PayPal, the most popular platform for online payments has been struck with a difficult decision, after the company was pressured into blocking Mega accounts held with them. Mega is a cloud storage service used by many all over the internet to host their personal files, but recently, Mega has been targeted by various agencies around the world who seem to have a problem with the cloud storage host’s end-to-end encryption.
The problems that resulted in the Mega account being suspended by PayPal began in Fall 2014, when a report about scammers and illicit operations on the internet was published, including Mega on the blacklist. In September last year, Netnames in conjunction with the Digital Citizens Alliance published the “Behind the Cyberlocker Door: a report how shadowy cyberlockers use credit card companies to make millions”, analyzing how sites like 4Shared, Uploaded, FreakShare and more where monetizing on copyrighted content. We all know that many file hosting websites allow users to host copyrighted material without having a license for it, but that isn’t the case with Mega.
Mega complies with all the laws that regulate copyright, cloud storage, file hosting and file sharing on the internet and it seems the company has been falsely accused. We are wondering why Mega didn’t file for defamation when the report was published, as it suggested that Mega was breaching the law. That report has been largely ignored, as many reviewers say that it wasn’t based on concrete real information, rather on estimates and assumptions taken through Megaupload.
It seems the report is back and there are government officials supporting its claims against Mega, which inevitably led to PayPayl blocking Mega accounts. Senator Patrick Leahy, whom you might know for proposing the infamous SOPA and PIPA policies which were met with rage by internet users, has set out to ruin Mega. According to the company, Leahy contacted Mastercard and Visa and started pressuring their management to do something about Mega. That’s because the senator seems to be under the impression that Mega is doing something unlawful, even though the cloud storage website has repeatedly stressed the fact that it is in fact in compliance with all the laws. Mega thinks that Leahy and co. are trying to bring down international companies and leave only U.S. companies ruling the cloud storage industry. That’s just an assumption on my part, but one can’t deny that that’s what this looks like.
Following the initiatives of Leahy, Mastercard and Visa both turned towards PayPal to solve the situation, putting the payment company into a rather sticky situation. According to Mega CEO Graham Gaylard, PayPal has actually apologized for blocking Mega accounts on their site, saying that they are fully aware that Mega is in compliance with the law. Then why did they ban their accounts? Banning their accounts means that Mega cannot cash in subscription fees from their subscribers. If you’re on Mega, you’ve probably already been notified about the issue, but the neat thing about the way in which Mega is actually handling this is that they extended each existing subscription with two months, for free.
The apparent reason behind the whole ordeal is that Mega provides end-to-end encryption which cannot be accessed by third parties, not even governments or government agencies. It seems the U.S. government does not feel very kindly about that, Leahy leading the bunch this time around. PayPal apparently told mega that their encryption service is what caused their PayPal account to be terminated, after the payment company itself received quite a lot of pressure from Visa and Mastercard, who were in turn pressured by Leahy. This is an odd situation, but Mega promises to not give in and get back on its feet. Notable is that the crowd storage company has provided PayPal, Visa and Mastercard with all the necessary documents that prove that they are not in breach of an international policy or law.
Apple has introduced a new fee for apps in response to the EU’s gatekeeper rules
Apple has unveiled a series of upcoming updates to iOS in the European Union, which will include a new fee for developers. These changes are part of the iPhone maker’s efforts to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the bloc’s competition reform initiative.
In September, the EU classified Apple as one of six “gatekeepers” under the DMA, identifying the iOS App Store and Safari browser as “core platform services.” The regulation places a set of responsibilities and limitations on gatekeepers. Apple is being compelled to accept sideloading of apps, along with other alterations. The gatekeepers must comply with the DMA by March 7, which is the deadline.
Today, Apple announced the availability of iOS 17.4 in beta. According to Apple, this update will assist developers in getting ready for the upcoming changes to its mobile platform. To meet the EU’s compliance deadline, these changes will go into effect next month.
During a background briefing with journalists prior to the beta launch, Apple revealed that it has dedicated significant time and effort to developing its solution in order to meet the requirements of the DMA. However, it also cautioned that certain modifications may introduce additional vulnerabilities for users. This echoes a well-established concern about sideloading, as it has the potential to compromise the security and privacy of iOS users.
Apple has announced upcoming changes for iOS developers who distribute apps in the European Economic Area (EEA). These changes include:
- Exciting developments have emerged in the realm of distributing iOS apps, with the introduction of fresh APIs and tools that empower developers to make their iOS apps available for download from various alternative app marketplaces.
