How to remove your email address from Windows 10's login screen

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We’re just weeks away from the Anniversary Update for Windows 10, which includes all kinds of new features. But along with all the big stuff like better inking and a beefed up Cortana, there are also small touches that many people will appreciate.

Today we’re going to look at a new nice touch that controls what kind of information you display on the sign-in screen, specifically your email address.

Right now, when you land on the login screen on a Windows 10 PC it displays your name and the email address associated with your Microsoft account. When you’re at home that’s no big deal, but you may not want that information displayed where someone might sneak a peek, such as at a coffee shop or in a business meeting.

In my tests with the latest Insider builds this information was taken off the login screen by default. It’s not clear if the same will be true for people upgrading from a previous version of the operating system.

Regardless, accessing the setting is pretty easy if you end up needing to hide this data or, conversely, want to to display it again.


A one-click setting makes it easy to hide your email address.

In my tests with build 14388, you go to Start > Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. There, under the Privacy subheading, you’ll have one slider labeled Show account details (e.g. email address) on sign-in screen. Flip that on or off depending on your needs, and that’s it.

This new feature has been around for months so presumably it will remain once the official Anniversary Update rolls out. If it doesn’t we’ll adjust this article accordingly.

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Pokémon Go update for iOS now available, clarifies access to Google data

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If you have Pokémon Go fever, but you’re concerned about the controversy surrounding the app and access to your Google data, you’ll want to install the Pokémon Go update. Even if you didn’t use Google to sign into the game, you’ll want the update, since it has bug fixes.

The 1.0.1 update is now available in the App Store. Before you perform the update, sign out of the game. You can do this in Pokémon Go by going into the app settings and tapping Sign Out at the bottom of the screen. (If you don’t sign out before updating the app, that’s OK. You’ll need to do so when you launch the update.)

To update the game directly on your iPhone, tap on the App Store app, and then tap the Updates tab on the bottom navigation bar. When you see the update appear on the list, tap the Update button. You can also install the update via iTunes on your Mac, with your iPhone connected.

After the update is installed, launch the app and sign in as usual. If you sign in using Google, you’ll see this new screen.

pokemon go update google disclosure

If you go to the web and check your Google account for your connected apps, you should see a change in what Pokémon Go accesses. If you don’t sign out and then sign back into the game as mentioned earlier, you may not see this updated status.

pokemon go google access

Niantic, the developer of the game, released a statement on Monday, clarifying what the company can access in relation to google accounts. Niantic’s complete statement:

We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokémon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon GO or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokémon GO’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon GO needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.For more information, please review Niantic’s Privacy Policy here: https://www.nianticlabs.com/privacy/pokemongo/en

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Facebook brings end-to-end encryption to Messenger with ‘secret conversations’

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Facebook’s following the encrypted messaging trend set by other apps including Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Viber, and Google’s Allo. On Friday, the social network announced a limited beta version of Messenger for Android and iOS with an end-to-end encryption (E2EE) feature dubbed secret conversations.

Secret conversations will only be available to a limited number of users at first, with a wider roll out planned for later this summer. The feature name “secret conversations” first surfaced in March.


Secret conversations in Messenger for iOS.

Messenger’s secret conversations won’t be like WhatsApp, which offers complete E2EE for all messages when all users in the conversation have a compatible version of the app. Instead, secret conversations will allow Messenger users to encrypt one-on-one conversations on the fly. Group messaging will not be covered.

When encrypted, the messages will only be accessible to the two conversation participants. While the message is in transit from one device to the other it won’t be possible for third parties—including Facebook—to decipher the message.

Facebook is also adding a Snapchat-like self-destruct setting that allows secret conversations to disappear after a predetermined amount of time. Rumors about Facebook’s plans for a Snapchat-like feature for Messenger first surfaced in May.

Each secret conversation will also exist in its own section of the app for each Messenger contact. Secret conversations will not be integrated with the main conversation thread for that person. 

