Hashtag Trending May 23rd-Meta faces US$1.3 billion dollar fine; Microsoft sounds the alarm on email fraud; Chinese ChatGPT programmed to avoid any mention of Xi Jinping and Winnie The Pooh

Meta faces a US1.3 billion dollar fine, the largest fine ever for violating GDPR privacy rules, Microsoft sounds the alarm on email fraud and why has China’s AI answer to ChatGPT been banned from talking about Winnie the Pooh?

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These top tech news stories and more for Tuesday, May 23, 2023 , I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada, and Tech News Day in the US.

European regulators have hit Meta with a US$1.3 billion dollar fine for allowing the transfer of European user data to the U.S.-the largest fine in the history of GDPR for privacy violations.

The European Data Protection Board has ordered Meta to bring its data transfers into compliance with GDPR and to delete any “unlawfully stored and processed data within six months.”

The order apparently applies to Facebook user data and not Instagram and WhatsApp, which were not subject to the order. 

Andrea Jelinek, chair of the Data Protection Board claimed that Meta’s infringement has been “systematic, repetitive and continuous.” She further stated that Facebook has millions of users in Europe, so the volume of personal data transferred is massive. The unprecedented fine is a strong signal to organizations that serious infringements have far-reaching consequences.”

Meta is appealing the ruling calling it “unjustified and unnecessary.”

Sources include: The Hacker News

Last week, Apple announced a new ChatGPT app for the iPhone. And according to the Wall Street Journal, an internal memo announced that Apple employees were not allowed to use ChatGPT for their work. 

Apple also banned the use of GitHub’s Copilot. GitHub is owned by Microsoft.

Apple is not the only company to ban ChatGPT and other generative AI models for use, concerned that data may leak from their organizations.  

Their concerns have some foundation. In March, a bug in ChatGPT temporarily allowed users to see the chat history of other users. 

Following that issue, ChatGPT added the option to let users turn off their chat history and not contribute to the training of the AI model with their interactions. 

But in an abundance of caution, fearing other bugs or some other way key data could be leaked, Apple joins a list of other large companies who have banned or restricted use including Samsung, Verizon, J.P. Morgan Chase and Amazon – although Amazon has its own proprietary AI toolset.  

Apple, alas, does not. 

While Siri appears to be conversational, the “back end” is really a database of expected questions and answers, far inferior to the generative AI models of its competitors. In fact, Apple staff have been been reported to have expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with Siri’s inadequacies arising from its current structure.

Tim Cook has praised the ability of AI but has also noted there are “issues that need to be sorted.”  Nevertheless, Apple is rumoured to be working on an AI tool codenamed Bobcat that will bring generative AI to Siri. According to 9 to 5 Mac, Apple is experimenting with using this new facility when Siri tells jokes. It’s unclear when the company plans to expand AI functionality. 

In the meantime, Apple’s AI will be a joke.  Ouch! That was harsh. 

Sources include: 9 to 5 Mac

And HP, which took some heat last month when it appeared to be preventing the use of cheaper non HP ink cartridges has another issue on its hands.  According to an article in Bleeping Computer, a recent firmware upgrade has been bricking Office Jet printers world-wide. 

The models affected are reported to be HP OfficeJet 902x models, including HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e, HP OfficeJet Pro 9025e, HP OfficeJet Pro 9020eAll-in-One, HP OfficeJet Pro 9025e All-in-One Printer

The upgrade, which is triggered automatically, leaves these devices displaying a blue screen of death with an error showing on the touchscreen.

HP told Bleeping Computer that “”our teams are working diligently to address the blue screen error affecting a limited number of HP OfficeJet Pro 9020e printers.”

Those not affected may want to try to ensure that their printers are not connected to the internet until a fix is available.  

Sources include: Bleeping Computer

Microsoft is warning of an increase in business fraud in a new report called “the Confidence Game.”  The report notes that the FBI reported more than 21,000 complaints have been received with losses of over 2.7 billion dollars.

According to the report, Microsoft says they have observed an “increase in the sophistication of tactics including disguising internet addresses so that they appear to be local and do not trigger some of the alerts that identify and block their login attempts and other “suspicious activity.”

One of the drivers of this increased activity is the availability of “as a service tools” like Evil Proxy, Naked Pages, and Caffeine and increasingly one called BulletProftLink. This latest offering allows relatively unsophisticated users to efficiently create “industrial-scale malicious email campaigns.” According to the report, “BulletProftlink sells an end to-end service including templates, hosting and automated services.” Cybercrook subscribers receive credentials and the IP address of the victim.” 

The attackers also make use of IP/proxy services that marketers use for research to scale these attacks. Microsoft notes that one “IP service provider has 100 million IP addresses that can be rotated or changed every second.”

The report urges companies to maximize security settings, to flag unknown users, to set up strong authentication and to train users to be very suspicious of any warning signs of potential fraud and to implement a secure payment portal instead of having emailed invoices, or at the very least, to verify any instructions with a phone call or other secure confirmation.

Sources include: Microsoft report “The Confidence Game”

And a report in the New York Post claims that the Chinese ChatGPT rival which goes by the name of Ernie, has run afoul of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Apparently the new AI, which had been billed as “a better alternative to the dangers posted by OpenAI’s ChatGPT” has been programmed to avoid any mention of Xi and Winnie the Pooh.  

The Post reports that when a reporter asked “what is the relationship between Xi and Winnie the Pooh,” not only was their no reply but the reporter’s access to Ernie as was disabled.

Since Ernie was not available, we asked Bard – no not Bert, Bard and received the following uncensored version of the scandal.

In 2013 critics compared an image of Pooh and his friend Tigger to a picture of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US president Barack Obama, which was regarded as disrespectful. Xi Jinping’s resemblance to Winnie the Pooh led to the fictional bear being banned in China, with movies, TV series, and stuffed toys banned in the country. The meme comparing Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh gained significant popularity among Western users on Reddit, Twitter, and other online platforms in 2019. 

The Disney film Christopher Robin was banned in China in 2018, reportedly due to the country’s crusade against images of Winnie the Pooh, which has become a symbol of resistance with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

To which we can only say, Ta Ta For Now

That’s the top tech news for today.  We go to air with a daily newscast five days a week, as well as a special weekend interview with an expert on topics relevant to today’s tech news.

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I’m your host, Jim Love.  Have a terrific Tuesday!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Lovehttp://www.itworldcanada.com/
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO of a great company - IT World Canada - Canada's leading ICT publisher.

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