#WhatTheTech 5

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
30 May 2019

We’ve handpicked some tech/security related news stories from the past week, in case you missed them.

“Alexa, delete everything”
Amazon has revealed new voice commands for Alexa that gives users more control over their recordings.

Customers recently voiced concerns over privacy after a report revealed that Amazon employees could be listening to recordings of conversations. Conversations are transcribed and annotated and used as feedback to help improve Alexa’s understanding of human speech and response to commands.

The newly launched ‘Alexa Privacy Hub’ allows users to delete recorded voice history daily by saying “Alexa, delete everything I said today”. A second command is meant to roll out next month which will allow users to delete a conversation immediately after it happened.

Users need to access their privacy settings, then click ‘review voice history’ and turn on the ‘enable deletion by voice’ option. It definitely seems like Amazon is trying to be more transparent about its procedures and giving users more control over their data.

Huawei blacklist
Last week the US put a trade ban on the use of Huawei’s telecommunications equipment. They have been added to a list of companies that US firms cannot trade with unless they have a license.

At a recent press conference, one of Huwaei’s legal officers said that the decision to ban the use of their equipment will directly harm more than 1,200 US companies and thousands of American jobs.

The ban is part of a wider trade war and conflict between the US and China that focuses on concerns over national security. The US has pushed to persuade allies to ban using Huawei equipment in 5G networks. The use of Huawei equipment in the UK is still under dispute, but several security experts say that Huawei should be banned from supplying 5G networks in the UK.

5% of Facebook is fake
With 2.4 billion monthly active users, Facebook is still the world’s largest social network. However, a recent report found that around 120 million Facebook users are not who they claim to be.

The number does not include fake accounts that Facebook has flagged and removed. From January to March this year, 2.2 billion accounts were removed that were deemed to not meet the requirements of the social platform. This is nearly double the number of accounts that were removed in the previous quarter.

Facebook faces many challenges as it tries to police hate speech, violence and offensive comments. The social network thinks that the increase in fake accounts is due to an increase in automated attacks that create several accounts at once. Facebook revealed a new iteration of the Community Standards Report, which aims to help the public understand how it handles content moderation.

NZ ‘hacking’ blunder
Earlier this week New Zealand’s Treasury thought that they had been hacked by an opposing party when parts of its budget were leaked two days early.

The government alerted police as they thought that they had been ‘deliberately hacked’. The Treasury had prepared a ‘clone’ website ahead of releasing the budget to the general public. It seems that the cloned website was never online, but some of the information had been indexed on the live website.

Typing in any key search terms on the live site brought up the unreleased budget details. The opposing party denied any involvement in searching the website or releasing the information.

We’ll be back next week with more tech news!

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