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March 25, 2019
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Daily Crunch: Social media struggles with shooting tragedy

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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Videos of shooting tragedy in New Zealand continue resurfacing on social media

Earlier today there was a horrendous mass mosque shooting in New Zealand that killed 49 people — and because this is 2019, social media was used by the apparent murderers to plan, announce, broadcast and virally resonate what they did.

Some of that — such as the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the perpetrator — have been deleted. Yet nearly 12 hours later, you can still find multiple copies of the shooting videos on YouTube and Twitter, with some being used to promote other things.

2. Facebook loses CPO Chris Cox and WhatsApp VP Chris Daniels

Chief Product Officer Chris Cox is departing the company after two years of supposedly seeking to do something new. More surprising is today’s departure of Chris Daniels, an eight-year employee who was moved from being head of Internet.org to VP of WhatsApp just last May.

3. Apple addresses Spotify’s claims, but not its demands

In a lengthy statement on its site called “Addressing Spotify’s Claims,” Apple walks through and dismantles some of the key parts of Spotify’s accusations about how the App Store works — covering app store approval times, Spotify’s actual cut on subscription revenues and Spotify’s rise as a result of its presence on iOS.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk views the new Tesla Model Y at its unveiling in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019.

4. The Tesla Model Y is a 300-mile-range Model 3 doppelgänger coming in fall 2020

After years of teasers and hints, Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally unveiled the Model Y, a mid-sized all-electric vehicle that is slated to hit the marketplace in fall 2020.

5. Bird lays off up to 5 percent of workforce

“As we establish local service centers and deeper roots in cities where we provide service, we have shifting geographic workforce needs,” a Bird spokesperson told us.

6. Slack removes 28 accounts linked to hate groups

To date, Slack has managed to stay out of the conversation around what happens when sometimes violent politically extreme organizations use popular social platforms to organize.

7. Apple’s iCloud recovers after a four-hour outage

Facebook has only just recovered from one of its worst outages to date, and Gmail and Google Drive also experienced a worldwide outage this week. Now, apparently, it was Apple’s turn.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Facebook wants up to 30% of fan subscriptions vs Patreon’s 5%

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Facebook will drive a hard bargain with influencers and artists judging by the terms of service for the social network’s Patreon-like Fan Subscriptions feature that lets people pay a monthly fee for access to a creator’s exclusive content. The policy document attained by TechCrunch shows Facebook plans to take up to a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue minus fees, compared to 5 percent by Patreon, 30 percent by YouTube, which covers fees and 50 percent by Twitch.

Facebook also reserves the right to offer free trials to subscriptions that won’t compensate creators. And Facebook demands a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use” creators’ content and “This license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions.”

Distrust of Facebook could scare creators away from the platform when combined with its significant revenue share and ability to give away or repurpose creators’ content. Facebook has consistently shown that it puts what it thinks users want and its own interests above those of partners. It cut off game developers from viral channels, inadequately warned Page owners their reach would drop over time, decimated referral traffic to news publishers and, most recently, banished video makers from the feed. If Facebook wants to win creators’ trust and the engagement of their biggest fans, it may need a more competitive offering with larger limits on its power.

“Facebook reached out to offer Hard Drive early access to a ‘fan subscription’ product” tweeted Matt Saincome, who also runs satirical news site The Hard Times. “I asked my editors about it and the complete distrust amongst our team was kinda funny. We read through the terms and found a couple things that were hilarious when compared to Patreon’s 5% . . . Up to 30% and the rights to all our stuff? From the people who let us build an audience on their platform before pulling it out from under our feet? Hilarious. Here’s a crazy alternative: let people who signed up to see our content see it and then we can monetize that hahah.”

Instagram is refocusing on creators too. Instagram’s Android app reveals the prototype of a feature that lets users switch their profile into a Creator Account, similar to the Business Profiles it launched in 2016. Instagram first told The Hollywood Reporter about Creator Accounts in December, but now it’s showing up in the code. Reverse-engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong generated this screenshot showing the option for Creator Accounts to hide their contact info or profile category. Fellow code digger Ishan Agarwal gave TechCrunch an exclusive look at the Instagram code that shows the Creator Accounts are “Best for public figures, content producers, artists, and influencers.” Creator Accounts give users “more advanced insights and reach more people with promotions,” “more growth tools” and “a new inbox that makes it easier to manage message requests and connect with fans.”

