Amazon’s Ring line of home surveillance products has come under intense scrutiny in recent months following a seemingly endless litany of worrying revelations about Ring’s police partnerships, account security, vulnerabilities, employee snooping, and sharing of extremely detailed location data.
Now, we have a new report to add to the pile: it seems the app that customers use to manage and control a Ring camera is sending all kinds of personal data around as well. The Electronic Frontier Foundation took a deep dive into the Android version of the Ring app, which it determined to be “packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of customers’ personally identifiable information.”
Moreover, the EFF adds, this data sharing happens “without meaningful user notification or consent and, in most cases, no way to mitigate the damage done.” The personal data sent by Ring seems to go to four main recipients, the EFF found: Branch, ApplsFlyer, MixPanel, and Facebook. Those recipients presumably combine data they gather from the Ring app with data they collect from other sources—either information they collect in-house or buy/trade from other third parties—to build a fleshed-out digital doppelgänger profile for any given user.
Each of those four platforms receives a slightly different mix of user data. Facebook finds out when the app is opened and “upon device actions such as app deactivation after screen lock due to inactivity.” Facebook also gets your time zone, device model, language preferences, and screen resolution tied to a unique identifier.
The EFF notes that this data goes to Facebook regardless of whether the user has a Facebook account, and it adds that the user identifier persists even when you reset your advertiser ID in your OS. Branch likewise gets several unique identifiers relating to user identity and device fingerprint, along with other device data points such as IP address, phone model, screen resolution, and DPI.
Branch describes itself as an “industry-leading mobile measurement and deep linking platform” that exists to tie as much cross-platform data as possible together into single user profiles for marketers. The other two services get more detailed information. AppsFlyer, which likewise offers an array of deep linking, mobile, and cross-platform analytics services, also receives a unique identifier as well as information about your wireless carrier.
AppsFlyer also receives information about all your phone’s onboard sensors, including the magnetometer, gyroscope, and accelerometer, and the sensors’ calibration settings. It also gathers data about when Ring was installed and launched, what app you used to install Ring from, and whether AppsFlyer came pre-installed on your device, as often happens with low-end Android phones.
MixPanel—which provides, you guessed it, user-behavior analytics and data—gets the most personal information out of the whole set, the EFF found. That firm gathers users’ names and full email addresses in addition to device information, device Bluetooth information, and app settings including information about how many locations the user has Ring devices in.
YouTube Announces New Ways for Creators to Make Money
YouTube has introduced the next chapter in rewarding creativity on the platform. At its inaugural Made on YouTube event, YouTube shared that it’s expanding the platform’s monetization system, the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), to allow more creators to join the program, introducing new ways for creators to earn revenue through Shorts, and re-imagining the music industry and creator dynamic by opening up ads monetization for those who feature music in their videos.
Today’s announcement reflects the diversity of the platform’s growing creator community and allows its over 2M monetizing creators to make money on YouTube across any creative format. Today’s key announcement includes:
Expanding access to YPP: Starting in early 2023, Shorts-focused creators can apply to YPP by meeting a threshold of 1K subscribers and 10M Shorts views over 90 days. These new partners will enjoy all the benefits YPP offers, including ads monetization across Shorts and long-form YouTube videos. This is another option to the existing criteria where long-form creators can still apply to YPP when they reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. Creators can choose the one option that best fits their channel while YouTube maintains the same level of brand safety for advertisers. To support creators who are early in their YouTube journey, YouTube will also introduce a new level of YPP with lower requirements that will offer earlier access to Fan Funding features like Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Channel Memberships.
Introducing a first-of-its-kind revenue sharing model for Shorts: With 30B+ daily views and 1.5B+ monthly logged-in users, Shorts are exploding around the world. To reward this new creative class, beginning in early 2023, we’ll be moving away from a fixed fund and doubling down on a unique revenue-sharing model for Shorts for both current and future YPP creators. Because ads run between videos in the Shorts Feed, every month, revenue from these ads will be added together and used to reward Shorts creators and help cover costs of music licensing. From the overall amount allocated to creators, they will keep 45% of the revenue, distributed based on their share of total Shorts views. The revenue share remains the same, no matter if they use music or not.
Launching Creator Music: The complexities of music licensing has meant that most long-form videos that feature music don’t result in creators being paid. To build a bridge between the music industry and creators, YouTube is introducing Creator Music, a new destination that gives creators easy access to an ever-growing catalog of music for use in their videos, while providing artists and music rights holders with a new revenue stream for their music on YouTube. Creators can now buy affordable, high-quality music licenses that offer them full monetizing potential—they will keep the same revenue share they’d usually make on videos without any music. And for creators who don’t want to buy a license up front, they’ll be able to use songs and share revenue with the track’s artist and associated rights holders. Creator Music is currently in beta in the U.S. will expand to more countries in 2023.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said, “The YouTube Partner Program was revolutionary when we launched it back in 2007, and it’s still revolutionary today. Over the last three years, YouTube has paid creators, artists, and media companies more than $50 billion dollars. That $50 billion dollars has changed the lives of creators around the world and enabled new voices and stories to be told. But we’re not done yet. When we introduced the YouTube Partner Program, we made a big bet: we succeed only when our creators succeed. And today, we’re doubling down. We’re introducing the next chapter in how we reward creativity on our platform by expanding access to our YouTube Partner program.”
Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, said, “YouTube’s first-of-its-kind, industry-leading Partner Program changed the game for long-form video. And now we’re changing the game again, this time by opening it up to Short-form creators and introducing revenue sharing to Shorts. This is the first time revenue sharing is being offered for short-form video on any platform at scale, adding to the 10 ways creators can already earn revenue on YouTube. It’ll be available to all of those in YPP — including the new, mobile-first creators, who will be joining the program for the first time.”
Pedro Pina, YouTube’s VP of Europe, Middle East & Africa, said, “This is a pivotal moment for both YouTube & the creative ecosystem. In times of uncertainty, we’re bringing even more revenue opportunities to more creators and artists across more formats than ever – all of this is helping turbocharge an already healthy video ecosystem in MENA.”
Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, said, “Creator Music is the future. We’re building the bridge between artists and creators on YouTube to elevate the soundtrack of the creator economy; it’s a win-win-win for artists, songwriters, creators and fans. With Creator Music, artists have a new way to get their music out into the world; fans can now discover music they love on their favorite creator’s channels, and both creators and artists will have new revenue opportunities.”
Snap Unveils New Dual Camera Feature
Snap Inc. has announced the availability of its newest and highly-anticipated feature – Dual Camera on the Snapchat platform. Starting today, the new Dual Camera mode will enable Snapchatters to create content using their front and back-facing cameras simultaneously. To be made available globally on iOS and later on Android, Dual Camera will expand the choices Snapchatters have to express themselves.
Dual Camera was announced earlier this year as a part of Director Mode, Snapchat’s new creator camera. To bring even more visibility and spontaneity to the tool, Dual Camera features prominently on Snapchat, with a new icon to activate the feature in the camera toolbar when users open the app. With one simple tap, Snapchatters can start creating Snaps and Stories, or more polished Spotlight videos, with double the perspective. Dual Camera will still be available in Director Mode alongside Green Screen, Camera Speed, and Jump Cut, slated to launch in the coming months.
Whether it is capturing exciting moments like rocking out at a music festival, everyday moments like real-time reactions to your favorite reality TV show with your best friends or trying your partner’s latest attempt at cooking, Dual Camera is a tool for everyone. It will have four layouts: vertical, horizontal, picture in picture, and cutout. Snapchatters will also be able to add their favorite Snapchat creative tools, including music, stickers and lenses. At launch, Dual Camera will support Lenses in post-capture, with capture mode capabilities to follow in the coming months.
Snapchat was founded on the idea that the camera supports real friendship through visual communication, self-expression and storytelling. Today, its camera is one of the most used cameras in the world. To support its community, Snap has a reward program for Spotlight creators in which it makes available millions of dollars to eligible Snapchatters who create the top Spotlight Snaps.
Here’s how you can use the Dual Camera feature:
· Step 1: Open Snapchat
· Step 2: Locate a new icon in the camera toolbar
· Step 3: Tap on it to activate the feature and start creating Snaps and Stories.
Huawei Encourages Developers to Build Socially Impactful Applications
Blind Assistant, a mobile app developed by a team of Tunisian engineers, help the visually impaired and blind community to recognise objects, texts, and colours around them using the integrated voice-over features in the app. The tech giant introduced a ‘Best Social Impact’ category as part of the Huawei Global App Innovation Contest (Apps UP), in order to facilitate the development of experiences such as Blind Assistant that positively impact communities.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide have near or far vision impairment. The differently-abled can have lower rates of workforce participation and productivity. The app’s goal is to make visually impaired individuals more independent by assisting them in identifying objects, faces, colours, and texts with the tap of a button. A visually impaired person can use Blind Assistant to easily orient themselves, eliminating the need for a visual embossed print.
“We were inspired to work on the ‘Blind Assistant’ project once we learned about Apps UP in 2021. We worked on integrating with the HMS Ecosystem and were able to launch the app on time for the competition,” said the developers of Blind Assistant Kassis Bassem and Wajih Sakka. “Since its inception, Blind Assistant played an important role in assisting the visually impaired community by enhancing their communication abilities daily.”
“Technology can play a significant role in positively influencing the community, and we are thrilled to see how mobile apps are benefiting consumers. Huawei’s Apps UP competition acts as a catalyst for the development of creative mobile apps, and Blind Assistant – the winner of the Best Social Impact App in 2021, is a testament to that fact. The app effectively demonstrates how mobile apps can promote inclusivity in the community and serve the underserved”, said, Lu Geng, Vice President of the Middle East and Africa, Huawei Global Partnerships & Eco-Development, Huawei Consumer Business Group.
Blind Assistant, is available to download via AppGallery, the default application marketplace for Huawei smart devices. Apps UP 2022 has a cash prize pool of $230,000 for Middle Eastern and African developers, with individual prize amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. Categories include the best HMS Innovation Award, Best App, Best Game, Best Social Impact App, All-Scenario Coverage Award, Tech Women’s Award, Student Innovation Award, and the newly introduced Best Arabic App. The Tech Women’s Award is open to teams with at least one female developer who is a pivotal team member or leader.
Developers can enter multiple categories and submit more than one app to boost their winning chances. To register and learn more about the Huawei Global App Innovation Contest (Apps UP), please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the official Apps UP 2022 MEA page.
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