#WhatTheTech 8

Written by:
Date Posted:
21 June 2019

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

VidAngel fined $62.4 million
VidAngel, a video streaming service for movies and TV shows, has to pay $62.4 million to Disney and Warner Bros.

VidAngel offered an innovative service, allowing users to filter out any sensitive content from the movies provided. Demand for this service was large, but, it operated illegally.

VidAngel allowed its users to rent movies for $20, and then sell it back after a day for $19. However, VidAngel did not have permission from the rights holders to rent the movies online. Instead, the company acquired DVDs, which they then ripped and streamed online.

In 2016, Warner Bros and Disney teamed up to file a lawsuit against VidAngel for copyright infringement and violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision. On the 17th of June, it was determined that a $62.4 million damages award was appropriate.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency
Facebook has announced that it will be launching a cryptocurrency called Libra in the first half of 2020.

Libra will let you buy things or send money to people with almost zero fees. Users will be able to buy or cash out Libra online or at local exchange points such as grocery stores. Libra can be spent using third party e-wallets, or via the Facebook wallet, Calibra, which will be built into the Facebook app and WhatsApp.

Facebook’s Calibra wallet will be owned by a separate company. In theory, this will protect user’s privacy by not sharing Libra payments with Facebook data, meaning it cannot be used for ad targeting.

However, hours after Facebook announced the launch of its cryptocurrency, a US lawmaker requested that the launch be delayed. According to the chairwoman of the House of Financial Services Committee, Facebook should wait until the US congress has examined the project, due to their history with user-data controversies.

Facebook says it looks forward to responding to the policymaker’s questions.

‘Pavlok’ shock bracelet
Amazon is selling an armband created to help users kick bad habits such as eating fast food or smoking.

The armband, which retails at £193, gives users an electric shock of 350-volts when they partake in the bad habit. Users have to administer the shock themselves, either by pressing a button or downloading an app. The app can also be downloaded by friends, who can then administer the shock too. Sleep-related bad habits, such as waking up late, can be automated via the app.

According to the company, users will notice cravings significantly reduced within 3-5 days of using the armband.

The armband conditions users to associate the things they crave with an unpleasant feeling, resulting in them craving it less. Although there are multiple testimonials from people online claiming the armband has been successful, the product has mixed reviews on Amazon. Doctor Greg Cason, a psychologist, claims that products of this sort rarely work. Unless the armband is locked onto the user’s wrist, they will likely just take it off.

Would you try out this product? Let us know in the comments below or at tweet us at @Hyve!

Amazon sued (again)
Amazon is being sued over Alexa’s recordings of children. Two class-action cases are being pursued on behalf of children in Los Angeles and Seattle in the US. The children in question used Alexa to tell jokes, play music, solve maths problems and answer trivia questions.

However, in both cases, the parents claimed that they had never given Alexa permission to record their children’s voices, in turn building up a vast level of detail about their child’s life. The complaints say Alexa devices should have been designed to only send a digital query to Amazon servers, as opposed to the voice recording.

Lawyers involved in the case are seeking damages for the children involved, as well as inviting others to join the class-action lawsuits. In response, Amazon has said it only stores data once a device owner has given it permission to do so. It also claims that parents can delete a child’s profile and recordings.

What are your thoughts on Alexa storing this kind of information? Let us know in the comments below or at tweet us at @Hyve!

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

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