Apple, Google partner to combat creepy tracking tactics

Apple and Google are teaming up to thwart unwanted tracking through Bluetooth devices that were created to help people find lost keys, keep tabs on luggage or to locate other things that have a tendency to be misplaced or lost. (AFP/File)
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Updated 02 May 2023
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Apple, Google partner to combat creepy tracking tactics

  • The $30 AirTag has become a popular item since its 2021 release, helping users pinpoint the locations of a wide variety of lost property
  • Apple and AirTag hope to have a plan in place by the end of this year to thwart stealth tracking

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple and Google are teaming up to thwart unwanted tracking through Bluetooth devices that were created to help people find lost keys, keep tabs on luggage or to locate other things that have a tendency to be misplaced or lost.
The two companies behind the iPhone and the software that powers Android phones on Tuesday submitted a proposal to set standards for combatting secret surveillance on Apple’s AirTag trackers and similar gadgets. The concept also has the backing of Samsung, which sells the most Android smartphones worldwide, as well as tracking products similar to the AirTag such as Tile, Chipolo, and Pebblebee.
The $30 AirTag has become a popular item since its 2021 release, helping users pinpoint the locations of a wide variety of lost property. But stalkers have also deployed AirTags and similar products to shadow former love interests and other people who don’t realize they are being tracked.
“Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industrywide action to solve,” said Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of Engineering for Android.
Apple and AirTag hope to have a plan in place by the end of this year to thwart stealth tracking. The solution would be distributed through software updates to iPhones and Android phones.
Erica Olsen, the senior director of National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Project, applauded the effort to set an industry standard that she believes will help protect survivors of abusive relationships and other people that have been targets of stealth technology. “These new standards will minimize opportunities for abuse of this technology and decrease the burden on survivors in detecting unwanted trackers,” Olsen said.


Saudi Press Agency honored at Arab Media Excellence Awards

Updated 30 May 2024
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Saudi Press Agency honored at Arab Media Excellence Awards

DUBAI: The Saudi Press Agency was honored on Wednesday at the 8th Arab Media Excellence Awards in the Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Media section of the digital media category.

The agency’s winning entry was an investigative report titled “King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center works to deliver aid to Gaza Strip within three priorities: food, shelter, and health.”

Fahd Al-Aqran, the president of the SPA, accepted the trophy during an awards ceremony on the sidelines of the 54th session of the Council of Arab Information Ministers in Manama.

Organizers said they received more than 100 entries for this year’s awards across television, radio, newspaper and digital media, the SPA reported.

The awards were introduced in 2015 by the Council of Arab Information Ministers to encourage creativity, innovation and media excellence among government and accredited media institutions, Arab organizations, federations with observer status within the Arab League, and media personalities.


MBC Group to launch Arabic adaptation of ‘The Good Wife’

Updated 29 May 2024
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MBC Group to launch Arabic adaptation of ‘The Good Wife’

  • ‘Moftaraq Toroq’ is produced by Charisma Group, will air on Sunday
  • Show aims to ‘set a new standard for Egyptian long-form series,’ MBC says

DUBAI: MBC Group has announced the launch of Egyptian TV series “Moftaraq Toroq,” an Arabic-language adaptation of the legal drama “The Good Wife.”

Licensed by Paramount Global Content Distribution and produced by Charisma Group, the show is set to premiere on MBC’s streaming platform Shahid on Sunday.

Written by Sherif Badreddine and Wael Hamdy and directed by Ahmad Khaled Moussa and Mohamad Yehya, the drama stars Hend Sabri, Eyad Nassar, Majed Al-Masri, Joumana Murad and Noha Abdeen.

It aims to “set a new standard for Egyptian long-form series” and “marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Arab television,” said Tareq Al-Ibrahim, director of MBC1, MBC Drama and SVOD content at MBC.

“Moftaraq Toroq” tells the story of Amira, a wife and mother whose life takes a sudden turn when her husband gets caught up in a public scandal.

“In the landscape of Egyptian TV series, ‘Moftaraq Toroq’ stands as a departure from the conventional,” said Aiman Al-Ziyoud, CEO and president of Charisma Group.

“While audiences may be familiar with the trials of soapy series, mainly Turkish adaptations to Arabic, ‘Moftaraq Toroq’ introduces a novel genre altogether.”

MBC said the show had been adapted to reflect cultural nuances.

“It is incredible to see how the storyline and these characters in the adaptation have been transformed to fit into the local landscape and culture so effortlessly,” said Roxanne Pompa, vice president of international formats at Paramount Global Content Distribution.

“The Good Wife” is produced by CBS Studios in association with Scott Free Productions and King Size Productions. Charisma Group acquired the format rights for the adaptation from Paramount Global Content Distribution.


London’s Evening Standard to move to weekly print edition

Updated 29 May 2024
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London’s Evening Standard to move to weekly print edition

  • British freesheet said move is needed to secure title’s long-term future

LONDON: London’s Evening Standard newspaper on Wednesday announced plans to shift from its daily print edition to a weekly format.

The outlet said the decision was driven by several factors, including the introduction of Wi-Fi on the London Underground, fewer commuters due to the increase on the number of people working remotely, and changing reader habits.

“The substantial losses accruing from the current operations are not sustainable. Therefore, we plan to consult with our staff and external stakeholders to reshape the business, return to profitability and secure the long-term future of the No.1 news brand in London,” Paul Kanareck, the newspaper’s chair, told staff on Wednesday morning.

