Apple Begins Storing Users’ Data on Servers in China

15-Aug-2014

Originally from Re/cod Daily — Apple has begun keeping the personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China, marking the first time the tech giant is storing user data on Chinese soil.

The storage of user data in China represents a departure from the policies of some technology companies, notably Google, which has long refused to build data centers in China due to censorship and privacy concerns.

Apple said the move was part of an effort to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service, which lets users store pictures, e-mail and other data. Positioning data centers as close to customers as possible means faster service.

The data will be kept on servers provided by China Telecom, the country’s third-largest wireless carrier, Apple said in a statement on Friday.

Apple takes user security and privacy very seriously,” it said. “We have added China Telecom to our list of data center providers to increase bandwidth and improve performance for our customers in mainland China. All data stored with our providers is encrypted. China Telecom does not have access to the content.”

A source with knowledge of the situation said the encryption keys for Apple’s data on China Telecom servers would be stored offshore and not made available to China Telecom.

Apple has said it has devised encryption systems for services such as iMessage that even Apple itself cannot unlock. But some experts expressed skepticism that Apple would be able to withhold user data in the event of a government request.

“If they’re making out that the data is protected and secure that’s a little disingenuous because if they want to operate a business here, that’d have to comply with demands from the authorities,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, director of Danwei.com, a research firm focused on Chinese media, internet and consumers.

“On the other hand if they don’t store Chinese user data on a Chinese server they’re basically risking a crackdown from the authorities.”

Goldkorn added that data stored in the United States is subject to similar U.S. regulations where the government can use court orders to demand private data.

A spokesman for China Telecom declined to comment.

With its rising middle class, China has become an increasingly important market for Apple. Sales of the iPhone rose almost 50 percent in China in the three months ended June and salvaged an otherwise lackluster quarter for the Cupertino company.

Other companies have opted not to situate servers in China, where they would have to comply with local laws.

Google publicly abandoned China in 2010 and moved its services, including its search engine, to Hong Kong-based servers after refusing to comply with Chinese government censorship. Microsoft also does not have servers for its email service in China.

Yahoo came under criticism in 2005 after it handed to Chinese authorities emails that led to the imprisonment of Shi Tao, a journalist who obtained and leaked an internal censorship order the government had sent Chinese media.

“China doesn’t want any digital service offered to Chinese people to be hosted offshore,” said Goldkorn. “I suppose it was inevitable that Apple had to comply if they were using foreign servers for Chinese user data.”

In July, Apple’s iPhone was branded a danger to China’s national security by state media, because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations. Apple denied tracking user locations.

Apple has frequently come under fire from Chinese state media, which accused the company of providing user data to U.S. intelligence agencies and have called for “severe punishment.”

The U.S. company has strongly denied working with any government agencies to create back doors into its products or servers. “We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will,” Apple has previously stated.

News of the China Telecom deal emerged Thursday after a local government website in the southeastern province of Fujian announced that iCloud had migrated to China Telecom’s servers after 15 months of rigorous testing and review. The website article is no longer available on the site.

(Reporting by Gerry Shih and Paul Carsten; additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; editing by Ryan Woo and Sophie Walker.)

UHDTV Kickoff – maybe a little earlY?

8/06/2014 04:15:00 PM Eastern

Minneapolis — Best Buy, in concert with LG, Samsung and Sony, will kick off a comprehensive 13-week consumer awareness campaign to help drive Ultra HD TV adoption beginning this Saturday.

Additional vendors are expected to join the Ultra HD initiative in the coming weeks.

The effort, dubbed “Believing Begins Here,” was developed with input from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and will include Best Buy-driven TV ads, digital marketing, buyers’ guides and educational videos.

But the centerpiece of the program will be in-store demonstrations at 50 Best Buy locations in 11 major markets nationwide, to be held each Saturday from Aug. 9 through Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Initially, field market teams from LG, Samsung and Sony will variously conduct the interactive tutorials, along with specially trained Blueshirt associates.

