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FTC Chair Pushes Privacy Rules, Calls for Limits on Data Collection

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FTC Chair Lina Khan says it’s time for federal rules spelling out consumer data privacy protections. 


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Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan said it is time that the agency, which is tasked with enforcing consumer privacy protections, “reassess” rules around what data companies can collect about consumers and how they secure that data.  

Khan, who was speaking Monday at an event hosted by the International Association of Privacy Protections, called the current notice and consent framework “outdated and insufficient.” She said it’s time for a major paradigm shift in which the FTC as the federal regulator and Congress, which has long promised privacy legislation, do something to ensure that consumers don’t have to give up their personal data in order to access online tools that have become essential to everyday life. 

She also questioned whether companies should be allowed to collect data indiscriminately, noting that most consumers aren’t even aware of what data is being collected and where their personal information ends up. 

“I believe we should approach data privacy and security protections by considering substantive limits rather than just procedural protections, which tend to create process requirements, while sidestepping more fundamental questions about whether certain types of data collection and processing should be permitted in the first place,” she said. 

Khan’s comments come nearly a year after she was confirmed by the Senate for a seat on the FTC and then made chair by President Biden. Progressives cheered her pick as chair due to her work as an antitrust reformer, best known for advocating reigning in the power of Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. 

Privacy experts have also been putting pressure on Khan to institute long-awaited federal rules that spell out what data companies can collect on consumers and how companies should protect that data.  Khan acknowledged the need for such rules, referring to the commercial surveillance economy around consumer data, which monetizes personal information and creates a business model “that seems to incentivize endless tracking and vacuuming up of users’ data.”

She also talked about the FTC’s need to take a multidisciplinary approach to enforcement, looking at both privacy and antitrust. She explained how large companies can use their market dominance to force consumers to hand over their personal data whether they want to or not.

“When faced with technologies that are increasingly critical for navigating modern life, users often lack a real set of alternatives and cannot reasonably forego using these tools,” she said. Collectively, she said, we must “consider whether we want to live in a society where firms can condition access to critical technologies and opportunities on users having to surrender to commercial surveillance.”

While Khan said she is considering new rules, the FTC has not yet kicked off an official rule-making proceeding because the commission is still split with two Democrats and two Republicans. Without a clear Democratic majority, Khan doesn’t have the votes to move her agenda forward. 

That could change soon as the Senate is expected to vote after the Easter break on the confirmation of Biden’s nominee for the third Democratic seat on the FTC, Alvaro Bedoya, a Georgetown University law professor known for his work on privacy matters. 

Congress’ privacy bill

Meanwhile, efforts in Congress to pass comprehensive data privacy legislation have stalled as Democrats and Republicans disagree on the extent of federal preemption of state laws and the inclusion of a private right of action, which would allow consumers to sue if their data is mishandled. 

Khan acknowledged the importance of federal legislation to make a significant shift, but she also said that the FTC is well positioned to handle enforcement within the authority Congress has already given the agency. 

“Even without a federal privacy or security law, the FTC has for decades served as de facto enforcer in this domain,” she said at the event.

To highlight the agency’s accomplishments on these matters, Khan also ticked off some recent settlements involving alleged violations of the children’s privacy law. In December, the agency announced it had settled with online advertising platform OpenX Technologies, which the FTC says collected geolocation data of children without parental consent, a violation of federal law. 

In March, the agency settled with WW International over the app Kurbo, an online weight management program for kids, which allegedly illegally harvested personal data about kids, including birthdates, eating habits and daily activities. Khan said that in these instances, the FTC did more than just impose fines. 

With regard to Kurbo, she said the “settlement required not only that the business pay a penalty for its law-breaking but also that it delete its ill-gotten gain and destroy any algorithms derived from that data.” 

She said the FTC has also taken prescriptive action, such as requiring the online merchandise platform CafePress, in a settlement reached in March, to adopt specific security measures after the agency alleged it failed to secure consumers’ sensitive personal data and then covered up the breach.

But Khan said the agency can do more.

“No doubt we will continue using our current enforcement tools to take swift and bold action,” Khan said. “The realities of how firms surveil, categorize and monetize user data in the modern economy, however, invites us to consider how we might need to update our approach further yet.”



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Overwatch 2 Beta Begins Tomorrow: Start Time and What to Expect

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Overwatch 2 starts its second beta on Tuesday, June 28, for PC and console players. The beta begins at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT and runs through Monday, July 18. Sign-ups are still open for a chance to participate, and you can still get guaranteed access if you’re willing to spend some cash.  

The next beta will be our first look at Junker Queen, a new tank hero who first appeared in posters on the Junkertown map that was released in 2017. Fans have been hoping to play her ever since, and five years later, we’re finally getting the chance. The new beta also adds a new hybrid map, Paraiso. The developers have laid out their goals for the beta, which include testing server capacity and hero balance. 

