Tech Today: March 4, 2021

Tech Today: March 4, 2021

Here’s what you need to know about what happened in tech today:

Google’s flagship apps aren’t telling Apple what they’re doing
Over at Daring Fireball, John Gruber notes that most of Google’s flagship iOS apps haven’t added Apple’s new ‘privacy nutrition labels,’ including Maps, Photos, Google Search and Chrome. Apple recently added the requirement for new app updates to include how they’re using your data. Facebook’s is 14 pages long (measured in screenshots). Gmail’s is just over 4.
When you’re looking at an iPhone or iPad app in the App Store, scroll down to App Privacy and tap See Details – you might be surprised at how much your apps are tracking you.

Cloud services used by mobile apps are leaking data
As reported by Wired from research by Zimperium, thousands of iOS and Android apps don’t have their cloud services properly secured – and that means your data is at risk. This isn’t necessarily malicious behavior – securing cloud services is difficult but not impossible, and security must be made a priority when your personal data is stored on someone else’s servers.

Facebook ends its ban on political advertising
Mike Isaac teased this on Twitter yesterday and has reported it for the New York Times: after banning political advertising after the 2020 election, Facebook has reinstated the ability to buy ads on “social issues, elections or politics.” Of course, Facebook’s November ban didn’t impact ad contracts it already had – so those with money who bought long-term campaigns were still able to promote. The rest of us, including small organizations, political parties and community groups focusing on political issues, weren’t so lucky.

Facebook: It’s OK to influence Russian politics
Staying on the topic of Facebook for a bit, the company also released its February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report yesterday, highlighting its efforts to stop what it says are “1) coordinated inauthentic behavior in the context of domestic, non-government campaigns, and 2) coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government actor.”
The entire list (Thailand, Iran [twice], Morocco and Russia) is interesting to read with a critical eye, but the Russian entry reeks of hypocrisy: “We removed 530 Instagram accounts that originated primarily in Russia and targeted domestic audiences throughout the recent protest in support of Alexey Navalny, an anti-corruption activists and opposition politician in Russia.”
In other words, Facebook is interfering in internal Russian political affairs, and on behalf of the West’s darling: fascist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semite, anti-Muslim Great Russian chauvinist Navalny.