Trading control for subscribers

Facebook began testing Fan Subscriptions a year ago to give creators a financial alternative to maximizing ad views after watching the rise of Patreon, which now has 3 million patrons who’ll pay 100,000 artists, comedians, models and makers more than $500 million this year. This month Facebook expanded the test to the U.K., Spain, Germany and Portugal to allow users to pay $4.99 per month to a creator for exclusive content, live videos and a profile badge that highlights them as a subscriber. While Twitch owns gamers, YouTube rules amongst videographers and Patreon is a favorite with odd-ball creators, Facebook may see an opportunity to popularize Fan Subscriptions internationally and turn mainstream consumers into paid supporters.

The terms for Fan Subscriptions are not publicly available, and only visible on Facebook’s site to Pages it’s invited to test the feature. But TechCrunch has published the full policy document below.

Thankfully, Facebook isn’t taking a cut of Fan Subscription revenue during the test phase, and creators get to keep 100 percent of the money paid by any patrons it signs up before the official launch. Facebook tells me that it hasn’t finalized its percentage cut, though the terms permit it to take as much as 30 percent. That would qualify, given Facebook tells me its rake will be in line with industry standards and creators will retain the majority of their earnings.

But whatever cut it takes will be after processing fees and the 15 to 30 percent tax Apple and Google levy on iOS and Android in-app purchases. We’ll see if Facebook tries a workaround that pushes users to their mobile browser where it can take their subscription money tax-free. And if Facebook decides it want to give users a free one-month trial or discount to any creator, they can’t stop it even if that lets people download all their exclusive content and then cancel without ever paying.

But what’s sure to raise the most hairs is the clause about “Supplemental Data” that gives Facebook a license to display a creator’s content as they might expect, but also a royalty-free license to use it however they want, even after a creator abandons Facebook Fan Subscriptions. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that Supplemental Data does in fact cover all content provided by the creator. They claim it’s so if a creator made a custom fan sticker, a subscriber could use it in their own Facebook post, but the rule gives Facebook vast power beyond that. Patreon has a similar clause, but gets the benefit of the doubt in a way Facebook doesn’t after so many scandals.

Facebook’s spokesperson claimed that the Supplemental Data terms were similar to Facebook’s standard terms, but the normal Facebook terms say “You can end this license any time by deleting your content or account.” Not so with Fan Subscriptions. I don’t expect Facebook is going to try to outright steal and resell creators’ content, but it will have jurisdiction to use their art however it wants to fuel its war with Patreon, Twitch and YouTube.

Creators will have to decide whether access to Facebook’s 2.3 billion users is worth the platform risk of building a following somewhere they don’t control and that has other business priorities. If Facebook’s strategy suddenly veers away from Fan Subscriptions, it could be hard for creators to score new signups or retain their old ones. At least with a dedicated site like Patreon, creators know the platform can’t abuse them without the threaten of ruin.

Here’s the full Terms of Service for Facebook’s Patreon competitor Fan Subscriptions:

Fan Subscriptions creator terms

The fan funding feature (“Fan Subscriptions”) allows Facebook users to support their favorite pages, creators, group administrators, gamers, or others (“Pages”) through a monthly subscription with Facebook (“Subscription”) that gives those people (“fans”) access to digital content offered by Pages, such as exclusive digital content, fan recognition, and merchandise discounts. These Terms (“Terms”) govern how Pages use Fan Subscriptions.

