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ICYMI: Jan 11 - Jan 17

ICYMI: Jan 11 - Jan 17

ICYMI is posted every Monday recapping privacy news over the last week from around the web.

WhatsApp delays enforcement of privacy terms by 3 months, following backlash

WhatsApp said on Friday that it won’t enforce the planned update to its data-sharing policy until May 15, weeks after news about the new terms created confusion among its users, exposed the Facebook app to a potential lawsuit, triggered a nationwide investigation and drove tens of millions of its loyal fans to explore alternative messaging apps.

I'm not sure why Facebook is citing "confusion" as the driver behind the delay. There's nothing confusing about "we will share your data with other Facebook companies". Note, this was not the content of the messages but metadata, such as the time you talked to X person, how long you talked to them, how often you talked to them, location data when you were updating your status or talking to someone, etc.

Millions Flock to Telegram and Signal as Fears Grow Over Big Tech

At the same time, privacy worries rose over WhatsApp, which last week reminded users in a pop-up notification that it shares some of their data with its parent company. The notification set off a wave of anxiety, fueled by viral chain messages that falsely claimed that Facebook could read WhatsApp messages.

The result was a mass migration that, if it lasts, could weaken the power of Facebook and other big tech companies. On Tuesday, Telegram said it added more than 25 million users over the previous three days, pushing it to over 500 million users. Signal added nearly 1.3 million users on Monday alone, after averaging just 50,000 downloads a day last year, according to estimates from Apptopia, an app-data firm.

Great news. Even though I don't recommend using Telegram, more people becoming privacy conscious is never a bad thing. Signal and Threema are the way to go.

Ring trials customer video end-to-end encryption for smart doorbells

Ring says that videos are already encrypted in transit -- when footage is uploaded to the cloud -- and also when at rest, which is when footage is stored on Ring servers. However, the new feature will implement encryption at the home level, which can only be recovered by using a key stored locally on user mobile devices.

The company says the feature has been "designed so that only the customer can decrypt and view recordings on their enrolled device."

In order to enable the feature for Ring devices, users involved in the rollout can select this option from the Video Encryption page in the Ring app's control center.

It's opt in but it's cool they're trialing it. Still, don't use Ring anything.

macOS Big Sur 11.2 beta 2 removes filter that lets Apple apps bypass third-party firewalls

Back in November, some developers raised concerns due to a change in macOS Big Sur, which allowed Apple apps to bypass firewall filters in any situation. Since this could lead to security and privacy breaches, Apple has removed this list of exceptions from macOS Big Sur 11.2.

Awesome. This means applications like Little Snitch can go back to blocking Apple apps, services, and domains. As a side note, Windows users can use Glasswire and Linux users have Open Snitch for those looking for something similar on the other platforms.

Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo grew by 62% in 2020

In a statement to BleepingComputer, DuckDuckGo said that it recorded a 62% growth in average daily searches in 2020. So far, in January 2021, the search engine receives an average of 90 million search queries per day.

On January 11th, 2021, DuckDuckGo received 102,251,307 daily search queries, a record for the search engine.

All that DDG advertising I see and hear looks like it's paying off.

Want to join the discussion?  Check out this post, and others, over at the CupWire subreddit and leave a comment.