Miller/CNET

Flameouts

From ground-dwelling hoverboards to the infamously flammable Note 7, it's been a big decade for tech to halt and catch fire. A lot of gadget fires these days are caused by lithium-ion batteries -- if you remember your kiddie chemistry, the alkali metals are funtastic when they come into contact with basics like oxygen or water. And don't forget other random fiery mishaps, as we've seen from e-cigarettes and vape pens or Tesla's solar panels.

a person riding a skateboard on a city street: James Martin/CNET© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. James Martin/CNET

Danger on the move

The last 10 years have occasionally been a perilous time to travel due to tech failures. The most terrifying? In the past year, 346 people died in two crashes of Boeing's new 737 Max within a five-month span. Though the official reports on both crashes have yet to be released, preliminary reports suggest that a flight control system, which is designed to push the Max's nose down under certain flight conditions, was receiving erroneous data from faulty sensors. The airliner remains grounded worldwide as Boeing works to fix the control system and win regulatory approval to resume 737 Max passenger flights.

The Verge guide to privacy and security

The Verge guide to privacy and security Keep your stuff safe

The Robocall Nightmare Is Only Getting Worse —But Help Is Here. Business. US consumers suffer 80 million robocalls a day. But a new crackdown—along with some clever apps—could help put a lid on your biggest mobile nuisance. Decades -Old Code Is Putting Millions of Critical Devices at Risk.

I'm going to share the latest robocall information here with you, but warn you that I also have some unsettling news about how scammers will reach you in the future. Already, though, I marvel at the scammers' smarts. Robocall scammers aren't one step ahead of government regulators.

a close up of a logo© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
Electric scooters are sending scores of people to the hospital

A more wide-ranging issue has been Takata airbags, which have been blamed for at least 23 deaths and hundreds of injuries thanks to inflators fracturing and hurling shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Though the recalls began in 2008, it wasn't until 2013 that the individual recalls started to top the 1 million mark -- 41.6 million vehicles have been recalled thus far. New technologies have hit safety snags, as well. We've seen the first death attributable to an autonomous vehicle, spikes in injuries related to e-bikes and e-scooters and the rise and fall of the aforementioned hoverboards, thanks to battery fires.

Selfies bring out the stupid and selfish

If Wikipedia is correct, almost 300 people have died since smartphone selfie cameras became a thing in 2010. And if people are silly and vain enough to die taking selfies -- or killfies, as they've been dubbed by some experts -- while flying planes, posing near wild animals, posing with guns, standing in front of speeding trains, ignoring the undertow and so on, that's their business. But when there are negative externalities involved, it's a different story. Selfish selfie takers have been ruining landscapes, trampling tulips, killing animals, shattering monuments, destroying art and more in pursuit of solipsistic satisfaction.

The industry’s magic bullet for robocalls is currently useless on an iPhone

  The industry’s magic bullet for robocalls is currently useless on an iPhone STIR/SHAKEN comes to iPhones, but not in a useful wayApple finally added support for STIR/SHAKEN with iOS 13, which should be great news in theory, adding millions of new devices that will now get this verification technology. But there’s just one problem: Apple’s implementation of the feature is essentially useless for actually identifying incoming robocalls, rendering the whole thing moot.

One can use robocall -blocking technology which detects robocalls and stops them before they can reach you. VPNs provide military-grade encryption and multiple layers of security for those who want their information and activity to remain private and away from the scrutiny of bad actors.

For all the fancy technology of smartphones, robocalls remain a nearly unstoppable problem. Yet the problem appears to be getting worse . It's cheaper than ever to make calls and people have The FCC has gone after individuals when possible, with one Florida resident the subject of a proposed a

a person eating food at a restaurant© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
Beer helps explain battle brewing over net neutrality

SOPA, PIPA and the dismantling of net neutrality

On one hand, the response to the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act in 2012 proved that our connected world has unprecedented power to mobilize a traditionally disparate group of people against powerful, focused groups with a lot of money to spend on lobbying. On the other hand, the fact that these two rabidly anti-consumer bills sponsored by lobbyists who (at best) didn't care about their potentially unintended consequences made it as far as they did foreshadowed the current era where the FCC gifted a rollback of net neutrality to corporate interests last year.