The biggest limitation of secret conversations is that new feature will only work on one device. Facebook told Wired it doesn’t have a system in place to distribute encryption keys (bits of information that encrypt and decrypt messages) across multiple devices. 

secret conversations

Secret conversations will also start with a slimmed down feature set, leaving out support for animated GIFs, video, Facebook’s payments system, and other features.

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How to tell if your Android phone has spyware

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A reader whom I won’t name worries that his cousin watches what he does on his Android phone. The cousin actually told him so.

It’s possible that your cousin is just messing with your head. Ask for proof—such as texts you’ve sent and received.

On the other hand, they may actually be spying on your phone. There are a surprising number of Android apps that can do just that.

[Have a tech question? As Answer Line transitions from Lincoln Spector to Josh Norem, you can still send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

But first, let me clarify one thing: No one is tracking you via your phone’s IP address. Take your phone on a morning jog, and its IP address  will change three or four times before you get home.

In order to track your phone, someone would need to install a spying app onto it. That could come in the form of malware such as the recently discovered Godless, which can be downloaded as part of a seemingly innocent app.

And then there are spyware apps that don’t pretend to be anything else; tools such as GPS Phone Tracker. And yes, you can download them from the Play Store.

Why doesn’t Google block these apps? Because they have legitimate purposes. If your employer assigns you a company phone, they have every right to see what you do with it. And parents should monitor kids’ Internet use

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Mobile advertiser tracked users' locations, without their consent, FTC alleges

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The privacy settings on your phone don’t mean much if tech companies choose to ignore them. One major mobile advertiser allegedly did just that.

The company InMobi was secretly tracking user locations, regardless of consent, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleged on Wednesday. The motive: to serve location-based ads over mobile apps.

InMobi is headquartered in India and partners with thousands of apps to offer advertising. This gives the company access to 1.5 billion devices.

Collecting user information to serve tailored ads is all too common, but InMobi did so through deception, the FTC alleged. The company stated it would only collect the location-based data if given permission, however, InMobi secretly collected it anyway, the agency said.

InMobi also created a database that could guess a user’s whereabouts, even when the location-tracking function had been shut off, the FTC said.

The company also allegedly tracked the locations of children, when promising not to do so.  A U.S. privacy regulation requires companies collecting information about children to first gain the consent from their parents.

InMobi

Mobile advertising from InMobi

“The case is the FTC’s first charging a mobile ad company with deception and with violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” the agency said in a blog post.

InMobi has agreed to a settlement and will pay a US$950,000 fine. The company blamed a “technical error” for serving children with the targeted advertising.

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Opera's launched an iOS app to expand its free, unlimited, ad-blocking VPN

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This story was updated with further information about the user data collected by the app.

Opera Software takes its VPN campaign to iOS with a free, unlimited virtual private network app. Launched Monday, the new app follows Opera’s debut in late April of a free, built-in virtual private network in the beta version of its PC and Mac browsers. Opera’s VPN services are offered by SurfEasy, a Canadian VPN provider that Opera acquired in early 2015.

Opera says one reason it decided to offer the app was to help people get around corporate and school firewalls. “Every day, millions of people, from students to working people, find that social-media sites…are blocked when they surf on their campus or workplace Wi-Fi…we help people to break down the barriers of the web,” SurfEasy president Chris Houston said in the iOS app’s announcement.

Opera’s new VPN app will find a formidable opponent in Netflix, however. Since its expansion to pretty much every country on the planet, Netflix has cracked down on VPN use. In my tests, the new Opera app didn’t get around the “great firewall of Netflix.”


Opera VPN for iPad.

That said, if you do run up against other regionally restricted sites you can always give Opera’s VPN a try. Currently, Opera VPN for iOS offers exit servers (where websites think you are) in the U.S., Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Singapore.

The new Opera VPN app also includes ad-blocking features to kill online ads, and web trackers that follow your browsing habits online to better target advertising.

Using Opera VPN is pretty straightforward. All you do is download and install the app from the App Store. Click through the agreements for the terms of service and privacy policy. Then you hit a few more Continue buttons to add a VPN profile to your device.

Once that’s done, the app starts working automatically. If you want to change exit locations, just tap the lightning bolt icon (upper-right corner on the iPad version). Next choose the country you’d like to “appear” in and that’s it.

