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By Jay Bonggolto
Google vows to let UK's competition regulators oversee its online tracking changes
by Jay Bonggolto
Google tried to assuage growing online privacy concerns in 2019 by introducing new web standards that would put limits to how advertisers access user data to target their ads as part of the Privacy Sandbox project. The goal was to control third-party cookies that allow unauthorized tracking on the web with new digital advertising tools. Earlier this year, though, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the project.
Now, the CMA has announced that it has secured Google's commitments to limit how it uses data in order to address privacy and competition concerns. The competition watchdog is now seeking feedback from interested third parties before it accepts Google’s commitments.
Privacy Sandbox involves assigning users to a cohort based on their interests while keeping their identity private. This method lets a browser analyze the users' habits on-device without sending them to a server. The changes, however, have sparked concerns that Google's replacement for third-party cookies could hamper competition in the digital advertising space.
As part of its commitment, the search giant vows to not access synced Chrome browsing histories once third-party cookies are eliminated. This will presumably prevent Google from favoring its own advertising business or websites at the expense of its rivals.
In addition, the company promised to give regulators a say on the results of its testing of alternatives. The CMA can request a "standstill period" of two months if Google fails to address any of their outstanding concerns. During this period, they can reopen an investigation and implement interim measures.
The CMA and the Information Commissioner's Office will consult on Google's commitments until July 8 with input from third parties. The regulators also noted that these commitments will be legally binding if accepted.
Samsung launches competition to win Xbox Series X, Cyberpunk 2077, and a TV
by Paul Hill
Samsung has announced that it has partnered with Microsoft and CD Project RED to offer winners of a competition a Samsung QLED Limited Edition Cyberpunk 2077 TV, an Xbox Series X, and a copy of Cyberpunk 2077. The competition will be in the form of a scavenger hunt where entrants will be whittled down to five finalists who then face off in a final puzzle.
The hunt is an alternate reality game called Samsung QLEDecode and brings players “on a journey through the corners of the internet.” Players will have to solve mysterious posts, clues and puzzles to work their way through to the final task. Judging by Samsung’s announcement, there are already a few clues in the wild just waiting to be found.
Samsung has not provided an expansive description of the limited edition TV but it says that it’s QLED and supports 4K HDR at 120Hz with a low ms response time, variable refresh rate, and offers sharp graphics and capabilities specifically with the latest generation of games in mind.
According to a countdown on the QLEDecode competition page, it’ll start around mid-November. If you’re lucky enough to win the prize you’ll be saving yourself hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, but you will face a lot of tough competition as Samsung raises awareness of the competition.
Slack has filed a complaint against Microsoft over Teams
by João Carrasqueira
Ever since Microsoft introduced Teams, an enterprise communication tool to rival Slack, the two companies have had something of a back-and-forth regarding the competition between the two services. Upon launching Teams, Microsoft said that "little companies come and go" while referring to Slack, while adding that Microsoft offered a wider range of business products. More recently, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said that Slack doesn't see Teams as a threat.
Despite that, however, Slack announced today that it has filed a complaint to the European Commission, accusing Microsoft of "illegal and anti-competitive" behavior with its approach to Teams. Specifically, the company calls out Microsoft for bundling Teams with its Microsoft 365 suite of products, forcing it to be installed on many machines with no way to remove it by itself, all while "hiding the true cost to enterprise customers".
Jonathan Prince, Vice President of Communications and Policy at Slack, said that the company's product threatens Microsoft's presence in the enterprise space as whole, since it helps replace traditional email, which Slack refers to as "the cornerstone of Office". He added:
David Schellhase, General Counsel at Slack, stated that Slack simply wants competition to be fair and to have a level playing field, while accusing Microsoft of "reverting to past behavior".
With the complaint now filed to the European Commission, it's up to the agency to decide whether it needs to open a formal investigation on Microsoft's practices with Teams.
ACCC alleges Google misled consumers over location data collection and usage
by Boyd Chan
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken a number of big businesses to task over the last few years for the way they have conducted business within the country. Valve found itself in the crosshairs of the Aussie consumer watchdog last year for misleading customers about refunds while Apple was caught out for misrepresentations regarding consumer rights and repairs.
Now, the ACCC has another tech giant in its sights in the form of Google over the "personal location data Google collects, keeps and uses". The body has alleged that the Mountain View company failed to properly inform consumers with respect to Android's "Location History" feature and the fact that both it and "Web & App Activity" had to be disabled to prevent any further data collection. Furthermore, the competition regulator has alleged that Google made misrepresentations that the only way to stop the company from "collecting, keeping and using their location data was to stop using certain Google services" despite being possible by disabling both features.
Regarding the allegations, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said:
Google is also on the hook with regards to the way it stated on-screen that it would use location data. According to the ACCC's media release, in that collected data "would only be collected and used by Google for the consumer’s use of Google services" but was actually used for "purposes unrelated to the consumer’s use of Google’s services".
On this point, Mr Sims commented that:
While Google reviews the allegations made by the ACCC, the company faces the prospect of penalties and the implementation of corrective actions should it be found guilty in Federal Court.
From the Forums: Official Neowin photography contest for October
by Christopher White
Did you know Neowin has a photography forum or that we used to have a monthly photography contest? Well, we do, and we did, and while the forum has always been there, we want to continue the monthly photography contest to our loyal (and new) readers!
Although the August contest generated a lot of interest, it resulted in only three submissions. Long time reader, warwagon, won the prize with the above photograph of an Xbox controller with interesting lighting from lamps in his room. Check out the poll results thread to see his explanation of how he created the picture.
The number one thing to keep in mind is that the contest should be used as motivation to go out and use your camera, not to go through old photos that you've taken. In the past, we've had people submit old photos, so be sure the photo you submit was taken this month! The main rules to keep in mind are:
Photos must be taken in the time frame of the theme (i.e.: October) Submission must be on a website that conserves EXIF data Spam will be deleted as per the forum rules, such as photos for sale The rest of the forum rules still apply One picture per theme Neowin claims absolutely NO ownership of your images. If you win, you'll make the front page though! The theme for the month of October is "Food" and can be interpreted any way you want (this is art!). So go out into the world (or stay in your house), take some photos, and post the best one on the forum for everyone to vote on at the end of October! While there's no big prize this month, the winner gets to choose the theme for the next month's contest! Remember: Entries are made in the FORUMS (see October Contest post link) and not in the comments here, although we'd love to hear your thoughts on the contest!
Forum link: Here