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U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday will take up Apple Inc's effort to bury a lawsuit seeking damages from the company for allegedly monopolizing the market for iPhone software applications and forcing consumers to overpay. The justices will hear arguments in Apple's appeal of a lower court's decision to revive the proposed class-action lawsuit by a group of iPhone users. The lawsuit accused the Cupertino, California-based technology company of violating federal antitrust laws by requiring apps to be sold through the company's App Store and then taking a 30 percent commission from the purchases. The iPhone users, including lead plaintiff Robert Pepper of Chicago, filed the suit in a California federal court in 2011, claiming Apple's monopoly leads to inflated prices compared to if apps were available from other sources. Though developers set the prices of their apps, Apple collects the payments from iPhone users, keeping a 30 percent commission on each purchase. One area of dispute in the case is whether app developers recoup the cost of that commission by passing it on to consumers. Developers earned more than $26 billion in 2017, a 30 percent increase over 2016, according to Apple. The company, backed by Republican President Donald Trump's administration as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the justices in legal papers that siding with the iPhone users who filed the lawsuit would threaten the burgeoning field of e-commerce, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars annually in U.S. retail sales. The plaintiffs, as well as antitrust watchdog groups, said closing courthouse doors to those who buy end products would undermine antitrust enforcement and allow monopolistic behavior to expand unchecked. The plaintiffs were backed by 30 state attorneys general, including from Texas, California and New York. Full details can be found on OUR FORUM.

The UK Parliament is determined to get to the bottom of Facebook's data privacy practices, whether or not Mark Zuckerberg is willing to testify. Digital Culture, Media and Sports committee (DCMS) chairman Damian Collins used an uncommon process to force the founder of software developer Six4Three to hand over internal Facebook documents while he was on a business trip to London. The files reportedly include details of Facebook data decisions that enabled the Cambridge Analytica scandal, including emails between executives and conversations with Zuckerberg. Six4Three had taken action against Facebook after claiming the site was aware of the potential consequences of its privacy policies and intentionally drawing attention to the loophole that Cambridge Analytica used to gather information. Facebook has maintained that the assertions "have no merit" and that it intended to fight the assertions in court. The files are already subject to an order from a California court, which would restrict them from being published in the US. Facebook has already called on the DCMS committee to both avoid reviewing the documents and to bring them back to either Facebook or its legal counsel. However, it's not certain that Facebook can actually force this since Parliament was acting under its own jurisdiction. The rest of this story can be found on OUR FORUM.

Microsoft’s current market cap has overtaken Apple’s, after living for nearly a decade in the shadow of the Cupertino company. At the time of writing Microsoft’s intra-day Market Cap is now 751.88B, higher than competing company Apple Inc. which is now 749.75B, by more than 2 billion dollars. Amazon (currently 741.90B) and Apple were dubbed the world’s most valuable tech companies by Market Cap earlier this year as they crossed the $1 trillion mark. With Microsoft now overshadowing all three, including Alphabet Inc, the firm now looks to be the most valuable tech company of the Silicon Valley giants. As can be seen from the graph, the last time Apple and Microsoft’s market capitalization came close to each other was way back in 2010. Investors are concerned about slowing revenue growth at the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google), a club of high flyers Microsoft has traditionally been excluded from. Now they are betting company spending on cloud services and software will remain strong as companies strive to increase efficiency and productivity, while Facebook and Google are increasingly coming under scrutiny for their consumer data practices. See the graph and read more on OUR FORUM.

Following a hack that resulted in leaking about 808,000 email addresses and over 1.8 million usernames and passwords, a social network website in Germany received a fine of EUR 20,000 from the Baden-Württemberg Data Protection Authority. In July this year, flirty chat platform Knuddels.de suffered a data breach and the information stolen from its servers was published online in clear form. A member of the staff said at the time that the incident affected all users that had an account with the service or a username for the chat platform on July 20, 2018. According to a post from another team member, 330,000 of the leaked email addresses were verified, and once Knuddels learned of the leaks (one on Pastebin, another on Mega cloud storage service), it improved security measures, alerted the users and reset their passwords. It was later discovered that the website did not apply any form of protection for sensitive information such as passwords and stored them in plain text. If you think that we made a type about the penalty to be paid and it is missing zero, it is not. To remove all confusion, converted to other currencies, the fine incurred by Knuddels.de is $23,000, or around £18,000. This is the first penalty in Germany under the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which entered into force in May this year. Get more involved and read more on OUR FORUM.

With the shopping season underway, cybercriminals are making efforts to capitalize from key holidays and users' craze for Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts. Scams and malicious email campaigns are in full swing, and so are web-skimming operations that steal payment card information from vulnerable online stores.  The US-CERT released a warning this week about the growing number of emails with malicious links or attachments, malvertising campaigns, and donation requests from fake charitable outfits. The alert is backed by findings from cloud security company Zscaler that say they've "seen a steady rise in phishing attacks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday". Between mid-October and mid-November, the company observed 723,942 targeted phishing campaigns and almost half a million generic spam attacks. In total, the company recorded almost 1.3 million events of this type. The research reveals that with some targeted attacks the purpose is to compromise Amazon accounts and steal payment card data. Two examples of fake pages for logging into Amazon and for billing verification show that cybercriminals have become adept social engineers, leaving few tells for the scam. To an unsuspecting user, the fake login page is indistinguishable from the original, but a look at the URL in the address bar gives away the fraud attempt since the domain name is not from Amazon. The absence of a secure http connection is another tale of mischievous activity, which browsers like Chrome will mark with a 'Not Secure' indicator. "The best defense is to always be conscious of the address bar. A store like Amazon is never going to ask you for sensitive information away from the Amazon site," advises Chris Mannon, a senior security researcher at Zscaler. There's more detailed information posted on OUR FORUM.

Last week, a bunch of new patents for Microsoft’s foldable or dual-screen mobile devices were published on USPTO. The patents have revealed the ideas that Microsoft inventors have imagined for the company’s dual-screen device but as it is the case with all patent applications, there is no guarantee that this patented device will ever make it into a consumer product. There are two new patents that went unnoticed and both were published by USPTO on November 15. The first patent details a dual-screen device with the ability to adjust the volume and the second patent appears to detail another dual-screen device that can display data on first or second display simultaneously. The patent titled “VOLUME ADJUSTMENT ON HINGED MULTI-SCREEN DEVICE” was published on November 15 and it appears to detail a device featuring two displays, a front-facing camera on the first display and another front facing camera on second display. It also features a speaker. In the background section of the patent application, Microsoft explains the audio volume problems that many customers may have experience when using mobile computing devices. “Users interact with multi-screen mobile devices throughout a variety of positions, including holding the device vertically, holding the device with a primary screen facing toward the user, holding the screen with a second screen facing toward the user, and other positions and orientations. When viewing content on the screens in these varying positions, users may encounter challenges adjusting the audio volumes of different applications executed on each of the screens, or different audio-enabled graphical user elements displayed on each of the screens,” Microsoft writes. Want to know more visit OUR FORUM.