U.S. Senate will hear Google, Apple testimony on data privacy this month

Following the testimony of Twitter and Facebook executives earlier in September before Congress, lawmakers are renewing their interest in technology companies. The United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology has scheduled a hearing with Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Charter Communications, Google, and Twitter on September 26 to hear how these technology companies protect the data and personal information of their customers.

The session titled “Examining Safeguards for Consumer Data Privacy” was scheduled by Senator John Thune, R-S.D., to “examine privacy policies of top technology and communications firms, review the current state of consumer data privacy, and offer members the opportunity to discuss possible approaches to safeguarding privacy more effectively.”

Witnesses include Apple’s vice president of software technology, Google’s chief privacy officer, Twitter’s global data protection officer, among others. Interestingly, Facebook is absent from the list of technology companies scheduled to testify. After it was revealed that the personal data of more than 87 million users on its network may have been exposed as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year, Facebook’s privacy policies were heavily scrutinized, prompting the company to implement changes to how it handles and shares data. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April regarding the scandal, and last month it updated lawmakers on how its fighting hacking and election engineering on its social network.

“Consumers deserve clear answers and standards on data privacy protection,” Thune said in a statement. “This hearing will provide leading technology companies and internet service providers an opportunity to explain their approaches to privacy, how they plan to address new requirements from the European Union and California, and what Congress can do to promote clear privacy expectations without hurting innovation.”

The European Union passed its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year in May, and in June, California passed its own state Consumer Privacy Act, which will become effective in 2020. The state allows consumers to opt out from having their data sold and consumers can request companies delete the data that have been collected. California also prevents companies from charging customers for opting out of data collection, and the state attorney general can impose fines if companies fail to protect consumer data from hackers.

Congress will give the six tech companies a chance to explain their approaches to privacy and an opportunity to address how they’ll respond to requirements from new legislation from the EU and California. Unlike some of its peers who lobbied against the California law, Apple will likely promote its pro-privacy policies at the hearing. “At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right,” the company states on its website. “Every Apple product is designed from the ground up to protect that information. And to empower you to choose what you share and with whom.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Click-to-brew beer, comfy headlamps, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Will Toyota finally cave to buyer demand and offer Android Auto?

For years, Toyota refused to offer Android Auto for privacy and security reasons. That could change soon; a recent report claims Toyota will begin offering Android Auto compatibility in at least some of its models.
Mobile

Keep the iPhone XS display crack-free with these screen protectors

Apple might have proclaimed the iPhone XS's glass as being its most durable ever, but that's not going to stop you from wincing if you drop your phone. Stay protected with the best iPhone XS screen protectors.
Computing

Google tells lawmakers it allows other apps access to your Gmail

Google admitted to lawmakers in a letter that its privacy policy allows third-party apps access to the email messages of its 1.4 billion Gmail users. Google says the apps need the consent of users before access is granted.
Mobile

Be an online phantom and web surf safely with Ghostery’s mobile browser

Keeping your private information to yourself has become progressively harder in the internet age. If you're worried about your personal information, check out the new version of the Ghostery browser for iOS and Android.
Computing

What's the best laptop? We've reviewed a lot of them, and this is our answer

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…
Computing

How Razer forged the Blade 15, the slim gaming laptop nobody else could build

With the recent launch of the Blade 15, Razer ushered in a new design language that's cleaner and more angular. We recently visited Razer's San Francisco, California design studio to learn more about Razer's approach to design.
Computing

The Dell XPS 13 is our favorite laptop. Here are the best cases and bags for it

Whether you're a prolific traveler or simply want to make sure your beloved Dell XPS 13 is safe for that odd car trip, these are the best Dell XPS 13 cases, sleeves and carry bags we could find.
Computing

Detangle your desk with these mighty wireless mice

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. Here are six models that will give everyone what they need, whether they're hardcore gamers or looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Computing

It's not all free money. What to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Computing

Bing, Windows search evolve into new, cross-platform Microsoft Search

Microsoft is upgrading its various search tools to provide more contextual help for those seeking it. Bing, Office, and Windows search will all be upgraded over the coming months to provide much more nuanced results.
Computing

U.N. security blunder left secret Trello boards, Google Docs exposed

United Nations documents were left vulnerable to unauthorized users by staffers who left Trello boards and Google Docs unprotected and accessible to anyone who had their unique URLs.
Computing

Back for the boardroom, Microsoft outlines the future of the Surface Hub

With the Surface Hub 2 still on the horizon, Microsoft announced two additional versions of its digital whiteboard, the Surface Hub 2S and 2X, to attendees of their 2018 Ignite developer conference.
Computing

Here's how to install the free MacOS Mojave update now

Apple's newest operating system has finally arrived, and we'll show you how to download MacOS Mojave for free. After you install Mojave, you'll be able to take advantage of new apps ported from iOS, a dark theme, and more.