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Tag Archives: europe

Google to give Chrome users an opt-out to ‘forced login’ after privacy backlash

Google has responded  to blowback about a privacy hostile change it made this week, which removes user agency by automating Chrome browser sign-ins, by rowing back slightly — saying it will give users the ability to disable this linking of web-based sign-in with browser-based sign-in in a forthcoming update (Chrome 70), due mid next month. The update to Chrome 69 means users are automatically logged into the browser when they are signed into another Google service, giving them no option to keep these digital identities separate. Now Google is saying there will be an option to prevent it pinning your Chrome browsing to your Google account — but you’ll have to wait about a month to get it. And of course for the millions of web users who never touch default settings being automatically signed into Google’s browser when they are using another Google service like Gmail or YouTube will be the new normal. Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins, flagged the change in a critical blog post at the weekend — entitled Why I’m done with Chrome — arguing that the new “forced login” feature blurs the previously strong barrier between “never logged in” and “signed in”, and thus erodes user trust. Prior to the Chrome 69 update, users had to actively opt in to linking their web-based and browser-based IDs. But Google’s change flips that switch — making the default setting hostile to privacy by folding a Chrome user’s browsing activity into their Google identity. In its blog post Google claims that being signed in to Chrome does not mean Chrome sync gets turned on. So it’s basically saying that despite it auto-linking your Chrome browsing and (Google) web-based activity it’s not automatically copying your browsing data to its own servers, where it would then be able to derive all sorts of fresh linked intel about you for its ad-targeting purposes. “Users who want data like their browsing history, passwords, and bookmarks available on other devices must take additional action, such as  turning on  sync,” writes Chrome product manager Zach Koch. But in his blog post, Green is also highly critical of Google’s UI around Chrome sync — dubbing it a dark pattern , and pointing out that it’s now all too easy for a user to accidentally send Google a massive personal data dump — because, in a fell swoop, the company “has transformed the question of consenting to data upload from something  affirmative  that I actually had to put effort into — entering my Google credentials and signing into Chrome — into something I can now do with a single accidental click”. “The fact of the matter is that I’d never even heard of Chrome’s “sync” option — for the simple reason that up until September 2018, I had never logged into Chrome. Now I’m forced to learn these new terms, and hope that the Chrome team keeps promises to keep all of my data local as the barriers between “signed in” and “not signed in” are gradually eroded away,” Green also wrote. Hence his decision to dump Chrome. (Other browsers are certainly available, though Chrome accounts for by far the biggest chunk of global browser usage .) Responding to what Koch colorlessly terms “feedback” about the controversial changes, he says Google is going to “better communicate our changes”

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France records big jump in privacy complaints since GDPR

Another European data protection agency has reported a sharp rise in the numbers of complaints since the EU updated its privacy framework four months ago, when  GDPR came into force, updating regional data protection rules and introducing much higher penalties for privacy violations. France’s CNIL agency said today  that it’s received 3,767 complaints since May 25, when GDPR came into force, up from 2,294 complaints over the same period last year — which it notes was already a record year. CNIL says this represents a 64% increase in complaints, which it suggests shows that EU citizens have “seized the GDPR strongly” — attributing public engagement on the issue to media attention on the new regulation and on data protection stories such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal . It also reports receiving more than 600 data breach notifications, affecting a total of around 15 million people, since GDPR D-Day. Last month  data from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office also showed a big rise in privacy complaints since the new regulation came into force, with 6,281 filed between May 25 and July 3 — more than double the 2,417 complaints lodged during the same period a year earlier. A report in The Irish Times at the end of July also indicated similar increases in Ireland. The Irish Data Protection Commission was reported to have received 1,184 data breach reports two months after GDPR — up significantly on the average of 230 reported each month in 2017. The DPC also logged 743 complaints in the first two months of GPDR, with the regulation reportedly applying in 267 cases. As well as receiving record numbers of breach reports and privacy complaints from individuals, CNIL says two organizations have filed complaints on behalf as consumers (a capacity introduced by GDPR, at least in EU countries where the government chose to adopt it). The two organizations filing complaints on consumers’ behalf in France are Max Schrems’ privacy NGO, noyb (which was one of the first out of the gate to file GDPR complaints over ‘forced consent’ , including in France against Google); and the French digital rights group,  La Quadrature du Net , which CNIL says has lodged complaints against Google, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple.

