US, European regulators investigating Google glitch

Google announced on Monday that it would shut down the consumer version of its social network Google+ and tighten its data-sharing policies. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2018
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US, European regulators investigating Google glitch

  • A breach at Google may have exposed private profile data of at least 500,000 users
  • The issue was discovered and patched in March as part of a review of how Google shares data with other applications

NEW YORK: At least two US states and two European Union member states are investigating a breach at Alphabet’s Google that may have exposed private profile data of at least 500,000 users to hundreds of external developers.
The investigations follow Google’s announcement on Monday that it would shut down the consumer version of its social network Google+ and tighten its data-sharing policies after a “bug” potentially exposed user data that included names, email addresses, occupations, genders and ages.
“We are aware of public reporting on this matter and are currently undertaking efforts to gain an understanding of the nature and cause of the intrusion, whether sensitive information was exposed, and what steps are being taken or called for to prevent similar intrusions in the future,” Jaclyn Severance, a spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, said.
The New York Attorney General’s office also said it was looking into the breach.
Google said the issue was discovered and patched in March as part of a review of how Google shares data with other applications. No developer exploited the vulnerability or misused data, the company’s review found.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Google opted not to disclose the security issue due to fears of regulatory scrutiny, citing unidentified sources and a memo prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff for senior executives.
On Tuesday, Ireland’s data protection regulator said it would seek more information from Google regarding the breach.
“The Data Protection Commission was not aware of this issue and we now need to better understand the details of the breach, including the nature, impact and risk to individuals and we will be seeking information on these issues from Google,” it said.
In Germany, the data protection regulator in Hamburg, the city-state where Google has its country office, is also examining the incident.
It was doing so because the incident occurred before an EU-wide data privacy law took effect in May, creating a “one-stop shop” oversight regime under which Ireland became the lead regulator for Google.
“We have sent a series of questions to Google,” said spokesman Martin Schemm. The Hamburg regulator wants to find out to what extent German users of Google+ were affected, he added. Under Germany’s old data protection law, Google would face a maximum fine of €300,000 ($345,000).
Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, maximum fines run to 4 percent of a company’s annual global turnover, meaning that penalties against the biggest Silicon Valley players could in theory run into billions of dollars.
Google did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.


Apple China says it will push software update in bid to resolve Qualcomm case

Updated 14 December 2018
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Apple China says it will push software update in bid to resolve Qualcomm case

  • Apple will carry out the software updates at the start of next week to address the concern
  • A court found Apple infringed two patents held by the chipmaker and banned sales of older iPhone models

SHANGHAI/SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Inc. , facing a court ban in China on some of its iPhone models over alleged infringement of Qualcomm Inc. patents, said on Friday it will push software updates to users in a bid to resolve potential issues.
Apple will carry out the software updates at the start of next week “to address any possible concern about our compliance with the order,” the firm said in a statement sent to Reuters.
Earlier this week, Qualcomm said a Chinese court had ordered a ban on sales of some older Apple iPhone models for violating two of its patents, though intellectual property lawyers said the ban would still likely take time to enforce.
“Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance,” Apple said.
“Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case.”
The case, brought by Qualcomm, is part of a global patent dispute between the two US companies that includes dozens of lawsuits. It creates uncertainty over Apple’s business in one of its biggest markets at a time when concerns over waning demand for new iPhones are battering its shares.
Qualcomm has said that the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in China found Apple infringed two patents held by the chipmaker and ordered an immediate ban on sales of older iPhone models, from the 6S through the X.
Apple has said that all of its phone models remained on sale in mainland China and that it had filed a request for reconsideration with the court. All the models appeared to be available to buy on Apple’s China website on Friday.
Qualcomm, the biggest supplier of chips for mobile phones, filed its case in China in late 2017, arguing that Apple infringed patents on features related to resizing photographs and managing apps on a touch screen.