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Tech privacy firm warns contact tracing app violates policy

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A contact tracing app pushed by the governors of North Dakota and South Dakota as a tool to trace exposure to the coronavirus violated its own privacy policy by sharing location and user identification information with third party companies, according to a report from a tech privacy firm.

The Care19 app, developed by ProudCrowd, of North Dakota, was one of the first contact tracing apps endorsed by state governments in response to the coronavirus. Governors from both states promoted it as a way to help health officials stop outbreaks and retrace the steps of people with infections, while assuring people that their data is protected. But tech privacy firm Jumbo Privacy reported this week that developers included lines of code that send users’ location and identification data to third-party companies including Foursquare, BugFender and Google.

Concerned citizens have been eyeing the tradeoff between controlling outbreaks using apps and intrusions on personal privacy. Civil liberty groups and tech watchdogs have warned about contact tracing apps, saying governments and companies should not be able to access personal data.

The Care19 app shared location data with Foursquare, an advertising company that markets to people based on their location.


ProudCrowd CEO Tim Brookins said his company sends data to Foursquare to determine which businesses a user has visited, but the data is discarded and not used for commercial purposes.

“The simple overarching fact here is that we have stated, and Foursquare has confirmed, that they have not, nor will not, collect data from Care19 users. Period,” Brookins said.

The app generates an anonymous code for every user. The Jumbo Privacy report noted that the code, along with the phone’s identification, was sent to BugFender, a Barcelona-based company that helps developers track malfunctions. The app also sent an advertising identifier linked with the user’s phone to Google’s Firebase service. That adds up to “serious privacy risks,” Jumbo said.

“It’s really an oversight from them,” said Jumbo Privacy CEO Pierre Valade. “It’s not a bad intention. They were rushing to build this product.”

Until Friday, Care19′s privacy statement told users their location data would “not be shared with anyone, including government entities or third parties, unless you consent or ProudCrowd is compelled under federal regulations.”

A revised statement says third parties “may have temporary access to aspects of your data for their specific data processing tasks. However, they will not collect this data in a form that allows themselves or others to access or otherwise use this data.”

South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the Care19 app doesn’t violate the privacy statement and that users always had to grant permission for the app to use their data. The South Dakota version of the app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, but hasn’t been used to trace an active infection yet.

“This is a voluntary, opt-in app,” she said.

The North Dakota Department of Health, which has seen over 33,000 downloads of the app, hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

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Rebel Foods brews a new food kits plan, Technology News, ETtech

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Rebel Foods brews a new food kits plan
Rebel Foods, India’s largest cloud kitchen chain, which operates Faasos, Oven Story, Firangi Bake, and Behrouz, is planning to use its kitchen infrastructure to expand beyond its own cooked meal brands, a top executive told ET.

This will be done by diversifying into ready-to-cook kits, meats, packaged snacks, as well as scaling other restaurants by investing in 12 brands this year, Jaydeep Burman, CEO of Rebel Foods, said in an exclusive interaction with ET.

The food company speculated to be valued at about $1billion, said growth in India is increasing by 10% every week, but it is still slow compared to international markets and may take five months at least to reach numbers seen before the Covid-19 outbreak.

“(In India) I think there’ll be a natural tendency towards more at-home cooking and consumption…We are creating an umbrella under a program called Eat.Sure and giving this platform for other food entrepreneurs to come on board and build brands around ready-to-cook, ready-to-eat, ready-to-use, and so on,” Burman told ET.

The idea is to extend cases beyond restaurants and create products for customers for use in homes. “ We will be onboarding brands which adhere to the overall principle of great ingredients, no adulteration, no preservatives, no added color, …follows hygiene protocol and so on,” he said.

Globally, demand for food delivery apps have spiked since dine-in is no longer an option.

However, in India, people have started cooking at home fearing they would be infected if they go out, Burman said. Since this trend is likely to last, expansion to adjacent complementary categories was the need of the hour, he added.

The move will give Rebel Foods an opportunity to leverage its existing kitchen infrastructure across 35 cities to add new use cases for consumers at a time when food delivery volumes at dominant players Swiggy and Zomato are down by at least 70% and only marginally increasing over weeks.

It also comes at a time when both platforms have significantly downsized their cloud kitchen infrastructure citing poor utilization of properties. “In times of crisis, people gravitate towards their core competence…which for many of these guys (Swiggy and Zomato) has been logistics, marketplace models, delivery,” Burman said. “We run a much tighter, more efficient ship.”

According to him, even when Rebel Foods’ revenues were down by 50%, the company did not face challenges to its survival.

In April, Rebel raised an additional $50 million from existing investor, US-based hedge fund Coatue Management. This came in months after the Mumbai based firm closed a $125 million round from Coatue along with the participation from the investment arms of ride-hailing major GoJek and Goldman Sachs.