Best Buy TV merchant director Luke Motschenbacher said a key focus of the demos will be the ability of the Ultra HD sets to up-scale 1080p content to near 4K quality. “We’re educating customers to the fact that they can buy with confidence now,” he told TWICE, and have a future-proof product in place when native content becomes more plentiful.

The Saturday sessions will be complemented by a running schedule of manufacturer promotions and in-store sweepstakes. The latter will include prizes ranging from Best Buy gift cards to an LG, Samsung or Sony 55-inch Ultra HD TV replete with installation and a Geek Squad service plan.

Motschenbacher said the campaign leverages Best Buy’s recently remodeled home theater departments, which number 500 Samsung A/V shops, 350 Sony Experience sections and separate showcase displays for LG models, along with soundbar and loudspeaker listening stations and a dedicated accessories area.

Additional vendors are expected to join the program by early fall, he said.

According to Best Buy spokeswoman Lisa Hawks, the campaign’s participants are investing in the program jointly, and utilized guidelines developed by a CEA communications working group to help present a consistent consumer message.

CEA has been an active proponent of Ultra HD, and has worked behind the scenes and in the field to educate both consumers and retailers about the benefits of the advanced display technology. Jeff Joseph, CEA’s communications and strategic relationships senior VP, lauded Best Buy for lending its national footprint to the effort, and said the added participation of multiple manufacturers “underscores the industry’s commitment to the category” and the momentum it’s enjoying.

Hawks said the campaign’s launch was timed to the start of the football season, with college games beginning Aug. 28 and the NFL season kicking off on Sept. 4. Targeted markets include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

She added that the awareness initiative, in combination with “dramatic” price drops, will help make Ultra HD TV a key category for the football and holiday seasons.

Indeed, Stephen Baker, industry analysis VP for the NPD Group, observed during TWICE’s recent “Christmas In July” webinar that Ultra HD TV is already poised to exceed holiday expectations. “We have no doubts that UHD/4K will be extremely successful and add significant revenue to a TV market under pressure,” he wrote in a follow-up blog.

– See more at: http://www.twice.com/news/retail/exclusive-best-buy-vendors-launch-ultra-hd-awareness-campaign/49801#sthash.1bYiGu16.dpuf

 

Facebook Messenger APP | out-of-control??

Giving permission that’s way outside consciousness.  How many other APPS allow this and you don’t even know it?

From a post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-fiorella/the-insidiousness-of-face_b_4365645.html

********* a synopsis  ***********

If you’re one of those 1,000,000,000 people who have downloaded this app, take a moment to read the following. Word for word, here are a few of the most aggressive app permission you’ve accepted.

  • Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to read you phone’s call log, including data about incoming and outgoing calls. This permission allows apps to save your call log data, and malicious apps may share call log data without your knowledge.
  • Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.
  • Allows the app to read personal profile information stored on your device, such as your name and contact information. This means the app can identify you and may send your profile information to others.
  • Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.
  • Allows the app to get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed.

“….the only privacy you have is that which is kept only in your mind” – k paulsen 2014

Better Pixels to Come – or maybe to Some (?)

Deborah D. McAdams / 07.16.2014 04:08PM

EBU Sets a Path to 4KTV

Better pixels to come

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—More pixels won’t cut the mustard for the European Broadcasting Union, which wants to see better pixels become a part of the standard for ultra high-definition TV.

“The [technical committee] believes that the current ‘4K ultra HD’ approach of the consumer electronics industry is unsatisfactory and will be of limited success in broadcasting,” the EBU said in its recent policy statement on UHDTV.

The better pixel argument has been circulating among video engineers since the advent of 4KTV. The premise is that higher frame rate, dynamic range, greater color gamut provides more noticeable picture improvement than simply more pixels. There is ongoing debate on whether or not higher resolution alone is even discernible by the average viewer in the average living room.

Televisions being marketed and sold now as “ultra HD” are simply higher res than hi-def, that is, 3,840×2,160 pixels versus 1,920×1,080 or 1,280×720. The EBU cited Display Search projection that 12 percent of TV sets sold next year will be the higher-res 4K sets.