With regard to your use of Fan Subscriptions, you agree to the following:

  1. Your use of the Platform with respect to Fan Subscriptions is subject to, and you agree to comply with, the Platform Policy currently available at https://developers.facebook.com/policy/.
  2. Your use of Fan Subscriptions to offer digital content and/or services to Facebook fans is subject to, and you agree to comply with the (a) Monetization Eligibility Standards currently available at https://www.facebook.com/help/publisher/169845596919485, and (b) Content Guidelines for Monetization currently available at https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/get-started/monetization_contentguidelines. You agree to follow any additional instructions and/or technical documentation we provide to you for Fan Subscriptions.
  3. You will provide accurate information to fans in connection with your use of Fan Subscriptions, including but not limited as part of any digital content or services you choose to offer to them. You must clearly and conspicuously disclose all material terms regarding your offer and the nature of content or services you will provide to fans once they choose to subscribe. You agree to comply with all laws applicable to your use of Fan Subscriptions.
  4. You confirm that the content you offer via Subscription does not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of any third party and that you have secured all rights necessary to distribute, copy, display, publicly perform, or otherwise use the content.
  5. You will not use, incorporate, or provide any music or physical goods in connection with your use of Fan Subscriptions without FB’s prior written approval (email is sufficient).
  6. You will not offer discounts on physical goods that exceed 80 percent of the offered goods’ retail value.
  7. Your fans’ Subscriptions may be processed as payments to Facebook via Apple’s In-App Purchase or Google’s In-App Billing services, which are subject to Apple’s and Google’s separate payment terms and conditions. Apple and Google may charge Facebook a revenue share and/or other fees for such payment services according to their respective terms and conditions. FB will pay you a revenue share calculated as a percentage (“Your Share”) of what’s left after deduction of those fees/charges and of any other fees or taxes incurred by Facebook. As a the date of these Terms, Your Share of that net revenue is 100%. However, Facebook may in the future change these Terms such that Facebook keeps a revenue share of up to 30%. We will give 30 days’ notice of any such change.
  8. Facebook reserves the right to offer discounted and free trials for fans from time to time in our discretion, whether to incentivize Subscription sign-ups or otherwise. Where we do so in relation to your Fan Subscriptions, your revenue share will be reduced accordingly: we only pay you a revenue share based on the amounts fans actually pay (less fees and taxes we incur).
  9. If you have accurately completed and timely provided to FB any forms or documentation that FB reasonably determines are required to set up payment to you, and subject to and only in the event that you are in compliance in all respects with these Terms, payment of any net amounts FB receives from Apple and Google for Subscriptions made by your fans during your use of Fan Subscriptions will be on a monthly basis, within approximately 60 days after the end of the applicable month. Facebook will not be responsible for any subsequent fees applied by your financial institution to complete payment of the Monthly Fee to you. Furthermore, in the event the payment due to you would be less than One Hundred U.S. Dollars ($100.00), Facebook reserves the right to roll such payment over month to month until such payment threshold is met, at which time Facebook will make the applicable payment to you. Facebook also reserves the right to set off and/or withhold any amounts that Facebook reasonably considers are or are likely to be payable by you to Facebook under these Terms (including under any indemnities).
  10. .If you are providing (or allowing us to access) any data, content, or other information in connection with your use of Fan Subscriptions (collectively, “Supplemental Data”), then you grant us (and our affiliates) a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use such Supplemental Data. This license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions. You are responsible for obtaining the necessary rights from all applicable rights holders to grant this license.
  11. You are responsible for paying any applicable taxes owed with respect to any amounts you receive through your use of Fan Subscriptions. Facebook will charge you taxes with respect to such amounts if it is required to do so under applicable law.
  12. .Facebook can terminate or suspend your use of Fan Subscriptions at any time in our sole discretion, and we may change or stop offering Fan Subscriptions at any time in our sole discretion. In no event will we be liable in any way for terminating or suspending your use of Fan Subscriptions, for the discontinuation of Fan Subscriptions, for the removal of or disabling of access to content, or for the withdrawal of the content or Fan Subscriptions.
  13. .If you change what’s included in a Subscription in a way that could be considered material, you must give fans reasonable prior notice such that they have a reasonable opportunity to cancel their Subscriptions if they so choose, with the change only taking effect after their next Subscription fee payment.
  14. .If you are using Fan Subscription on behalf of a third party (including, but not limited to, as an agent or representative of a Creator), you represent and warrant that you have the authority as agent of such party to use such features on their behalf, agree to these Terms, and hereby bind such party to these Terms. You agree to indemnify and hold Facebook harmless from any claims, suits, losses, liabilities, damages, costs, and expenses resulting from your breach of the Terms. If you are accepting these Terms as admin of Facebook Business Manager for your business, these Terms shall apply to Content on all Facebook Pages and profiles owned or operated by your business at the time of acceptance and thereafter.
  15. .By using the Fan Subscriptions feature, you agree that we may communicate with you electronically any important information regarding your use of Fan Subscriptions, including without limitation as to Your Share and any payments. We may also provide notices to you by posting them on our website, or by sending them to an email address or street address that you previously provided to us. Website and email notices shall be considered received by you within 24 hours of the time posted or sent; notices by postal mail shall be considered received within three (3) business days of the time sent.
  16. .Facebook reserves the right to update these Terms from time to time. If any change to these Terms will materially disadvantage you, or materially affect the availability of the Subscription, we will provide you with notice before the changes become effective and you can choose to cancel your Subscription. Your continued use of this feature constitutes acceptance of those changes.
  17. .Fan Subscriptions is part of the “Facebook Products” under Facebook’s Terms of Service (“Facebook Terms”), and your use of Fan Subscriptions is deemed part of your use of Facebook Products. In the event of any express conflict between these Terms and the Facebook Terms, these Terms will govern solely with respect to your use of Fan Subscriptions and solely to the extent of the conflict. These Terms do not alter in any way the terms or conditions of any other agreement you may have with Facebook. Facebook reserves the right to monitor or audit your compliance with these Terms and to update these terms from time to time, and your continued use of Fan Subscriptions constitutes acceptance of those changes.

