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Instagram now allows users to block the app from tracking what they do online

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Meta has also announced a way to transfer your photos and videos from Instagram to other services | Photo: Erik Lucatero

Social media users not wanting to leave a history of online usage can now turn off the Instagram’s ability to track what other apps and websites they use, and can see and manage which companies are collecting their data, Meta has announced earlier this week.

Meta will now let you block Instagram from collecting your data across the apps and websites you visit. The company has started allowing users to review which businesses are sharing information with Meta, disconnect specific activity, as well as clear the collected information.

The move, which has been welcomed by users sharing the news online, comes as a new report suggests Meta may move to a subscription model in Europe to avoid the EU entanglements around advertising and privacy; according to the New York Times, the  “pay to play” model would apply to Facebook and Instagram, but not WhatsApp. 

How to block Instagram from tracking what you do online

To find and enable the Activity Off-Meta Technologies, you can access Accounts Center on Instagram by heading to Settings and privacy and selecting Accounts Center. This menu is also present on Facebook and Messenger.

Previously it was available only for Facebook. Meta receives information from third-party websites that use its business tools, such as the Meta Pixel, which tracks users on the web and allows Meta to serve personalized ads on its platforms.

Meta also announced a few other features coming to the Accounts Center, including a way to transfer your photos and videos from Instagram to other services. Additionally, you can now download information from both your Facebook and Instagram accounts at the same time. Meta previously only let you download information separately, which you can still choose to do.

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Names and physical addresses of 49 Million Dell users leaked

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A woman in pajamas using a Dell laptop
The data reportedly encompasses information on systems purchased from Dell between 2017 and 2024

This week, US technology company Dell notified customers about a data breach involving customers’ names and physical addresses. While Dell states that the accessed database contained limited types of customer information related to purchases from the brand and believes there is not a significant risk to its customers given the type of information involved, the company acknowledged yesterday (May 9) that the data accessed via its portal also includes hardware and order information, such as service tag, item description, date of order, and related warranty information. According to Dell, the information involved does not include financial or payment information.

Upon identifying the incident, the American company founded in 1984 says that it has “promptly implemented our incident response procedures, began investigating, took steps to contain the incident and notified law enforcement”. Dell has also engaged a third-party forensics firm to investigate this incident.

On April 29th, the tech website Daily Dark Web published an article disclosing that a hacker was selling access to a database that allegedly contains 49 million Dell customer records. The data reportedly encompasses information on systems purchased from Dell between 2017 and 2024, and the stolen information would include full names and addresses.

Dell suggested customers to check a page with tips to help avoid tech support phone scams

What to do if you have been affected by Dell’s data breach

In an email sent to its customers on Thursday (May 9th), Dell informed them that an internal investigation indicated their information was accessed during the incident. However, the company stated that it doesn’t ‘believe there is significant risk given the limited information impacted.

You read it correctly: Dell doesn’t believe that attackers gaining unauthorized access to 49 million users’ names and physical addresses, leaked due to a data breach, poses a significant risk. The company signed off the warning email suggesting that people “should always keep in mind these tips to help avoid tech support phone scams. If you notice any suspicious activity related to your Dell accounts or purchases, please immediately report concerns to security@dell.com.”

The linked blog page, posted in 2018, offers tips such as ‘hang up immediately if you receive a suspicious call’ and ‘hang up if an unsolicited caller pressures you to act quickly.’ However, it is unclear why Dell is informing people about phone scams, as the company states that the recent data breach, which involved the leak of physical addresses of 49 million Dell users, did not include email addresses or telephone numbers.

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AI experts explore ethical video tech for patients prone to falls

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Dr Alan Godfrey and lead researcher and PhD student Jason Moore
Dr Alan Godfrey and lead researcher and PhD student Jason Moore

Video-enabled glasses have the potential to support patients at risk of falls by allowing medical staff to monitor how they move around their homes and their community. However, with privacy concerns at the forefront of this new technology, academics at Northumbria University have carried out a cutting-edge study into the ethical use of AI to ensure video footage can be obscured to ensure patient privacy.

Traditionally patients at risk of falls have been assessed based on information they provide themselves in diaries or during short in-clinic observation appointments. However, these do not provide clinical teams with objective, digital data on how patients move around outdoors and in their home environments – the areas in which they are most likely to have a fall.