International expansion:

The company will, however, continue to launch in new geographies including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Thailand by partnering with restaurants that already have a strong connection with consumers but struggle with online ordering, he said.

“We are actually seeing significant partnership opportunities across the world. And these are all sorts of incoming queries to us, like — ‘can you help us, can you help us pivot to a cloud kitchen model where we can have our own brands as well as your brand, using your technology and you know how to scale fast?’.”

“Nothing is concrete yet, but the opportunity has opened up, which was not there before Covid-19,” Burman said.

In UAE, Rebel said its sales are up 25% citing that culturally a lot of UAE expats don’t cook at home. Even in Indonesia, the firm only saw a 15% drop in sales while India was down more than 50%. Just last week, Rebel partnered with Travis Kalanik owned-Cloud Kitchens to launch operations in London. “Any new market we go to, we try to collaborate like for example in London we’re actually operating out of FoodStart Kitchen…In India we don’t see it happening as much because we are still at that footprint,” he said.

Even as businesses diversify, health, and hygiene will continue to remain the top priority across the food delivery space. “People are more cautious about safety, hygiene, ingredients, the overall quality, than ever. So maybe pre COVID, pricing, discounts, variety used to play a big role. I’m sure some of that will continue. But safety, security would probably be the most important thing,” he said.



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Belgian rail tests sensors to keep workers apart during COVID-19- Technology News, Firstpost

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 Belgian rail tests sensors to keep workers apart during COVID-19

By Clement Rossignol and Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium’s railways are testing smart cameras with sensors to ensure its workers wear masks and maintain their distance to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

From next week, so-called intelligent cameras will be installed in five strategic points in the offices of Belgian rail infrastructure operator Infrabel, where technicians would normally come together, such as the cafeteria.

A warning will sound if people are too numerous, do not have a face mask or get too close.

“We must ensure that our staff complies with the various social distancing guidelines. This is why we are setting up a number of devices based on artificial intelligence,” Benoit Gilson, Infrabel’s strategy director, told Reuters on Monday.

Using AI software available online, Infrabel said it had developed a way to interpret camera images for the purpose of COVID-19 protection. The company will employ an algorithm to calculate if workers are too close or wearing a face mask.

In a demonstration on Monday, staff seen on camera were shown on a giant screen as stick figures whose distance apart could be measured in metres. On another screen, a camera detected if a worker entering a room was wearing a mask.

“The whole issue of distance (between individuals) is (managed by) a mathematical model that we developed,” said Daniel Degueldre, head of Infrabel’s information technology team.

The company, which has 11,000 employees, said it had already been working on ways to use sensors to protect technicians working on the Belgian railways by placing cameras on helmets that would alert staff in an accident.

That know-how was reappraised to fight coronavirus.

Responsible for Belgium’s 3,602 km (2,238 miles) of rail lines, Infrabel manages one of the world’s most dense rail networks.

(Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.



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airport: COVID-19: Bengaluru airport introduces ‘contactless journey’ – Latest News

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Bengaluru, May 24 () The Bengaluru airport management is introducing a unique feature of parking-to-boarding contactless journey for the passengers as the domestic flight resumes from Monday. In order to contain coronavirus transmission among passengers and staff, the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) introduced the new feature of contactless journey right from pre-entry check to security check and boarding.

“Contactless would be the buzzword at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru when operations resume from May 25,” the BIAL said in a statement on Sunday.

With greater emphasis on minimum touch and minimum exposure between passengers and airport personnel, BIAL aims to minimise all physical contact at the airport.

The technology will continue to enable a seamless airport journey, with greater emphasis on health and safety, the statement said.

“We have introduced innovative contactless procedures to minimise exposure at the airport,” Hari Marar, managing director and chief executive officer of BIAL, said. “These enhancements demonstrate our continued commitment to keep our passengers safe in this environment.”

According to the BIAL, the features include pre-entry process, where the passengers have to wear masks and carry e-boarding or printed passes.

The travellers will undergo thermal scan and will have to show that the Aarogya Setu app on the passengers mobile phone has the ‘you-are-safe’ message.

“CISF personnel will verify the boarding pass and Government-issued Photo ID using an electronic device or through a magnified glass screen,” it said.

The doormats will be soaked with bleach at the terminal entrance to disinfect the shoes, the BIAL said.

There will be contactless self-service kiosk where the passengers will collect the baggage tag before proceeding to the airline counter to drop-off luggage.

A transparent partition has been installed at the airport, to ensure the safety of both airline staff and passenger at the airline bag drop counters.

Under the new contactless process, body scanning will be done using door frame metal detectors.

Stamping of the boarding pass has been suspended, as directed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the BIAL said.

Before boarding, the airline staff will once again do thermal screening and then permit boarding.



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