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Europe agrees platform guidelines to deal with unfair enterprise practices

Raghav Jain

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The European Union’s political establishments have reached settlement over new guidelines designed to spice up transparency round on-line platform companies and curb unfair practices to help merchants and different companies that depend on digital intermediaries for discovery and gross sales.

The European Fee proposed a regulation for equity and transparency in on-line platform buying and selling final April. And late yesterday the European Parliament, Council of the EU and Fee reached a political deal on regulating the enterprise setting of platforms, saying the accord in a press launch at this time.

The political settlement paves the best way for adoption and publication of the regulation, doubtless later this yr. The principles will apply 12 months after that time.

On-line platform intermediaries corresponding to ecommerce marketplaces and search engines like google are coated by the brand new guidelines if they supply providers to companies established within the EU and which supply items or providers to shoppers situated within the EU.

The Fee estimates there are some 7,000 such platforms and marketplaces which shall be coated by the regulation, noting this consists of “world giants in addition to very small begin-ups”.

To be clear, the regulation doesn’t goal each on-line platform. For instance, it doesn’t cowl internet advertising (or b2b advert exchanges), cost providers, search engine optimization providers or providers that don’t intermediate direct transactions between companies and shoppers.

The Fee additionally notes that on-line retailers that promote their very own model merchandise and/or don’t depend on third social gathering sellers on their very own platform are additionally excluded from the regulation, comparable to retailers of manufacturers or supermarkets.

On platforms the place the brand new guidelines do apply, sudden and sudden account suspensions might be banned — with the Fee saying platforms should present “clear causes” for any termination and in addition prospects for attraction.

Phrases and circumstances should even be “simply out there and offered in plain and intelligible language”.

There should even be advance discover of modifications — of no less than 15 days, with longer discover durations making use of for extra complicated modifications.

For serps the main target is on rating transparency. And on that entrance dominant search engine Google has attracted greater than its justifiable share of criticism in Europe from a variety of rivals (not all of whom are European).

In 2017, the search big was additionally slapped with a $2.7BN antitrust advantageous associated to its worth comparability service, Google Buying. The EC discovered Google had systematically given outstanding placement to its personal search comparability service whereas additionally demoting rival providers in search outcomes. (Google rejects the findings and is interesting.)

Provided that historical past, the brand new transparency provisions look meant to make it more durable for a dominant search participant to make use of its market energy towards rivals.

Altering the web market

The significance of legislating for platform equity was additionally flagged by the Fee’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, final summer time — when she handed Google one other very giant advantageous ($5BN) for anti-aggressive conduct associated to its cellular platform Android.

Vestager stated then she wasn’t positive breaking Google up would be an efficient competitors repair, preferring to push for cures to help “extra gamers to have an actual go”, as her Android choice makes an attempt to do. However she additionally confused the significance of “laws that may guarantee that you’ve transparency and equity within the enterprise to platform relationship”.

If companies have authorized means to seek out out why, for instance, their visitors has stopped and what they will do to get it again that may “change the marketplace, and it’ll change the best way we’re protected as shoppers but in addition as companies”, she argued.

Simply such a change is now in sight because of EU political accord on the difficulty.

The regulation represents the primary such guidelines for on-line platforms in Europe and — commissioners’ contend — anyplace on the earth.

“Our goal is to outlaw a few of the most unfair practices and create a benchmark for transparency, on the similar time safeguarding the good benefits of on-line platforms each for shoppers and for companies,” stated Andrus Ansip, VP for the EU’s Digital Single Market initiative in a press release.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, commissioner for inner market, business, entrepreneurship, and SMEs, added that the principles are “particularly designed with the hundreds of thousands of SMEs in thoughts”.

“Lots of them would not have the bargaining muscle to enter right into a dispute with an enormous platform, however with these new guidelines they’ve a brand new security internet and can not fear about being randomly kicked off a platform, or intransparent rating in search outcomes,” she stated in one other supporting assertion.

In a factsheet concerning the new guidelines, the Fee specifies they cowl third-social gathering ecommerce market locations (e.g. Amazon Market, eBay, Fnac Market, and so forth.); app shops (e.g. Google Play, Apple App Retailer, Microsoft Retailer and so on.); social media for enterprise (e.g. Fb pages, Instagram utilized by makers/artists and so forth.); and worth comparability instruments (e.g. Skyscanner, Google Purchasing and so on.).

The place transparency is worried, the principles require that marketplaces and serps disclose the primary parameters they use to rank items and providers on their website “to assist sellers perceive methods to optimise their presence” — with the Fee saying the regulation goals to strike a stability of supporting sellers with out permitting gaming of the rating system.

Some platform enterprise practices may even require obligatory disclosure — corresponding to for platforms that not solely present a market for sellers however promote on their platform themselves, as does Amazon for instance.

The ecommerce big’s use of service provider knowledge stays beneath scrutiny within the EU. Vestager revealed a preliminary antitrust probe of Amazon final fall — when she stated her division was gathering info to “attempt to get a full image”.