Overwatch 2 is the sequel to Blizzard’s class-based shooter, featuring two teams of five players fighting over objectives. Overwatch devs announced in June that the game will be free to play and will launch in early access on Oct. 4. The first beta injected a frantic pace into the game, which was a welcome change from the slower, more grinding pacing that’s plagued Overwatch in recent years. The free-to-play PvP element will bring the game more in line with other competitive shooters, like Valorant and Apex Legends.

How to sign up for the Overwatch 2 beta

Anyone can sign up for Overwatch 2’s second beta, but it’s not technically an open beta. The game will add people gradually as it ramps up server capacity, and the first big wave of beta access will happen on July 5, according to the beta FAQ page. Even if you were in the previous beta, you’ll need to sign up again. 

Here’s how to sign up:

1. Go to the Overwatch 2 beta site.
2. In the top right corner, log in to your Blizzard Account.
3. At the bottom of the Overwatch 2 beta page, choose your platform (and region for PlayStation players).
4. Then hit Request Beta Access.

If you want guaranteed beta access on June 28, you can purchase the Watchpoint Pack ($40). In addition to beta access on day one, you’ll also get two legendary character skins, a unique player icon and enough digital currency to buy the first two battle passes.

How do I download the Overwatch 2 beta?

Blizzard hasn’t released details on downloading the second beta, but it should follow the same process as the first beta. Here’s how that worked:

1. Log in to your Battle.net account and navigate to Overwatch on the game launcher.

2. In the bottom left, click the Game Version drop-down.

3. Select Overwatch 2 Tech Beta to install.

4. When the download is complete, hit the blue Play button to start.

Junker Queen spinning her axe

Junker Queen’s ultimate ability helps her close distance and end fights quickly.


Blizzard

Junker Queen abilities

The new beta finally gives fans a chance to play as Junker Queen, a hero we’ve all been excited about and/or thirsting over since she was first teased on the Junkertown map. Here’s what we know about Junker Queen’s abilities, from the Overwatch Twitter account:

New Hybrid Map: Paraiso

The beta also adds Paraiso, a new hybrid map that explores Lucio’s home, including the DJ’s Clube Sinestesia. As with all hybrid maps, players will start by attacking or defending a control point, and if the attackers succeed, players will spend the rest of the map attacking or defending a payload. 

An underground club with light-up floor

Clube Sinestesia is where support hero Lucio found fame as a DJ.


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For more Overwatch 2 news, check out everything we learned from the Overwatch 2 reveal event.



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Icebergify: How To Create an Iceberg of Your Most Listened to Spotify Artists

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Been on social media today? Seen those bizarre musical Icebergs floating around in your feed? You’re not alone. Screenshots like this have been doing the rounds today, particularly on Twitter. 

It’s all created via the magic of a website called Icebergify.

Using the data from your Spotify listening habits, Icebergify creates an Iceberg of your most listened to artists ranked by popularity. At the tip of the iceberg? Your favourite “mainstream” artists. Your Taylor Swifts, your Beyonces, your Drakes, etc. The further down you go, the more obscure it becomes. It looks a little like this…

If you want to see your own iceberg, you can head to the website directly. Be warned: it does require your Spotify log-in. 

The Icebergify website was developed by Akshay Raj, a freshman studying Computer & Data Science at Rice University. He says he has no plans to monetize the site or use the data collected — which is limited to your username, Spotify account ID and the top 50 tracks and artists listened to over the past few years. 

How does it work? It’s fairly simple. Icebergify takes your most listened to artists and sorts them according to popularity rankings. Streams, shares, saves, likes, and followers are all taken into account. This is why Beyonce might be at the top of your iceberg, but lesser known artists are at the bottom, beneath the ocean. Also worth noting: It seems like Icebergify is being flooded due to its surprising popularity. Head back later if it doesn’t immediately work.





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Apple’s First Mixed-Reality Headset May Sport New M2 Processor

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Apple’s first mixed-reality headset could come with the company’s flagship M2 processor, just one of the “deluge” of new products the company is expected to unveil in the next year, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported Sunday.

The M2, unveiled in June, features redesigned central processing units and a significant memory increase, which would provide a significant boost to the much-rumored headset over the previous M1 chip.

The much-rumored headset incorporating both virtual and augmented reality environments is expected to provide a boon to the gaming industry. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier week that the headset — expected to be announced in January 2023 — would be the most complicated product Apple has designed yet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been vocal about his excitement about AR. Earlier this week, he explained that the tech industry is still in the “very early innings” of this technology’s possibilities.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we’ve seen in this space, and sort of stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer,” Cook told China Daily.

Other products Gurman expects to debut in the next 12 months include four iPhone 14 models, three Apple Watch variations, several Macs with M2 and M3 chips, iPads, updated AirPods Pro earbuds, a fresh HomePod, and an upgraded Apple TV. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read moreApple AR, VR Headset Rumors: WWDC, Release Rumors, M1 Chip and More



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