Data privacy concerns of Yandex Sparks in Russia; Digital Markets Act Could Compromise WhatsApp Encryption

In Today’s ExchangeWire News Digest: “The Russian Google,” Yandex, Raises Data Security Concerns; concerns are being raised that the Digital Markets Act could pose a security risk to WhatsApp users; and esports startup Ampverse raises US$12m in Series A funding round.

Russian Yandex raises data security concerns

Russia’s largest internet company, Yandex, has collected information from millions of people by embedding code in mobile apps before transferring the data to servers in Russia, raising significant security concerns.

The discovery of the extent of Yandex’s data collection and sharing was made by researcher Zach Edwards, who had led an application audit campaign for the nonprofit Me2B Alliance. Yandex has confirmed that its software collects information regarding citizens’ “device, network and IP address” and stores that data “in both Finland and Russia”, although the tech giant insisted on the fact that the data collected is “non-personalized and very limited”. , adding “Although theoretically possible, in practice it is extremely difficult to identify users based solely on the information collected. Yandex certainly cannot do this.

Either way, researchers are concerned that the Kremlin could access data collected by Yandex and use it to track people through their mobile devices.

Often referred to as “Russia’s Google”, Yandex was founded in 2007, and the search engine has long attempted to operate independently of President Vladimir Putin’s desire to control the country’s internet more tightly. The company says it follows a strict internal process when dealing with national and international governments, and that “any request that does not meet all relevant procedural and legal requirements is rejected.”

According the Financial Timeshowever, various tech industry experts are concerned that the collected data could be used to identify users and be viewed by the Russian government, despite Yandex’s claims.

Digital Markets Act Could Compromise WhatsApp Encryption

Security experts fear that new legislation to control Big Tech in Europe could pose a security risk to WhatsApp users. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) would require tech companies with a market capitalization of more than €75bn (£62.7bn) or a user base of more than 45m people in the EU to create products and services that can be used with smaller platforms.

While the DMA’s aim is to tackle the monopoly of “gatekeepers” such as Meta, Google and Apple in the tech industry by forcing them to cooperate with smaller companies, concerns have been raised that that this could reduce the effectiveness of the end-to-end encryption promised by WhatsApp and similar messaging apps.

Currently, messaging services are responsible for their own security protocols, and the demand for interoperability has raised concerns that security vulnerabilities in a smaller service could impact those in applications with a base of users, compromising the security of user data. If WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption were weakened by a security flaw in another service, potentially hundreds of thousands of European app users could be left without the protection of private messaging.

Talk to The edgeAlex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former chief security officer at Facebook, said: “There is no way to allow end-to-end encryption without trusting each vendor to handle the management. of identity… If the goal is for all email systems to treat users to each other exactly the same, then it’s a privacy and security nightmare.

Ampverse Raises $12M in Series A Funding Round

Esports startup Ampverse has raised US$12m (£9.1m) in a Series A funding round led by Falcon Capital.

The Singapore-based company will use the funding to continue its expansion in the Philippines and Indonesia, in addition to acquiring more esports teams. The funding will also allow Ampverse to expand its Play to Win unit, which allows players to earn rewards by playing games such as Spider Tanks, Townstar and Axie Infinity, in addition to receiving training from professional esports gamers. .

Since launching in 2019, Ampverse’s portfolio has grown to include esports brands, including SBTC Esports in Vietnam, 7Sea in India, and MiTH and Bacon in Thailand.

Talk to Tech CrunchAmpverse CEO Ferdinand Gutierrez said Ampverse was founded to respond to “the huge opportunity to create a company with intellectual property and products for gaming fans that sits at the intersection of gaming and popular culture, whether it’s esports teams, merchandise, or other fan experiences.”

According to Gutierrez, Ampverse’s revenue has soared 125% in the past 12 months, during which time the company has also expanded into India and Vietnam.

In a prepared statement regarding the funding round, Falcon CEO Wil Rondini said, “The growth the Ampverse team has achieved in a short time is monumental. With their ongoing esports M&A strategy and vision of gaming to win, we know the future is bright for Ampverse.

Also in the news:

– Outbrain expands partnership with Microsoft to improve business outcomes for media owners and advertisers

– Anzu and Oracle Moat Enable First-to-Market Viewability Metric for In-Game Ads

– Seedtag takes the lead in brand safety with improved image recognition technology

– PubMatic expands its management team in the EMEA region

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