He said the company planned to launch “a brand new weekly newspaper later this year and consider options for retaining ES Magazine — the company’s weekly magazine — with reduced frequency.”

Kanareck emphasized a strategic shift toward enhancing the newspaper’s digital presence, which currently averages 12 million monthly visitors.

The Evening Standard, owned by Russian-British businessman and co-owner of The Independent, Evgeny Lebedev, has accumulated millions of pounds in debt over the past few years.

The memo also indicated that the plans and their impact on staff levels would be subject to consultation, raising concerns about potential job losses.

Founded in 1827, the Standard was bought by Lebedev in 2009 for just £1 ($0.80).

Since then, the London newspaper transitioned to a freesheet format, with average distribution dropping from nearly 900,000 copies 10 years ago to 270,000 today.

The new proposed weekly Evening Standard, Kanareck said, will feature “more in-depth analysis of the issues that matter to Londoners, and serve them in a new and relevant way by celebrating the best London has to offer.”

These changes, he said, will “reinforce the relationship between our 24/7 digital platforms and our weekly publication.”


Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden

Updated 29 May 2024
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Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden

  • Arab News gets exclusive look at #YallaTrump2024 campaign
  • Graphic video targets Biden’s support of Israel’s war on Gaza

Chicago, US: Arab Americans who support Donald Trump’s reelection have set up a new political action committee to strengthen public “understanding” of why he is a better choice than President Joe Biden, and will broadcast a video advertisement claiming the latter has betrayed the community, Arab News has learned exclusively.

The new body, named Arab Americans for a Better America or ABE-PAC, was formed this week following a series of meetings Trump supporters held with community leaders in several cities.

The first meeting was held in Troy, Michigan on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, featuring several speakers including Massad Boulos and his son Michael who is married to Trump’s daughter, Tiffany.

It was co-organized by Bishara Bahbah, the national chairperson of Arab Americans for Trump, an independent organization that is separate from the official Trump campaign. A keynote speaker at the meetings is Trump’s former director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell.

“A new Republican Arab-American political action committee has been formed to support conservative causes and Trump’s reelection,” said Oubai Shahbandar who is coordinating the cross-country meetings between the former president’s supporters and Arab voters.

“It’s called ABE-PAC and we will announce it later this week with a hard-hitting, inaugural video ad that we will be distributing throughout the Arab-American community.”

The new advertisement slams Biden for his “broken promises” and includes an array of images that is meant to depict his support and funding of Israel’s military assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

It features Biden saying: “Who cares about the Arab population.” The two-minute video has graphic images of the carnage in Gaza including the recent bombing of a refugee camp in Rafah that killed many Palestinian women and children.

The advertisement also features references to the growing #AbandonBiden movement which has urged Arab and Muslim voters to reject the US president in key Democratic primary elections and “swing states” where he barely defeated Trump in the 2020 election.

Arab News was given an exclusive look at the campaign video which is built on the slogan #YallaTrump2024 and funded by Republican and conservative Arab Americans from across the US.

Biden and Trump, who won their party election primaries in July and August respectively, will likely face-off in the Nov. 5 presidential election.

Voters have expressed skepticism about both candidates, with many Americans saying they are not enthusiastic about their choices.

An IPSOS survey in May revealed that the main issue landscape remains mixed, but any future developments in the war in Gaza are expected to push the needle one way or another.


UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

Updated 29 May 2024
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UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

  • Advisor to the UAE president says Arab peace initiative underway
  • Israel’s ‘criminal government’ does not reflect ‘values’ of Judaism

DUBAI: Dr. Anwar Gargash, diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, says the violence in Gaza has reached “monstrous levels” and called on the international community to find a peaceful solution to the carnage.

Speaking on the final day of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on Wednesday, Gargash expressed shock at the scale of the violence in Gaza.

“The targeting of innocents have taken on monstrous levels. We have witnessed wars in Palestine before but never at such a level of monstrosity,” he said. “The region cannot sustain further escalations.”

Gargash reaffirmed that neighboring Arab countries support the Palestinian cause.

“We believe in the cause, our conscience simply will not permit us to abandon our support to Palestine especially in light of the ugliness we see today coming out of Gaza and most recently from Rafah.

“The current right-wing, criminal government in Israel does not equate (to) Jewish values.”

Gargash highlighted the UAE’s continued support for Gaza and said the displacement of Palestinians from “spot to spot” must end.

“Israel is undermining itself with its current policies and actions. We support the establishment of the Palestinian state. We need a clear roadmap to guarantee its independent establishment. If both sides wish to live in peace this is the only way to go.”

He mentioned an ongoing Arab initiative aimed at fostering peace, warning that states must take control of the situation to prevent further chaos.

“While the global conscience has been awakened, we cannot wait for the world,” he noted. “Active steps and initiatives must be taken now or else this will remain a pipe dream.”

Participating in a panel discussion, the Emirati diplomat also accused the international community of double standards.

“Look at the difference of approach between Ukraine and Palestine. Mind you, both are still going through war. The old approaches must go, the current system is not working anymore to solve anything. We need to find new ways and cooperation for a better outcome.”

He urged Arab states to unite and collaborate beyond politics, and added that the UAE was committed to expanding regional ties and mending relations with Iran.

“For the past 12 to 15 years with all the events that happened in the Arab world, we saw it give way to radical ideologies, rise of militias, vacuum powers filled in with outside influences, and ideologies that sprung about opposing healthy nationalism.

“We continue to deal with these problems. We need a better cooperation between Arab states, a willingness to change old, sick module, for the collective betterment of the region.”