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Snyk raises $22M on a $100M valuation to detect security vulnerabilities in open source code

Open source software is now a $14 billion+ market and growing fast, in use in one way or another in 95 percent of all enterprises. But that expansion comes with a shadow: open source components can come with vulnerabilities, and so their widespread use in apps become a liability to a company’s cybersecurity. Now, a startup out of the UK called Snyk , which has built a way to detect when those apps or components are compromised, is announcing a $22 million round of funding to meet the demand from enterprises wanting to tackle the issue head on. Led by Accel, with participation from GV plus previous investors Boldstart Ventures and Heavybit, this Series B notably is the second round raised by Snyk within seven months — it raised a $7 million Series A in March . That’s a measure of how the company is growing (and how enthusiastic investors are about what it has built so far). The startup is not disclosing its valuation but a source close to the deal says it is around $100 million now (it’s raised about $33 million to date). As a measure of Snyk’s growth, the company says it now has over 200 paying customers and 150,000 users, with revenues growing five-fold in the last nine months. In March, it had 130 paying customers. (Current clients include ASOS, Digital Ocean, New Relic and Skyscanner, the company said.) Snyk plays squarely in the middle of how the landscape for enterprise services exists today. It provides options for organisations to use it on-premises, via the cloud, or in a hybrid version of the two, with a range of paid and free tiers to get users acquainted with the service. Guy Podjarny, the company’s CEO who co-founded Snyk with Assaf Hefetz and Danny Grander, explained that Snyk works in two parts. First, the startup has built a threat intelligence system “that listens to open source activity.” Tapping into open-conversation platforms — for example, GitHub commits and forum chatter — Snyk uses machine learning to detect potential mentions of vulnerabilities. It then funnels these to a team of human analysts, “who verify and curate the real ones in our vulnerability DB.” Second, the company analyses source code repositories — including, again, GitHub as well as BitBucket — “to understand which open source components each one uses, flag the ones that are vulnerable, and then auto-fix them by proposing the right dependency version to use and through patches our security team builds.” Open source components don’t have more vulnerabilities than closed source ones, he added, “but their heavy reuse makes those vulnerabilities more impactful.” Components can be used in thousands of applications, and by Snyk’s estimation, some 77 percent of those applications will end up with components that have security vulnerabilities. “As a result, the chances of an organisation being breached through a vulnerable open source component are far greater than a security flaw purely in their code.” Podjarny says there is no plans to try to tackle proprietary code longer term but to expand how it can monitor apps built on open source

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Picfair gives every photographer on its marketplace their own store

Picfair , the photo marketplace that competes with Getty and Shutterstock by giving photographers a fairer deal , is adding a major update to its offering today. The London-based startup is launching Picfair Stores, giving the 35,000 photographers on its marketplace the ability to create their own free independent online store. Customers who buy from a Picfair Store can choose a licensed digital copy or a physical print. “We’re moving beyond being just a new generation stock image marketplace,” Picfair founder Benji Lanyado, who used to be a journalist at The Guardian , tells me. “With stores, and prints, and more… we’re becoming a fully featured commercial ecosystem for photographers. At the heart of it all: the principle that anyone should be able to make money from their images, simply and fairly”. In addition, every image on a photographer’s individual Picfair Store will also be available simultaneously on Picfair’s marketplace, which Lanyado likens to “thousands of local image stores across the globe, with a central Amazon-style megastore they all feed in to”. He reckons it is the first time anyone has combined a marketplace with the added control of website builders, such as Wix or Squarespace, and the on-demand print functionality of Smugmug or Zenfolio, all built with amateur photographers in mind (although the line between amateur and professional is becoming increasingly blurred). “Picfair is uniting all of this. The control of a website builder. The commercial structures of an e-commerce platform. The exposure of a marketplace, with added price control and fair royalty splits,” Lanyado says. Less tech-driven but perhaps equally significant, Picfair has recently launched a photo agency unit , building on top of its bread and butter business of selling image licenses to editorial and marketing companies

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Apply for a Country Pavilion at Disrupt Berlin 2018