News Source = techcrunch.com

YouTube expands test of its Instagram-like Explore tab to more devices

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YouTube is expanding the test of its “Explore” feature, a new discovery tool it first introduced as an experiment within its iPhone app last year. Similar to Instagram’s Explore page, the new YouTube feature aims to introduce users to a diverse set of personalized recommendations so they can more easily find something new to watch. The test is now available across devices, and has been updated to also suggest smaller, up-and-coming YouTube creators, the company says.

The changes to Explore were announced in a recent Creator Insiders video, where the company shares ideas it’s thinking about or testing ahead of a public debut — like a change to the “dislike” button, for example.

Last year, the company published a video to Creator Insiders where it talked about a plan to develop a new place within the YouTube app that would help people broaden their horizons when looking for something different to watch.

Today, YouTube’s recommendation technology relies heavily on past viewing activity and other in-app behavior to make its content suggestions, the company explained. With the Explore tab, however, YouTube aims to widen recommendations to include various topics, videos and channels you may not have otherwise encountered.

For instance, the Explore section might recommend videos about high-end cameras after you watched videos about telescopes. Or it might recommend videos about kittens or puppies because you watched other animal videos.

When YouTube launched Explore last year, the test was only rolled out to 1 percent of YouTube’s iPhone app users.

On testers’ devices, Explore replaces the Trending tab in the app’s navigation at the bottom of the screen. The section of Trending videos then became just another sub-category within Explore, alongside other top-level sections like Gaming, Movies, Music, Originals and more.

While Explore was initially available only to iPhone users, the test has now gone live across devices, including iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets and on the desktop, YouTube confirmed to TechCrunch. But it’s still only available to a “small amount” of testers, the company says.

In addition, Explore has been updated to include a new section called “On the Rise,” which will feature up-and-coming YouTube creators.

Here, a shelf is shown showcasing creators with fewer than 10,000 subscribers. These suggestions are personalized to you, too, based on which channels you currently like and regularly watch.

Beneath the “Under 10K” section are other creators YouTube thinks you’ll like, based on your YouTube watch history as well as those whose channels are watched by other fans of your favorite creators.

These recommendations may include those channels with more than 10,000 subscribers, but there will be a cap on how many subscribers a creator can have to be categorized within this “On the Rise” section. (That cap is still TBD, though.)