She stated her concern is twin platforms might achieve an unfair benefit as a consequence of entry to retailers’ knowledge. And, once more, the incoming transparency guidelines look meant to shrink that danger — requiring what the Fee couches as exhaustive disclosure of “any benefit” a platform might give to their very own merchandise over others.

“They need to additionally disclose what knowledge they gather, and the way they use it — and particularly how such knowledge is shared with different enterprise companions they’ve,” it continues, noting additionally that: “The place private knowledge is worried, the principles of the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] apply.”

(GDPR in fact locations additional transparency necessities on platforms by, for instance, empowering people to request any private knowledge held on them, in addition to the the reason why their info is being processed.)

The platform regulation additionally consists of new avenues for dispute decision by requiring platforms arrange an inner grievance-dealing with system to help enterprise customers.

“Solely the smallest platforms when it comes to head rely or turnover shall be exempt from this obligation,” the Fee notes. (The exemption restrict is about at fewer than 50 employees and fewer than €10M income.)

It additionally says: “Platforms should present companies with extra choices to resolve a possible drawback by means of mediators. It will assist resolve extra points out of courtroom, saving companies money and time.”

However, on the similar time, the brand new guidelines permit enterprise associations to take platforms to courtroom to cease any non-compliance — mirroring a provision within the GDPR which additionally permits for collective enforcement and redress of particular person privateness rights (the place Member States undertake it).

“This can assist overcome worry of retaliation, and decrease the price of courtroom instances for particular person companies, when the brand new guidelines are usually not adopted,” the Fee argues.

“As well as, Member States can appoint public authorities with enforcement powers, if they want, and companies can flip to these authorities.”

One element of the regulation that seems to be being left as much as EU Member States to deal with is penalties for non-compliance — with no clear regime of fines set out (as there’s in GDPR). So it’s not clear whether or not the platform regulation won’t have relatively extra bark than chew, at the least initially.

“Member States shall have to take measures which might be sufficiently dissuasive to make sure that the web intermediation platforms and search engines like google adjust to the necessities within the Regulation,” the Fee writes in a piece of its factsheet coping with how to ensure platforms respect the brand new guidelines.

It additionally factors once more to the supply permitting enterprise associations or organisations to take motion in nationwide courts on behalf of members — saying this presents a authorized path to “cease or prohibit non-compliance with a number of of the necessities of the Regulation”. So, er, anticipate lawsuits.

The Fee says the principles will probably be topic to evaluation inside 18 months after they arrive into drive — in a bid to make sure the regulation retains tempo with quick-paced tech developments.

A devoted On-line Platform Observatory has been established within the EU for the aim of “monitoring the evolution of the market and the efficient implementation of the principles”, it provides.

Tech Passionate and Heavy Geek! Into Blogging world since 2014 and never looked back since then :) I am also a YouTube Video Producer and a Aspiring Entrepreneur. Founder, MyDroidDoes

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Android

Those crappy pre-installed Android apps can be full of security holes

Raghav Jain

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If you’ve ever bought an Android phone, there’s a good chance you booted it up to find it pre-loaded with junk you definitely didn’t ask for.

These pre-installed apps can be clunky, annoying to remove, rarely updated… and, it turns out, full of security holes.

Security firm Kryptowire built a tool to automatically scan a large number of Android devices for signs of security shortcomings and, in a study funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ran it on phones from 29 different vendors. Now, the majority of these vendors are ones most people have never heard of — but a few big names like Asus, Samsung and Sony make appearances.

Kryptowire says they found vulnerabilities of all different varieties, from apps that can be forced to install other apps, to tools that can be tricked into recording audio, to those that can silently mess with your system settings. Some of the vulnerabilities can only be triggered by other apps that come pre-installed (thus limiting the attack vector to those along the supply chain); others, meanwhile, can seemingly be triggered by any app the user might install down the road.

Kryptowire has a full list of observed vulnerabilities here, broken down by type and manufacturer. The firm says it found 146 vulnerabilities in all.

As Wired points out, Google is well aware of this potential attack route. In 2018 it launched a program called the Build Test Suite (or BTS) that all partner OEMs must pass. BTS scans a device’s firmware for any known security issues hiding amongst its pre-installed apps, flagging these bad apps as Potentially Harmful Applications (or PHAs). As Google puts it in its 2018 Android security report:

OEMs submit their new or updated build images to BTS. BTS then runs a series of tests that look for security issues on the system image. One of these security tests scans for pre-installed PHAs included in the system image. If we find a PHA on the build, we work with the OEM partner to remediate and remove the PHA from the build before it can be offered to users.

During its first calendar year, BTS prevented 242 builds with PHAs from entering the ecosystem.

Anytime BTS detects an issue we work with our OEM partners to remediate and understand how the application was included in the build. This teamwork has allowed us to identify and mitigate systemic threats to the ecosystem.

Alas, one automated system can’t catch everything — and when an issue does sneak by, there’s no certainty that a patch or fix will ever arrive (especially on lower-end devices, where long-term support tends to be limited).

