Web

New California bill would allow customers access to what companies know about them

internetBy this point, most people who pay attention to the Internet activities are well aware that many companies collect a lot of information about you online. Such data brokers are estimated to have collected personal information from an estimated 500 million Internet users, even though they are unwilling to share the sources of said information with a congressional inquiry looking into the subject. Knowing that, don’t you wish that you were at least able to find out just what information was being recorded about you? Well, if the company is based in California, you may soon get your chance.

California Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal, a representative of the city of Los Angeles, has introduced a bill known as “The Right to Know Act of 2013” that would compel California-based companies that store customers’ information to share that data with said customer upon request. If they do not comply, the companies can face legal consequences, including a civil suit on behalf of the subject.

According to the current incarnation of the bill, it would “require any business that has a customer’s personal information, as defined, to provide at no charge, within 30 days of the customer’s specified request, a copy of that information to the customer as well as the names and contact information for all 3rd parties with which the business has shared the information during the past 12 months, regardless of any business relationship with the customer.” The bill would also repeal and reorganize existing legal requirements concerning a customer’s right to privacy in the state.

The bill was introduced as the result of successful lobbying on the part of a coalition of parties including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. In a blog post detailing the bill, the EFF’s Rainey Reitman noted that, if successful, the bill would “update existing transparency law to ensure that users could track the flow of their data from online transactions.”

“It’s not just about knowing what a company is sharing,” Reitman wrote, “It’s about knowing what a company is storing. The new proposal would require companies to make available, free of charge, access to or a copy of the customer’s personal information. That means you the consumer will really know what information a company has about you.”

That the bill comes before Californian authorities shouldn’t be a surprise; the state has a reputation for passing laws regarding consumer protection, including the Californian Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires Californian-based websites to display their privacy policies concerning data collection clearly for users. Should the Right to Know Act pass in California, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly it becomes adopted throughout the rest of the U.S.

Product Review

Ring Alarm makes DIY home security simple and affordable enough for everyone

Ring first made waves with its video doorbell, and now the Amazon-owned company is moving on to home security with the Ring Alarm. You can install the sensors and keypads yourself, then have Ring professionally monitor your home.
Business

Apple is still selling iPhones in China despite being ordered not to

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Is somebody watching you? How to stop apps from tracking your location

If you don't like the idea of your every movement being tracked by apps on the phone in your pocket, then you may want to turn location tracking off. We take a look at how to do it on an iPhone or Android phone in this easy guide.
Business

How to start your online business in 6 simple steps

Making the right choices now can greatly impact your success down the line, and the last thing you want to do is spend your energy revisiting old decisions instead of growing your company.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.
Web

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.
Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Web

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?
Computing

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.
Computing

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Mobile

5G: Why everything is about to change

Curious about the many ways 5G will change and enrich your life? Here’s our guide to all things 5G.