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European privacy activist noyb has filed a complaint to Data Protection Authorities in Germany and Spain against Apple due to its use of an opt-out tracking cookie on all iPhones. The issue is due to Apple’s tracking code “IDFA”.  IDFA (Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers) allows Apple and all apps on the phone to track a user and combine information about online and mobile behavior. Just like for cookies, this would require the users’ consent under EU law. Apple places these tracking codes without the knowledge or agreement of the users. By default, iOS automatically generates a unique “IDFA” (short for Identifier for Advertisers) for each iPhone. IDFA allows Apple and other third parties to identify users across applications and even connect online and mobile behavior (“cross-device tracking”). Apple’s operating system creates the IDFA without the user’s knowledge or consent. After its creation, Apple and third parties (e.g. application providers and advertisers) can access the IDFA to track users’ behavior, elaborate consumption preferences, and provide personalized advertising. noyb says such tracking is strictly regulated by the EU “Cookie Law” (Article 5(3) of the e-Privacy Directive) and requires the users’ informed and unambiguous consent. “EU law protects our devices from external tracking. Tracking is only allowed if users explicitly consent to it. This very simple rule applies regardless of the tracking technology used. While Apple introduced functions in their browser to block cookies, it places similar codes in its phones, without any consent by the user. This is a clear breach of EU privacy laws.” – Stefano Rossetti, privacy lawyer at The system is currently Opt-out, meaning users are automatically tracked. Recently Apple announced plans for future changes to the IDFA system to Opt-in. Just like when an app requests access to the camera or microphone, the plans foresee a new dialogue that asks the user if an app should be able to access the IDFA. These changes seem to restrict the use of the IDFA for third parties, but crucially not for Apple itself. The initial storage of the IDFA and Apple’s use of it will still be done without the users’ consent and therefore in breach of EU law. It is also unclear when and if these changes will restrict 3rd party developers will be implemented by the company. “We believe that Apple violated the law before, now and after these changes. With our complaints we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal unless a user freely consents. The IDFA should not only be restricted but permanently deleted. Smartphones are the most intimate device for most people and they must be tracker-free by default.” – Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at Google uses a similar tracking system, which is currently being reviewed by noyb. As the complaint is based on Article 5(3) of the e-Privacy Directive and not the GDPR, the Spanish and German authorities can directly fine Apple, without the need for cooperation among EU Data Protection Authorities as under GDPR. “These cases are based on the “old” cookie law and do not trigger the cooperation mechanism of the GDPR. In other words, we are trying to avoid endless procedures like the ones we are facing in Ireland,” said Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at noyb.euFor more visit OUR FORUM.

For obvious reasons I was eager to install Big Sur on my Mac, so you can imagine my frustration after having deleted enough data on my Mac to make room for the 12.2GB Big Sur download, experienced all the issues with the download on the day it launched, I then found that My Mac was demanding that it needed another 10GB space - a total of 35GB free for it to complete the installation. We've covered some of the other problems we had while trying to install Big Sur in another article. I am hardly alone in having a Mac with just a 128GB SSD, until earlier this year the majority of Apple's Macs were being sold with no more than a 128GB SSD. I think we can safely assume that most Macs out there are similarly limited. I've been frustrated by the lack of space on my Mac for some time and had been considering buying a new one, but it is disappointing to feel forced into an upgrade by Apple. Most annoying of all, when it comes to compatibility Apple nowhere states that Big Sur will need 35GB of free space to install. Apple does make it easy to remove some of the things that are taking up space on your Mac. You can go to the Apple menu > About This Mac and look at Storage. Here you will see something like I did: GB of space attributed to Apps, Messages, Mail, … if you click on Manage you can choose from various options to take space back on your Mac: e.g. store in iCloud, Optimise Storage, and so on. The Reduce Clutter option allows you to easily delete some of the things taking up the most storage. Read more about how to free space on a Mac. One option that might be of interest here is the ability to delete the images from Messages. If you have set up Messages so that all your texts appear on your Mac as well as your other device, all the images that are sent to you will be stored on your Mac. It's