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    X “unfit” for banking because of complicity in Saudi spying, lawyers argue / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 18:34 · 1 minute

X “unfit” for banking because of complicity in Saudi spying, lawyers argue

Enlarge (credit: Manuel Augusto Moreno | Moment )

Just two weeks after Elon Musk took over Twitter in fall 2022, he told employees that his big plan to save the social media platform from bankruptcy was to turn it into a bank . Since then, he has rebranded the platform as X, and banking regulators in eight US states have approved his applications for money-transmitting licenses.

Now, as X continues filing for money-transmitting licenses— in pursuit of turning X into an "everything app," a one-stop destination where users bank, shop, communicate, and basically spend all their time online—US banking regulators are being urged to reconsider approving X's applications to provide financial services, The Guardian reported . And Ars confirmed that states that already granted licenses are being pressured to revoke them.

In an open letter reviewed by Ars, lawyers at Walden Macht & Haran LLP—who are representing a Saudi family suing Twitter/X —warned both “attorneys general and banking commissioners across 50 states” that Musk's company should be considered "unfit" to hold banking licenses. They alleged that X is unfit for banking due to its alleged treatment of users’ personal data and "intentional complicity" in human rights violations. These grievances, The Guardian reported, also call into question whether X "can be trusted to abide by federal and state laws protecting consumer data and records."

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    Connected cars are a “privacy nightmare,” Mozilla Foundation says / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 15:41

the interior of a car with a lot of networking icons overlayed on the image

Enlarge / Your car's maker can collect data on you from many different sources. (credit: Getty Images)

Today, the Mozilla Foundation published its analysis of how well automakers handle the privacy of data collected by their connected cars, and the results will be unlikely to surprise any regular reader of Ars Technica. The researchers were horrified by their findings , stating that "cars are the worst product category we have ever reviewed for privacy."

Mozilla looked at 25 car brands and found that all of them collected too much personal data, and from multiple sources—monitoring not just which buttons you push or what you do in any of the infotainment system's apps but also data from other sources like satellite radio or third-party maps. Or even when you connect your phone—remember that prompt asking you if you wanted to share all your contacts and notes with your car when you connected it via Bluetooth?

While some gathered data seems innocuous or even helpful—feedback to improve cabin ergonomics and UIs, for example—some data is decidedly not.

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    Montana’s best defense of TikTok ban is deeply flawed, experts say / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 21:32

Montana’s best defense of TikTok ban is deeply flawed, experts say

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket )

Over the next few months, Montana must prove that it has the power to do what the federal government has so far only tried and failed to do: ban TikTok.

While TikTok and several state-based app users have claimed that the state's TikTok ban is unconstitutional and improperly attempts to regulate US-China foreign relations, Montana recently raised its best arguments to uphold the ban. In a court filing last week, Montana sought to convince a US district court to reject TikTok's motion to delay the statewide ban from taking effect on January 1, 2024, until the federal case is resolved. Beyond disputing the relevance of constitutional concerns, Montana took a seemingly hostile stance, calling out TikTok for alleged "hypocrisy" and evasiveness of US authorities attempting to protect Americans' data from foreign spying.

"TikTok’s apparent position is it cannot be regulated—by anyone," Montana argued, accusing TikTok of playing "fast and loose" with courts and improperly shifting away from an argument that TikTok made that got Donald Trump's ban overturned.

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    Tax preparers that shared private data with Meta, Google could be fined billions / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 12 July - 20:36

Tax preparers that shared private data with Meta, Google could be fined billions

Enlarge (credit: Pgiam | iStock / Getty Images Plus )

Yesterday, Congress members revealed the results of a seven-month investigation into tax-filing companies. Lawmakers found that H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer "recklessly shared" potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayers' sensitive personal and financial data with Google and Meta "for years" in apparent violation of laws prohibiting tax preparers from sharing tax return information without customers' consent.

In a press release provided to Ars from the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), lawmakers alleged a "massive, likely illegal breach of taxpayer privacy." Insisting upon urgent redress, lawmakers are now calling upon the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal Trade Commission, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to "fully investigate this matter and prosecute any company or individuals who violated the law."

The Congress members' report said that "any tax return preparer who 'knowingly or recklessly discloses'" tax return information "is subject to a fine up to $1,000 per violation, and a prison term of up to one year."