- Introducing a cutting-edge framework and APIs that empower developers to build their own app marketplaces. With this innovative solution, marketplace developers can effortlessly install apps and seamlessly handle updates on behalf of other developers, all within their dedicated marketplace app.
- Introducing new frameworks and APIs that empower developers to utilize different browser engines is expanding the possibilities for browser apps and apps with in-app browsing experiences beyond just WebKit.
- A form is available for developers to submit requests for interoperability with iPhone and iOS hardware and software features.
There was new information last week regarding an offer that Apple made to the EU in an effort to end an antitrust investigation involving Apple Pay. Today, it was indicated that the proposed changes to contactless payments on iOS are in line with industry standards. These changes include new APIs that enable developers to utilize NFC technology in their banking and wallet apps across the EEA. Additionally, users will have the ability to choose a third-party contactless payment app or an alternative app marketplace as their default option.
As with the various changes Apple is introducing today, it will be the responsibility of the European Commission to evaluate their compliance with the DMA and determine if they meet the legal requirements.
If EU regulators determine that Apple’s modifications do not align with the DMA, it may result in substantial fines amounting to 10% of their global annual turnover and compel Apple to reconsider their approach.
Introducing fresh business terminology and an additional fee for essential technology.
Alongside the various DMA-focused changes that developers will have access to, Apple is also rolling out new business terms in Europe. These terms include the implementation of a new fee known as the “Core Technology Fee.”
This appears to be designed to guarantee that Apple can still receive a portion of the revenue in certain situations, even if developers choose to go beyond its controlled environment. This could include distributing their apps through other app stores or directing users to their own websites to make payments for additional content.
According to Apple, iOS apps that are downloaded from the App Store or another app marketplace will incur a fee of €0.50 for each initial installation per year if the number of installations exceeds 1 million.
Developers who wish to utilize the newly announced features, such as the option to distribute their apps through different app stores, are required to agree to the updated business terms.
“The new business terms for apps in the EU are crucial to meet the DMA’s requirements for alternative distribution and payment processing,” stated Apple in a press release. Apple’s fee structure is designed to acknowledge the various ways in which they contribute to the success of developers’ businesses. This includes providing distribution and discovery opportunities on the App Store, secure payment processing, a trusted mobile platform, and a range of tools and technology to facilitate the creation and sharing of innovative apps with users worldwide.
As part of the new business terms, Apple is adjusting the percentage it receives from digital purchases made on iOS apps in its App Store. This adjustment applies to transactions involving digital goods and services, with a reduced cut of 17%. Additionally, for the majority of developers and subscriptions after their first year, Apple will only take a 10% share.
Apple will charge a payment processing fee of an extra 3% for iOS apps on the App Store that wish to utilize their own payment technology.
However, developers have the option to utilize a different payment service provider within their app or direct users to their website for payment processing without incurring any extra charges from Apple.
In addition, Apple announced that developers will have the option to continue with its current business terms. This means that they can still collect a commission on in-app purchases made through apps on the App Store, with the standard rate being 30% (or 15% for small businesses).
Developers can choose their own terms and still have access to the App Store’s payment processing technology and distribution platform in the EU, according to Apple.
According to the new business terms, the tech giant predicts that the majority of developers will either decrease or keep the fees they owe.
Additionally, it indicates that a very small percentage of developers will be required to pay the Core Technology Fee for their EU apps. This fee is specifically aimed at apps that have achieved significant popularity, such as being installed on millions of iOS devices.
Apple is defending the implementation of the new fee by stating that it accurately represents the worth of its technology platform and services, which are separate from the App Store’s capabilities and distribution.
Although the DMA requires app stores to allow sideloading, it does not enforce any particular business models on them. Yet, it is uncertain if Apple’s strategic adjustments to its business terms in the EU, along with the options it is offering to developers, will meet the approval of regulators.
According to Article 6(12) of the DMA:
The gatekeeper shall apply fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory general conditions of access for business users to its software application stores, online search engines and online social networking services listed in the designation decision pursuant to Article 3(9).
In order to avoid violating the DMA, Apple will have to convincingly argue that the framework it has developed is “equitable, rational, and unbiased.”
As part of its updates, Apple is introducing several new features to its platform. These features include notarization for iOS apps, which involves a thorough review process to ensure platform integrity and user protection. It will include both automated checks and human reviews. Apple is also implementing app installation sheets, which provide users with concise descriptions and functionality overviews before downloading an app. Additionally, Apple will require marketplace developers to meet ongoing requirements to safeguard users and developers. Lastly, Apple is enhancing its malware protections to prevent iOS apps from launching if they are found to contain malware after installation.
