A report finds French President Emmanuel Macron was targeted by Pegasus spyware, Venmo removes a puzzling feature, and DuckDuckGo has announced an email protection service.
It’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Thursday, July 22, and I’m your host, Tom Li.
The BBC is reporting that French President Emmanuel Macron was among the names included in a list of Pegasus spyware targets leaked earlier this week. The spyware, which comes from Israeli-based firm NSO, has thus far denied any wrongdoing on their part, asserting the spywares is intended for use against criminals and terrorists only. Macron was reportedly on a list of targets from Morrocan intelligence services and had been on their radar since 2017. The BBC acknowledged as well that “being on the list does not mean that the software was used but it does mean that the person was a potential target.”. Macron is one of over 600 government officials and politicians from 34 countries that were featured on the leaked list.
Leading payment app Venmo is removing its global social feed feature, which allowed users to see payments between people they did not know. Venmo announced the change on Tuesday, saying that it “allows customers to connect and share meaningful moments and experiences with the people who matter most.” As reported by BuzzFeed News back in May, the feature gave significant leeway when it came to looking at strangers’ payment history, and even allowed users to track down the payment history of President Joe Biden. While this change is expected to be rolled out in the coming days, Veno says that they will not be changing users’ ability to control their friend’s list and see transactions among friends.
And finally, search engine company DuckDuckGo has introduced a new “Email Protection” service that aims to block trackers and hide your email address. Users who join the beta get an email address attached to the Duck domain, which will filter out email trackers while forwarding the contents to a user’s regular email. The effort to improve privacy from DuckDuckGo marks a wave of ongoing pushback to the diminishing privacy in the email service marketplace. DuckDuckGo reports that approximately 70% of all emails contain trackers, which allow the sender to see when, where, and on which device you’ve opened a message from.
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