easy to delete these potentially freeing up some GB of storage. The problem is that when you have done all this you are still confronted with the mysterious Other and Other Volumes in Container. The latter two are the ones taking up the most space on our Mac - and frustratingly Apple doesn't make it easy for you to delete from these. There's a reason why Apple doesn't make it easy to delete things that fall under these sections - doing so could stop things working on your Mac. For peace of mind, you could try a solution like Clean My Mac which will offer to delete things for you safely. There's a free trial that will at least scan your system to tell you how much space you can save and what can be deleted, but you'll need to pay for the full version if you want it to delete it all for you. If you don't want to pay for that then we do have a guide to deleting from Other on the Mac.  Clean My Mac suggested we could save 6GB if it deleted Caches. We need 10GB so frankly we'd still be faced with deleting things we wanted to keep in order to make space. Another option would be to do a clean install - basically, wipe our Mac completely in order to install Big Sur. Of course, if we did that we'd have to download Big Sur again or create a bootable installer first. Frankly, all these options are fine if you are familiar with Macs and have time on your hands. But the majority of people limited by 128GB storage will not be comfortable doing this. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

While the same M1 chip is coming out in the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, the design of the mini gives us some forensic clues about how the M1 chip might be designed. The new M1 Mac mini is... hmm. It's not a slam dunk, but neither is it a complete WTF. It's ready enough for prime time for some tasks and carries the Apple Silicon question mark for other tasks. It's worth buying, but not for everyone or every workload. No, we're not talking about the money supply or a tank (other common uses of "M1"). Instead, our subject is the new CPU Apple introduced at this week's Apple Event. The M1 is an all-Apple design based on their mobile chips and the Arm architecture. And, yeah, it has potential. With high-performance and efficiency workload cores, with a deep commitment to on-silicon machine learning, and with an onboard GPU that shows some potential, this could be an architecture that leaves Intel behind. Just not so much yet. I talked previously about all the things that can go wrong in an architecture lift-and-shift. I also spoke about Apple's impressive track record of previous processor replacements in Macs. All that remains true after the Apple announcement. Big questions remain about how individual programs perform on the new M1. Some, like the Apple-developed juggernaut Final Cut Pro X, should perform exceptionally well. Others, like Photoshop and Fusion 360 - both mentioned in the Apple event - will either be ported to the new processor or be emulated. Performance on these, if mediocre now in Intel Rosetta 2 emulation, will undoubtedly get substantially better as their developers release updates. Virtual machines like Fusion, Parallels, and VirtualBox remain up in the air. Parallels is recruiting testers for its fully emulated version of the Intel instruction set on the M1. If you use a Mac and you rely on Windows in virtualization, you'll want to skip the M1 version, at least until the VM vendors finish their ports. After owning the 2018 Mac mini redesign, the new M1 is a bit of a letdown. We knew we'd probably see an Apple Silicon Mac mini early, simply because the developer kits released this summer were Mac mini-based. The Mac mini is a very versatile form factor, especially for those working at desks. It's definitely my favorite. I own five, ranging from 2011 to 2018. But the 2020 Mac mini takes a step backward from the Intel-based 2018 model. It loses two Thunderbolt 3 ports. The 2018 Intel model came with four Thunderbolt 3 ports and two USB-A ports. The 2020 M1 model keeps the USB-A ports, but provides only two Thunderbolt 3 ports. It also loses the ability to support 10Gb Ethernet. Yes, granted the 10Gb feature was an optional upgrade to the 2018 machine, but that upgrade is not available for the 2020 M1 machine. Another major issue is how the M1 appears to handle memory. RAM doesn't appear to be delivered via a separate module. It looks like the M1 comes out of the fab with not only in-chip video, but in-chip RAM. To be clear, in-chip RAM could well provide a strong performance boost. Bits that have to travel in and out of two separate chips will have a much larger propagation delay than bits that have to travel inside a single chip. So expect RAM performance to increase substantially. Apple tends to update its chips annually, and we can be pretty confident the M1 will be replaced by an M2 next year. While Apple has lauded the M1's performance, note that they have substantially restricted the amount of data that has to travel in and out the M1's ports. Each Thunderbolt 3 port can max out at 40Gb/s. The 10 Gb Ethernet port can theoretically max out at 10Gb, while the 1Gb maxes out at a tenth of that. Read this post in its entirety on OUR FORUM.