We understand that while YouTube has expanded the experiment’s reach, it doesn’t yet have a definitive plan for rolling out to the public the Explore tab.

For now, Explore is still considered an experiment and the company is looking to gather more feedback before making a formal decision about the feature’s wider availability.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Online platforms still not clear enough about hate speech takedowns: EC

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In its latest monitoring report of a voluntary Code of Conduct on illegal hate speech, which platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube signed up to in Europe back in 2016, the European Commission has said progress is being made on speeding up takedowns but tech firms are still lagging when it comes to providing feedback and transparency around their decisions.

Tech companies are now assessing 89% of flagged content within 24 hours, with 72% of content deemed to be illegal hate speech being removed, according to the Commission — compared to just 40% and 28% respectively when the Code was first launched more than two years ago.

However it said today that platforms still aren’t giving users enough feedback vis-a-vis reports, and has urged more transparency from platforms — pressing for progress “in the coming months”, warning it could still legislate for a pan-EU regulation if it believes it’s necessary.

Giving her assessment of how the (still) voluntary code on hate speech takedowns is operating at a press briefing today, commissioner Vera Jourova said: “The only real gap that remains is transparency and the feedback to users who sent notifications [of hate speech].

“On average about a third of the notifications do not receive a feedback detailing the decision taken. Only Facebook has a very high standard, sending feedback systematically to all users. So we would like to see progress on this in the coming months. Likewise the companies should be more transparent towards the general public about what is happening in their platforms. We would like to see them make more data available about the notices and removals.”

“The fight against illegal hate speech online is not over. And we have no signs that such content has decreased on social media platforms,” she added. “Let me be very clear: The good results of this monitoring exercise don’t mean the companies are off the hook. We will continue to monitor this very closely and we can always consider additional measures if efforts slow down.”

Jourova flagged additional steps taken by the Commission to support the overarching goal of clearing what she dubbed a “sewage of words” off of online platforms, such as facilitating data-sharing between tech companies and police forces to help investigations and prosecutions of hate speech purveyors move forward.

She also noted it continues to provide Member States’ justice ministers with briefings on how the voluntary code is operating, warning again: “We always discuss that we will continue but if it slows down or it stops delivering the results we will consider some kind of regulation.”

Germany passed its own social media hate speech takedown law back in 2016, with the so-called ‘NetzDG’ law coming into force in early 2017. The law provides for fines as high as €50M for companies that fail to remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours and has led to social media platforms like Facebook to plough greater resource into locally sited moderation teams.

While, in the UK, the government announced a plan to legislate around safety and social media last year. Although it has yet to publish a White Paper setting out the detail of its policy plan.

Last week a UK parliamentary committee which has been investigating the impacts of social media and screen use among children recommended the government legislate to place a legal ‘duty of care’ on platforms to protect minors.

The committee also called for platforms to be more transparent, urging them to provide bona fide researchers with access to high quality anonymized data to allow for robust interrogation of social media’s effects on children and other vulnerable users.

Debate about the risks and impacts of social media platforms for children has intensified in the UK in recent weeks, following reports of the suicide of a 14 year old schoolgirl — whose father blamed Instagram for exposing her to posts encouraging self harm, saying he had no doubt content she’d been exposed to on the platform had helped kill her.

During today’s press conference, Jourova was asked whether the Commission intends to extend the Code of Conduct on illegal hate speech to other types of content that’s attracting concern, such as bullying and suicide. But she said the executive body is not intending to expand into such areas.

She said the Commission’s focus remains on addressing content that’s judged illegal under existing European legislation on racism and xenophobia — saying it’s a matter for individual Member States to choose to legislate in additional areas if they feel a need.

“We are following what the Member States are doing because we see… to some extent a fragmented picture of different problems in different countries,” she noted. “We are focusing on what is our obligation to promote the compliance with the European law. Which is the framework decision against racism and xenophobia.

“But we have the group of experts from the Member States, in the so-called Internet forum, where we speak about other crimes or sources of hatred online. And we see the determination on the side of the Member States to take proactive measures against these matters. So we expect that if there is such a worrying trend in some Member State that will address it by means of their national legislation.”