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Why Windows 10 wants your feedback and diagnostics, and how to control them

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We now know the tradeoff for free Windows 10: Microsoft wants data about what you do with your device. But you don’t have to send everything you do back to Redmond.

You can control the data you send back, and how often, by delving into Windows 10’s privacy settings (we’ve taken you here before) and looking specifically at Feedback frequency and Diagnostic and usage data. The former is typically just an automated survey, but the diagnostic component actually peers into your machine.

These features comprised the Customer Experience Improvement Program, or CEIP, in previous versions of Windows—and they were voluntary. In Windows 10 they’ve become mandatory, but you can control some aspects.

Start by going to Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics in Windows 10.


Set limits on what Microsoft sees with these feedback and diagnostic settings.

Changing the Feedback frequency

Every so often, Microsoft gets curious: Did you like this new version of an app? Would you recommend Windows 10 to a friend? Microsoft typically asks these sorts of questions of Insiders who’ve signed up to test Microsoft’s beta software, but regular Windows 10 users may be quizzed as well.

Solicitations for feedback are infrequent. In fact, if you leave the Feedback frequency setting at Automatic, you’ll rarely see a popup. But you may set Feedback to Never if you’re dead-set against ever receiving the prompts.

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If you don’t want to wait for Microsoft to ask you for your opinion, you can change the Feedback setting to your liking.

If, on the other hands, you can’t wait to tell Microsoft what you really think, you can adjust the setting to Once a week, or Once a day, or even Always, so that presumably anything Microsoft has a question about will be flagged for your attention. You can also go to Start > Windows Feedback and use that app to send feedback on a specific issue.

What’s collected for diagnostic and usage data

The diagnostic and usage data that Microsoft wants to collect, however, is much more intrusive. Microsoft won’t know who you are by name, but it does track your device using a unique ID. 

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Opera browser build adds a first: Free, unlimited VPN for secure surfing

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After successfully launching a version of its browser that offered ad blocking, Opera just won’t quit. On Wednesday night, the company released a free VPN service with unlimited bandwidth, built right into its latest beta. The Opera release is developer edition version 38.0.2204.0 for the Mac and the PC.

Opera also won’t make you pay for the amount of bandwidth that you route through the VPN—which would normally cost you about $48 per year.

A virtual private network spoofs your IP address, pretending that your PC is actually physically located in London, for example, when it’s actually sitting in Los Angeles. That offers all sorts of possibilities: It helps hide your identity when surfing, or allows you access to a website that you normally wouldn’t be able to see. VPNs are also common in countries like China, whose so-called “Great Firewall” insulates the Chinese Internet from the rest of the world.

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Note the blue “VPN” button to the left of the URL, highlighting that you’re protected.

Of course, a VPN may also enable illicit activities. For years, international users watched Netflix via VPN so they could see movies that weren’t available in their country—until Netflix cracked down. And, of, course, people use VPNs to evade the prying eyes of government watchdogs when downloading data via BitTorrent.

Why this matters: Free, unlimited VPN is an enormous coup for Opera. There are two major questions that Opera will need to answer, though: First, what are the terms of service of the VPN, and the acceptable use policy? “Unlimited” services rarely are. Second: What will the performance of the VPN network (and the browser, too) be under load?

No surprise to Opera watchers

The integrated VPN may not be that surprising if you’ve been watching Opera for long. About a year ago, Opera bought SurfEasy, a Canadian VPN provider whose network Opera is apparently using as the backbone of its services. (A few days ago, SurfEasy promised to protect BitTorrent downloads, possibly preparing for the Opera launch.)

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This is what you’ll normally pay for the SurfEasy services.

Today, you can take advantage of SurfEasy’s network through downloadable plugins from Chrome and the release version of Opera. Just by signing up with an email address, you’ll receive 500MB of secured data per month, for free. Confirm your email, and you’ll receive 250MB more. Follow them on Twitter, and it’s 100MB more, and so on. 