Trials of inertial wearable technology worn on the lower back – similar to that used in a smart watch – to track patients’ walking movements, known as gait, are proving valuable but there are still pitfalls due to a lack of contextual information around where a patient is, who they are walking with and what activities they are carrying out.

In a bid to both improve, and personalise, patient care for those at risk of falls through illness or age, experts have been keen to explore how they can improve assessments and gain a fuller picture of what might be contributing to any abnormal gait data captured by the wearable devices.

Asking patients to also wear video-enabled glasses will provide much more accurate information on how they move depending on their surroundings, including obstacles and other hazards, where they are at the time and what might be putting them at increased risk of falls.

However, although the use of video technology has many potential benefits, patients wearing these video-enabled glasses – and their families – must be able to maintain their privacy.

In a bid to test how these privacy concerns could be overcome, a group of computing and digital health experts ran a technology pilot to test the application of new AI software that can blur personal data and information captured by video glasses – for example photographs around the home, footage of children or confidential paperwork.

They found that the AI software could successfully analyse the raw video footage and detect and blur details such as faces, letters and laptop or phone screens, ensuring patient privacy could be maintained.

Their research has now been published in Nature Digital Medicine.

Dr Alan Godfrey, Associate Professor in Computer and Information Sciences at Northumbria University, said: “As you can imagine the variability in how people move when they’re completing different tasks is enormous.

“The data or information provided from an inertial wearable device attached to someone when they’re wandering around their house will inevitably differ from the same person when they’re outdoors or walking more quickly to get somewhere or to keep up with someone. This means that while the use of an inertial wearable alone is helpful, it tells us nothing about the context in which a fall may occur.

“Having absolute clarity about the environment and what people are doing is key.”

He added: “We wanted to assess how new developments in AI would allow us to provide video-enabled glasses that would allow medical staff to observe patients’ movements in real environments over a longer time period without invading their privacy.”

The paper demonstrates that by combining information from the wearable device that records gait data with footage captured by video glasses which is obscured where necessary thanks to the ethical use of AI, clinicians have a much more comprehensive picture of how patients’ move in their own surroundings.

This could lead to significant improvements in the accuracy of patient fall risk assessment and in the decision-making process around patient care.

Speaking on the study, lead researcher and PhD student Jason Moore, from the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Northumbria University, said: “Traditionally the use of video within the home has caused some apprehension among patient populations as a result of privacy concerns owing to what else may be captured on camera.

“However, through the use of AI software that can identify and obscure personal or sensitive information we can effectively capture the contextual information that will allow us to better understand abnormal gait data, whilst overcoming the concerns patients may have around the use of video technology in their own homes.

“The benefit of providing this contextual information is that clinicians will have a fuller picture for each individual patient which could ultimately allow them to provide more informed care plans and potentially keep more patients in their own homes for longer.”

The research involved experts from Northumbria’s departments of Computer and Information Sciences; Nursing, Midwifery and Health; and Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, as well as representatives from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and the Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne & Wear NHS Trust.

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Artificial Intelligence to lead Vivatech 2024 in France

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Artificial Intelligence to lead Vivatech 2024 in France
VivaTech will explore three technological challenges of the 21st century such as Artificial Intelligence, sustainable tech, and mobility.

The eighth annual edition of VivaTech, Europe’s biggest event dedicated to startups and tech, will take place 22-25 May in Paris at Expo Porte de Versailles.

The event is expected to gather over 2,500 start-ups and 2,000 international investors. 350 companies and organizations from 25 dynamic sectors, including automotive, healthcare and finance, will also be present. 

A new programme will aim to stimulate growth and innovation among economic decision-makers. This year VivaTech will introduce the Impact Bridge, a space bringing together start-ups, innovations and associations with a responsible tech approach.

VivaTech will explore three technological challenges of the 21st century: Artificial Intelligence, sustainable tech and mobility.

It is no surprising AI be heavily featured during the two-day tech event in France: 37% of VivaTech’s partners currently offers AI solutions.  The event will also will showcase innovations across 25 economic sectors and host discussions on the societal challenges of AI with several worldwide speakers.

According to the VivaTech barometer, business leaders recognise the importance of Sustainable Tech, with 93% of them convinced of its crucial role in meeting future challenges. Investment in this sector is on the rise, with a forecast doubling by 2027 to encourage innovation in the face of climate change. This is illustrated by the success of Sustainable Tech start-ups, which have raised a record $51 billion by 2023.

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