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    Threads attracts 30M users in 24 hours despite design flaws, privacy concerns / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 6 July - 19:47

Threads attracts 30M users in 24 hours despite design flaws, privacy concerns

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

Meta has officially launched its surprisingly popular Twitter alternative, Threads—shocking even Mark Zuckerberg as signups hit 30 million within the first 24 hours. Though a separate app, Threads is built as a convenient extension of Instagram, requiring an Instagram account to join and allowing users to port their entire Instagram following over in one click. That has clearly made Threads appealing to a huge chunk of Instagram users.

"We didn't expect tens of millions of people to sign up in one day, but supporting that is a champagne problem," Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said in a cheery update on Thursday.

With its well-timed launch coming just after Twitter announced unpopular rate limits on tweets , Threads has quickly surpassed ChatGPT as the fastest-growing consumer app, TechCrunch reported . But as signups explode, Threads is also experiencing immediate backlash from critics who have complained about how Threads was designed and about the app's seemingly ample privacy issues.

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    TikTok sues Montana over ban, claims national security concerns “unfounded” / ArsTechnica · Monday, 22 May - 21:38

TikTok sues Montana over ban, claims national security concerns “unfounded”

Enlarge (credit: PATRICK T. FALLON / Contributor | AFP )

Days after TikTok users sued to block Montana's TikTok ban , TikTok has followed through on its promise to fight the ban and filed its own lawsuit in a United States district court in Montana.

"We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana," Brooke Oberwetter, TikTok's spokesperson, told Ars. "We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts."

TikTok's complaint hits all the same points that TikTok users' lawsuit does.

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    Twitter lawyer quits as Musk’s legal woes expand, report says / ArsTechnica · Friday, 7 April - 17:05 · 1 minute

Twitter lawyer quits as Musk’s legal woes expand, report says

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

After the Federal Trade Commission launched a probe into Twitter over privacy concerns, Twitter’s negotiations with the FTC do not seem to be going very well. Last week, it was revealed that Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s request last year for a meeting with FTC Chair Lina Khan was rebuffed . Now, a senior Twitter lawyer, Christian Dowell—who was closely involved in those FTC talks—has resigned, several people familiar with the matter told The New York Times .

Dowell joined Twitter in 2020 and rose in the ranks after several of Twitter’s top lawyers exited or were fired once Musk took over the platform in the fall of 2022, Bloomberg reported . Most recently, Dowell—who has not yet confirmed his resignation—oversaw Twitter’s product legal counsel. In that role, he was “intimately involved” in the FTC negotiations, sources told the Times, including coordinating Twitter’s responses to FTC inquiries.

The FTC has overseen Twitter’s privacy practices for more than a decade after it found that the platform failed to safeguard personal information and issued a consent order in 2011. The agency launched its current probe into Twitter’s operations after Musk began mass layoffs that seemed to introduce new security concerns, AP News reported . The Times reported that the FTC's investigation intensified after security executives quit Twitter over concerns that Musk might be violating the FTC's privacy decree.

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    ChatGPT data leak has Italian lawmakers scrambling to regulate data collection / ArsTechnica · Friday, 31 March - 18:09

ChatGPT data leak has Italian lawmakers scrambling to regulate data collection

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

Today an Italian regulator, the Guarantor for the Protection of Personal Data (referred to by its Italian acronym, GPDP), announced a temporary ban on ChatGPT in Italy. The ban is effective immediately and will remain in place while the regulator investigates its concerns that OpenAI—the developer of ChatGPT—is unlawfully collecting Italian Internet users’ personal data to train the conversational AI software and has no age verification system in place to prevent kids from accessing the tool.

The Italian ban comes after a ChatGPT data breach on March 20 , exposing “user conversations and information relating to the payment of subscribers to the paid service,” GPDP said in its press release. OpenAI notified users impacted by the breach and said it was "committed to protecting our users’ privacy and keeping their data safe," apologizing for falling "short of that commitment, and of our users’ expectations."

Ars could not immediately reach OpenAI to comment. The company has 20 days to respond with proposed measures that could address GPDP’s concerns or face fines of up to 20 million euro or 4 percent of OpenAI’s gross revenue.

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