Normally, SurfEasy’s unlimited VPN service costs $3.99 per month and includes support for up to five devices—including Mac and Android devices. Now that the service has been integrated into the developer edition of the Opera browser, however, all of those limitations have apparently gone away.

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Viber joins WhatsApp and Apple with end-to-end message encryption

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Not wanting to be left behind in the pursuit of enhanced user security, Viber is adding end-to-end encryption (E2EE) following WhatsApp’s E2EE roll out earlier in April. Viber announced on Tuesday that E2EE would roll out to its users globally over the next two weeks. The new encryption will cover text, voice, and group chats, and will work across mobile and PC versions of Viber.


Viber with end-to-end encryption.

The new feature will be made available to users automatically. You’ll know you have it when you see a lock icon in the text entry box in chats. But Viber’s implementation won’t be as behind-the-scenes as WhatsApp’s is. Instead, the company has added a few extra features for those who want added protection.

When you see a gray lock icon, that means your communication is being protected using the service’s standard E2EE. In addition, each user also has a cryptographic key associated with their device that can be used to authenticate your identity to other Viber users. When this feature’s in use the lock turns green. If it turns red instead, that can mean someone is trying to listen in on your conversation through a man-in-the-middle attack.

However, you’ll probably see a red lock more often when the person you’re talking to switches to a new device. When that happens you’ll need to re-authenticate each other to get the lock icon back to green. We haven’t had a look at Viber’s new encrypted app yet, so we can’t comment on how easy it is to use the service’s new authentication feature.

In addition to E2EE, Viber also introduced a new hidden chats feature that removes chats from your regular logs and protects them behind a PIN lock.

Why this matters: Blame it on the Snowden revelations, the increasing secret demands for personal data by law enforcement, or just plain old hacking. Whatever the reason, more people are concerned about personal online security, and at least some messaging companies would rather not be involved in demands for user data. Apple’s iMessages also offers E2EE, as does Signal, while Line and Telegram offer it as an option. Many other services don’t offer E2EE encryption at all, including major ones like Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Kik, and Snapchat. With so many holdouts we’re not quite at the tipping point for universal E2EE, but it’s getting there.

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Oculus Rift privacy policy prompts lawmaker concern

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As if summoned by the Bat-Signal, U.S. Senator Al Franken is seeking answers on Oculus’ privacy policies after some users expressed concerns.

Gizmodo rounded up some of those concerns last week, noting that Oculus Rift’s privacy policy allows the company to gather information on users’ locations, physical movements, and interactions with games and services. The policy notes that Oculus may use that information for marketing and promotional purposes.

This appears to have prompted an inquiry from Franken, who on Thursday sent and published a letter to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe. In that letter, Franken asks whether Oculus services require the collection of location data, physical movement data, and communication among Oculus users, and he asks whether Oculus shares this information with third parties for anything other than the provision of services. Franken also asks whether Oculus sells aggregate user data, and what sort of safeguards the company uses to keep user data secure.

“Oculus’ creation of an immersive virtual reality experience is an exciting development, but it remains important to understand the extent to which Oculus may be collecting Americans personal information, including sensitive location data, and sharing that information with third parties,” Franken wrote.

Adam Patrick Murray

Franken has a long history of sending these types of letters to technology companies, including AppleGoogleUber, and Samsung. But these companies aren’t obligated to respond, and even when they do, their answers aren’t always particularly insightful. Franken has also tried to introduce location privacy bills several times throughout his tenure, but hasn’t succeeded at passing them into law.

Why this matters: Privacy was a major concern for Oculus’ fans when Facebook acquired the VR firm in 2014, so it’s understandable that they’d be hypersensitive about the Rift’s terms of service. Now that the Rift is a real product, it’s reasonable to expect a plain-English explanation of what Oculus will do with all the data it’s able to collect.

Oculus has basically responded already

Although Oculus has not yet answered Franken’s letter, the company has responded directly to the VR community, so it seems likely that Franken will get a similar response.

In a statement to UploadVR earlier this week, Oculus said it is “thinking about privacy every step of the way,” adding that it collects user data to check device stability, address technical issues, and improve the experience overall.

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