The European Commission is about to propose a “revolutionary” overhaul of digital regulation that could hurt the business models of Big Tech, industry experts told CNBC. The Digital Services Act, due to be presented in early December, is expected to overhaul the management of content on platforms like Google and Facebook and is the first of its kind since 2000. Broadly, the EU wants to make tech giants more responsible for the content on their platforms and to ensure that competitors have a fair chance to succeed against the big firms. “It’s revolutionary,” Thomas Vinje, a partner at the law firm Clifford Chance, told CNBC Tuesday. The upcoming rules are “likely to require dramatic changes in the business practices and even business models” of Big Tech, he said. Last month, Europe’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager outlined some of the changes that could be included in the new regulation. “The new rules will … require digital services, especially the biggest platforms, to be open about the way they shape the digital world that we see. They’ll have to report on what they’ve done to take down illegal material,” she said. “They’ll have to tell us how they decide what information and products to recommend to us, and which ones to hide, and give us the ability to influence those decisions, instead of simply having them made for us. And they’ll have to tell us who’s paying for the ads that we see, and why we’ve been targeted by a certain ad.” This would be massive for tech firms, which have refused to disclose their algorithms for years. “The strict prohibitions in discussion in the DSA are a tsunami in terms of how platforms do business in Europe,” Nicolas Petit, a competition law professor at the European University Institute said. into companies like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google over concerns that its market dominance is hindering competition. These probes have been mostly been led by Margrethe Vestager, who took over the competition portfolio in 2014. But real change as a result of these investigations is often elusive, with European officials frustrated by lengthy legal action. For instance, in 2017, the European Commission fined Google 2.4 billion euros ($2.81 billion) for promoting its own shopping comparison service rather than allowing similar access to rival companies. Google made some changes in the wake of that case, but a study by Lademann & Associates showed in September that not much has changed. According to the study, less than 1% of traffic through Google Shopping was transferring users to rival shopping websites. More recently, the Commission’s decision to ask Ireland (a member of the EU) to recoup 13 billion euros in unpaid taxes from Apple has been challenged. The EU’s general court decided in July that the Commission had failed to prove that the Irish government had given a tax advantage to Apple. The Commission has appealed that ruling, but it could be difficult for it to meet this burden of proof. “Perhaps the biggest challenge we face with enforcement is making sure that we have the right legal framework and powers to keep digital markets competitive and fair,” Vestager said in late October. Whatever the European Commission proposes next month will have to be signed off by member states and the European Parliament. “It should take several months before we have full legislation, which is an issue in a fast-moving tech market, but more importantly, the rules are only stepping one, with the enforcement of these rules the key issue,” Dexter Thillien, a senior industry analyst at Fitch Solutions, told CNBC via email. He added that Big Tech firms “will use the legislative process, and some have already started, to highlight the negative impact on innovation and the overall economy, to try and make the final rules less strict than the initial proposals.” Apart from some lobbying, however, there is nothing the tech giants can do to stop the new rules in the short-term, Clifford Chance’s Vinje said. “They don’t really have any friends here.” Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

Quantum computers are not yet creating business value, but CIOs should nonetheless lose no time in getting involved. Supermarket aisles filled with fresh produce are probably not where you would expect to discover some of the first benefits of quantum computing. But Canadian grocery chain Save-On-Foods has become an unlikely pioneer, using quantum technology to improve the management of in-store logistics. In collaboration with quantum computing company D-Wave, Save-On-Foods is using a new type of computing, which is based on the downright weird behavior of matter at the quantum level. And it's already seeing promising results. The company's engineers approached D-Wave with a logistics problem that classical computers were incapable of solving. Within two months, the concept had translated into a hybrid quantum algorithm that was running in one of the supermarket stores, reducing the computing time for some tasks from 25 hours per week down to mere seconds. Save-On-Foods is now looking at expanding the technology to other stores and exploring new ways that quantum could help with other issues. "We now have the capability to run tests and simulations by adjusting variables and see the results, so we can optimize performance, which simply isn't feasible using traditional methods," a Save-On-Foods spokesperson tells ZDNet. "While the results are outstanding, the two most important things from this are that we were able to use quantum computing to attack our most complex problems across the organization, and can do it on an ongoing basis." The remarkable properties of quantum computing boil down to the behavior of qubits -- the quantum equivalent of classical bits that encode information for today's computers in strings of 0s and 1s. But contrary to bits, which can be represented by either 0 or 1, qubits can take on a state that is quantum-specific, in which they exist as 0 and 1 in parallel or superposition. Qubits, therefore, enable quantum algorithms to run