During the last press event, Apple emphasized that the modifications mandated by the EU would introduce whole new vulnerabilities for iOS users.
The business emphasized the security concern of allowing iOS applications to install other apps on the user’s device, which Apple refers to as “marketplace apps.” This is considered a typical method for malware attacks. While its reps said that there has never been a prevalent consumer malware assault on iOS up until now,.
Developers who agree to Apple’s new business rules will have the opportunity to create alternative app stores, also known as marketplace applications. However, they will still be required to go through Apple’s app review process and fulfill certain criteria that aim to safeguard consumers and developers.
Additional modifications are forthcoming, addressing various DMA requirements regarding Apple’s App Store and Safari browser. Some of these changes appear to be aimed at prompting iOS users to exercise caution before choosing any non-Apple alternatives. One such change involves the introduction of a choice screen, which will allow iOS users to designate their default browser. This screen will present a range of competing browsers alongside Apple’s Safari browser. Furthermore, developers will now have the capability to offer browsers that are not reliant on the WebKit browser engine. Apple has introduced new labels on the App Store product pages to notify users when an app they are downloading uses a different payment processing system. Additionally, in-app disclosure sheets will inform users when they are no longer making transactions with Apple and when a developer is directing them to use an alternative payment processor. Apple has introduced new procedures for reviewing apps. These procedures aim to ensure that developers provide accurate information about transactions involving alternative payment processors. Additionally, Apple has expanded the data portability feature on its Data & Privacy site. This allows users in the European Union to access and export new data about their App Store usage to an authorized third party.
One strategy Apple may use to encourage customers to continue using its own payment technology for third-party applications is by notifying iOS users when they are no longer doing transactions with Apple. However, Apple may argue that this is only an “equitable and rational” cautionary message sent to its customers when they go outside its controlled environment.
The DMA grants gatekeepers the authority to implement “strictly necessary and proportionate” actions to safeguard the integrity of the hardware, software, or operating systems they offer. This includes protecting against potential risks posed by third-party apps and stores as well as complying with the interoperability requirements mandated by the DMA. It’s crucial to remember that the gatekeeper must justify any measures taken.
Apple has announced another update that would allow developers to provide a streaming game app store.
In response to Apple’s action, Epic Games, which had previously filed a lawsuit against the tech giant in the United States on the terms of the App Store, expressed their disapproval. They referred to their offering in the European Union as “malicious compliance” and criticized it for including excessive and unnecessary costs.
NordPass Review: The Pinnacle of Password Management
In the ever-expanding realm of digital security, managing passwords efficiently is paramount. As someone who values both security and convenience, I explored several password management solutions and found NordPass to stand out as the best among the competition. With its seamless user experience, robust security features, and commitment to user privacy, NordPass has established itself as a leader in the crowded field of password management.
User-Friendly Interface: Intuitive and Accessible
NordPass impresses right from the start with its clean and intuitive user interface. Navigating the platform is a breeze, making it suitable for users with varying levels of technical expertise. The setup process is straightforward, allowing users to import existing passwords or generate new ones effortlessly.
The browser extension seamlessly integrates with popular browsers, offering a hassle-free experience when saving and autofilling passwords. The vault’s organized layout ensures easy access to stored credentials, and the password health feature provides valuable insights into the strength of existing passwords, encouraging users to enhance their security practices.
Secure Password Generation and Storage: Cutting-Edge Encryption
NordPass employs state-of-the-art encryption to safeguard user data. Utilizing the XChaCha20 encryption algorithm, NordPass ensures that sensitive information stored in the vault remains secure from prying eyes. The zero-knowledge architecture means that NordPass has no access to user passwords, reinforcing the commitment to user privacy.
The password generator tool is a standout feature, allowing users to create complex, unique passwords with ease. It considers password requirements of various websites and applications, tailoring generated passwords accordingly. This proactive approach to password security demonstrates NordPass’s dedication to helping users strengthen their online defenses.
Seamless Cross-Platform Integration: Accessibility Anytime, Anywhere
NordPass offers a synchronized experience across multiple devices and platforms. Whether using Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS, the seamless integration ensures that users have access to their passwords whenever and wherever needed. The synchronization process is swift and reliable, eliminating the frustration of dealing with outdated or inaccessible passwords.
Furthermore, the ability to securely share passwords with trusted individuals enhances collaboration without compromising security. This feature is particularly useful for families or teams who need to manage shared accounts without revealing sensitive login details.