“The EBU Technical Committee believes that the current focus of the [consumer electronics] industry to provide only an increased resolution—4K—and ignoring other enhancements is not a sufficiently large step for the introduction of successful new broadcasting services,” the statement said.

“The DVB Project has specified that a Phase 1 UHDTV broadcast format shall only include the higher resolution and does not take into account other enhanced parameters for ‘better pixels.’ The parameters—or a combination of them—that provide a more immersive viewing experience, such as frame rate, dynamic range, color gamut and enhanced audio are to be considered for a DVB Phase 2 UHDTV broadcast format,” the EBU said.

The EBU noted that YouTube, Netflix and Amazon already could deliver enhanced 4K (with adequate bandwidth). Meanwhile, NHK in Japan is working on delivery 8KTV for the 2020 Olympics.

“The impact of this on the rest of the world is unclear,” the EBU said.

A complete migration to 4K is not expected any time soon, particularly since many operations are not yet capturing and/or transmitting in HD. There’s also the issue of missing pieces, EBU said:

“Mainstream production infrastructures for 4K and UHDTV are still in development…. Many different combinations of parameters are currently under discussion and key interoperability standards are still missing.”

EBU also said better pixels for HD was worth exploring.

“An enhanced, 1080p-based, HD service that includes a certain combination of UHDTV parameters except for the resolution increase, e.g. higher frame rate, higher dynamic range, wider colorimetry and advanced sound system audio, is not yet standardized,” it said.

“Such a 1080p-based HD format could be an appealing option for some broadcasters and should be taken into account in the standardization and investigation process. The EBU proposes that an enhanced 1080p format be developed for broadcasting.”

See EBU Policy Statement on Ultra High Definition Television.”

 

Amazon Launches New Tiny Cloud VM Instances

July 1, 2014 | Amazon Web Services launched T2, a set of cloud compute instances suited for low-impact applications, such as remote desktops, development environments, small databases and low-traffic web sites. The instances can burst up to higher power if needed through CPU credits.

The feature is yet another attempt to “right-size” Amazon cloud servers to give users confidence that they are using and paying for only the capacity they need. Very often customers will provision enough capacity to handle peak demand periods and pay for it throughout, even though most of that capacity remains unused most of the time.

“In many of these cases, long periods of low CPU utilization are punctuated by bursts of full-throttle, pedal-to-the-floor processing that can consume an entire CPU core,” writes Amazon chief evangelist Jeff Barr on the AWS Blog. “Many of these workloads are cost-sensitive as well.”  https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/low-cost-burstable-ec2-instances/

He used a car analogy: “Even though the speedometer in my car maxes out at 150 MPH, I rarely drive at that speed (and the top end may be more optimistic than realistic), but it is certainly nice to have the option to do so when the time and the circumstances are right.”

Like a car that rarely tops out, the new instances are for compute workloads with modest demands for continuous compute power that occasionally need more.

They have a “Baseline Performance”, which indicates the percentage of single-core performance of the underlying physical CPU allocated to the instance. Each instance also comes with CPU credits-per-hour, which indicates the rate of credits that the instance receives each hour when the instance doesn’t use its baseline allocation of CPU.

The credits are spent when the instance is active and unused credits are stored for up to 24 hours. The higher the baseline, the more credits the instance accumulates.

A t2.small instance has access to 20 percent of a single core of an Intel Xeon processor running at 2.5 GHz (up to 3.3 GHz in Turbo mode). A t2.medium has access to 40 percent of the performance of a single core, which the operating can use on one or both cores as dictated by demand. The smallest, t2.micro, has 10-percent baseline performance.

Barr noted that the new instances are perfect for business processes that need a burst of CPU power at regular but infrequent intervals and dynamic web sites that received unpredictable bursts of traffic, like some external news drawing a response, getting linked on Reddit (called the “Reddit hug of death”) or inclement weather.

Credits will continue to accumulate if they aren’t used, until they reach the level which represents an entire day’s worth of baseline accumulation. If you’re constantly maxing out on credits, you can switch down to a smaller-size instance.