We reached out to Google for comment on the report, but have yet to hear back.

Update — Google’s response:

We appreciate the work of the research community who collaborate with us to responsibly fix and disclose issues such as these.

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Is It Safe To Play Casino Through Mobile App?

Raghav Jain

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play casino through mobile

Have you ever played online casino through Mobile and place wagers on sports events? If you have, you’ll agree that playing on the go from wherever you are, 24 hours a day, takes gambling to new levels! If you’ve not yet tried mobile casino gaming, this is the perfect time to start! Never before have there been so many top quality online mobile casinos available to choose from. Many online casinos these days have made a dedicated app available for players that enjoy a few rounds of Baccarat or the slots while on a busy commute or even while waiting for the dentist to call your name!

However, some people have expressed concern over the safety of installing software on their mobile device, but there’s no need to be concerned. If you download an app from a reputable casino, you’re in the safest of hands. Most review sites only list casinos that are trusted and meet the safety and security protocol that make a top quality casino. Through high technology SSL encryption services, downloading an app is very safe, the connection is secure and there’s no risk of malware or viruses ending up on your mobile device.

How To Download An App

Downloading mobile casino apps to play casino games such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Poker or Roulette on your Windows, Android or iOS device is not only very convenient, but also very easy to do. Casino apps are designed to provide all of the features that would normally be enjoyed on a desktop PC as well as offer extra features that are built into the hardware for flawless gambling on the go from wherever you are, at any time of the day or night.

You can download a casino app directly onto your mobile or tablet from the App Store for iOS platforms like the iPhone and iPad, or through the Google Play Store for Android devices and tablets.

Is There A Charge To Download A Casino Via An App?

Casino apps are available for download at no cost to players. There are essentially two types of apps you can download. The first is where you can play casino games for real money and the other way offers social casinos where you can enjoy your favourites games for free. You won’t have to make a real money deposit, and it goes without saying that although you won’t win any money, you won’t lose any either. Free casinos are great to practice your gaming skills before you play real money games.

Must I Register?

Registration is always required for real money casino games. After downloading the app, you’ll be required to register your personal information and make your first deposit. You’ll be able to claim a Welcome Bonus and even free spins, access the cashier, chat to the customer service team and take part in regular promotions and tournaments. Join the app revolution and download your casino today for free!

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Brave launches version 1.0 of its privacy-focused browser

Raghav Jain

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Brave, the company co-founded by ex-Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after his ouster from the organization in 2014, today launched version 1.0 of its browser for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. In a browser market where users are spoiled for choice, Brave is positioning itself as a fast option that preserves users’ privacy with strong default settings, as well as a crypto currency-centric private ads and payment platform that allows users to reward content creators.

As the company announced last month, it now has about 8 million monthly active users. Its Brave Rewards program, which requires opt-in from users and publishers, currently has about 300,000 publishers on board. Most of these are users with small followings on YouTube and Twitter, but large publishers like Wikipedia, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate and the LA Times are also part of the ecosystem. Using this system, which not every publisher is going to like, the browser will show a small number of ads as a notification in a separate private ad tab, based on the user’s browsing habits. Users then receive 70% of what the advertisers spend on ads, while Brave keeps 30%.

As users view these ads, they start earning Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), Brave’s cryptocurrency, which they can keep or give to publishers. In its early days, Brave actually started with Bitcoin as the currency for this, but as Eich noted, that quickly became too expensive (and because the price was going up, users wanted to hold on to the Bitcoin instead of donating it).

Brave also comes with a built-in ad blocker that is probably among the most effective in the industry, as well as extensive anti-tracking features. “Everybody’s bothered by the sense of being tracked and bothered by bad ads,” Eich told me. “But I think ad aesthetics are not the problem. It’s the tracking and the cost of tracking which is multifarious. There’s page load time, running the radio to load the tracking scripts that load the other scripts that load the scripts that load the ads, that drains your battery, too.” Eich argues that with Brave, the team found a way to tie this all together with anti-tracking technology and an approach to ad blocking that goes beyond the industry-standard blocklists and also uses machine learning to identify additional rules for blocking.

For those users that really want to be anonymous on the web, Brave also features a private browsing mode, just like every other browser, but with the added twist that you can also open a private session through the Tor network, which will make it very hard for most companies to identify you.

At its core, Brave is simply a fast, extensible Chromium-based browser. That’s also what the company believes will sell it to users. “The way you get users, […] I think speed is the first one that works across the largest number of users. But you can’t just leave it at speed. You want to have all your benefits tied up in a pretty knot and that’s what we have done,” he said. For Brave, speed and ad/tracking protection are obviously interconnected, and all the other benefits accrue from that.

Looking beyond version 1.0, the Brave team plans to implement better sync, with support for tab and history syncing, for example. Brave also aims to make participating in Brave Rewards an experience with much lower friction for the user. In the early days, before it was on Android, the opt-in rate was around 40%, Eich told me, and the team wants to get it back to that.

If you want to give Brave a try, you can download it here.

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