Secure Notes and Personal Information Storage: Beyond Passwords
NordPass goes beyond mere password management by offering a secure space for storing sensitive notes and personal information. This feature allows users to keep confidential information, such as credit card details and secure notes, in the same encrypted vault as their passwords. This consolidated approach simplifies digital security, providing users with a comprehensive solution for safeguarding various types of sensitive data.
Competitive Pricing and Value: Affordable Security
NordPass delivers exceptional value for its cost, making it an attractive option for users seeking a balance between affordability and premium features. The subscription plans cater to individual users, families, and business teams, ensuring that a wide range of users can benefit from NordPass’s robust security features without breaking the bank.
Customer Support: Responsive and Knowledgeable
NordPass takes customer support seriously, providing 24/7 assistance to address any queries or concerns users may have. The support team is knowledgeable and responsive, ensuring that users receive timely and effective solutions to their issues. This commitment to customer satisfaction adds another layer of trust to the NordPass experience.
Conclusion: NordPass Reigns Supreme in Password Management
In the realm of password management, NordPass shines as a beacon of excellence. With its user-friendly interface, cutting-edge encryption, seamless cross-platform integration, and competitive pricing, NordPass outpaces its competitors. The commitment to user privacy and security is evident in every aspect of the service, making NordPass the top choice for individuals and businesses alike. For those seeking a reliable, intuitive, and secure password management solution, NordPass stands as the pinnacle of the industry.
NordVPN Review: A Comprehensive Look at its Performance and Features
In the fast-evolving landscape of online security and privacy, NordVPN has emerged as a leading player, boasting a reputation for robust security features, extensive server network, and user-friendly interface. As someone who values online privacy, I decided to put NordVPN to the test, exploring its performance, features, and overall user experience.
Server Network: Extensive and Diverse
One of NordVPN’s standout features is its expansive server network. With thousands of servers across numerous countries, it provides users with unparalleled options for secure connections. This extensive network not only ensures fast and reliable connections but also enables users to access geo-restricted content with ease.
During my testing, I was particularly impressed by the server distribution. Whether I needed a server for optimal speed, security, or access to specific content, NordVPN delivered. The Quick Connect feature intelligently selects the best server based on my location, ensuring optimal performance every time I connected.
Security and Privacy: Top-Notch Encryption and No-Logs Policy
NordVPN places a strong emphasis on user security and privacy, evident in its use of military-grade encryption and a strict no-logs policy. The AES-256 encryption, coupled with the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec protocols, guarantees a secure tunnel for data transmission. This level of encryption is the industry standard for protecting sensitive information, making NordVPN a trustworthy choice for users concerned about their online privacy.
Equally important is NordVPN’s commitment to a strict no-logs policy. The company is based in Panama, a jurisdiction with no mandatory data retention laws. This means that NordVPN doesn’t store any user data, enhancing the overall privacy and anonymity of its users.
User-Friendly Interface: Intuitive and Accessible
NordVPN’s user interface is designed with simplicity and functionality in mind. The sleek, user-friendly app is easily navigable, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced users. The Quick Connect button allows for instant access to the best server, while the server map and search functionality provide additional flexibility for users who prefer a more hands-on approach.
Additionally, NordVPN’s support for various devices and operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, ensures a seamless and consistent experience across different platforms. I appreciated the effort NordVPN put into creating a unified user experience.
Performance: Impressive Speeds and Reliability
One of the concerns users often have about VPNs is the potential impact on internet speed. During my tests, NordVPN consistently delivered impressive speeds, allowing for smooth streaming, quick downloads, and lag-free browsing. The vast server network plays a crucial role in distributing the user load, ensuring that performance remains robust even during peak hours.
The specialty servers, such as Double VPN and Onion Over VPN, provide added layers of security for users with specific needs. While these servers may slightly reduce speed due to the additional encryption layers, the trade-off in security is well worth it for users prioritizing utmost privacy.
Customer Support: Responsive and Knowledgeable
In the world of VPNs, prompt and knowledgeable customer support is crucial. NordVPN excels in this area, offering 24/7 live chat support for quick resolutions to any issues users may encounter. The support agents I interacted with demonstrated a deep understanding of the product and were able to provide clear and concise solutions to my queries.
Conclusion: NordVPN Sets the Standard
After extensive testing, NordVPN has unquestionably earned its reputation as a top-tier VPN service. Its combination of robust security features, an extensive server network, user-friendly interface, and responsive customer support make it an excellent choice for both privacy-conscious users and those seeking unrestricted access to content worldwide. NordVPN sets the standard for what a premium VPN service should be, delivering a comprehensive and reliable solution for a safer and more private online experience.
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