On 29-30 November — in less than two short months — thousands of tech startup founders, investors, innovators and entrepreneurs will make their way to Germany to attend Disrupt Berlin 2018 . It’s an amazing showcase of the latest and greatest startups and technologies from across Europe and around the world. We’re serious about international participation, and that’s why we’re calling for early-stage startups from around the globe to apply for a Country Pavilion and exhibit in Startup Alley — our exhibition floor that forms the heart of every Disrupt event. Hundreds of early-stage startups come to Startup Alley to display the very latest in tech products, platforms and services. Thousands of attendees — including investors, media and potential customers — explore Startup Alley, making it a breeding ground of opportunity. The international exposure of exhibiting in Startup Alley gives countries and regions the chance to showcase their emerging startups and the opportunity to be recognized as world leaders in technology. Here’s what you need to know about applying for a Country Pavilion at Disrupt Berlin 2018. Each country brings a delegation that can include international startup groups, government innovation centers, incubators and accelerators. Delegation startups must be less than two years old and have secured less than $2.5 million in funding. If the startups in your delegation meet that low bar, your next step is to email our events team . We want to know which country you’re from and a bit about the startups that form your delegation. Our events team will contact you with a price quote. At Disrupt Berlin 2017, delegations from more than 25 countries formed our international cadre. One company,  Zeroqode exhibited as part of the Moldova delegation.

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BlaBlaCar is on the path to profitability

French startup BlaBlaCar just released some interesting metrics. The company has reached profitability if you look at revenue between January 2018 and today. BlaBlaCar forecasts that 50 million people will book a ride on BlaBlaCar in 2018, which represents a 40 percent increase compared to 2017. BlaBlaCar is a marketplace for long-distance rides. People driving from point A to point B can find riders willing to go in the same direction to share the cost of the ride. A few years ago, when BlaBlaCar raised multiple megarounds , co-founder and now president Frédéric Mazzella told me that the company was at a crossroad and had to choose between growth first then profitability, or profitability then growth. It looks like the company has now completed its growth-then-profitability journey. There are now 65 million registered users on the platform, including 15 million users in France. The service is currently live in 22 countries. In France in particular, 40 percent of people aged between 18 and 35 are using BlaBlaCar. While the company is reaching market saturation on this segment, elderly people currently represent a growth opportunity. It is the fastest growing segment and the user base has doubled in six years when you look at this part of the user base in particular — I know, these are some soft metrics so it’s hard to understand if it’s going to impact the company’s bottom line. Foreign countries now represent 75 percent of BlaBlaCar’s revenue. When it comes to features, BlaBlaCar finally started automatically matching people who are departing or arriving from a small city. Drivers don’t have to manually input a list of cities on the way

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Facebook expands its video Ad Breaks to 21 new countries

Facebook Ad Breaks, the social network’s pre-roll and mid-roll video ads, are launching in 21 new countries. Facebook announced that Ad Breaks were generally available last month in five countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Now it’s adding territories in Europe, Latin and South America and Asia to the list. Maria Smith, Facebook’s director of product for the news feed and media monetization, noted that Facebook first started testing these ad units more than a year ago . “We started very conservatively,” she said. “It’s a very new initiative for us … We needed to get the user experience right.” In particular, she said the company found that that these ads work best with longer videos, which is why there’s now a minimum length of three minutes. Facebook has rolled out other improvements too, like the ability to automatically detect the best moments to insert the ad (though video publishers can still place the Ad Breaks manually, if they choose). “As you watch a video, there are points in this video where the pause or Ad Break feels natural to the viewer,” Smith said. “For example, between scenes, or where it doesn’t interrupt speech, where the story line feels good to take a break — those are all signals” used to select Ad Break locations. Beyond the minimum length for individual videos, Facebook also requires that Pages participating in the Ad Breaks program have at least 10,000 followers and need to have received at least 30,000 one-minute views on videos that are at least one minute long. They also need to meet Facebook’s general monetization standards . The Ad Breaks sign-up page will now automatically tell creators whether they’re eligible to participate. Smith described these standards as a way to ensure “a really positive experience” for video creators, advertisers and regular users. (After concerns that ads were being played before inappropriate or controversial content, YouTube set a higher bar for eligibility  earlier this year, though that’s led to  widespread complaints from creators .) Here are the new countries where Ad Breaks are generally available: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Thailand. As part of this expansion, Facebook is adding support for five new languages, namely French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai

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UberEats UK couriers striking over pay changes