But the battle rages on: On Oct. 1 a federal appeals court upheld the FCC's repeal, but also ruled that states could pass their own net neutrality protections. Even so, it's still not certain if California will get to impose the net neutrality rules that the state's legislature passed in 2018 (a move that quickly brought a Justice Department lawsuit).

a group of people standing in front of a sign: Sarah Tew/CNET© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Sarah Tew/CNET

Unlimited, but throttled

There've been a lot of corporate shenanigans in the past 10 years, but few things match the scope of phone carriers successfully redefining the meaning of unlimited data plans. It's not that you're suddenly capped when you use a certain amount of megabytes, but your speed may slow to a crawl under a practice called throttling. Carriers, of course, denied that they're throttling. No, they said, they're just "deprioritizing" you. It's all buried in the fine print of your contract with language like, "Customers who use more than 50GB of data during a billing cycle will be 'deprioritized' during times & places where the Sprint network is constrained."

Verizon's anti-robocall service will be automatically enabled on Android phones

Verizon's anti-robocall service will be automatically enabled on Android phones The change comes after the FCC gave carriers greater power to "aggressively block" unwanted robocalls. © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. The free Call Filter service blocks robocalls and flags potential spam calls. Angela Lang/CNET "We know our customers are sick and tired of the endless onslaught of robocalls," said Ronan Dunne, Verizon executive vice president, in a release. "Our team is committed to developing and enhancing the tools that will help bring relief to our customers. This is another major step in that process." © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

99% percent of the time, selfies end up as dull reminders of someone’s narcissism. The other times though, something wonderful happens that transforms the

Robocalls are quite simply the most annoying modern tech drawback for many people. You know what they are. These are the unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls to landlines and wireless phones That means the U.S. robocall plague has grown by five times in just eight years and it's getting worse !

That's Orwellian-level doublespeak. Imagine if your employer said it would pay you $50,000 a year, but in the fine print of your contract was the caveat that once you'd been paid $25,000 you'd start getting it in pennies. And if too many co-workers joined you at that penny threshold, it would have to start paying you less frequently.

a group of people posing for the camera: Sarah Tew/CNET© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Sarah Tew/CNET

The siren call of subscriptions

Subscription services for physical objects have been around for a long time; Book of the Month Club has been around since 1926 and Netflix started out shipping DVDs. But jealous of the few companies who've made it big in video streaming -- Netflix is the obvious example -- many businesses now love the combination of steady income, customer lock-in and the wealth of personal data that subscriptions deliver. As a result, we've seen a boom in the number and types of companies adopting the model, especially in entertainment, putting us in subscription overload and possibly leading us to pay far more than we think for the convenience. We've started to judge new services, such as Apple Arcade, by their ability to attract our jaded, fatigued attention.

Worse, though, in order to launch new services, companies that own the rights to any content whatsoever are pulling that content from platforms you already subscribe to: think Disney pulling its content from Netflix, NBCUniversal pulling The Office, HBO buying the exclusive rights to future seasons of Doctor Who and Friends for its spring 2020 launch, and so on. So we're being forced to subscribe to more places to maintain the same mix of content. (Disclosure: CBS Corp., which owns streaming service CBS All Access, is the parent of CNET.)

This wall display teaches visitors about Stuxnet, the © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. This wall display teaches visitors about Stuxnet, the "first weapon to be made entirely out of code." Sarah Tew/CNET

Rise of the cyberweapons

Stuxnet wormed its way into our lives in 2010, and in 2015, a cyberattack for the first time took out a power grid. The latest tool in the arsenal is ransomware like WannaCry and Petya, which encrypt the contents of a system so you can't access it without ponying up a ransom. That tactic went large scale in 2017 by holding local governmentsand cities hostage.

Senator Wyden pushes his ‘Mind Your Own Business’ privacy act forward

  Senator Wyden pushes his ‘Mind Your Own Business’ privacy act forward Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is advancing his data privacy bill. Today, he shared his "Mind Your Own Business Act" an official version of the draft legislation we saw last year. Like the draft, the official version would give the Federal Trade Commission more power, like the ability to fine tech companies for user privacy violations. As The Verge reports, the bill would allow the FTC to set minimum privacy and cybersecurity standards for tech companies, issue fines up to four percent of a company's annual revenue and make it a crime for senior execs to lie to the agency regarding privacy issues.

