Curious about Everything

Day: September 8, 2021

Fresh concerns over WhatsApp privacy and encryption

“Encrypted” WhatsApp messages sent between users can be read by Facebook’s content review contractors.

End-to-end encryption would prevent a 3rd party from reading the message.

Peter Elkind, Jack Gillum, and Craig Silverman, ProPublica »

Zuckerberg’s vision centered on WhatsApp’s signature feature, which he said the company was planning to apply to Instagram and Facebook Messenger: end-to-end encryption, which converts all messages into an unreadable format that is only unlocked when they reach their intended destinations. WhatsApp messages are so secure, he said, that nobody else — not even the company — can read a word. As Zuckerberg had put it earlier, in testimony to the U.S. Senate in 2018, “We don’t see any of the content in WhatsApp.”

Those assurances are not true. WhatsApp has more than 1,000 contract workers filling floors of office buildings in Austin, Texas, Dublin and Singapore, where they examine millions of pieces of users’ content. Seated at computers in pods organized by work assignments, these hourly workers use special Facebook software to sift through streams of private messages, images and videos that have been reported by WhatsApp users as improper and then screened by the company’s artificial intelligence systems. These contractors pass judgment on whatever flashes on their screen — claims of everything from fraud or spam to child porn and potential terrorist plotting — typically in less than a minute.

Analysts Swiss Re predict US$183bn increase in property insurance costs by 2040 due to climate change

Floods in the Belgian village of Tiff on 16 July, 2021 | Credit: Régine Fabri

Floods in the Belgian village of Tiff on 16 July, 2021 | Credit: Régine Fabri

Cecilia Keating, Business Green »

The growing frequency and severity of extreme weather events caused by climate change is set to send property insurance prices soaring over the next 20 years, Swiss Re has warned.

In a report published earlier this week, the reinsurance giant’s research unit calculated climate-related risks will drive a 22 per cent increase in global property premiums, a spike that would equate to around $183bn in additional costs.

Overall, the firm expects property insurance premiums will triple to be worth $1.3tr in 2040, up from $450bn in 2020, driven largely by economic development and climate change, with the former expected to make up three quarters of the rise.

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