Groups of UberEats couriers are continuing to strike over pay and calling for a minimum £5 per delivery fee. Several strikes have been reported in London over the past few days, as well as other UK cities including Glasgow, Cardiff and Plymouth . Late last week Uber revealed a new pay structure which shrinks the per delivery fee it pays gig economy workers carrying out food deliveries on its platform in London, Manchester and Birmingham — to just £2.50. Adding on the £1.50 per mile fee Uber also gives UberEats couriers means the new minimum delivery fee couriers can expect is just £3.50 — down from the £4 Uber was previously offering UberEats couriers in cities such as Manchester. The change to its pay structure has triggered a number of wildcat strikes in recent days, with couriers reportedly stopping fulfilling orders and gathering to protest in groups — including outside Uber’s Aldgate East London office. Additional strikes have been scheduled for today. #Solidarity with #UberEatsStrike as drivers strike and protest again for a living wage at Uber’s Aldgate offices in London #FairPayNow pic.twitter.com/6lEIr4XZ5M — Unite the Resistance (@resistunite) September 24, 2018 So the @UberEats drivers are taking to the streets. Shame on @Uber for their opportunism! #payrisenow pic.twitter.com/3waMnWiiXM — IWGB Couriers Branch (@IWGB_CLB) September 20, 2018 Uber says a reduction in the per delivery fee it pays couriers is necessary in order to increase the amount it pays out during busier periods and areas — under its so called ‘Boost’ system. Boost adds a multiplier to couriers’ pay, depending on order demand. And according to an email Uber sent to couriers last week, which was reviewed by TechCrunch, the company says couriers have been unhappy with Boost, as is — saying they have told it multipliers are “too low and not available in enough places”. Uber says it talked to “over 300 delivery partners in London” — and was “consistently” told Boost is not helping couriers “make more money the way it’s supposed to”. As a result it says it’s boosting Boost. “With the new fares and planned Boost multipliers, earning potential is expected to be higher during busy periods and areas than it is today,” it writes. However it concedes that the new pay structure may shrink couriers’ earnings outside the busy periods that are covered by Boost. “With the new fees, this also means that payments may be lower outside of typical mealtimes or in quieter areas, when there are fewer orders waiting to be picked up,” it writes. “It makes sense that more money is available to be made during mealtimes and busy areas, something we’ve heard partners recognise, and is reflected in these changes. We recommend partners check for Boost in the partner app before going online.

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand Appointed DJI Master

DJI has appointed French aerial photographer and film director Yann Arthus-Bertrand as a DJI Master. For the first time ever, the legendary artist decided to deploy DJI drone and cinematic camera technology while shooting the film “Woman.” To mark the launch of the DJI Pro brand, DJI is launching the series “DJI Masters – The Power of Visual Storytelling,” featuring three of the world’s most accomplished imaging pioneers, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Claudio Miranda, and Rodney Charters.

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Zencargo raises a Seed Plus round led by London’s LocalGlobe to tackle global freight

International shipping has changed little in the last century – it’s slow and opaque, with many processes carried out manually and on paper. Most supply chain teams still rely on phone calls and emails to do their job. The whole things stuck in the 20th Century. It’s estimated that the average shipper spends over 40 hours per month – the equivalent of 7 working days – manually chasing the various parties along their supply chain for action. We’ve seen many startups try to tackle shipping and freight in the last few years but very few got anywhere because the industry is very resistant to change. The key to winning in this market would be to leap-frog legacy operating systems and improve customer-facing supply chain visibility and analytics. Zencargo , the digital freight forwarder, thinks it may have the answer, and so do its investors. Today it announces its ‘seed plus’ round, led by London’s LocalGlobe, with participation from Samos Investments (founded by the Marquess of Salisbury) and Picus Capital, bringing total funds raised to over $4m. The company works – which works with businesses ranging from high-growth scaleups to FTSE-listed businesses – will use the new funding to accelerate its product development process and build a presence in China. The idea is simple and disruptive. Zencargo makes it completely free for companies to digitise their supply chain.

