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By Usama Jawad96
FBI, NSA, and CIA use ad blockers due to fear of targeted ads
by Usama Jawad
While some companies are striving to make ads more transparent so that users can make more informed decisions about whether they should click on an ad or not, there is still considerable threat from malicious advertisements that are used to harvest information or leverage your device as a reconnaissance tool to perform other undesirable activities. It turns out that federal U.S. intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) fear online advertising as much as the next guy, and use ad blockers to mitigate this potential threat.
According to a letter addressed to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), penned by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, and obtained by Motherboard, the Intelligence Community (IC) deploys ad blockers on a wide scale. For those unaware, the IC consists of multiple entities including FBI, NSA, CIA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and more. The letter also contains a quote from the IC's Chief Information Officer as follows:
While the information isn't entirely surprising given that we're talking about federal intelligence agencies, it's still interesting to get further confirmation of the threat of malicious advertising. Wyden has outlined how ad providers utilize online activity to serve targeted ads. The senator has explained that a recent Senate investigation also revealed that this data is exported to "high-risk" markets such as China and Russia, who can then use it for malicious purposes.
Both the NSA and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have previously provided guidance encouraging the use of ad blockers. That said, federal agencies are not currently mandated to follow this guidance. Wyden is proposing that the OMB enforces the use of ad blockers across all federal intelligence agencies.
As an online publication, Neowin too relies on ads for operating costs and, if you use an ad blocker, we'd appreciate being whitelisted. In addition, we have an ad-free subscription for $28 a year, which is another way to show support!
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Clubhouse's latest feature lets users invite friends into private audio chats
by Usman Khan Lodhi
The audio-based social app Clubhouse unveiled a new feature today. It's called Wave and is supposed to make inviting people to audio chats easier. The feature is presently available for all users on iOS and Android.
The firm revealed that around 700,000 rooms are created on the app each day; however, it stressed that "it's quite often the smaller private moments among friends that put smiles on faces." The feature is being introduced to assist users in creating small and private gatherings, according to the firm.
To start a conversation with friends appearing in Hallways on Clubhouse, users would just need to Wave at them. This can be done by either swiping right on the Hallway or pressing the dots icon at the bottom left of the screen and tapping the wave button next to the person that you'd like to talk to.
The invited users would receive a notification and if they're open to chatting, they can join. The created rooms will be initially private, but they can be later opened up.
PayPal launches new app with rewards and high-yield savings
by Paul Hill
PayPal has announced the launch of its refreshed mobile app, with all new features that make it “the best place to manage” your financial life. The update introduces PayPal Savings – a high-yield saving account provided by Synchrony Bank, the ability to earn rewards and get deals from hundreds of merchants.
When you launch the newly updated app, you’ll arrive on a personalised dashboard where you can see a wallet tab to manage payment instruments and Direct Deposit – a feature that lets you get paid two days early, there’s a finance tab with access to high-yield savings and cryptocurrency features, and there’s a payments hub where you can send and receive payments, send international remittances, donate to charities or non-profits, pay bills, and send two-way messages to send acknowledgement notes after making peer-to-peer transactions.
Commenting on the new update, Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal, said:
According to the firm, by 2025, the use of digital wallets is expected to double to 4.4 billion around the world. With this update to the PayPal app, it wants to become the go-to app for all financial activities people perform day-to-day. It’s already used by many people and the new tools it is starting to offer, such as cryptocurrency support, only make it more appealing.
By News Staff
Save 73% off a lifetime subscription to Smart Cleaner for iOS
by Steven Parker
Today's highlighted deal comes via our Apps + Software section of the Neowin Deals store, where you can save 73% off a lifetime subscription to Smart Cleaner for iOS. Free up disk space and have your iPhone or iPad working like new with this fast, secure, and easy-to-use cleaning app.
In today’s world, where huge amounts of data are constantly circulating, you often want to get rid of unnecessary pictures and all other files that have piled up on your phone, making it work slower. This is where Smart Cleaner helps. This cleaning app searches and deletes screenshots, similar pictures, Live Photos, burst photos, and videos all in a few taps. It's that easy! Aside from cleaning up your device, it also lets you organize contacts, save battery, and keep your files private.
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Disclosure: This is a StackCommerce deal or giveaway in partnership with Neowin; an account at StackCommerce is required to participate in any deals or giveaways. For a full description of StackCommerce's privacy guidelines, go here. Neowin benefits from shared revenue of each sale made through our branded deals site, and it all goes toward the running costs.
Devices running Android 6.0 or higher will get permission auto-reset feature
by Paul Hill
Google is planning to bring Android 11’s permission auto-reset feature to devices running Android 6.0 or higher. This will give users more control over the data that apps can request. The feature will be delivered via an update to the Google Play services and should become available from December 2021.
The permission auto-reset feature works by resetting sensitive runtime permissions that a user has previously granted if the app hasn’t been used for a few months. In this way, users can be sure about what data the app has access to if they don’t use it regularly; with regards to the permissions, it’ll be as though they just installed the app.
In some cases, it would not be ideal to revoke permissions access so there are some exceptions to the changes. Google says Device Administrator apps used by enterprises will not have their permissions reset nor will those permissions reset that are enacted by enterprise policy. Additionally, developers will be able to ask users to switch off auto-reset for their app but users should be wary of the potential impact of doing this.
While users can expect to see this feature begin rolling out in December 2021, it could take until the end of March 2022 until all supported devices get the update. Despite the wait, it’s a nice privacy and security update and it’s good that Google could bring it to devices running Android 6.0, which was released in 2015.