“I will always tell you I don’t like the fragmentation of the legal framework, especially when it comes to digital because we are faced with, more or less, the same problems in all the Member States,” she added. “But it’s true that when you [take a closer look] you see there are specific issues in the Member States, also maybe related with their history or culture, which at some moment the national authorities find necessary to react on by regulation. And the Commission is not hindering this process.

“This is the sovereign decision of the Member States.”

Four more tech platforms joined the voluntary code of conduct on illegal hate speech last year: — namely Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, Dailymotion. While French gaming platform Webedia (jeuxvideo.com) also announced their participation today.

Drilling down into the performance of specific platforms, the Commission’s monitoring exercise found that Facebook assessed hate speech reports in less than 24 hours in 92.6% of the cases and 5.1% in less than 48 hours. The corresponding performance figures for YouTube were 83.8 % and 7.9%; and for Twitter 88.3% and 7.3%, respectively.

While Instagram managed 77.4 % of notifications assessed in less than 24 hours. And Google+, which will in any case closes to consumers this April, managed to assess just 60%.

In terms of removals, the Commission found YouTube removed 85.4% of reported content, Facebook 82.4% and Twitter 43.5% (the latter constituting a slight decrease in performance vs last year). While Google+ removed 80.0% of the content and Instagram 70.6%.

It argues that despite social media platforms removing illegal content “more and more rapidly”, as a result of the code, this has not led to an “over-removal” of content — pointing to variable removal rates as an indication that “the review made by the companies continues to respect freedom of expression”.

“Removal rates varied depending on the severity of hateful content,” the Commission writes. “On average, 85.5% of content calling for murder or violence against specific groups was removed, while content using defamatory words or pictures to name certain groups was removed in 58.5 % of the cases.”

“This suggest that the reviewers assess the content scrupulously and with full regard to protected speech,” it adds.

It is also crediting the code with helping foster partnerships between civil society organisations, national authorities and tech platforms — on key issues such as awareness raising and education activities.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Privacy campaigner Schrems slaps Amazon, Apple, Netflix, others with GDPR data access complaints

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European privacy campaigner Max Schrems has filed a fresh batch of strategic complaints at tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube.

The complaints, filed via his non-profit privacy and digital rights organization, noyb, relate to how the services respond to data access requests, per regional data protection rules.

Article 15 of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides for a right of access by the data subject to information held on them.

The complaints contend tech firms are structurally violating this right — having built automated systems to respond to data access requests which, after being tested by noyb, failed to provide the user with all the relevant information they are legally entitled to.

noyb tested eight companies in all, in eight different countries in Europe, and says it found none of the services provided a satisfactory response. It’s filed formal complaints with the Austrian Data Protection Authority against the eight, which also include music and podcast platform SoundCloud; sports streaming service DAZN; and video on-demand platform Flimmit .

The complaints have been filed on behalf of ten users, per Article 80 of the GDPR which enables data subjects to be represented by a non-profit association such as noyb.

Here’s its breakdown of the responses its tests received — including the maximum potential penalty each could be on the hook for if the complaints are stood up:

Two of the companies, DAZN and SoundCloud, failed to respond at all, according to noyb. While the rest responded with only partial data.

noyb points out that in addition to getting raw data users have the right to know the sources, recipients and purposes for which their information is being processed. But only Flimmit and Netflix provided any background information (though again still not full data) in response to the test requests.

“Many services set up automated systems to respond to access requests, but they often don’t even remotely provide the data that every user has a right to,” said Schrems in a statement. “In most cases, users only got the raw data, but, for example, no information about who this data was shared with. This leads to structural violations of users’ rights, as these systems are built to withhold the relevant information.”

We’ve reached out to the companies for comment on the complaints.

Last May, immediately after Europe’s new privacy regulation came into force, noyb lodged its first series of strategic complaints — targeted at what it dubbed “forced consent”, arguing that Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google’s Android OS do not give users a free choice to consent to processing their data for ad targeting, as consenting is required to use the service.

Investigations by a number of data protection authorities into those complaints remain ongoing.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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