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Fintech startups: Apply to exhibit for free as a TC Top Pick at Disrupt Berlin 2018

Fintech promises to be one of the hottest topics at Disrupt Berlin 2018 , and you can take that to the bank  —  see what we did there? On 29-30 November thousands of attendees will descend on Berlin, and what better way to get your fintech business in front of them than to exhibit in Startup Alley ? Oh wait, we know a better way — apply to be a TechCrunch Top Pick and exhibit at Disrupt Berlin for FREE! Our highly discerning editors will review every application and choose up to five of the absolute best early-stage fintech startups. Each TC Top Pick receives one free  Startup Alley Exhibitor Package along with prime real estate in Startup Alley where they can strut their stuff in front of influential technologists and investors, potential collaborators and customers. It’s an opportunity you can’t afford to miss, so don’t wait —  apply before the 28 September deadline. Here’s what you get with a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package. One-day exhibit space Three Disrupt Berlin Founder Passes Access to  CrunchMatch  (our free investor-to-startup matching platform) Access to the Disrupt press list A chance to be selected as one of the  Startup Battlefield  Wild Card companies (and you might even compete in our $50,000 startup-pitch competition) Exhibiting in Startup Alley can help you build connections and relationships you might not otherwise make. Consider Zeroqode, a company that exhibited in Startup Alley at Disrupt Berlin 2017. Startup Alley attendees chose Zeroqode as a Wild Card company on day three, which earned them a five-minute interview with TechCrunch editor John Biggs on the Startup Alley Showcase Stage. What’s more, TechCrunch shot that interview and promoted it, along with an article penned by Biggs, across its social media platforms. Here’s what Vlad Larin, the company’s co-founder, had to say about the experience. “Exhibiting in Startup Alley was a massively positive experience. It gave us the chance to show our technology to the world and have meaningful conversations with investors, accelerators, incubators, solo founders and developers. The publicity we received from the on-stage interview brought a lot of people to our website. We had a huge spike in traffic, and we’re still feeling the positive business effects of that interview.” You’ll also have the opportunity to hear some of Europe’s fintech movers and shakers speak from the Main Stage. People like Anne Boden , the founder and CEO of Starling Bank and Ricky Knox, the CEO and co-founder of Tandem Bank

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Venus Optics Launch 8 New Laowa Lenses at Photokina 2018

Venus Optics have unveil 8 new and unique Laowa lenses, including the 25-100 T/2.9 Professional Cine lens, the first professional cinema style zoom lens offered by the company. Together with the 4 new lenses showed earlier in Beijing P&E, a total of 12 new Laowa lenses will make their European debut at Photokina next week. All 12 new lenses will make their European debut in Venus Optics’ booth (Hall 2.1, D-040) at Photokina, Cologne during 26th-29th Sept. Pricing and ship date are to be confirmed.

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Interiors startup Clippings raises $15.4M Series B with Advance Venture Partners

Back in April we saw that eporta, a London-based B2B interiors marketplace startup, had raised $8 million in a Series A funding round led by US investor Canvas Ventures. Eport has digitized the catalogues of furnishing manufacturers and allowed businesses to order direct, cutting out the middle-men. Now London is continuing its obsession with interior decoration startups with the news that Clippings has raised a Series B round of funding, raising $15.4 million. Advance Venture Partners (AVP) lead the round and existing investor C4Ventures also participated. Founded in 2014 by architecture-trained entrepreneurs Adel Zakout and Tom Mallory, Clippings now plans to grow in the US. Currently, the furniture industry is worth €9.6 billion in Europe, and around $120 billion in the US, but only 6% of this spend is online. Clippings aggregates data on over 7 million products from over a thousand brands to simplify discovery and combines that with interactive mood boards that replace Pinterest to identify and buy a product. Then it throws in collaboration tools for teams, multiple quote requests, orders, invoices and timelines into one place. It now claims to have about 50,000 people – including teams designing for WeWork, Citroën and British Land – using Clippings. Adel Zakout, co-founder and CEO of Clippings told me “We’ve built software that enables full management of an interior project, offer a layer of service and logistics so that when you do buy, we manage it all for you vs Eporta where it’s fully self-serve. This doesn’t fix major pain point of customer.” He also says they have full pricing control, meaning “we can take a view of a whole project value / customer spend and offer optimal prices vs Eporta who can’t do that as the seller controls price.” He says a typical large co-working space project may have a budget in the £100k range and will have products from 40-50 different vendors, “so you need to be able to consolidate pricing, service, logistics and offer tech to manage it all.” Other players in the industry (but not competitors) include Houzz and made.com.

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