various calculations at the same time, and at an exponential scale: the more qubits, the more variables can be explored, and all in parallel. Some of the largest problems, which would take classical computers tens of thousands of years to explore with single-state bits, could be harnessed by qubits in minutes. The challenge lies in building quantum computers that contain enough qubits for useful calculations to be carried out. Qubits are temperamental: they are error-prone, hard to control, and always on the verge of falling out of their quantum state. Typically, scientists have to encase quantum computers in extremely cold, large-scale refrigerators, just to make sure that qubits remain stable. That's impractical, to say the least. This is, in essence, why quantum computing is still in its infancy. Most quantum computers currently work with less than 100 qubits, and tech giants such as IBM and Google are racing to increase that number in order to build a meaningful quantum computer as early as possible. Recently, IBM ambitiously unveiled a roadmap to a million-qubit system and said that it expects a fault-tolerant quantum computer to be an achievable goal during the next ten years. Although it's early days for quantum computing, there is still plenty of interest from businesses willing to experiment with what could prove to be a significant development. "Multiple companies are conducting learning experiments to help quantum computing move from the experimentation phase to commercial use at scale," Ivan Ostojic, partner at consultant McKinsey, tells ZDNet. Certainly, tech companies are racing to be seen as early leaders. IBM's Q Network started running in 2016 to provide developers and industry professionals with access to the company's quantum processors, the latest of which, a 65-qubit device called Hummingbird, was released on the platform last month. Recently, US multinational Honeywell took its first steps on the quantum stage, making the company's trapped-ion quantum computer available to customers over the cloud. Rigetti Computing, which has been operating since 2017, is also providing cloud-based access to a 31-qubit quantum computer. Complete details are posted on OUR FORUM.

There are times when corporations lose their temper. Well, they're people too. In Microsoft's case, it's people and politics that are driving the company crazy. I'm quite used to hearing that Microsoft has annoyed someone. Usually, it's a Windows user who's angry about Redmond's keenness to slip unwanted products onto their screens. I was rather moved, then, to hear that Microsoft itself is enduring conniptions of the most fundamental kind. You see, the company recently commissioned research company YouGov to ask 5,000 registered voters about their innermost feelings. One or two deeply felt highlights emerged. 90% of respondents admitted they're worried every time they share their information online. 70% privately pointed their fingers at the US government. They said it isn't doing enough to protect their personal data. A similar 70% said they'd like to see the next administration enact privacy legislation. How do I know this made Microsoft angry? Well, these details come from a bracingly seething blog post -- published this week -- from the company's "Corporate Vice-President For Global Privacy and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Privacy Officer." Extraordinarily, we're talking about just one person with all those titles, Julie Brill. She doesn't think the US government is doing brilliantly. Brill tried to rein in her irksome. She began by talking about the importance of data in our new, more domestically confined world. She said: "Data is critical not just in rebuilding our economy but in helping us understand societal inequalities that have contributed to dramatically higher rates of sickness and death among Black communities and other communities of color due to COVID-19. Data can also help us focus resources on rebuilding a more just, fair, and equitable economy that benefits all." A fundamental problem said Brill is the lack of trust in society today. In bold letters, she declared: "The United States has fallen far behind the rest of the world in privacy protection." I can't imagine it's fallen behind Russia, but how poetic if that was true. Still, Brill really isn't happy with our government: "In total, over 130 countries and jurisdictions have enacted privacy laws. Yet, one country has not done so yet: the United States." Brill worries our isolation isn't too splendid. She mused: "In contrast to the role our country has traditionally played on global issues, the US is not leading, or even participating in, the discussion over common privacy norms." That's like Microsoft not participating in the creation of excellent smartphones. It's not too smart. Brill fears other parts of the world will continue to lead in privacy, while the US continues to lead in inaction and chaos. It sounds like the whole company is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. Yet it's not as if Microsoft has truly spent the last 20 years championing privacy much more than most other big tech companies. In common with its west coast brethren, it's been too busy making money. Brill is undeterred. She tried to offer good news. Some states are taking the matter of privacy into their own jurisdictions. And then she offers words of hope that, to this reader at least, swim in baths of sarcasm: "There are also signs of real interest among some members of Congress." Real interest among members of Congress can often feel like real sincerity. You hope it's there, but you suspect it's not. Yet I sense Brill doesn't have too much hope in governmental action. So, spurred again by the company's research, she turned to the corporate world. "The YouGov study found that significantly more people believe companies bear the primary responsibility for protecting data privacy -- not the government," she said. Yet what do those companies do? They make privacy controls your responsibility, dear citizen. Full details are posted on OUR FORUM.