Wrong Number. If you're like many Americans, you have probably received a robocall just like these, which have become a scourge for consumers despite increasing efforts to stop them. The FTC's Do Not Call List was designed to stop telemarketing calls, yet robocalls are on the rise.

a close up of a map: This sculpture represents visually what most of us realize is the disturbingly extensive data set easily collected by Google about users' travel patterns, purchases, contacts, browsing search terms, and much more. Sarah Tew/CNET© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. This sculpture represents visually what most of us realize is the disturbingly extensive data set easily collected by Google about users' travel patterns, purchases, contacts, browsing search terms, and much more. Sarah Tew/CNET

Not-so-private privacy

Over the past 10 years, we've seen a veritable boom in privacy-infringing technology. Some of it is the traditional dystopian government-eyes-and-ears everywhere system, like the omnipresent CCTV network in the UK that's been growing since 2013, and existing government surveillance cameras that can be made better spies by adding AI.

But it's not just the government. We've exchanged privacy for convenience on a mass scale -- the convenience of facial recognition, smart home assistants, and video doorbells, to name a few. And we've also traded away our privacy for curiosity's sake as well, via home DNA tests, silly data-harvesting quizzes et. al. All government agencies need to do is apply the right pressure to companies, or more disturbingly, when companies pressure law enforcement to use their products as Ring (owned by Amazon) has done. Behemoths like Google and Amazon have more information about you than government entities could have ever collected by themselves. That can be a problem, since facial recognition has inherent biases that can result in false positives.

a woman wearing glasses© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
Facial recognition: Get to know the tech that gets to know you
(CNET)

In some cases, when you willingly give up your own privacy, you sacrifice other people's as well. It seems like most of the concern is over the security of private info; that we're not too concerned that Facebook has detailed information about our entire lives, even if we're not on it. And if you do have a Facebook account, you had to worry about Cambridge Analytica harvesting your data without your consent and using it for political ads.

Outside of Facebook, there were random humans listening to conversations with Alexa or even worse, data apps that facilitated cyberstalking. But we haven't reached peak privacy giveaway yet, so we'll probably see more right-to-privacy issues exposed on the scale of the ones Edward Snowden unleashed about the US' NSA activities in 2013.

a sign on the side of a building© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
Equifax breach: Find out if you can claim part of the $700 million

Unto the breach!

We only care about the security of our info to a certain extent, because we seem to have begun to accept data breaches as the new normal. Oh, I need to change my password again. Oh, the breached company's offering a free year of credit monitoring. And why not? From 2010 through 2018, breaches have included high-profile names including Yahoo, Adobe, Equifax, Sony PlayStation Network, Target, LinkedIn, Marriott and Facebook.

We can't even trust hardware we never think about anymore; when was the last time you (as a security nonprofessional) thought about the vulnerabilities of a CPU before we found out about the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities afflicting all Intel and AMD CPUs fabricated since 2012? Vulnerabilities that continue to bypass the fixes. Sometimes it's intentional and malicious, like Russians hacking to influence the 2016 US election, but many are simply due to human security holes. Just search on "left exposed on server" and you'll find MoviePass, Facebook, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the US, loan apps in China and more. And those are only from the past few months.

a screenshot of a social media post: CNET© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. CNET

Social media's dark side

When people talk about the hate-filled side of "the Internet," they're really talking about social media and social forum-type sites. Social media isn't evil by itself -- it can be incredibly empowering, such as when it led to a revolution and the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. But we've also seen social media bring out the worst in people. We live in an age where you can be doxxed or find yourself at the receiving end of intense hatred for expressing a view that makes some group of trolls mad.

Over the past decade, social media has enabled the spread of that hatred at an unprecedented rate. It's been used to glorify and incite violence. It's seen political discourse and policymaking reduced to 240 characters worth of unintelligibility (and we thought sound bites were bad!). Heading into the next decade, we've even got a new tool for spreading lies: deepfakes.

Senator Wyden pushes his ‘Mind Your Own Business’ privacy act forward .
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is advancing his data privacy bill. Today, he shared his "Mind Your Own Business Act" an official version of the draft legislation we saw last year. Like the draft, the official version would give the Federal Trade Commission more power, like the ability to fine tech companies for user privacy violations. As The Verge reports, the bill would allow the FTC to set minimum privacy and cybersecurity standards for tech companies, issue fines up to four percent of a company's annual revenue and make it a crime for senior execs to lie to the agency regarding privacy issues.

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